Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee will fly to Glasgow on Friday (5 November) to join world leaders and experts at COP26, saying she will use the opportunity to learn about how the ACT can meet its emissions reduction targets.
The Opposition Leader and Shadow Minister for Climate Action will join the delegation of the Coalition for Conservation, which is also funding the trip.
Coalition for Conservation is an independent organisation promoting conservative voices in the environmental movement in Australia and overseas.
Ms Lee will appear on two panels associated with the conference and deliver a speech while in Glasgow.
She described the opportunity as “unique and once-in-a-lifetime” and said she’s keen to share the work the ACT has already done at a local level in order to meet its ambitious net-zero target of 2045, as well as learn from experts and world leaders.
“We know the ACT is already doing a great job in taking strong action on climate change and we know the next phase will present some challenges,” Ms Lee said.
“Whatever I can learn from world experts and then bring back will be really important for our next step in combating climate change.”
The news of Ms Lee’s trip comes after Chief Minister Andrew Barr had told a budget estimates hearing last week no ACT Government representatives would attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
With a packed agenda now ahead of her, Ms Lee said she’s excited to network, learn and understand more about different policies and technologies from around the world.
Ms Lee said she thought it was important that voices from across the political spectrum are present for discussions around climate change.
“We all want to leave our planet just as beautiful for the next generation to enjoy. I think it is important that voices from across the political spectrum are present for discussions around climate change action,” Ms Lee said.
The ACT Government in 2018 set a zero net emissions target by 2045 with the Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Principal Target) Amendment Bill 2018 that passed with tripartisan support from Labor, the Greens and the Liberals.
Ms Lee said these levels of support across the political spectrum hasn’t always been the case around the world, but that climate action wasn’t an issue she thought should be politicised.
Ms Lee said when she was invited to the conference, she immediately reached out to ACT Greens Leader and Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction Shane Rattenbury, as well as Chief Minister Andrew Barr, to ask if there was anything specific she could raise on behalf of the Territory.
A spokesperson for the ACT Government confirmed the Chief Minister had now responded to Ms Lee’s notification of her trip to Glasgow and had suggested she should lobby Prime Minister Scott Morrison for more ambitious climate action targets.
Mr Barr said in a statement that “if the Canberra Liberals are serious about responsible climate action, then her paid trip is an opportunity to secure a more ambitious set of commitments from the Prime Minister”.
Ms Lee also said she met with Mr Rattenbury, who had been “warmly welcoming”, and sought to provide her with information about what she could bring back from her meetings in Glasgow.
In a later statement, the Greens leader said it “would be a shame and a waste of a plane ticket if Ms Lee returns to Canberra with no thoughts on the Federal Government’s plan.”
Earlier this year, Ms Lee and other members of the Canberra Liberals came under fire after attending an ACT Young Liberals event where a lump of Adani coal was auctioned for over $2,600.
Ms Lee said the auction of the coal had not been advertised prior to the event and neither she nor the other MLAs in attendance had been aware of it.