The ACT government will bring forward its target for net zero carbon emissions to 2050, in a move designed to complement its recently fast-tracked 100 per cent renewables target, while also bringing it in line with the Paris climate agreement.
ACT environment minister Simon Corbell said the “momentous” new legislation bringing forward the target would take advantage of favourable market conditions, which had seen the Capital achieve the lowest cost for renewable energy seen in Australia.
He said analysis had showed the ACT could achieve 100 per cent renewable electricity generation five years sooner than initially thought – and cheaper than the cost per household originally anticipated.
“This government’s innovative reverse auction process has driven down the price of wind and solar energy to record lows,” Corbell said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Today’s move will allow the ACT to secure 100% renewable energy for Canberrans by 2020, cementing our leadership nationally and around the world as a forward thinking, sustainable city.”
The measure would also ensure that the ACT aligned with targets set out in the Paris Agreement last year – to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels – that was signed by Australia last month, Corbell said.
“A 2020 date moves the ACT to first among global regions with renewable energy targets reporting under the international initiative of the Carbon Disclosure Project.”
At a national level, the outlook for emissions reduction is not so rosy. Despite a low-ball commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, Australia’s electricity emissions continue to rise and are now 5.5 per cent higher than they were before the carbon price was dumped.
In March, the Climate Institute warned that Australia would need to rid itself entirely of coal power generation by 2035 if it was to have any hope of meeting its obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement.
In its submission to the Climate Change Authority’s review of Australia’s policy framework, the Climate Institute said that – in the absence of a carbon pricing mechanism – this would be the only policy consistent with Australia’s commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement.
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