Yellow Box Dispatch — September 2016

Yellow Box Dispatch — September 2016

 

Yellow Box Dispatch September 2016

 

We have less than four weeks until the election of a new Assembly for a four year term.

We are the first Australian jurisdiction to have major party support for 100% renewable electricity and a zero net emissions timeframe. Well done Canberra. We have a plan to have 100% electricity from renewable energy by 2020 … but we don’t have a post-2020 plan to get to zero net emissions overall. So, to hear from candidates about their policies on the environment and climate change come to our forum to be held lunchtime Thursday 29 September at the Pilgrim Centre.

The Environmental Defenders Office ACT is seeking support for their campaign to obtain ACT government funding to replace the loss of their federal government funding. See the article below and follow the links to send a letter to ACT candidates.

What will candidates say in election mode about Minister Gentleman’s proposed suburb of Thompson on the bank of the Murrumbidgee? The case for the development has not been made in the community consultation – instead evidence has piled up against it!

There is a human side to the election and how we look after people can help reduce impacts on the environment. The Conservation Council has joined with other peak organisations around Canberra to develop a shared statement of issues.

Beyond the election, Fossil Free ANU is calling on alumni to not make donations to the University until the ANU agrees to divest from fossil fuel investments.

There’s always something to do as you can see from the environmental events below.

And save the date for Conservation Council Spring Mingle Friday 4 November. It’s always a great event – including the ACT Environment Awards announcements – and we will also have some interesting aural presentations this year!

Regards

Larry O’Loughlin
Executive Director

Election forum – still plenty to do on environment and climate change

All current political parties in the ACT Legislative Assembly have now committed to strong climate change targets. But there is still more to do. How do we actually get to those targets? Will we keep leading Australia and most of the world in driving down emissions and developing new approaches?

What are the political parties doing about other environmental issues (see some of our issues here)? How are they going to manage municipal waste into the future given that all parties refused to set reduction and recycling targets when legislation went forward earlier this year? How are they going to stop the impact of this expanding city on our unique biodiversity? Does any party have the courage to support cat containment across the whole city, not just some of the new developments? How are they going to deal with transport and planning to deal with the fact that after 2020 over 60 per cent of Canberra’s emissions will be from transport?

All these questions and more are there to be answered at the Conservation Council-350.org election forum 12 noon Thursday 29 September at Pilgrim House with:

  • Mick Gentleman MLA, Minister for Planning and Land Management — ACT Labor
  • Nicole Lawder MLA, Shadow Minister for the Environment — Canberra Liberals
  • Michael Mazengarb, Candidate for Brindabella — ACT Greens

We will make sure other candidates at the event are visible too!

Make your booking now so we can gather milk crates for spare seats!

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Evidence piles up against development while government tries distraction

The western Greenway community panel –  the consultation process for the proposed suburb of Thompson – has now met three times.

The panel has been told that the concept for a new suburb in the area – on the bank of the Murrumbidgee, adjacent to or on top of existing sporting and recreational activities and over Aboriginal and European heritage – came from Purdon Planning and went to the Land Development Agency (LDA) who then asked Purdon Planning to do more work on the concept.

The panel had asked the Government for a report on the possible impacts of the suburb on the Murrumbidgee water quality. Instead the panel was given a presentation on the ACT Healthy Waterways (Basin Project). There are no Basin projects proposed for western Greenway. None of the other areas with proposed projects seem to have similarities to western Greenway. Perhaps the real link was exposed with a question about the Government spending millions of dollars improving Murrumbidgee water quality while proposing to build a polluting suburb almost on the river itself!

The panel discussed the award-winning 2012 Tuggeranong Town Centre Master Plan and its proposals for adding thousands of residents to the town centre itself. The Master Plan said of the area proposed to be suburb Thompson: “Residential, commercial, retail, clubs, drink establishments and restaurants are not recommended as being appropriate for this area.” and “The Murrumbidgee River is only 600m from the town centre. The river is an alternative open space experience to the town park and paths around the lake. Access to the river helps make this urban centre unique.”

