The ACT has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent on 1990 levels, beating its 40 per cent target off the back of becoming the first Australian jurisdiction to transition to 100 per cent renewable electricity.
Transport emissions decreased by 11 per cent during 2019-20 compared to the average 2 per cent annual growth in previous years, likely a result of the pandemic-induced lockdown in early 2020.
Despite the decrease, transport accounted for 57 per cent of the ACT’s total emissions in 2019-20 and was the single largest source of emissions.
Gas accounted for 21 per cent of total emissions, a 1.3 per cent decrease from 2019.
Emissions Reduction Minister Shane Rattenbury said transport and gas emissions are the next big challenge for the ACT to achieve its net-zero emissions by 2045 target.
“While we should all be proud of these achievements, we are still faced with confronting reminders that climate change is here and its impacts are growing,” Minister Rattenbury said.
“Having declared a climate emergency we need to get on with the job of cutting emissions and making our community, buildings and infrastructure more resilient to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.”
When asked if the ACT’s 2025 target to reduce emissions by between 50 and 60 per cent should be revised, Mr Rattenbury said the mid-decade target already had a level of ambition built into them.
“The 2025 target is quite ambitious and is going to be challenging to achieve,” he said. “We cannot just assume it is going to happen, you have to put the policies in place.
“What we have seen in recent years is that our transport emissions have been going up so we have been able to make very significant savings through the move to renewable electricity but we have got some counter factors there.
“The advice that we have is that 50 per cent is achievable but we should also have a stretched target there. If we do get to 2025 in a canter, then we may want to revisit the 2030 target.”
The ACT is aiming to reduce emissions by 65 to 75 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030 and by between 90 and 95 per cent by 2040. The Greens pushed to bring the net-zero emissions by 2045 target forward during the election campaign, aiming to have it achieved by 2040, but the proposal was not supported by Labor.
The Parliamentary Agreement between the Greens and Labor outlines a number of policies to reduce emissions further, including the phase out of gas, accelerating the uptake of zero-emission vehicles and building a big battery in Canberra.
The original 40 per cent target formed apart of the Labor-Greens 2008 Parliamentary Agreement which committed the ACT Government to legislate a greenhouse gas reduction target based on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was set the year before.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr lauded the achievement as an example of the ACT’s innovative approach to emissions reduction.
“Over the past decade, the ACT has demonstrated national leadership in preparing our community for climate change,” he said.
“The ACT Government has an ambitious agenda to continue taking action on climate change by reducing emissions from the ACT’s public transport and waste sectors as we work towards our zero net emissions target.”
Further details will be published in the ACT Greenhouse Gas Inventory for 2019-20 which will be released in the next month.