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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2613..


Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Electricity (Greenhouse Gas Emissions) Bill 2004

Mr Quinlan , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (11.11): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, the Stanhope government continues to show its commitment to an environmentally aware and sustainable Canberra, as evidenced most recently by the release of the Canberra plan. The government is also committed to reducing the ACT's share of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. Together with the Minister for Environment, I am pleased to introduce to the Assembly this government's response to the absence of a national greenhouse trading scheme, the bill being the Electricity (Greenhouse Gas Emissions) Bill 2004.

Rising greenhouse emissions pose a significant threat to the social, environmental and economic welfare of ACT citizens, present and future. From a world perspective, greenhouse gas emissions are expected to increase the mean annual global surface temperature by more than 1.4 degrees centigrade, and possibly as much as 5.8 degrees centigrade, by 2100.

Within Australia, average temperatures have already risen by 0.7 degrees centigrade over the last century. By the year 2030, average temperatures could be anything from 0.4 of a degree to two degrees higher. When this information is combined with a trend towards declining rainfall, it indicates that droughts are likely to become more severe and longer lasting. Australia's ecosystems and agriculture will become increasingly vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events.

This government recognises that Australia cannot afford to turn a blind eye to these issues. It recognises that combating greenhouse gas emissions is a large problem, and therefore any solution must incorporate and involve the electricity industry, which is heavily dependent on non-renewable fossil fuels for electricity generation. In the ACT, electricity use accounts for 59 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, and ACT residents are the highest per capita users of electricity in the country. Targeting electricity production and consumption is therefore a key step in achieving ACT greenhouse targets.

This bill introduces a scheme that, while technically complex, is conceptually quite simple. Electricity retailers in the territory will, over time, have to procure an increasing component of their product from cleaner and greener means of producing electricity, thereby effecting larger reductions in greenhouse gases. Of course, electricity production is spread across the national grid, with very little being generated within the ACT. However, as end-user of the product, we have a responsibility for its environmental


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