The panel was asked to identify studies that might need to occur before development in the western Greenway area. However it was not clear to many on the panel why there should be studies in a new area before first considering development in the town centre.

While there seemed to be no strong support on the community panel for a suburb in the area panel members recognise there are other issues to focus on for consultation. The Government seems happy to extend the consultation further without taking the suburb concept off the table.

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Fossil free ANU alumni

Fossil Free ANU is calling on all ANU alumni and community members to support our campaign and take the pledge not to donate until it has divested from fossil fuels! After five years campaigning on this issue, we’ve seen incremental, grudging steps towards socially responsible investment, but no moral leadership. Now, we’re seeing if money talks.

The ANU is currently undertaking a philanthropy drive and soliciting donations from alumni. Tell ANU that you don’t approve of their continuing investment in the fossil fuel companies causing climate change. Tell ANU to make your donation fossil free.

Read More

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Shared statement for ACT election

The Conservation Council has been working across a range of environmental issues leading to the Legislative Assembly election and has also been working as part of the Peaks Forum – a range of social, health and community organisations – to develop a shared statement on community issues.

The statement was signed by 20 organisations and launched 29 August 2016 as ACTCOSS hosted a panel of the current party leaders as part of the ACT Election campaign. As Susan Helyar ACTCOSS Director wrote in the ACTCOSS newsletter the “statement seeks to frame the election by inviting candidates to see city infrastructure, services, social infrastructure, the local environment and economic development as linked underpinning resources that we need to invest in and harness in unison if we are to achieve a fair, prosperous and sustainable Canberra over the next ACT Legislative Assembly.”

The event heard announcements from each of the leaders. ACT Labor Party through Andrew Barr pledged $1 million to build bulk-billing GP centres in Tuggeranong and Molonglo and also said there would be further announcements on affordable and accessible housing. The ACT Greens through Shane Rattenbury said they would freeze public transport fares for the period of the next Assembly and they would implement a housing affordability policy, including having someone from the social and affordable housing sector on the Board of the Land Development Agency. They also promised action on universal housing design and to do more on the quality of private rental housing.

The Canberra Liberals, through Jeremy Hanson in response to a question, stated support for 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2020, a reduction in greenhouse emissions of 40% on 1990 levels by 2020 and zero net emissions by 2050.

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EDO ACT seeking your support

The Environment Defenders Office ACT is seeking ACT Government funding to fill the gap created by the Federal Government’s funding cuts and is asking you to use your voice at election time.

Follow this link to send a letter to the leaders of all major parties in the ACT, either using the letter already written or delete the text and write your own.

Go to Environmental Defenders Office – ACT Facebook page for more information.

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EVENTS

Gardening for renters

What: Join Canberra Environment Centre and the Tenants’ Union ACT in this hands-on workshop where you’ll learn about gardening tips and tricks that’ll keep your landlord happy. We’ll talk about a range of cheap and portable gardening ideas for your balcony/courtyard/backyard and ways to maximise your rental property’s potential. Make your own small and budget-friendly wicking pot to take home at the end of the workshop.

When: Saturday, 15 October, 10am – 12pm

Cost: $5 Register here

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Frogwatch training

What: Learn how to survey for frogs with Frogwatch experts. The evening will start with an introductory seminar from 6pm–7.15pm, followed by a practical session from 7.15pm–8.30pm in the form of an easy walk around the Wetlands to put new found theory into practice. A light supper will be provided.

Organiser: Woodlands and Wetlands Trust

Note: You can attend one session or both, however it is highly recommended that the seminar is undertaken if you haven’t done Frogwatch before.

