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ACT brings forward zero emissions target to 2045

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The Australian Capital Territory has accelerated its zero emissions target, even as the federal government that gathers within the boundaries of the nation’s capital seems intent on putting a go-slow on climate action.

The new target – which now aims for the ACT to reach zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, instead of 2050 – has been announced by Shane Rattenbury, the minister for climate change and sustainability in the Labor-Greens territory government.

Rattenbury has effectively thrown down the gauntlet to other states and the federal government to also increase their efforts, just as Canberra seeks to lock the country into modest efforts over the next 10 years.

“Canberra is again showing other cities around the world how climate action can be realised,” Rattenbury said. “We are living proof of what is possible when you get on with it.”

The ACT already expects to source the equivalent of 100 per cent of its electricity needs by 2020 – itself an accelerated target – and is now embarking on comprehensive plan for electric vehicles, and also gas-free housing divisions.

The new target was proposed following consultation with the ACT’s climate change council, and in light of technology developments – the falling cost of renewables but also the advent of electric vehicles.

The ACT is also looking to lock in interim targets that include:

  • its current target of 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 (which it is on track to achieve)
  • 50-60 per cent below 1990 levels by 2025
  • 65-75 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030
  • 90-95 per cent below 1990 levels by 2040
  • net zero emissions by 2045 (previously 2050).

“The ACT is committed to tackling climate change by delivering ambitious clean energy and zero net emission targets,” Rattenbury said in a statement.

 “Our new target of achieving zero net emissions by 2045 will lead the nation, and stands among the most world’s most progressive jurisdictions in our commitment to delivering real climate action.”

ACT in 2016/17 only emitted 3.9 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, a fraction of the nation’s estimated emissions of 533 million tonnes.

But the new targets mean that the battle between the ACT and the federal government over the structure and intent of the proposed National Energy Guarantee will intensify ahead of the next COAG energy minister’s meeting in August.

By then, the Energy Security Board will have finalised its draft rules for the NEG and the policy will be put to the vote of state ministers.

While the actual mechanism has been vastly improved since it was first unveiled in a hurry last October, the level of ambition within the target, the ability to change those targets, and the status of territory- and state-based targets will be a major stumbling block.

The ACT, along with Victoria and Queensland, want their own renewables and emissions targets to be “additional” to the weak national target, which currently only aims for a 26 per cent cut in emissions in the electricity sector by 2030.

Most independent analysts say that national emissions target will likely be met, or nearly met, by 2020, as a result of the federal renewable energy target, and state- and territory-based initiatives.

That leaves no emissions incentive for any new build in renewables over the decade from 2020.

Australia used to have a long-term emissions reduction target – an 80 per cent cut by 2050 – but that was dumped by the Abbott government when it scrapped the carbon price, and then sought to cancel the renewable energy target.

Interestingly, the Australian Energy Market Operator is modelling two long-term scenarios – a 70 per cent emissions cut and a 90 per cent cut by 2050 – as part of its work on a new Integrated System Plan that will help ensure the infrastructure is in place for a clean energy transition.

Source: AAP

Rattenbury says the ACT’s interim targets are being set to send a clear signal to industry and business “so they can plan their investments accordingly and capitalise on the opportunities that being a leader and early adopter provides.”

Before it launched its 100 per cent renewables program, electricity and gas accounted for 65 per cent of the ACT’s emissions.

Post 2020, once the 100 per cent renewables target is met, about 60 per cent of its emissions will from transport and 21 per cent from gas usage.

The ACT has already announced plans to phase in buying of EVs for all government fleets over the next few years, along with incentives and new requirements for property owners, and has plans for gas-free fully electric suburbs.

Longer term, meeting the zero emissions target will mean the electrification of its entire transport fleet, public and private, and improved public transport. Hydrogen may also play a role, in transport and in storage.

Is the ACT about to follow the lead of cities like Paris and London and announce the ban of sales of new petrol and diesel cars?

