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Climate change is the most significant threat to the survival of all life on earth, and requires immediate and significant global action. The impacts of a changing climate are well upon us; increasingly severe fires, storms and droughts are forcing societies and natural ecosystems to transform the way they have function. Responding to climate change requires both adaptation (actions to adjust to changes that have happened and are predicted) and mitigation (actions to avoid and minimise further emissions).

To meet the internationally agreed target of limiting warning to 2°C, globally we must emit no more than another 95 billion tonnes of carbon. At the current rate of 10 billion tonnes of global emissions each year, we will exceed the remaining carbon budget by 2030. As one of the world’s wealthiest and highest-emitting countries (per capita), Australia has a clear moral obligation to take strong action to reduce emissions. In 2017–18, the ACT’s per capita emissions were 14.2 tonnes, nearly three times the 2014 global average of 4.9 tonnes per capita.

The ACT has demonstrated leadership by setting a target of net-zero emissions by 2045, but this is insufficient — we must do more. The science demands that the ACT should aim for net-zero emissions by 2030 regardless of how politically uncomfortable this might appear. This would bring the ACT in line with other leading cities, such as Bristol, Glasgow and Copenhagen who all have zero emissions targets of 2030 or earlier.

As a small jurisdiction within a national context, the ACT has limits on its capacity to achieve change within its borders and surrounding region. But as an agile and relatively wealthy community, we can continue to show what is possible and implement innovative policies to decarbonise all sectors, particularly transport and buildings. We must build resilience to deal with the changes that are occurring, and ensure a just transition to a low-carbon economy. Government and community responses to the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrate that we can make rapid and previously unthinkable changes when the need is considered sufficiently dire.

01. Set a target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for the ACT by 2030, and commit to reducing greenhouse gases and drawing down atmospheric carbon dioxide as rapidly as possible. Achieving this target requires expediting actions under the ACT Climate Change Strategy.

02. Urgently set a timetable to phase out the use of gas in the ACT by 2030, and stop all new gas connections immediately.

03. Urgently set a timetable to achieve net-zero emissions from transport by 2030.

04. Trial a program of community ownership of solar power such as Solar Gardens, for those who neither have roof space nor capital to invest in solar panels.

05. Establish minimum energy efficiency standards for rental properties by 2021.

06. Extend support to low-income households to reduce energy use through energy efficiency measures, electrification and energy-efficient appliances.

07. Increase the minimum energy rating of new residential buildings to 8 stars by 2022.

08. Establish a compliance unit with authority and powers to ensure building standards and codes are met.

09. Phase-out wood-burning heaters to improve air quality and reduce the removal of firewood from native forests, woodland, and farmland.

10. Require all government agencies to prepare, implement and publicly report on progress with climate change adaptation plans.

11. Commit to the exclusion of fossil-fuel and emissions-intensive companies under the ACT Government Responsible Investment Policy, and fully divest directly-owned shares in these companies by 2025.

12. Revise the ACT Government’s Sustainable Procurement Policy to require that an organisation has screened its supply chain and neither it, nor its supply chain, provides essential support (e.g. financial, construction, management or insurance) to fossil fuel developments.

Take action

With a new ministry in place, Canberrans can continue to call on the government to step up for the future of our city. Our handy action guides will help you to take action.

Action guides:

We’re working to protect the environment in the ACT and beyond. Join us!

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