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The ACT is a model on how to deliver action on climate change

By Rebecca Vassarotti - 16 February 2017 23

Climate change

As Australia sweltered through record breaking temperatures last weekend, the issues of climate change and energy security continue to be the subject of some of our most contentious national political debates. While an unusual alliance involving business, unions, the conservation movement and community sector plead with politicians to agree on how to respond to these issues, a number of State based Liberal parties are vowing to wind back jurisdictional  based energy targets if they win government.

As is often the case, things are a little different here in the ACT. Here we find ourselves in the unique position of having a political consensus that has enabled us to get on with the job of transforming our electricity generation to cleaner renewable energy sources. This sees us steadily moving towards the target of 100% renewable energy generation by 2020, with 20% of our energy already generated by renewables with this rate is climbing all the time. The contracts are locked in, and due to a reverse auction process, the ACT is likely to experience more affordable energy compared the rest of the country when we reach this target.

This hasn’t happened by accident or been an easy process. When the ACT Greens raised the prospect of ambitious renewable energy targets a decade ago, both the Labor and Liberal parties were sceptical. Thanks to our political system, which has delivered the balance of power to the ACT Greens, and mechanisms such as the successive Parliamentary agreements that have followed the last three elections, the parties forming government have been able to work cooperatively to develop sensible energy policy that has been good for the economy, the community and the planet. We have even seen some support from the Opposition – while somewhat reluctant, it was a welcome move when the ACT Liberal Party resisted the temptation to play politics around energy policy in the lead up to last year’s election and endorsed the ACT’s renewable targets.

It is true that the ACT is a small player in the national energy market. Some may argue that its action is not significant in the context of the larger states who produce and consume the vast majority of power in this country. However, it’s clear that our actions have made a real difference. A report released last year found that the ACT’s commitment was significant factor in supporting Australian investment in the renewal energy sector at a time where there was little other demonstration of a commitment to this industry. At last year’s climate conference in Marrakesh, the ACT was identified as one of a handful of jurisdictions who are world leaders in the response to climate change. With a political deadlock removing any hope for national action, the ability of states and territories to take action on climate change is more important than ever – and the ACT provides a blueprint for other jurisdictions to learn from.

This week the Minister for Climate Change, Shane Rattenbury, has introduced a motion into the ACT Legislative Assembly that asks our local representatives to reaffirm their commitment to climate change and the ACT’s commitment to ambitious but achievable renewable energy targets. I for one will be listening closely in the hope that they work together to continue the great work to date.

What do you think? Do you think the ACT’s renewable energy targets make a difference and do you want to see politicians working together across party lines to respond to climate change?

Rebecca is an active member of the ACT Greens and ran as an ACT Greens Candidate for Kurrajong in the last ACT Territory Election.

What’s Your opinion?


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23 Responses to
The ACT is a model on how to deliver action on climate change
1
wildturkeycanoe 9:29 pm
16 Feb 17
#

“Do you think the ACT’s renewable energy targets make a difference?”
Unless we come up with a heck of a lot of energy storage, there is no chance Canberra can be 100% running on renewables. Unless the connection from the national grid is severed and the lights stay on all night, we are not truly running on green energy. This is a concept that nobody seems to understand. Sure there may be paperwork showing that our kilowatts used have been “offset” by purchasing from solar and wind, but they do not provide power 24 hours a day. Eventually, we will be using more than they produce and will have to fall back onto coal fired generation to keep things running. Either that or the government will again ask for business to switch to diesel backup, yet another form of dirty power.
I won’t believe it until I see the power lines that cross the border, removed from the towers. Until then it is all just a magic show, designed to make us feel warm and fuzzy in our hearts.

2
gazket 10:55 pm
16 Feb 17
#

We pay for overpriced electricity for not one lick of difference , can’t be measured . WE are giving Not only huge wads of taxpayer money to set it all up but also peoples earned money to pay for the power it produces, People have less money to spend in the wider economy for other services.. So we get hit 3,4,5,6 times . So out of the billions spent most of it goes overseas to other countries bank balances . In the long run we are getting the very blunt end of a poo stick .