When: October 1, 6pm – 8:30pm light supper provided

Where: Jerrabomberra Wetlands, 2 Dairy Road, Fyshwick, ACT 2609

Cost: $10 Bookings essential here 

Read about ACT and Region Frogwatch http://ginninderralandcare.org.au/frogwatch. Find more about our local frog species and listen to their calls http://fw.ginninderralandcare.org.au/frogs

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‘Art of Nature’ – WABA Members’ Exhibition

What: Wildlife and Botanical Artists annual Members’ Exhibition, ‘Art of Nature’, showcasing the extraordinary artworks produced by WABA members. There are prizes awarded for best artwork in four categories: 2-D work, 3-D work, Best in Show and People’s Choice, along with a raffle prize. See waba.net.au for more information

Where:
Woolshed Gallery, Strathnairn Arts Association, 90 Stockdill Drive, Holt ACT 2615

When:
24 November – 4 December inclusive, opening event Saturday 26 November 2016

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Consultation on ACT Healthy Waterways (Basin Project)

What: Preliminary sketch plans for up to 25 projects across six catchments as part of ACT Healthy Waterways (Basin Project) have been prepared for community consultation including specific information about proposals projects including access and thoroughfares, potential impact on existing vegetation, proposed landscaping, location/relocation of paths, cross sections, embankment treatments and dam heights.

Info: Visit https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/act-healthy-waterways for more details on the projects and feedback.

Print copies: if you would like copies to distribute to your contacts, email your name and postal address including how many you want to [email protected]

Community consultation is until Friday 30 September.

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National Environment Meeting 2016 (NEM2016)
Hope in The Dark

What: NEM2016 has an exciting program of forums, keynote speakers, workshops, and opportunities to build connections for your important work. NEM2016 has been extended to include public and academic streams, allowing environmentalists from across Australia to share knowledge and skills

Who: ​Hosted by Greenpeace Australia Pacific, in partnership with Nature Conservation Council of NSW and Sydney Environment Institute

When: The National Environment Meeting will be held 20-23 October 2016

Where: University of Sydney

Register here

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Environment and Climate Change Election Forum

pope100renewableby2020Around 130 people attended the Conservation Council ACT Region and 350.org Canberra “Environment and Climate Change Election Forum – Our Future, Our Environment” lunch time on Thursday 29 September. This is a short report on the climate change discussion.
We had a panel consisting of:
  • Mick Gentleman, MLA (ACT Labor)
  • Nicole Lawder MLA (Canberra Liberals)
  • Indra Esguerra (ACT Greens)
Climate change action
All three major parties re-committed very loud and clear their support for the ACT 100% renewable energy target by 2020 and to be zero net emissions by 2050. All parties also agreed that we need to have bold climate action that aligns with climate science. It is wonderful to have national and world leading climate action targets and even better to know there is cross-party support. We are the first jurisdiction in Australia to achieve this.
It was clear that all accepted the current plan to get to 100% renewables by 2020. Yet we have no post 2020 plan to get to zero net emissions. All indicated an interest and understanding of the importance of community involvement in post 2020 plans to get to zero net emissions by 2050 including the need to look at our interim measures however no specific commitments were given.
The ACT Greens indicated they thought it would be achievable to reach zero net emissions by 2030 while noting the importance of community involvement and measures to ensure any plans do not impact on disadvantaged sectors.
The Conservation Council and 350.org are still asking for the post 2020 plan to get to zero net emissions as soon as possible to be undertaken in a manner that facilitates cross-party and community ownership as a high priority — i.e. not your standard consultation. This plan needs to include review mechanisms of the zero net emissions target to reflect the science of climate change and to ensure we maintain our national and global leadership position.
To date the ACT Government has divested over 80% of its investments away from fossil fuel companies. While no firm commitments all parties indicated an interest in looking at a timetable for complete divestment of ACT Government investments in fossil fuel companies. The Canberra Liberals noted that they had been active on this issue well before ACT Labor announced its divestment plans in August 2015. Another good space for cross-party support and action.
Please note the cartoon was tweeted by Canberra Times cartoonist David Pope who attended our forum.

