“Largely this report paints a positive picture for the ACT and I welcome the detailed report that started with the former Commissioner, Ms Maxine Cooper and finalised by current Commissioner Mr Neil,” Corbell said.
The Government has already announced a number of policies and projects that are being worked on actively to see some of the trends reflected in this report slowed or reversed including legislated targets for greenhouse gas reduction and use of renewable energy; Weathering the Change Action Plan 2; the Transport for Canberra policy; and, the ACT Planning Strategy.
“The ACT Government has had an initial look over the Commissioner’s report, and I am pleased to say welcomes in principle, most of the 22 findings, but will provide a comprehensive report within the legislated time frame,” Mr Corbell said.
Some of the key areas for improvement include:
— reducing the overall ecological footprint to which has seen a slight increase in the last five years;
— reduce waste generation based on a per capita basis;
— meeting ACT Labor Government carbon reduction targets, which are 40% reductions on 1990 levels by 2020 and carbon neutrality by 2060; and
— improving water quality in Canberra’s lakes and waterways.
UPDATE 19/04/12 14:42: The Greens are not impressed:
The four-yearly State of the Environment Report, released today, has delivered a stark message to the Government that Canberra cannot continue to push the limits when it comes to our impact on the environment.
The Environment Commissioner has found that the two biggest challenges the ACT faces for sustainability are: reducing our consumption; and balancing urban development with protection of ecosystems.
Greens Environment spokesperson, Shane Rattenbury MLA, has described the report as an illustration of ‘business as usual’ policies driving the territory in completely the wrong direction.
“The good news stories coming out of this reports are almost all community based actions, the failings are largely on the Government’s end,” Mr Rattenbury said.
“Initiatives led by groups including the UC, Community Gardens, OzHarvest and See-Change are the stories of success.
“Meanwhile the Government’s inaction on sustainable transport, organic waste and protecting biodiversity are the clear lowlights.
The report was completed and delivered to the Minister in December 2011, but it was not released until 19 April 2012
“The Government also has to answer as to why it has sat on this report since it landed on the Minister’s desk last year.
“Since then, there has been a Transport Strategy, a Waste Strategy and draft strategies on Planning and Weathering the Change Action Plan 2. Why was the community deprived of the information in the State of the Environment Report during the development of these strategies?