With party leader Elizabeth Lee in Glasgow in attendance at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the Canberra Liberals have spoken in support of a motion that highlighted the importance of phasing out gas in the Territory by 2045, and they’ve committed to writing to their federal counterparts to call for faster national emissions cuts.
Yesterday, the Liberals supported a motion moved by Greens MLA Jo Clay which endorsed the Territory’s agreed-upon emissions reductions targets and required each ACT party leader to write to their federal party leader.
Ms Lee will have to write to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to advocate for stronger emissions-reduction targets at a national level.
Ms Lee last week told a GLOBE forum at COP26 that she believed everyone wanted action on climate change.
“In my home city of Canberra, it is always a top-five issue when it comes to what people want from their political leaders,” she said.
“But nobody wants their electricity bills to go up, their lights to go out or for their jobs to be at risk.”
Ms Lee said while technology may have the answers to achieving a decarbonised economy that did not deny people opportunities, including those in developing economies, getting there would require “leadership and political will”.
Ms Lee also told the forum she believed legislators in sub-national jurisdictions had a responsibility to leverage policy elements under their control, such as housing, transport, heating, lighting and urban infrastructure development.
When her trip to Glasgow was first announced, Chief Minister Andrew Barr had said Ms Lee should use her trip to lobby Mr Morrison for a set of more ambitious climate targets.
Ms Lee shied away from Mr Barr’s suggestion at the time.
Opposition spokesperson for emissions reduction Leanne Castley, who spoke in support of the motion yesterday, said the Canberra Liberals are “fed-up with climate change being a political issue”.
Ms Castley quoted Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, saying it was time to show young local environmentalists that politicians are not all “blah, blah, blah”.
She said the government needed to have stronger plans in place to reduce emissions.
“The Canberra Liberals want to see accountability and transparency with clearly defined measures to achieve our targets,” she said.
“Why can’t we show [young people] that we not only have tripartisan support for ambitious emissions reductions targets but a tripartisan agreed-upon plan on how we will get there?”
Presenting her motion to the Assembly, ACT Greens MLA Ms Clay invoked elements of the summer of 2019/20 in which Canberra was first engulfed by heat and smoke from bushfires and then hammered by a hail storm, saying this was a taste of what’s to come if immediate climate action is not taken.
Ms Clay said while she was proud of the response to climate change at a Territory-level, faster national action than was committed to by the Federal Government is also required.
“ACT climate policy has been based on science and action for a decade. We’ve cut 60 per cent [of our emissions] over the last nine years.
“Meanwhile, the Federal Government has made no cuts, none,” Ms Clay told the Assembly.
She said she no longer trusted the Federal Government to take any action unless they were pushed into it, but believed the ACT Legislative Assembly was well-placed to do so.
“We can turn this around,” Ms Clay said. “We will only manage it if we have a commitment from every level of government.”