A climate change strategy released by the WA government sets out measures to boost public sector climate capability and accountability.
The strategy, released by the state’s Department of Water and Environment Regulation, says WA is on the frontline of climate change, with more frequent and severe droughts, heatwaves, high-risk bushfire weather and extreme rainfall.
The number of days over 40 degrees in Perth has doubled since the 1930s.
Almost $40 million has been allocated in the 2023-24 State Budget to deliver the strategy, which will prepare the state for coming challenges, environment minister Reece Whitby said.
“Western Australia is already experiencing the impacts of climate change,” Mr Whitby said as he released the strategy last week.
“The South-West is becoming hotter and dryer with increased heatwaves and bushfire risk. It is essential we build our state’s climate resilience … and prioritise measures to adapt and build resilience as well as reduce emissions.”
Implications for essential services
The report warns climate change will stretch public sector capacity, with implications for essential services including water, health care and emergency services.
“Climate change considerations must be embedded into government policies, decision-making, planning and procurement to address climate risks and ensure the ongoing provision of essential services and resilient infrastructure for the community,” it says.
Priorities include requiring agencies to have climate change adaption plans; establishing a climate risk management framework for government finances, assets and services; and incorporating climate considerations into land use planning and management.
“New climate change legislation to be introduced to Parliament this year will create statutory requirements for development of adaptation strategies and plans, further enhancing the focus on climate resilience across the public sector,” the document says.
Climate change considerations must be embedded into government policies, decision-making, planning and procurement to address climate risks and ensure the ongoing provision of essential services and resilient infrastructure for the communityBuilding WA’s climate resilient future, WA DWER
The document also commits the government to strengthening public sector capability to assess and manage climate risk via a suite of training programs and tools.
Meanwhile, it says state government investment will be required to secure Perth’s future drinking water supply and service the state’s growing south-west; as well as protect the coast from erosion.
Getting the science across
The strategy also says the government must play a central role in producing and disseminating credible and easy to understand climate information.
“The state government plays a vital role in helping Western Australians understand the risks of climate change and make informed decisions,” the strategy says.
“Business, industry and the community require relevant climate information, including detailed projections of how our climate may change and information about impacts for specific regions and sectors.”
WA is aiming to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and had pledged to reduce whole of government emissions by 80 per cent by 2030.
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