Questions sent for environment and climate change forum

act-election-2016-forumWe asked people who registered for the Conservation Council environment and climate change forum to provide questions which we forwarded to panellists – Mick Gentleman, MLA (ACT Labor); Indra Esguerra (ACT Greens); Nicole Lawder (Canberra Liberals).

We also had short presentations from other candidates at the forum: Peter Robinson (Independent, Kurrajong); Martin Tye (Sustainable Australia, Ginninderra); Marea Fatseas (Independent, Kurrajong); Caroline Le Couteur (ACT Greens, Murrumbidgee); Michael Mazengarb (ACT Greens, Brindabella); Veronica Wensing (ACT Greens). Shane Rattenbury MLA (ACT Greens, Kurrajong) was at the forum but gave up his space to speak to allow others to present.

Only some of the questions below were asked at the forum because a lack of time meant many were not aired.

ACT #Election2016 Environment and Climate Change Forum 29 September 2016 – submitted questions

General

  • What will you do in the first 100 days of the new Assembly to demonstrate your commitment to the environment?

Biodiversity

Weeds and pests

  • Will you ensure ongoing recurrent funding for weed and pest management in the ACT in order of $3 million per year?

Cats

  • Will you introduce a Canberra wide cat containment policy by 2025? Will you ensure there is a funded and active community engagement program in the interim years?
  • Does any party have the courage to support cat containment across the whole city, not just some of the new developments?

Biodiversity

  • Do you support measures to restrict further loss of ACT’s nationally significant ecologically communities? If yes, what measures do you propose?
  • How are they going to stop the impact of this expanding city on our unique biodiversity?

Trees

  • What will you do to ensure protection of our significant mature trees?
  • In addition to measures to protect our mature trees what will you do to ramp up planting & supporting growth to maturity of new trees. (see Appendix A)

Climate Change

  • Will you please re-state your commitment to the 100% renewable energy target by 2020?
  • Do you support bold action on climate change that aligns with the science? (see Appendix B)
  • Will you take the politics out of climate change and work with all parties to develop a cross-partisan and community owned plan get Canberra to zero net emissions ASAP?
  • How will you ensure a creative community driven consultation in 2017 to develop a plan for how we get to zero emissions ASAP?
  • Will you amend the Climate Change legislation to include regular reviews of our GHG reduction targets with community consultation?
  • Will you commit to a timetable for complete divestment of ACT Govt investments from fossil fuel projects / companies? What timeframe would you propose?

Transport

Light rail

  • What are the advantages of light rail over renewably charged electric buses?
  • If you are elected, how many kilometres of new footpaths will you build before the next election? (see Appendix C)

Reducing intra-travel emissions

  • The whole concept of Canberra’s town centres was that people live and work in their own centre. But they don’t always. It takes over half an hour to drive from Gungahlin suburbs to Tuggeranong which is expensive in financial and greenhouse gas terms. What strategies would you employ to reduce emissions derived from people travelling within Canberra?

Low emission vehicles strategy

  • The Government launched a Low Emission Vehicle Strategy discussion paper 27 months ago, and no final strategy has been released to my knowledge.  Given that it has also been reported that over 50% of the ACT’s emissions will come from the transport sector by 2020, what do the three major parties propose to do to tackle these emissions, especially emissions from privately-owned vehicles?

Planning

Thompson-West Greenway

  • Would you support a change to the Territory Plan to re-zone ‘NUZ4 – River Corridor’ to allow for urban development within the Murrumbidgee River Corridor, as suggested in a report by Purdon Planning to the Land Development Agency and flouted by Planning Minister Mick Gentleman to the community earlier this year as a proposed new suburb of West Greenway or Thompson?

