A car-free day, an Active Travel Commissioner and making new public housing properties all-electric are on the Budget wishlist for the Conservation Council ACT Region.
In its 2020 Budget submission, the council says the Government should acknowledge the Legislative Assembly’s declaration of a state of climate emergency and allocate all funding accordingly, embedding the declaration’s intent into all decisions.
It calls for the Government to commit to a separate annual Budget Paper on the funding of the Climate Change Strategy, and annual budget reporting on its delivery.
“The Conservation council identifies that the policies and programs which reduce the ACT’s emissions, and create a more livable, equitable and community-focused city with a secure climate future, are the highest priority in the 2020/21 Budget process,” it says.
As part of a needed shift to other forms of transport, the council wants the Government to fund the ACT’s first car-free day in town centres on World Car-Free Day, Tuesday, 22 September 2020, as well as create the ACT’s first Active Travel Commissioner to oversee initiatives and legislated targets for active travel and public transport.
The Government’s Climate Change Strategy 2019-25, released in September, said it would consider car-free days.
The council also wants the Government to hand over more road and public space to cycling and walking, to redirect roads funding to active and public transport infrastructure, and for all new Transport Canberra buses, including the 84 budgeted for purchase in 2019-20, to be zero-emissions electric.
With Canberra’s climate warming, the council says energy-efficient and low-emission housing should be a priority, especially moving from gas to all-electric appliances.
It wants the Government to upgrade existing public housing with efficient electric appliances, ensure all newly constructed public housing properties are all-electric and investigate the costs and benefits of decommissioning the gas network.
The Government should also help low-income households shift from gas to high-efficiency electrical appliances.
The council says the Government should mount awareness campaigns to highlight the financial benefits of climate-wise and energy-efficient housing and already-available programs.
It also wants a new energy assessment tool that adequately gauges the year-round thermal performance of buildings in the Canberra climate.
Taking into account previous tree losses, the council acknowledges last year’s commitment to plant 17,000 trees over four years, but says this will not be enough to cover the 3000 trees lost every year, and is calling for more money to not only ensure replacement but expansion of the tree canopy.