Western Australia says it will spend up to $21 million on a newly unveiled electric vehicle strategy, which will include the creation of Australia’s longest electric vehicle charging network and a modest EV target for “eligible” government fleets.
The charging network will run from Kununurra in the north to the state capital Perth, down to Esperance in the south and to Kalgoorlie in the east.
“This announcement represents an exciting time in Western Australia, with the state contributing some of the most significant funds of any Australian jurisdiction towards charging infrastructure that will facilitate the uptake of this environmentally sustainable technology,” Innovation and ICT Minister Dave Kelly said in a joint statement.
The EV charging initiative will be accompanied by a target of acquiring at least 25 per cent electric vehicles across eligible vehicles in the state fleet of passenger and small commercial vehicles (but not including police department). EV charging stations will be installed in government buildings.
The government fleet target – and the absence of any overarching EV target – contrasts sharply with the new announcement by the UK to ban all new petrol and diesel car sales from 2030, and from 2025 in Norway.
It also comes despite the state government’s own net zero emissions targeet by 2050, but like the climate policy also unveiled on Monday, it puts many of the hard decisions off for another few years.
Still, the WA governmnnt is looking to cash in on the global shift to electric vehicles, seeing opportunities to create a “battery minerals”, if not a battery manufacturing industry in the state, as well as big green hydrogen opportunities that could flow through to state transport (but will more likely be pitched at exports and green manufacturing).
“The global uptake of electric vehicles is one of the most exciting opportunities for Western Australia to create jobs and support economic growth the economy as part of the low-carbon transition,” Labor premier Mark McGowan said in the joint statement.
“Electric vehicles provide a pathway towards decarbonising road transport and improving air quality in Western Australia. The industry also has huge potential to create jobs for Western Australians.
“Western Australia has the skills, infrastructure and standards to become a key player in the global battery value chain.
The state government will also invest in two hydrogen refuelling stations, investigations into vehicle to grid charging, and the trial of electric buses on a small route in Perth, although unlike other states it has baulked at transitioning its bus fleet to electric.
The policy document notes that there are already more than 500,000 electric buses on the roads across the globe, that EVs ar likely to be already competitive with fossil fuel cars over the lifetime costs of the car, and that they deliver significant benefits.
“Accelerating the uptake of electric vehicles in Western Australia will provide public health benefits of over $20 million each year by reducing air pollution,” the document says.
Which makes you wonder why they don’t spend more money to accelerate the transition and deliver even bigger savings.
“The electric vehicle plan and carbon farming measures are two new initiatives announced in this policy,” the head of the Conservation Council of WA Piers Verstegen said.
“These initiatives are to be welcomed and can be built upon, however we should be clear that they are very modest in comparison to what other Australian states have announced.
“WA is the only state in Australia with rising carbon pollution and this policy offers no concrete plan or targets to get this pollution under control. This undermines efforts under the Paris Agreement and could put the nail in the coffin even for Australia’s modest national emissions reduction targets.”