Riverview Development – Ginninderra Falls

  • Will you ministers undertake to further scrutinise the planning in the Ginninderra Falls / West Belconnen area based on significant concerns raised by the community and to take into account cross border biodiversity issues. With respect to biodiversity concerns, will the government commit to effectively conserving listed and regionally significant species such as Scarlet Robin, Rosenberg’s Goanna and Little Eagle and conduct a transparent consultation with leading experts on these species?

Transport planning

  • How are they going to deal with transport and planning to deal with the fact that after 2020 over 60 per cent of Canberra’s emissions will be from transport?

Population

  • What do you think is a sustainable population for the ACT and is this based on? Interested from a climate change, biodiversity loss, as well as quality of life perspective.

Environment – Water

  • The Chief executive of the Australian Water Association Jonathan McKeown said the $410 million upgrade to the Cotter Dam was necessary, but would not be enough, with Canberra’s growth rate. He says we will need an additional supply in 10 to 15 years. Where will we get it from, and what will be the economic and environmental cost?
  • Can we handle a 20% decrease in stream runoff by 2050, and increasing climate variability? [See: “Climate and water availability in south-eastern Australia”, SEACI 2012]

Waste

  • How are they going to manage municipal waste into the future given that all parties refused to set waste reduction and recycling targets when legislation went forward earlier this year?
  • Will you support amendments to the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Act 2016 to make it a statutory requirement that the Minister:
    • Prepare a Waste Strategy
    • Undertakes regular review of the strategy with public input
    • Must set waste reduction and recycling targets and public reporting on progress (all similar to provisions in the Climate Change legislation / and /or Nature Conservation Act 2014)
  • Will you allocate funding to community education on waste reduction
  • Do you support the ACT importing 160 tonnes of landfill waste per day, every day, from other states for the purposes of turning it into crude oil and then refining it into fuel in the ACT for sale interstate?
  • What is your view of the proposed Hume plastic waste recycling facility and what will be your response to it? (see Appendix D)

 

Appendix A: Context Mature trees

Dr. Liz Hannah, President of the Climate and Health Alliance

  • I research the impacts of climate change on Human Health.
  • As part of this, I studied the impact of urban foliage on small scale temperatures during summer.
  • We found that well treed suburbs were up to 7 degrees cooler than the new barren suburbs.
  • This is physiological significant in terms of health risk, as well as power savings during summer.
  • My problem is the lax view on removing trees, and clearing blocks of land which serves to negate the passive cooling offered by trees. The 70% footprint is not enforced, as driveways etc. are not included.

 

If Canberra is serious about adapting to heat to protect human health, one of the cheapest ways is to protect our mature trees, and ramp up planting & supporting growth to maturity of new trees.

 

We also know of the multiple other co-benefits – air quality, biodiversity, aesthetics and mental health benefit of green space etc.

 

A counter argument has been put forward that trees fall & hurt people. This is statistically bunkum. I have also reviewed work which examined the injury stats in NSW, the rate is about the same as falling TV’s – literally!!

 

Appendix B: Context to Climate Change

All three parties in the ACT have committed to strong climate targets and zero net emissions by at least 2050. Canberrans are proud of this and we celebrate it. 90% of Canberrans agree that climate change is a problem, and 80% believe the ACT Government needs to act urgently. But reports from the Stockholm Environment Institute, The Climate Council, The Climate Institute and the IPCC (1234) among others suggest that we have little to no carbon budget left and need to get to zero emissions well before 2050, as soon as possible.

 

Appendix C: Context to footpaths

The major parties have committed to public transport spending of between $450 million and $1.4 billion, including the $400 million annual subsidy to ACTION.

This spending will support the public transport commute segments of the 1,000 Canberrans who drive to bus stops and complete their journeys by bus, and of the 24,000 Canberrans who walk to bus stops and complete their journeys by bus.

There is a road from every Canberra home to a bus stop, but less than three quarters of Canberra homes have a footpath to a school or a bus stop.

