ACT government takes the lead in climate action emission reduction targets

The ACT Government has announced cuts to greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2020, and 80 per cent by 2050, based on 1990 levels. The targets were announced by Minister for the Environment Climate Change and Water, Simon Corbell when tabling the Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Bill 2010 in the ACT legislative assembly.

"The ACT Government has consulted widely on potential targets for greenhouse gas reduction in the Territory, and has analysed evidence based arguments on human caused global warming." siad Simon Corbell, "Governments have a responsibility to act on this issue, and the ACT Labor Government is leading Australia on reducing our carbon footprint by increasing the uptake of renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency in Canberra homes and businesses."

The legislation sets out a commitment to carbon neutrality by 2060 and peaking in per capita emissions by 2013. It also prescribes regular reporting of emission trends to the ACT Legislative Assembly; establishment of a Climate Change Council for advice on response to climate issues; and encouragement of voluntary action.

A report commissioned from consultancy firm Kinesis - Action Plan 2: Primer - showed that on business as usual ACT emissions are expected to rise to 40% above 1990 levels by 2020.

A seperate report by Consultancy firm Heuris Partners - ACT Zero Net Emissions Initiatives: Gap Analysis & Opportunity Identification - detailed the importance of shifting the focus on the debate on climate change to one of shared responsibility for reduced environmental impacts.

"Reaching these targets will be a challenge, but it is not a challenge that cannot be achieved." said Simon Corbell, "The Government will work closely with all sectors of the community including the community sector, industry and small businesses as well as households to achieve these milestones," Mr Corbell said in a media statement.

The ACT Government has had a generous gross feed in tariff since 1 March 2009 that pays a Premium Price of 50.05 cents per kWh generated, for systems up to 10kW, and 40.04 cents per kWh for systems between 10kW and 30kW. From 1 July 2010 until 30 June 2011, the Premium Price will be 45.7c per kWh for all systems up to 30kW.

Development of a large scale solar thermal power facility in the ACT is also on the cards. The proposed facility would produce sufficient power for at least 10,000 homes (or 86,000 MWh/year).

The announcement follows John Brumby's announcement during the Federal election for a generous solar feed in tariff to encourage development of large scale solar thermal power in Victoria's north, and a target of 25 per cent of the state's electricity from renewables by 2020.

"I am pleased that the ACT Labor Government is taking the threat of climate change seriously and is rolling out a progressive policy agenda to meet the challenges." concluded Simon Corbell.

Meanwhile, in negotiations to form a minority Federal Government it is likely Climate Action in a hung parliament will be treated as a priority issue. Both Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott have expressed the need for action on climate, and even climate sceptic Bob Katter says more could be done in harnessing renewable energy.

John Hepburn from Greenpeace Australia has called this Australia's second climate change election, with the most notable swing an increase in the Greens vote, electing Adam Bandt for the seat of Melbourne, and a senator from each state. The Greens will have 9 senators from July 1, 2011, and the balance of power in the senate.