3
HenryBG 2:57 pm
17 Feb 17
#

gazket said :

We pay for overpriced electricity for not one lick of difference , can’t be measured . WE are giving Not only huge wads of taxpayer money to set it all up but also peoples earned money to pay for the power it produces, People have less money to spend in the wider economy for other services.. So we get hit 3,4,5,6 times .

So out of the billions spent most of it goes overseas to other countries bank balances . In the long run we are getting the very blunt end of a poo stick .

Queensland has spent bugger-all on renewables, and their price spikes are worse than South Australia’s.

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queenslands-wholesale-electricity-prices-hit-record-highs-in-january-highest-in-australia/news-story/6c02401e38f292c16007701cca37a6b9

Blaming renewables for the world-wide trend of increasing energy prices is either ignorance or dishonesty. Privatisation is now doing to us exactly what it did to California.

4
Masquara 5:25 pm
17 Feb 17
#

Federal Labor has decided to withdraw from a RET target. Why should ACT people be slugged for an Andrew Barr/Shane Rattenbury vanity project that will triple our power bills?

5
HenryBG 2:55 pm
18 Feb 17
#

Masquara said :

Federal Labor has decided to withdraw from a RET target. Why should ACT people be slugged for an Andrew Barr/Shane Rattenbury vanity project that will triple our power bills?

Probably for the same reason we pay to have a proper sewerage system, even though in India they just poo on the street.

And google “tragedy of the commons” before making that kind of faulty argument in future.

6
Leon Arundell 7:13 am
19 Feb 17
#

Rebecca, the ACT has a target of 100% renewable ELECTRICITY generation by 2020. A 100% ENERGY target would include the gas that heats our hot water, our offices and our living rooms, and the fuels that power our cars, trucks, buses, trains and aeroplanes. We could replace those fuels with ‘renewable’ biofuels, but only at the cost of increasing greenhouse emissions.

7
Futureproof 8:41 am
19 Feb 17
#

Leon Arundell said :

A 100% ENERGY target would include the gas that heats our hot water, our offices and our living rooms, and the fuels that power our cars, trucks, buses, trains and aeroplanes. We could replace those fuels with ‘renewable’ biofuels, but only at the cost of increasing greenhouse emissions.

There is no way that in three years the ACT can be 100% self sufficient in energy. Do you remember the “no waste by 2010” campaign. It that was so successful, why do we still have the Mugga Lane tip?

8
Maya123 10:22 am
19 Feb 17
#

Futureproof said :

Do you remember the “no waste by 2010” campaign. It that was so successful, why do we still have the Mugga Lane tip?

Sadly that is because a large proportion of our population is not willing to get aboard on this by reducing their waste and sorting their remaining waste into that which can be recycled, composting what can be (I am meaning those living in houses and townhouses with gardens), but rather filling their waste bins every week without doing the former properly. The proof this is happening is that most households put a bin out every week and then a proportion complain if one garbage collection is missed, because their bin is full! Anyone recycling properly, composting and only buying what is actually needed doesn’t need to put a bin out every week, or even every month. So much that can be recycled and composted is just going to landfill, because of people’s laziness. What is expected to happen here? People down in general waste digging out recyclables, as the poorest do in India?

Education might work in some cases, but in many, they are either too stupid or, they don’t give a….

Very sad this attitude of too large a number in our community :(.

9
wildturkeycanoe 9:44 pm
19 Feb 17
#

Maya123 said :

Futureproof said :

The proof this is happening is that most households put a bin out every week and then a proportion complain if one garbage collection is missed, because their bin is full!

In our case, the green bin is half full of recyclable product, because the recycle bin is always full. If they’d collect the recycling every week instead of fortnightly, the aim of the recycling campaign might actually be met.
The reason we have so much recycling is simple – packaging. Everything you buy comes in either cardboard, paper or plastic. There are almost no items except some fruit and vegetables that aren’t shrink-wrapped or boxed.

10
Masquara 10:24 pm
19 Feb 17
#

It will be fascinating to see how the Glassworks is going to run on renewable energy. Heating glass to 1500 degrees for most of the day and night on wind energy will be quite the challenge!