Between now and 2020 the Government expects to spend $40 million towards the walking segments of the 24,000 commuters who walk to bus stops and the 17,000 who walk all the way to school or work. This will build 120 kilometres of new footpaths. At that rate it will be forty years before every street has a footpath.

BACKGROUND: ACT Data based on 2011 Census at School and 2011 population Census

Travel to school:

  • 4,000 children cycle
  • 9,000 children walk
  • 13,000 children travel walk to bus stops and complete their journeys by bus
  • 30,000 children are driven to school

Travel to work:

  • 123,000 people drive
  • 800 people combine driving and public transport
  • 11,000 people combine walking and public transport
  • 14,000 people are driven
  • 8,000 walk
  • 5,000 people cycle

 

Appendix D: Context to Hume waste facility to recycle plastic

  • the plastic-to-fuel pyrolysis factory proposed for Hume, next to suburbs of eastern Tuggeranong and South Jerrabomberra, which will process 200 tonne of plastic/day and produce 200,000 litre of fuel/day?
  • consumption of the fuel will add 220 kilotonne of CO2/year, representing close to 12% of the ACT carbon footprint anticipated for 2020?
  • of the quantity and range of pollutants and toxins in the gases and fuels depending on composition and contaminants of the plastics supplied, with only 20% coming from the ACT and 80% from Victoria, NSW and southern Queensland?
  • The location specifics make pollution worse than for a similar factory at sea level, with Canberra’s less dense air (640 m) and hot summers (40 degrees) resulting in up to 20% more pollutants breathed in for the same oxygenation, and that southern Canberra’s prominent north-south ridges and prevailing east-west winds create downward eddies behind the ridges and accumulate pollution in the valleys where people live?
  • the site is in a very high bushfire-risk area, was in the projected path of the 2003 Chapman fire-tornado which reached Wanniassa Hills above Hume, and that on-site fire risk is high with 250 tonne of flammable plastic and 1.9 million litre of fuel stored near four continuous burners?

Climate change action needs to go beyond politics

The ACT Greens have announced measures to transition Canberra away from gas including stopping new gas infrastructure; removing incentives to install gas appliances; setting minimum standards for new gas appliances; mandating that replacement hot water systems must not be gas; and changing Building Code requirements to prohibit gas hot water services in new houses.

If we are going to shift to zero net emissions we do need to make a transition away from gas – even gas network providers are getting ready for this – and this should be part of a comprehensive community owned plan on how to get to zero net emissions. Gas has become much more expensive and already some new developments in Canberra do not have gas appliances. There are efficient and effective electrical appliances that can replace gas appliances, and we can do renewable emission-free electricity and we can’t do that with fossil fuel gas.

Election campaigns might not be the best place to throw ideas into the (gas) ring to get good policy. The Canberra Liberals have criticised the idea – Leader Jeremy Hanson is quoted as saying: “This is just grossly unfair … this is just going to cause disadvantage, this is going to cause … hardship for a lot of families out there that want to heat their homes or cook using gas.” The Liberals are potentially locking themselves into a death spiral of providing expensive infrastructure which never gets repaid because it does not get used for both environmental and economic reasons.

We need to take the politics out of climate change action. We need to work together to share solutions.

Local all-party support on climate change action

ACT Government policy on greenhouse gas emissions and electricity from renewable energy has made the ACT a leader both nationally and internationally. What really stands out now is that finally goals for strong action have all-party support.

On 29 August Jeremy Hanson MLA, leader of the Canberra Liberals, committed to support the current 100% renewable target by 2020, the 40% greenhouse gas reduction target by 2020 and zero net emissions by 2050. He said: the “reality is that this is now legislated” and the “contracts are signed… so it’s kind of happening whether we like it or not, but we are very happy to support that”.

The Conservation Council ACT Region welcomes this commitment. While we will continue to urge for zero net emissions by 2040 at the latest and the need for an interim 2030 target, the reality is that we have unprecedented major party support for strong climate change targets and actions to deliver them.

