In a first for climate action, the ACT has joined the governments of South Australia and New South Wales to establish a forum through which each jurisdiction can share ideas and collaborate to solve problems associated with the transition to net-zero.
The Net Zero Emissions Policy Forum was announced during COP26 in Glasgow.
ACT Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee also attended the Summit, having travelled to Glasgow with the intent to learn new policy and practical solutions to assist the Territory in its emissions-reduction journey.
It’s hoped the forum will provide participating jurisdictions with a bank of existing policies and resources and enable better problem solving to address some of the policy and practical challenges on the road to net-zero.
The forum will also make it easier for governments to design collaborative policies and work together.
In July 2020, all Australian states and territories had pledged to net zero by 2050 or earlier. Tasmania and the ACT have set the most ambitious targets of net zero emissions by 2030 and 2045, respectively.
The forum is also proof that collaboration across the political spectrum is possible, with both NSW and South Australia being Liberal states.
The Liberal-National coalition government of NSW has also set one of the nation’s most ambitious interim climate targets, pledging a 50 per cent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030.
Australia has also committed to a national net-zero target of 2050, with major investment in new technologies largely expected to help the country achieve it.
Few details have yet been provided as to how else the country will achieve the pledged outcome.
Other subnational jurisdictions will be invited to join the forum, too.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said state and territory governments could play an important role in cutting emissions given they control high-emitting sectors, including transport, buildings, and energy.
“This forum will drive a more collaborative approach to developing the policies to get to net-zero emissions,” Mr Barr said.
“As we approach the cities and regions day at COP26 in Glasgow, we call on all our colleagues in state and regional governments to work together to take decisive and practical action on climate change.”
The ACT has already reached its 100 per cent renewable energy target and has committed to delivering at least 250 megawatts of ‘large-scale’ battery storage.
Shifting towards zero-emissions vehicles and reducing emissions from government operations will also play a key role in achieving this target.
The ACT is also moving away from gas.
“Greenhouse gas emissions do not recognise borders, and to tackle climate change, we need a globally collaborative approach,” said NSW Treasurer and Energy Minister Matt Kean, who has repeatedly called on the Commonwealth to pursue a more ambitious climate action target.
NSW will chair the forum for the first year, although it’s expected an overseas subnational government will later co-chair it.