ACT chief minister Andrew Barr has named the Territory’s new minister for climate and sustainability as Greens member Shane Rattenbury – marking only the second time a Greens minister has held a climate and sustainability portfolio in Australian politics.
Rattenbury – who also retains the justice and corrections portfolios – has big shoes to fill in climate and sustainability, taking the reins from Simon Corbell, who is retiring after 19 years in Territory politics.
As we noted earlier this month, Corbell is celebrated in the renewables industry as the architect of a nation-leading energy development agenda that has put the ACT on a path to 100 per cent renewables by 2020 – and which also kept Australia’s entire renewable energy industry afloat during sustained attack from federal and state Coalition governments.
Under Corbell, the ACT has pioneered battery storage, initiatives, helped introduce new forms of community ownership and been responsible for the construction of half a dozen wind farms – Hornsdale stages 1,2, 3, Ararat, Connooer Bridge, Sapphire and Crookwell – that would not have gone ahead otherwise.
He has also ensured that the ACT will become the centrepoint for investigations into the so-called hydrogen economy – and has unveiled trials for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and the use of excess wind and solar to provide “green” hydrogen for use in gas-fired power station.
Most of all, the 100 per cent renewable energy target – and its accompanying emissions reduction – stands as the benchmark for Australian climate and renewable energy policy and a blueprint for what is possible with a bit of careful planning.
According to the Greens website, Rattenbury has lived in Canberra for more than 20 years, where he studied economics and law at the ANU, and then, after a short stint in the federal public service, followed his passion for the environment working for Greenpeace, both in Canberra and overseas.
In 2008, Shane was elected to the Legislative Assembly as one of four Green MLAs, and became the first Greens Speaker of a parliament anywhere in the world. As the Greens Spokesperson on Climate Change and Environment, and Attorney-General and Emergency Services, he worked to secure the ACT Government’s climate change target and campaigned for equal marriage rights.