More than $300 million will be set aside to help the Territory transition to net-zero emissions in the upcoming ACT Budget, mostly funding election promises made by Labor and the Greens.
The money will be spent over the next five years with the $150 million sustainable household fund offering interest-free loans for investing in renewable electricity instalments and $100 million for a ‘Big Canberra Battery’ forming the centrepiece of the environment package.
The loans will offer ACT households up to $15,000 to minimise the upfront costs of buying rooftop solar panels, battery storage systems, and zero-emissions vehicles while the 250 MW large-scale battery will help distribute power across the city.
A further $50 million will be used to establish a vulnerable households energy fund to improve the energy efficiency and sustainability of social and public housing, low-income owner-occupiers and low-performing rental properties.
There is also a $5 million allocation for community clubs to invest in energy-efficient upgrades like water and ventilation audits, new plans to make it mandatory for electricity retailers to provide customers with a reference bill for a typical consumer and tell them which plans could reduce their bills, and a two-year waiver of registration fees for new zero-emissions vehicles from May 2021.
“The ACT Government recognises that climate change poses a real and immediate threat to our city, our country and the world,” Chief Minister and Minister for Climate Change Andrew Barr said.
“At a time of climate crisis, we know that the decisions we make today will have significant consequences for future generations of Canberrans.
“The ACT Government has one of the most ambitious agendas for addressing climate change globally and is committed to showing other jurisdictions what is possible to achieve in a short period of time while supporting all Canberra households through the necessary transition.”
Initial funding of $855,000 will be spent phasing out fossil fuels through the ACT’s sustainable energy policy and developing legislation to stop new gas mains being connected to future stages of greenfield residential developments.
A further $915,000 will be allocated to establish an Office of the Coordinator-General for Climate Action over the next two years.
The Coordinator-General will be tasked with overseeing major projects in Canberra and monitoring the government’s climate commitments.
Emissions Reduction Minister Shane Rattenbury said the budget committed Canberra to tackling the biggest pieces in our emissions puzzle by focusing on phasing out fossil fuel gas and transforming ACT transport to be zero emissions.
“Having declared a climate emergency, we’re doing what it takes to cut greenhouse gas emissions and support the ACT community to withstand the impacts of the climate change we’re already experiencing,” he said.
“The budget supports the ACT’s nation-leading effort to phase out of fossil fuel gas, in line with our commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2045.”
The ACT Budget will be delivered on 9 February.