Not yet, says Rattenbury, there are not enough EV options available. But it may come to pass some time in the future.

The new target puts Rattenbury on a collision course with the federal government over the NEG and the scale of ambition on emissions reductions, or the lack of it.

“This underlines our view that the NEG is not strong enough,” Rattenbury told RenewEconomy. “Under the NEG (and current targets) we will not achieve our Paris commitment.

“If we only take 26 per cent out of the electricity sector (as the government proposes to do), there is no way we will get (sufficient reductions) out of the other sectors.”

He says that the new targets will ensure the ACT plays its part in keeping global warming to below 2°C.

“Climate change brings risks that will impact every aspect of our society. Scientific evidence tells us there is an urgent need for action on part of our communities, and our Governments, to get the job done.

“Canberra is again showing other cities around the world how climate action can be realised.”  

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  • Connor

    Love the work the ACT is doing. They’re definitely an inspiring state. It’s a shame WA and other places cant’ be more like it

    • George Darroch

      Come on Victoria!

      • Joe

        What’s happening here with Victoria then. Has Minister Lily done a U-Turn ?

        • Barri Mundee

          Might be walking both sides of the street as Qld’s Labor has been doing- with an eye out for votes.

          • George Darroch

            There’s a state election looming and they want to be competitive in Gippsland, more than likely.

          • Barri Mundee

            Agree. I live in the Gippsland district and there is still a belief that coal is needed for “base load” and of course jobs. The local brown coal generators are continually cutting jobs by means of redundancies- have to keep the shareholders happy!

          • Hettie

            Labor is in a cleft stick about mines etc.
            If there is popular support for mining in enough seats, and party policy is unequivocal in its opposition to mines, chances of losing are very high, and we all know that Coalition governments are unequivocal in support of all things destructive of the planet and human rights.
            What can Labor do but walk both sides of the street?

          • George Darroch

            It’s because the Coalition does not feel any pain for running us into climate disaster. It’s like their approach to debt, which is to load us with as much as possible while pretending to be responsible.

          • Hettie

            Quite so.

          • solarguy

            I can’t get on to any of yesterdays stories (18/5/18) I click on any storey and it just comes up error 404. Are you getting the same thing?

          • Hettie

            Hang on and I’ll have a look.

          • Hettie

            Same. Error 404. And this was painfully slow to load from Disqus.
            Next step, look for a disqus link to the story you want and see if that works.

          • solarguy

            Thanks dear lady. I was going to try farting into a bottle next in an effort to kick start the bloody thing. LOL. A glitch on the server end I’d say.

          • RobertO

            Hi solarguy, I have lost all dated 18 May stories but they have reappeared and been redated 19 May and I did not make many comments (too busy).

          • Hettie

            Yes. Also tried view in browser. Same problem.
            Having worked through all Disqus links yesterday, I replied (or not) and deleted them, so can’t get in that way.

          • solarguy

            Bugger, hopefully it will fix it self soon. I suppose I will go and l deliver customers SHW system early now. Catch ya.

          • Hettie

            Good luck.

          • Joe

            Hello my Solarman. Seems a nationwide ‘block’ on Renew Economy yesterday…me also. But I can happily report that it is business as usual for the readers on RE….enjoy again, yes.

          • Hettie

            Thanks Joe

      • Hettie

        What they say and what they do could be quite different.

  • juxx0r

    Perhaps they could start with electric busses?

    • George Darroch

      They should replace their entire fleet. A few Chinese cities have shown how it’s done.

      • Eb

        Hopefully, the ACT’s electric bus trial results will be published soon after August 2018:
        https://reneweconomy.com.au/act-trials-electric-buses-on-public-transport-route-70685/

        • Joe

          What is the EV Bus Trial actually trialling? I mean electric buses operate in various cities around the world. What is ACT trying to find out that hasn’t already been revealed in other cities? Just get on with it and show the other Aussie cities how it is done!

