ACT to establish climate action entity under $307 million climate change plan

By Shannon Jenkins

Friday January 22, 2021

ACT Legislative Assembly Letter to the Prime Minister
“We share your commitment to the rule of law.” (Image: ACT Legislative Assembly)

The ACT government will create an Office of the Coordinator General for Climate Action to ensure the territory meets its commitments to tackling climate change.

Establishing the office is one of many initiatives outlined by water, energy and emissions reduction minister Shane Rattenbury on Thursday.

Under the upcoming 2020-21 budget, the territory government will spend $307 million over five years transition the ACT to net zero emissions. Of the funds, $150 million will go toward a Sustainable Household Scheme that will offer zero-interest loans of up to $15,000 to help households cover the upfront costs of rooftop solar panels, household battery storage, zero emission vehicles and efficient electric appliances.

A $50 million Vulnerable Household Energy Support Initiative will also be established to improve building efficiency and sustainability for social and public housing, low-income owner occupiers and low performing rental properties.

The government will spend $100 million over five years to deliver a ‘Big Canberra Battery’ of at least 250MW of battery storage, and has set aside an initial $855,000 to “support phasing out fossil fuel gas”.

Read more: WA sets net zero emissions target for government agencies

Other initiatives include:

  • Waiving registration fees on new ZEV registered vehicles for the first two years of registration, from May 2021, to encourage more Canberrans to buy electric vehicles,
  • Establishing a $5 million Building Energy Efficiency Upgrade Fund to support community clubs to undertake energy efficiency upgrades,
  • Helping ACT households get better energy deals by making it mandatory for electricity retailers to provide customers with a reference bill for a typical consumer, and to notify customers of plans that would reduce their bills.

Rattenbury said the budget commitments — particularly those focusing on phasing out fossil fuel gas and transitioning transport to zero emissions — would help Canberrans “live more comfortably and sustainably”.

“Having declared a climate emergency, we’re doing what it takes to cut greenhouse gas emissions and support the ACT community to withstand the impacts of the climate change we’re already experiencing,” he said.

“We’re aiming for an EV revolution over the next decade, with the ACT leading the transition to zero emissions transport. Free registration and no-interest loans for zero emissions vehicles, along with a new network of 50 public charging stations for electric vehicles will make EV’s a real option for Canberrans who may have been hesitant until now.

“The budget supports the ACT’s nation-leading effort to phase out of fossil fuel gas, in line with our commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2045. It prevents gas connections in new suburbs, and offers no-interest loans for households to upgrade to efficient electric appliances.”

Read more: Sustainability and environment commissioner calls on ACT and NSW to work together on environmental policy


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