The rise of sustainable living in Western Australia: A community’s response to the climate crisis

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There is an undeniable cultural shift towards sustainable living and environmental consciousness in Western Australia (WA), with many individuals and communities embracing climate-friendly behaviours as the social norm. Every day, I am delighted by the increasing number of Tesla vehicles on the roads of Perth.

And with the federal government committing to invest 15 million in improving electronic vehicle (VH) infrastructure across the state the number is most likely to grow. And with Musk’s latest announcement of a smaller affordable model, it feels like we’re on the cusp of a major breakthrough. In light of the 4.2 million car trips taken each day in Perth, it is clear that a substantial reduction in our transport emissions is necessary to initiate a comprehensive transition towards renewable energy sources.

With the state government committing $66.3 million to invest in renewable technology last year, it’s clear that we’re headed in the right direction. According to the Clean Energy Regulator, the number of rooftop solar panel installations in Western Australia has been steadily increasing over the years. And it’s not just households – exciting projects like the installation of 1100 solar panels on the Fremantle Passenger terminal demonstrate the potential for large-scale adoption of solar energy.

Fremantle Passenger Terminal powers on with solar
“This impressive installation will not only help power Victoria Quay
– it will have the same benefit to the environment as planting 85,000 trees.”
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Although the state’s objective to attain net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 may not be ambitious enough to limit the rise in global temperatures to within the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold, certain corporations are demonstrating a remarkable dedication to addressing the multifaceted impacts of climate emergency. According to the latest IPCC 6 report, the action needed to avoid catastrophic climate crisis impacts has to be “urgent and unprecedented”.

The government-owned Water Corporation for example has pledged to achieve a state of net zero emissions by the year 2035. Given the projected reduction in winter rainfall by up to 15% and a population increase to 2.6 million in Perth by 2030, adopting water-smart practices is crucial for the region’s survival. It is commendable to witness the implementation of practical solutions such as seawater desalination to address water scarcity issues in Western Australia.

On average, the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant produces 30% of Perth’s water supply. 
The plant has the capacity to output 100 billion litres per year – enough to fill Optus stadium 100 times.
The plant, located in Binningup, started production in 2011. / Source:

A ClimateClever led by CEO Dr Vanessa Rauland was originally launched in 2018 in Perth as an app for schools to reduce their carbon footprint. It is now a free online platform that helps households reduce their fossil fuel pollution and save money on energy bills. The platform provides customized sustainability plans, energy and water monitoring tools, and educational resources to help users reduce their environmental impact.

Another local example is a well-known global initiative Plastic Free July, founded by Rebecca Prince. It encourages individuals and businesses to reduce their plastic use and waste throughout the month of July. By reducing plastic consumption, participants can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts associated with plastic production and disposal.

Luke Wheat, a graduate marine scientist from Murdoch University, is the founder of Future Green Solutions. They have developed a unique technology using soldier flies to combat food waste and turn it into a highly nutritious sustainable pet food. Another local startup Dirty Clean Food created the world’s first regeneratively grown, certified carbon-neutral oat milk.

Luke Wheat - the founder of Future Green Solutions
The founder of Future Green Solutions holding a tray of black soldier fly larvae that are used to combat Perth’s food waste.
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In recent years, grassroots-level organisations in Australia have taken the lead in promoting a local circular economy and combating global heating. This bottom-up approach has been a defining characteristic of the Australian political scene, and it is one that is starting to make a real difference. Local companies and grassroots-level initiatives are starting to exert significant pressure on politicians to take action in regard to the current climate emergency. Just as we have seen in other countries around the world, the pressure from the community is starting to force politicians to sit up and take notice.

Of course, the latest reports show that a significant majority of Australians are concerned about climate change, with 69% of the population indicating that they believe we should set targets and implement domestic action. However, the question remains whether this concern will translate into bold and loud action. Ultimately, the success of Australia’s efforts to avert the climate crisis will depend on the collective actions of its citizens, politicians and businesses. While grassroots-level initiatives are an important part of the solution, they need to be supported by bold and decisive action at the national level if we are to make a real difference in the fight against global heating.

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