The ACT Government has shown strong leadership in environmental conservation by responding to climate change through a range of programs, initiatives and nation-leading legislative reforms, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Simon Corbell said on World Environment Day today.
“Both the government and the people of the ACT can be proud of their achievements on
World Environment Day,” Mr Corbell said.
“Support for renewable energy has been a key focus for the ACT government over the past two years, with the successful solar auction process in 2012 and 2013 and the recent announcement of the 200 megawatt wind auction now underway.
“In August last year I announced the final successful applicants in the large-scale solar feed-in tariff auction, resulting in a total of 40 megawatts of solar generation capacity to be located in the ACT.”
The wind and solar initiatives will go a long way to achieving the government’s 2020 targets of
90 percent of the territory’s electricity demand being sourced from renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions being reduced by 40 percent below 1990 levels by that year.
The government also intends to invest in a one megawatt community solar capacity release allowing people living in flats and units to invest in large-scale solar developments through community organisations.
“Investing in the ACT’s increasing technical expertise will also reduce our reliance on coal-fired energy sources. In March 2014 I also announced a ‘next generation’ solar program which will invest in our local knowledge economy to research ways to store renewable energy,” Mr Corbell said.
Reducing energy use in the home is a simple and direct way all Canberrans can do their bit to reduce the city’s environmental footprint and save money. The ACT government has been lending a hand by:
· Giving assistance to more than 1500 low-income households to improve the energy and water efficiency of their homes.
· The ACTSmart Business program has assisted more than 700 businesses in the ACT by providing tailored advice and assistance to reduce energy, waste and water usage while reducing costs to business.
· The ACTSmart Home Energy Advice Service which gives all Canberra residents access to free, independent advice ranging from behaviour change tips that help reduce energy costs, to building new, energy efficient homes.
· The energy efficiency improvement scheme which made a positive difference to 18,000 homes across Canberra last year by tasking energy providers to undertake activities to assist home owners improve practices, fitting and fixtures in their homes.
“The next phase of the government’s commitment to tackling the implications of climate change is the development of a new strategy focussing on adaptation to the effects of climate change. This work will continue with the release of a community engagement strategy to be finalised in the coming months.
“This government practises what it preaches, and is working hard to achieve carbon neutrality in its own government operations through investment in energy efficient systems estimated to save
$1.2 million annually and reduce greenhouse gases by 5730 tonnes.”
Protecting our natural environment for future generations is crucial to our sustainability outcomes. The government’s record of achievement is strong in this area with the recent release of the ACT Nature Conservation Strategy 2013-2023, which will continue to improve the resilience of natural areas.
The Gungahlin Strategic Assessment was finalised by government in late 2013. This work will ensure all environmental protections are completed for the remaining land in the Gungahlin area, and builds on the good planning and conservation history of the ACT by identifying strategic conservation areas for targeted species and communities.
Breeding and monitoring programs have been successful over the past year with recorded numbers of eastern bettongs and grassland earless dragons increasing. Research is also underway to better understand and manage local threatened species with the release of new actions plans for the endangered shrub, bossiaea grayi, and the glossy black cockatoo to name a few.
Good air quality is of vital importance to everyone and the government is committed to this through its support of regular education campaigns to promote efficient use of wood heaters complemented by a wood heater rebate program.
The government acknowledges the importance the next generation will play in protecting our environment into the future. All ACT schools are successfully involved in the ACTSmart Schools program which helps teach children the importance of looking after our resources and how to become sustainable. The program has just celebrated the first ACT school to achieve five star accreditation.