The ACT government will see a shake up in responsibilities for the territory’s ambitious climate and clean energy policies, with ministerial appointments set to be shared between the two leaders of ACT Labor and the ACT Greens.
In a new cabinet unveiled on Tuesday, ACT chief minister Andrew Barr has assigned himself the new portfolio of ‘minister for climate action’, while ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury will hold additional responsibilities as the minister for energy and emissions reduction.
Rattenbury had previously served as the minister for climate change and sustainability during the last term of the ACT parliament, and took on responsibility for setting the ACT’s target for zero net emissions by 2045 and delivering upon a goal of transitioning the territory to 100 per cent renewable electricity, which it achieved last year.
The position had seen the Greens leader clash with Federal energy minister Angus Taylor at meetings of the COAG Energy Council over national climate and energy policy, including over the development of a renewable hydrogen industry in Australia.
In recognition of his growing seniority within the ACT government, Rattenbury will also take on the Attorney General portfolio. First-time minister Rebecca Vassarotti, who also represents the ACT Greens, will become the ACT minister for the environment.
“The new ACT Cabinet will pursue an ambitious and progressive agenda outlined in the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement for the 10th Legislative Assembly,” Barr said in a statement. “This includes supporting Canberra’s economic recovery, investing in health and education and more action on climate change to ensure our city is continuing to demonstrate national leadership in the transition to zero-net emissions.”
“In the new Cabinet, I will take whole of Government leadership of our climate change response through the new Climate Action portfolio,” Barr added. ” A key priority in this portfolio will be to commence work on Canberra’s Big Battery – the largest battery storage system in Australia, as well as the roll-out of the Sustainable and Resilient Household Scheme and our climate change adaptation and resilience programs.”
The split in responsibilities will likely see chief minister Barr take on the local development of new renewable energy and battery storage projects within the ACT, as well as new energy efficiency programs, while Greens leader Shane Rattenbury will remain responsible for higher level energy policy, including measures to phase out gas use and participate in national energy cabinet negotiations.
With the ACT having already transitioned to 100 per cent renewable electricity, the focus will now shift to reducing emissions in harder to abate areas, including in transport, waste and residential gas use.
On Monday, the Labor and Greens alliance in the ACT released its latest parliamentary agreement for the next term of the ACT Legislative Assembly, following a territory election held in mid-October.
Under the new agreement, the two parties have agreed to work together on an ambitious package of climate change and energy policies, including a commitment to work towards phasing out gas use by 2045, the roll-out of new public electric vehicle charging stations, the purchase of 90 new all-electric businesses and a program of zero interest loans for the purchase of solar, storage or electric vehicles.
The agreement includes a commitment to legislate a ban on the construction of new gas infrastructure in new greenfield residential developments, and a goal to stop the roll-out of gas infrastructure in urban in-fill developments.