          • Peter Campbell

            Just satisfying sceptics before getting more. Should not be necessary as you say but it gets the job done. If you get two for a ‘trial’ no-one can complain. When, unsurprisingly, they work perfectly well, you can more easily silence the sceptics and buy more – just politics.

          • George Darroch

            Because Australian governments are timid, and their public servants even more so. But after the aggressive attacks on light rail in the ACT I don’t blame them.

          • MaxG

            Let’s hope you’re right.

          • MaxG

            🙂 Gald I read comments before posting — you said it! What on earth is there to trail?!

      • Hettie

        The Chinese have a millennia old culture of doing what they are told.
        Australians, not so much.

    • Peter Campbell

      We have some on trial.

    • solarguy

      Yep, Newcastle thanks to Aunty Gladys has been subjected to a light rail disaster which has seen businesses go under and traffic problems from hell. Not only that the cost has blown out bigtime.
      Battery electric buses would have been the go and with PV charging for a shit load less money. And the good thing about buses, is that they aren’t trapped to a track.

      • Joe

        It is almost comical the Light Rail and Heavy Rail disaster that ‘our Glad’ has inflicted upon us here in Sydney and Newcastle. And then we have that moron, the Constance, The NSW Non-Transport Minister to add ballast to the f&%kups! It is incompetence of the highest order that us NSW’ers will be paying for in perpetuity. We need ICAC or dare I say a Royal Commission into it all.

        • Hettie

          Coalition is their name
          Incompetence their game.

          • Joe

            ….and us NSW punters will continue to pick up the tab long after these bastards have been kicked out of government. Everything( public assets ) is for sale but it is not theirs to sell in the first place. If it can’t be ripped out of the ground then it gets a concrete and bitumen ‘makeover’….so much for ‘our Glad’ and her promise to ‘Green NSW,’ I live in Dee Why, Northern Beaches, NSW…….Up and Up go the ‘Meriton Twin Towers’ and the adjacent ‘Lighthouse’ tower block monstrosity. At the same time down come the trees, the lungs of Dee Why. Where is ‘our Glad’ and the Greening of NSW?

          • Hettie

            She, they are in the land of smoke and mirrors.
            Despite the nasty beetrorter, New England doesn’t have much of that crap to deal with.
            I’m thankful that I’m out of the smog and traffic chaos of Sydney.
            Armidale does have a nasty inversion layer of dangerous wood smoke in the winter, but my place is at the edge of town and above the worst.
            I can understand the local addiction to wood stoves as the preferred form of heating here, despite the mess it makes. I had a wood burner myself before this house, and they are great, but most people don’t know how to manage them for minimum smoke, and a great deal of the firewood on sale is crap. Stringy bark, that burns like paper.
            Yellow box, great firewood, is also important habitat, and a protected species, and iron bark is very expensive. Sudden death on chainsaws.
            But I’m alright, Jack.
            Efficient house, RCAC that’s whisper quiet, clean, costing about 10% of the cost of gas to run; set the timers for a warm house by getting up time, sun takes over by 09:00, and then the beast comes on just as the house is cooling down around 17:30, so no big load, just keeping to 21°.
            Which is a long way off topic.
            Glad must go!
            There’s a nice slogan.
            March 23, here we come.

        • solarguy

          Or a firing squad. The tossers probably think their visionary’s, but acid trips don’t count.

          • Hettie

            Solar, if this were facebook, we would be friends.
            In the spirit of friendship I beg you, please, please check your spelling.
            There = the opposite of here. In that place.
            Their = belonging to them.
            Also,
            Your = belonging to you.
            And other similar common errors.
            You’re = you are
            💜

          • solarguy

            Ah shit, I didn’t realize I was doing that, WTF. I’ll reboot brain. Might be another error 404 capper. LOL.

          • Hettie

            All good.