The Canberra community cares about climate change and has demonstrated we are willing to do our bit. The community has wanted successive ACT Governments to take a strong leadership role and supports action on climate change. A July 2016 survey of Canberra citizens found that 90% agree climate change is a problem, 71% believe they will be seriously affected, 80% believe the ACT Government needs to act urgently, and residents are willing to pay an extra cost incurred by climate action. This reflects a 2013 survey which found that 76% of Canberrans believe it is moderately or very urgent for the ACT Government to take action to tackle climate change and 81% want the ACT Government to take strong leadership to help ACT residents tackle climate change.

The ACT’s climate policy is working. In 2010 the ACT Government set greenhouse gas reduction targets and started to invest in renewable energy. Already over 20% of our electricity is from renewable sources and we are on track to deliver 100% renewable energy by 2020. Our greenhouse gas emissions have dropped 11.8%!

One challenge over the last six years has been a lack of clear political agreement on our climate goals and a concern that our good work could be undone. A historical perspective is useful here.

On 26 August 2010 Minister for the Environment, Simon Corbell MLA introduced the Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Bill 2010. The legislation was subsequently passed in October 2010. It went to a vote 9 in favour (ALP-Greens) and 5 against (Canberra Liberals).

It was debated at the same time as the Climate Change (Greenhouse Gas Emission Targets) Bill 2008 first introduced July 2008 by Shadow Environment Minister Vicki Dunne MLA then re-re-introduced by Leader of the Opposition, Zed Seselja MLA in the first sitting of the Eighth Assembly on 10 December 2008 then debated in 2010. Again this went to a vote with a converse outcome – defeated 9 votes to 5.

Both Liberal and Labor bills sought to address the need for local action on climate change and how we here in the ACT could be leaders. The Liberal legislation also called for a renewable energy target of 20% by 2014.

The key difference between the two bills was the greenhouse gas reduction target: Canberra Liberals had 30% by 2020 compared with the Greens-Labor 40% target. Both bills recognised the importance of long-term targets as well as interim targets. They were so close yet unity didn’t happen at that time.

Earlier in 1997 then Liberal Minister for the Environment Gary Humphries introduced the ACT’s first climate strategy proposing to reduce greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2008. In doing so this made the ACT to have the first greenhouse reduction targets of any jurisdiction in Australia. Again this strategy became politicised and there was no agreement on the goals across the major parties.

So now it is great news that all major parties agree on the same goals through legislative endorsement in May 2016 and now reinforced by the Liberals’ commitment. We don’t want action on climate change to be politicised. Climate change affects us all and we all need to work together to deal with it. As a community we want to be confident of ongoing and dedicated strong local action on climate change. If we have agreed goals it means we can focus on getting on with reducing emissions. It’s time for all parties in other States and the Northern Territory and nationally to follow our lead.

With 2015 the hottest year on record, so far, climate action has never been more urgent. We need to meet the Paris 2015 global commitment to a new aspirational aim of keeping global temperature rises below 1.5° Celsius.

We celebrate that Canberra is well on the path to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and our existing greenhouse gas emission reduction and renewable energy targets put us in the lead in Australia and in many world comparisons. We celebrate that we now have all-party support for our climate goals. We need to do this for the planet, for future generations and for a climate friendly future for all.

However we need to keep focussed. We have a plan to be 100 % electricity from renewable energy by 2020 … but we don’t have a post-2020 plan to get to zero net emissions. Climate science is changing rapidly and we have no interim targets before 2050 and no review mechanisms of our targets. Can we do zero net emissions sooner than 2050? What is our 2030 target? How do we align our goals with the science of climate change? If anywhere can do this, Canberra can.

We need to remember there is no Planet B.

Larry O’Loughlin, Executive Director, Conservation Council ACT Region

[see all the Conservation Council policies for the 2016 election here]