ACT releases discussion paper on route to earlier zero emissions target

The ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Shane Rattenbury, has launched a discussion paper proposing that the ACT, in line with advice from eminent climate scientists, should set a target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

Mr Rattenbury said that while the ACT was on track to meet its targets of 100% renewable electricity and a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, it was time to set a pathway to achieve net zero emissions as quickly as possible. The current target commits the Government to achieving net zero emissions for the ACT by 2050 at the latest.

The discussion paper, developed after discussions with stakeholders including the ACT Climate Change Council, which has access to the latest national and global research, proposes that the ACT could reach zero emissions by 2045 or earlier, and it sets out interim targets for 2025, 2030 and 2040 to help map the path towards such a target.

In his foreword, Mr Rattenbury pointed out that climate change was already impacting the ACT, with Canberra having its hottest summer on record in 2016 following a decade of year-on-year increasing temperatures.

He said the goal was is to limit the risks posed by climate change, adapt to a warming climate, and increase the ACT’s collective resilience.

“At the same time, we intend to ensure Canberra remains one of the most liveable cities in the world and, in fact, becomes more liveable.”

“The ACT is already demonstrating how effective action on climate change is both possible and brings a wide range of benefits. For example, the innovative arrangements we have used to secure 100% renewable electricity have helped cultivate a burgeoning renewable energy industry in the ACT and helped protect ACT consumers from potential energy price spikes.

“As the ACT will no longer generate any emissions from electricity by 2020, the pathway to zero emissions will need to focus on the remaining sectors, especially transport, gas, waste and land use. These sectors are likely to be more challenging, and will require greater involvement from the community.”

The paper focuses on the main sources of ACT’s emissions after reaching 100% renewable electricity, such as transport, gas and waste. It outlines preliminary ideas including energy efficiency measures for buildings, electrified transport, and organics sorting for waste. Adapting to climate change is also considered in the paper.

“Climate change cannot be dealt with in isolation from planning and transport given their impact on emissions and contribution to warming, so our community engagement around climate change will be shared with teams working on the ACT Planning Strategy and Transport for Canberra Strategy,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“Climate change brings risks that will impact every aspect of our society. Scientific evidence tells us there is an urgent need for action.

“ACT Government research shows the Canberra community strongly accepts and supports action on climate change. This is an opportunity for everyone to contribute to future government thinking and action so we can pursue a climate resilient Canberra, where the city remains liveable for all.

“The choices we make today will determine the magnitude of our vulnerability or our resilience to climate impacts. The next decades are critical, which is why we are thinking about it now,” Mr Rattenbury said.

The discussion paper, ACT’s Climate Strategy to a Net Zero Emissions Territory, and a Technical Reference Paper are available at

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