11
ivansky 10:28 pm
19 Feb 17
#

I think the ACT government is doing a fantastic job in leading the way on sourcing renewable energy. So many people don’t want to do anything at all and come up with all sorts of questionable justifications. It’s not hard to find information about the relatively small effect that the renewable energy target is expected to have on our electricity bills, e.g. http://reneweconomy.com.au/act-lifts-2020-target-to-100-renewable-energy-as-australia-stalls-86177/

As for complaints that “solar doesn’t work at night”, well, that’s certainly true. Should we therefore make no effort? Not only do we use a lot less electricity at night, there are storage technologies emerging everywhere, whether they are batteries in your garage or chemical storage systems.

There are many great ideas on this front coming out of the government, such as renewing our street lights to use low power versions that are pedestrian aware. I think people should take off their critical black hats and do everything we can to address climate change.

(ob disclaimer – I do respect the fact that some people are already doing it tough with their household budget. Notwithstanding the fact that I recently read about 2.5% of the overall budget is the most anyone pays in Australia for electricity, I do hope the government remains conscious of those with limited scope to pay more for services)

12
Maya123 11:02 am
20 Feb 17
#

wildturkeycanoe said :

Maya123 said :

Futureproof said :

The proof this is happening is that most households put a bin out every week and then a proportion complain if one garbage collection is missed, because their bin is full!

In our case, the green bin is half full of recyclable product, because the recycle bin is always full. If they’d collect the recycling every week instead of fortnightly, the aim of the recycling campaign might actually be met.
The reason we have so much recycling is simple – packaging. Everything you buy comes in either cardboard, paper or plastic. There are almost no items except some fruit and vegetables that aren’t shrink-wrapped or boxed.

Perhaps the answer there is to try to cut back on goods with packaging, and where possible, refuse packaging. Look at what your consumer pattern is; it can likely be improved. If you are filling your recycle bin every fortnight, and also half your green bin with recyclables every week, the evidence is you can do a lot of improving in your habits. You might also save money and generate less packaging, by not replacing some items so often.

It isn’t just “some fruit and vegetables that aren’t shrink-wrapped or boxed”. Almost all fruit & vegetables can be bought without packaging. There is no reason to bag any of it, except perhaps mixed leaves, and even then a reused bag can be used, or whole lettuces (without plastic bags) purchased instead. I put all my fruit and vegetables in a cloth bag, loose, even the beans.

I do agree that perhaps the recycling bin could be emptied weekly, but the waste bin fortnightly and in time even less than that.

13
Rebecca Vassarotti 11:57 am
20 Feb 17
#

Leon Arundell said :

Rebecca, the ACT has a target of 100% renewable ELECTRICITY generation by 2020. A 100% ENERGY target would include the gas that heats our hot water, our offices and our living rooms, and the fuels that power our cars, trucks, buses, trains and aeroplanes. We could replace those fuels with ‘renewable’ biofuels, but only at the cost of increasing greenhouse emissions.

Hi Leon. Thanks for the pick up. You are right that the 100% renewable target does refer to electricity coming from renewable sources. Lots of the language uses the term renewable energy targets but the legislation refers to electricity.

14
HiddenDragon 5:33 pm
20 Feb 17
#

The target of 100% renewable energy generation by 2020 is going to require a lot of storage at the system level – not just storage by those households and businesses etc. which have the means, opportunity and know-how to run and maintain their own storage arrangements.

Is there any specific information available on plans (including implementation dates) by the ACT Government for system-wide power storage? With the imminent closure of the Hazelwood power station, the ACT’s 100% renewables target is looking increasingly heroic.

15
Maya123 5:40 pm
20 Feb 17
#

Leon Arundell said :

Rebecca, the ACT has a target of 100% renewable ELECTRICITY generation by 2020. A 100% ENERGY target would include the gas that heats our hot water, our offices and our living rooms, and the fuels that power our cars, trucks, buses, trains and aeroplanes. We could replace those fuels with ‘renewable’ biofuels, but only at the cost of increasing greenhouse emissions.

Sometimes part of the answer to this is to go back to basics. A properly designed and built house in Canberra NEVER needs air-conditioning, and rarely heating. If all new housing and replacement housing was forced to these higher standards, it would mean a great saving in future energy use. Water can also be heated mostly by the sun; another saving. This continuing bad design of buildings is what is continuing to increase energy use, so as to heat the house and hot water. Yes better designed houses cost more, so people might need to accept a small house rather than a huge MacMansion. It’s about time quality over quantity was brought in.

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