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16 September 2019

MEDIA RELEASE Ambitious Climate Strategy misses key opportunities

The Conservation Council ACT Region has today welcomed the release of the ACT Government’s long-awaited Climate Change Strategy 2019-2025, and the accompanying Living Infrastructure Plan for Canberra, designed to help build a cooler and more liveable city.

“The ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-2025 lays out an ambitious task for the ACT Government and the community to reach “net zero emissions” by 2045, and doesn’t pull any punches about how challenging it will be,” said Executive Director, Helen Oakey.

“The Conservation Council supports the ACT Government’s commitment to a number of underlying principles which include ongoing and strong collaboration with the ACT community, the need to ensure that the transition to a low carbon city must be undertaken in an equitable way, and the need to respond urgently to climate change.

“The strategy focuses attention on the key sectors from which about 85% of emissions reductions will need to come after 2020 – namely transport, and the use of gas to heat houses and hot water – but we are concerned that some measures are being rolled out too slowly and that early emission reductions will be dependent on the community “changing our choices”.(1)

“To meet the 2025 Interim Target, the ACT needs to cut emissions by between 17-33%. The strategy flags that this period will be important to lay groundwork for future emissions reductions as new technologies emerge, and that most reductions in the initial period will rely on the community behaviour.

“While it’s important to be aware that new technologies are coming, now is the time to move quickly and implement emissions reductions with proven technologies, for example, substituting the use of gas for electricity. Gas will account for 22% of our total emissions after 2020, and yet the Government has missed their best opportunity to secure emissions reductions in the next five years.

“Rather than just education and incentives to switch gas users to all-electric, the quickest way to cut emissions in the next five years would be to stop the rollout of the gas network to new developments, where homeowners are well-positioned to build all-electric energy efficient houses, which are both more comfortable and cheaper to run.

“Cutting transport emissions is where the biggest effort will be required as 62% of emissions will come from transport from 2020.

“The Strategy outlines some bold ideas for rethinking transport and prioritising active and public transport, from planning changes, to incentives, and car free days: measures that will trigger a fundamental rethink on efficient use of roads.

“Reducing emissions from transport will require specific targets, community engagement and investment, over a long period of time, to ensure that active travel and public transport options are efficient and reliable, as well as safe and enjoyable for people.

“While electric vehicles will definitely have a role in our transport future, this transition to zero emissions transport is a wonderful opportunity to reduce the number of private vehicles on our roads, something that will be important as the population grows and our city becomes more dense.

Other highlights of the Climate Change Strategy 2019-2025 include:

  • a 30% Tree Canopy Target to improve liveability and reduce the urban heat effect
  • legislation that will set energy standards for rental properties by 2022-23
  • determining a social cost of carbon which will be reinvested into climate change initiatives in the ACT (rather than paying for carbon offsets); and
  • a residential energy assessment tool that adequately assesses how Canberra houses are performing.

This is a blueprint specifically for the ACT, but there are many lessons in this Climate Strategy that other jurisdictions could model their own response to climate change on so as to deliver the emission reductions called for by the science to ensure a safe climate into the future,” said Ms Oakey.

(1) page 36, ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-25


For further information or interviews contact:

Helen Oakey, Executive Director, Conservation Council ACT Region
0402 052 777