The WA state government's mid-term performance review has revealed that the January 2023 floods in the Kimberley will cost taxpayers over $869 million dollars.
The announcement comes on a 45C day in Fitzroy Crossing.
Broome-based conservation group Environs Kimberley (EK) is calling on the State and Federal governments to recoup the cost from fossil fuel companies who have made billions in profits over the past year, while driving worsening climate impacts. EK is also calling on the WA and Commonwealth governments not to approve new gas projects in the Kimberley, including proposals by Buru Energy and Woodside.
EK Director of Strategy Martin Pritchard said, "The January 2023 floods have had a devastating impact on communities in the Kimberley’s Fitzroy Valley with many people losing all their possessions and homes. It’s now been revealed that this flood has come at a cost of what's likely to be over a billion dollars to taxpayers and private businesses.
"The State and Federal governments need to recognise that fossil fuel-driven climate change comes at an enormous cost to communities, taxpayers, private businesses and the natural environment and we know what and whom is causing this – oil, gas and coal companies."
The revelation of the enormous cost of the flood comes on a 45C day in Fitzroy Crossing with the next 10 days predicted to be above 40C. Fitzroy Crossing will be unliveable in the next 50 years with CSIRO and BoM data projecting 225 days over 40C a year if we continue on the current emissions trajectory.
“Catastrophic climate events like floods and heatwaves have been predicted for years and now we are bearing the enormous costs of burning fossil fuels while oil and gas companies like Woodside make billions in profits. There’s something very wrong with this picture and it’s clearly not sustainable for the environment nor taxpayers.
“We are calling on governments to firstly stop the damage by preventing new fossil fuel projects like Buru Energy's Kimberley onshore gas proposal and Woodside’s offshore Browse project and second, to instigate a ‘Climate Change Disaster Levy’ on fossil fuel companies that can be used to plan for climate change disasters as well as fund recovery work.
"Woodside has put a measly $750k towards flood recovery while making billions in profits and wants to open up more gasfields that will fuel climate change for another 50 years. They are throwing spare change at Western Australians suffering from floods, heatwaves and fires while pocketing enormous profits for themselves.
“We cannot open up any new oil and gas fields if we want a safe climate.”
Photo of Fitzroy Crossing bridge collapsing in 2023 flood: Andrea Myers
Broome-based conservation group Environs Kimberley has welcomed the promised investment of $19 million for clean energy, including support for the Kimberley Communities Solar Saver programme.
“We welcome this announcement by the State Minister for Energy Bill Johnston and Commonwealth Minister for Energy Chris Bowen of support for clean energy in remote communities,” said Environs Kimberley Director of Strategy, Martin Pritchard.
The Kimberley’s heating climate, the result of burning fossil fuels, is a serious threat to people’s wellbeing and the environment, and more affordable clean energy is essential for the health of communities.
“There is a further opportunity to transition to clean energy much more quickly by replacing fossil-fuel burning with renewable energy. Horizon Power has already said that the Broome gas-fired power station can operate on 80% renewable energy. This would provide jobs, greatly reduce emissions, and be cheaper than to keep running on fossil gas.
Having 80% renewable energy in Broome is far better than what is currently being proposed by Buru Energy, who want to open a new gas field next to the Martuwarra Fitzroy River. This would inevitably lead to the industrialisation of the West Kimberley and a huge surge in methane and carbon pollution.
What we need now is for the WA Minister for Energy, Bill Johnston, to commit to the change before the current gas contract runs out in 2027,” said Mr Pritchard.
Photo: Broome Boulevard Shopping Centre Solar Installation
Photo Credit: Paul Bell