In 2006, the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre hosted former US vice president Al Gore, as he toured the globe, raising awareness of the looming climate emergency. I was in government at the time, working on WA’s first climate change action plan, and recall the thrill of Gore signing my copy of his book, An Inconvenient Truth.
Seventeen years on, it was great to be back at the PCEC on Friday, finally having a considered conversation about the role WA can play in the energy transition and the global fight against climate change. And the room had to face some inconvenient truths, as we pondered the huge opportunities and challenges the global energy transition poses for WA.
Among them, an increase in domestic gas demand by our mining industry, as we massively expand the extraction and processing of our world-leading reserves of critical minerals – minerals needed to build the countless solar panels, wind turbines, transmission lines and batteries the planet needs to get to net zero.
Premier Roger Cook should be commended for bringing industry, community and First Nations leaders together for Friday’s discussion. The Premier is unlikely to follow in Gore’s footsteps, in receiving a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. But his leadership may be more important than Gore’s in helping WA tackle the huge opportunities and challenges the energy transition presents.
This article also appeared in The West Australian newspaper.