'Frightening everyone is not something I want': McGowan rejects climate emergency

The Sydney Morning Herald 1 month ago

Two climate change activists have been arrested during an Extinction Rebellion protest outside Seven West Media headquarters in Osborne Park.

The police action during the peaceful demonstration came as WA Premier Mark McGowan echoed the sentiments of Prime Minister Scott Morrison in calling for calm amid their concerns talk of a "climate emergency" was scaring the younger generation.

Extinction Rebellion protesters outside Seven West Media headquarters in Perth.

Tuesday's demonstrations are part of a week-long national campaign of action from the protest group.

Speaking on Gareth Parker's Mornings program on 6PR, Mr McGowan said he did not agree WA and Australia were in a climate emergency and pandering to the group's push for net zero emissions by 2025 would permanently damage the economy.

"Net zero emissions by 2025 would destroy the WA economy and essentially drive enormous unemployment," he told the program on Tuesday.

"We already have massively improved take up of renewable energies in the state ... as a state that exports gas, which has less than half the emissions of coal."

The Premier also echoed comments from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who fuelling "needless anxiety" among Australian children after a scathing judgment from young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg about the dangers of climate change.

"A climate emergency? I don't actually know what that means but frightening everyone is not something I want to do," Mr McGowan told Parker.

Mr Morrison called for "context and perspective" in the climate debate after 16-year-old activist Thunberg condemned world leaders last week for leaving the next generation with a ruined climate.

McGowan said he supported the younger generation "being aware of the world" but did not believe climate change activists should "frighten children".

"I agree with children showing an interest in the world," McGowan said. "[But] I don't like the cynicism I sometimes see in young people; that everything is rotten and politicians are all the same," he said.

"I do think we need to do more around the world when it comes to conservation, climate change, marine protection, elimination of waste.

"I am a very strong supporter of international action in regards to those things ... everyone's seen the imagery of the burning of the rainforest.

"I don't understand why, for instance, the US, which is the world's leading economy and the leading government in the world if you like, doesn't make the Amazon a priority. Things like that are real."

On the domestic front, Mr McGowan claimed the state had implemented responsible measures to aid climate change solutions.

"We have had a huge take-up of solar and renewables," he said.

"This has actually meant, a couple of months ago, I've had to announce the closure of the coal-fired power station in Collie because of the take-up of renewables that households and Synergy is currently undertaking in WA.

"When it comes to gas, it's not a complex argument. If anyone here goes to China or the US or Japan or Korea or any country around the world, you'll see mass smoke caused by burning fossil fuels.

"Gas produces less than half the emissions of coal, so if we substitute coal for gas in China and Japan and the like, we are actually helping the situation."

- with David Crowe

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