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
New research shows that the Kimberley region is set to experience a dramatic increase in days over 40 degrees if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced in line with the Paris Agreement.
The report, by the Australia Institute using CSIRO and BoM data, shows the projected increase in extreme heat days for towns like Broome, Derby and Bidyadanga, will have devastating effects on the Kimberley’s Indigenous communities, outdoor workers, industries and ecosystems.
The report shows that without a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions:
- Extreme heat days above 40°C could increase from an average of 6 days per year to 62 (2 months) by 2090 in Broome.
- Extreme heat days above 40°C could increase from an average of 14 days per year to 168 (5.6 months) by 2090 in Derby.
- Extreme heat days above 40°C could increase from an average of 10 days per year to 94 (3 months) by 2090 in Bidyadanga; the largest remote Aboriginal community in Western Australia.
- Extreme heat days above 40°C could increase from an average of 35 days per year to 204 (6.8 months) by 2090 in Kununurra.
“As things stand, a child in a town like Kununurra could expect over half their year spent in 40°C days or over by the time they can access a pension,” says Richie Merzian, Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program Director.
“Extreme heat conditions can have serious health ramifications, especially for the very young and the elderly, including heat stroke and even organ failure which can result in death.
“Also particularly vulnerable to the extreme heat will be miners, construction workers, tourism operators and agricultural workers, who are vital to the Kimberley economy, and often undertake heavy work in already hot conditions that are set to worsen severely.
“The region’s Indigenous population already face disproportionate rates of chronic illness and poverty, increasing extreme heat will mean people’s health will deteriorate further.
“Fortunately these climate projections are not inevitable, if emissions are reduced in line with the Paris Agreement, these increases in heat can be largely avoided.”
Martin Pritchard, Executive Director Environs Kimberley, says “Kimberley residents have just sweltered through one of the region’s hottest months, with temperatures 3.2 degrees above the historical November maximum temperature average, and 7 days above 40 degrees in Broome already this November alone. By 2090, the entire Kimberley region will be experiencing extreme heat of the likes we have not seen in Australia before.
“The Kimberley has one of Australia’s largest shale gas reserves and we now know that we cannot frack it and burn it if we want safe temperatures into the future. It has to stay in the ground if we want to avoid dangerous climate change.”
The report is available here:
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