Climate change – thank you and path ahead

The environmental high point of the 2016 ACT Legislative Assembly election was that all three parties in the Assembly broadly agreed on climate change targets. Labor, Liberal and Greens supported 100% electricity from renewable energy by 2020 and zero net emissions by 2050 at the latest (with the Greens calling for a 2030 target).

The Conservation Council wrote to all party leaders after the election results were finalised. We sought the establishment of a select Assembly Committee to develop, by 2018, a pathway to zero net emissions for the ACT. The Assembly and the community should work together to develop agreed pathways on climate change that work for all sectors of society. This could be done through a genuinely inclusive process of consultation on climate change policy and action plans and by using creative ways to engage the community.

Thursday October 20, 2016

Dear Andrew, Jeremy [also later Alistair] and Shane

One of the highlights of the ACT election was the major party – ACT Labor, Canberra Liberals and ACT Greens – support for 100% electricity from renewable energy target by 2020 and for Canberra to become zero net emissions by 2050. We note the 2020 target is not ‘aspirational’ as contracts have been put in place and hence it will be achieved. This is a great achievement.

It is also worth reiterating the ACT is a national and international leader on local climate change action and delivery and we are proud of this. We are leaders because:

  • we have a 100% renewable energy target by 2020
  • we have a plan and contracts in place to deliver this
  • we have a target of being zero net emissions by 2050
  • we have tri-partisan support for the above.

We congratulate you all on your role in achieving this.

However we do note post 2020 there is no plan to achieve the zero net emissions target by 2050 and there are no interim targets. The Conservation Council also suggests that in order to keep up with the science and to maintain our leadership role we should look at whether we can achieve an earlier zero net emissions target than 2050.

We are hoping that the impetus on tri-partisan support for local action on climate change can be maintained and we suggest one mechanism to do this would be to have a Select Committee established on “Canberra – Our Pathway to Zero Net Emissions”. The outcomes of this process could feed into the development of a new Action Plan by the ACT Government by the finalised in 2018. This is a good way for the Assembly and the community to work together to develop agreed pathways on climate change that work for all sectors of society.

We are also seeking other creative ways to engage the community. If we are to develop and implement a zero net emission plan it must be embraced by the ACT community, by a wide range of organisations across sectors and by our major political parties. This must mean a more inclusive process than has occurred with previous consultation on climate change policy and action plans.

Some observations are:

  • according to current Action Plan#2 (AP2) the next Action Plan#3 is not due to be finalised till 2021
  • we have been advised the Directorate intends to bring this forward to 2018
  • there was no public consultation on the review of our Climate Change Act targets in 2015-16
  • there was no public consultation on the 2015 review of Action Plan#2

We note that in December 2008 one of the first actions of the new Assembly was the setting up of a Standing Committee to look at the ACT greenhouse reduction targets. See Terms of Reference. It was this Committee that paved the way for where we are today. I would hope that some comparable action highlighting the importance of the ACT going forward on this issue with major party engagement is considered.

I would be happy to discuss.

Kind regards

Larry O’Loughlin
Executive Director

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