ACT tops the scoreboard
The ACT which is home to federal parliament exists in a parallel universe, with politicians locked in energy policy paralysis for decades but housed in the territory that is applauded as the first jurisdiction outside of Europe to achieve 100 per cent renewable electricity.
The 100 per cent renewable target milestone will be marked in early October, and delivers the economic benefit of savings achieved through low cost contracts with several wind farm projects. Those saving tally an impressive negative $4.3 million in the first quarter of 2019 which is reflected in lower electricity prices for ACT residents.
Now the ACT is ramping up its ambitions for zero net emissions by 2045, with its climate change strategy through to 2025 designed to take the ACT’s overall emissions reductions to between 50 per cent and 60 per cent by 2025, in itself a key stepping stone of its ultimate target of zero by 2015.
“Our targets are ambitious. Achieving them will require continual learning and improvement as well as the active participation of the whole community,” said Climate Change Minister Shane Minister Shane Rattenbury.
"[But] Canberrans have been clear, they want to us to act in the interests of people and planet.
"Through our world-leading transition to 100 per cent renewable electricity we have demonstrated that our bold leadership can create opportunities for our region, in business development, training and education. Aside from delivering clean, green sources of electricity, our 100 per cent renewable electricity target has attracted more than $500 million over 20 years in low carbon investment in the ACT.
"We're so far ahead of the Federal Government when it comes to the clean energy revolution, even though they’ll soon be working in a Parliament that’s powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity. Their local counterparts in the Canberra Liberals also have no plan for climate action. While they dither and the planet burns, the ACT is getting on with the job."
The Australian Capital Territory Climate Change Strategy 2019-2025 outlines the next steps the community, business and Government will take to reduce emissions by 50–60 per cent (below 1990 levels) by 2025, 65 to 75 per cent by 2030; 90 to 95 per cent by 2040, and 100 per cent (net zero emissions) by 2045.
A target that is among the most ambitious in the world.
The plan identifies key challenges in reducing emissions from transport, gas and waste.
Reducing emissions from transport which are expected to account for almost two thirds of ACT emissions from 2020 is a high priority. The plan involves encouraging zero emissions vehicles by providing incentives, facilitating installation of charging infrastructure, running commercial and freight vehicle trials and working toward a zero emissions Government passenger vehicle and bus fleet.
Also on the bucket list are improvements to public transport to provide an extensive, user-friendly light rail and bus network that is well integrated and supported by an expanded network of Park and Ride facilities.
The next key priority is to phase out gas which from next year will account for 22 per cent of greenhouse emissions.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said that the transition to 100 per cent renewable energy is an achievement that highlights the Territory's standing as the national leader in action against climate change.
"Despite the tedious inaction and political posturing at the Federal level on renewable energy investment, the ACT Government has demonstrated what is possible with smart planning and investments in sustainable energy sources,"
"Reaching our 100 per cent renewable energy target is a significant moment, but more needs to be done and I can guarantee to Canberrans that this Government will continue to invest more to protect our natural environment and reduce our reliance on non-renewable energy sources."
The updated Strategy 2019–2025 has received widespread acclaim, with the Smart Energy Council hailing the ACT as a leader in renewables and action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions with its aspirations to reach net zero emissions within just two and a half decades.
Helen Oakey of the Conservation Council also applauded the ACT government for its strong commitment to emissions reductions and goal of net zero emissions goal without the purchase of carbon offsets.
“Purchasing carbon offsets is a short-term solution that would not help the ACT to achieve true net zero emissions,” she said.
“The ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-25 is a blueprint specifically for the ACT, but there are many lessons in this document that other jurisdictions could model their own response to climate change on so as to deliver the emission reductions called for by the science that will ensure a safe liveable climate now and into the future.”
A new report from The Australia Institute report says "the ACT shows how substantial progress can be made when a government is willing to exercise leadership, formulate smart policy and communicate it effectively to its constituents."
The Australia Institute's recent Climate of Nation Report surveyed 1,960 Australians and found over two thirds (69 per cent) agree that State and Territory Governments should be putting in place incentives for more renewable energy.
In May 2019, the ACT joined many other cities, states and territories around the world in declaring a state of climate emergency, acknowledging the need for urgent action across all levels of Government.
The full report can be seen at: www.environment.act.gov.au