  • john

    Considering the ACT does not have to my knowledge any heavy manufacturing industry it is very easy to move to 0% electricity demand, however they do have people with motor vehicles and while they are building a tram system, how long before the present bus system is replaced with trams and electric buses where the trams do not go?

    • Peter Campbell

      The light rail is electric, of course. We have a couple of electric buses on trial. I expect that every new bus will be electric. The ACT has zero stamp duty on a new electric car or plug-in hybrid and soon will have special numberplates/stickers for a transit lane permit as a cheap incentive (with a sunset clause for when EVs become abundant). All new strata titled properties must include EV charging facilities.

      • Hettie

        Isn’t it ironic that the “State” which is home to our troglodyte regressive federal would-be dictators, is also home to the most progressive and enlightened group of politicians and residents.

        • solarguy

          I always thought that too.

        • Peter Campbell

          The ACT is only home to four federal pollies. The rest get sent here. Please stop sending troglodytes! [To be fair, the ACT is responsible for Zed Seselja, so we are not entirely trog-free.]

          • Hettie

            Oops. Sorry.
            Re the troglodytes, for “home,” substitute, “working base.”
            Better?

          • Peter Campbell

            It’s OK. I wasn’t offended.

          • Hettie

            You are too kind.
            😙

          • Joe

            A Z-grade pollie, the Zed.

  • Joe

    Could Minister Shane make that car fleet conversion, plus 1. The extra is to provide / donate to our ‘EV Champion’ the Kelly with his own dedicated EV Comcar whenever he is in Canberra on Parliamentary business. Its the only way to get the EV message through his thick head!

    • Hettie

      But Joe! He’d have a stroke on the spot.
      Oh wait…

      • solarguy

        That would be giving stroke to a clot.

        • Hettie

          Hoho.

  • Cooma Doug

    Put the ACT numbers in recent data and our emmissions are still increasing.

    • Hettie

      Shame, Coalition, SHAME.

  • Ken Dyer

    Queensland, take note. You can start by once and for all, killing off the new Acland Mine extension. Coal is a prehistoric fuel and should stay in the ground. Stop toaying to the astroturfing and fake news pedlars of Acland.
    NO NEW MINES!

    • Hettie

      They had best get on with it, starting with developing plans for reskilling mine workers and helping the local community attract other industries.
      The election is only 6 months ago. Palaszczuk will never have a better, safer chance to kill the whole mine than she has now.

  • dono

    Canberra’s population is growing at 2% /year that’s a doubling every 35 years and with a growing per capita consumption the city will need to double its energy production every 30 or so years and that is not sustainable. .

    • Hettie

      Is any population growth, or growth in energy consumption sustainable?

      • dono

        Well would you believe in Clean Coal? No? well how about “all we need is better planning?” No? Now there is a new buzzword We can “decouple growth from environmental damage” And this comes from the NSW Greens !

        • Jonathan Milford

          Thats what clean renewable energy does, doesn’t it?

          • Hettie

            I was referring to the possibility, probability that Australia’s population already exceeds it’s carrying capacity.

          • dono

            Ahh Johnathan the idea that we can decouple environmental damage from continuous growth is very attractive for those who love growth, and here is how it can be achieved. Our ecological footprint, the land we need to live on, grow our food, collect our water provide jobs and transport is is 8.8 ha/person. So all we need do is halve this amount every time we double the population , its so clever I have applied for a noble price in economics and I’m in with a good chance as there is no limit to absurdities in economics. .

          • Jonathan Milford

            What is so absurd? They call it ecological economics. It is the old style economics, which put no value on the environment, that is absurd.

    • Jonathan Milford

      Or you fat cats could make do with less consumption, grow or make some of your own, be more efficient in your use of energy and use less of it. And still be happy!

  • johannes

    So fitting that the nation’s capital should be the most progressive state/territory in terms of its carbon policy. Makes a stark contrast to the ignorance of many of the federal pollies who frequent the place, and hopefully helps highlight their backward attitudes.