WA is the most polluting, energy-guzzling, waste producer in the nation, according to a damning new study.
We have not been paying for our electricity so that is much more of an incentive for householders and industry to consume considerable amounts of electricity
Murdoch University business and development lecturer Peter McMahon warns West Australians will pay dearly through their hip pockets for living in one of the least-sustainable societies in the world.
His report, which examines the energy, transportation,environment, farming and mining sectors, covers WA sustainability from 1829 to 2020.“The energy-intensive WA economy faces huge challenges as carbon-control schemes and peak energy trends will raise energy costs dramatically,” Dr McMahon said.
“Rising living standards in WA have led to the state being the highest energy-user and the worst polluter and waste generator in the country.”
In his report, WA2020, Dr McMahon said the state needed to make significant policy changes in the next decade to avoid dramatic price increases and tackle drought, soil erosion and salinity problems.
Energy Minister Peter Collier said the state’s thirst for energy was because West Australians had been living in a “fool’s paradise” for too long.
“We have not been paying for our electricity so that is much more of an incentive for householders and industry to consume considerable amounts of electricity,” Mr Collier said.
“It has sent all the wrong messages to the community.
“We are moving towards a user-pays system with electricity and that has a two-fold effect.
Number one, it means that the State Government won’t continue to bail out Verve Energy to the tune of billions of dollars and number two, the community are much more aware of the fact that it costs to use electricity so it sends the right message.”
But he said the state was making progress, especially when it came to the switch to renewable energy. By 2012 WA would produce 8.9 per cent of its energy from green sources including wind, solar and wave generators, he said. So far 18,000 households have installed solar panels, which feed energy directly into the grid.The state pays householders 40c a kilowatt hour for excess power.
Environment Minister Donna Faragher did not respond to questions about Dr McMahon’s report. Dr McMahon claimed WA’s isolation, size and diverse landscape was delaying much-needed action. The report urged the Government to make urgent policy changes in areas such as energy, transportation and mining.