Page 448 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 22 March 2022

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to their lifestyles where they can. But we must also recognise that the ability to make significant changes to our lifestyle requires a certain level of privilege—the privilege that certainly all members in this chamber enjoy. For many Canberrans, it is simply not possible to lay out tens of thousands of dollars on an electric vehicle. For the 38,000 Canberrans living in poverty, electricity prices rising by hundreds of dollars per year could literally mean the difference between putting food on the table and not.

The same applies to businesses in the ACT, especially small and medium enterprises, and particularly on the back of some of the most challenging years they have faced, and many are still facing. Dr Paterson’s motion is focussed on empowering Canberra businesses to look at their carbon footprint. It gives them the tools to reduce it where they can, rather than imposing harsh mandates. Every Canberra business is unique and has individual opportunities and challenges to reducing its carbon emissions. Certainly the conversations that I and my team have had with businesses across Canberra—Ms Lawder and I were talking about this earlier—have shown that an overwhelming majority want to reduce their carbon emissions. They want to make an impact. But it has to be realistic, and it has to be viable.

Not all organisations, of course, are at the same stage of the journey, and we cannot expect smaller businesses to have the resources and expertise that bigger companies have access to. We need to demystify carbon measurement and make it really simple and straightforward for businesses of all sizes to understand what they can do. That is why it is important for a carbon footprint calculator to also consider the costs for businesses to reduce or offset their carbon emissions. By including a cost consideration in Dr Paterson’s motion, the net zero emissions policy forum will be able to develop a comprehensive guide for businesses, giving them the information and tools to reduce their carbon footprint in an appropriate and sustainable way. That is the crux of my amendment: to include those aspects.

I thank Dr Paterson for bringing this motion today and look forward to continuing to work with all members in this chamber to ensure that the ACT is at the forefront of climate action.

MS VASSAROTTI (Kurrajong—Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services and Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction) (4.36): I rise to speak in support of the motion and the amendments, noting that many of the comments that I am making today would usually be made by Minister Rattenbury in his role as minister responsible for climate and emissions reduction. He is unable to be in the chamber today.

As I noted, we support the motion as an initial investigation into whether such a tool would add to our emissions reduction efforts and whether it would be a useful option to support businesses wanting to reduce their emissions. The ACT government is already doing a lot to support ACT businesses that want to cut their energy costs, to reduce waste and to reduce emissions. There are a range of programs currently on offer that Dr Paterson has already touched on. I would like to provide just a little bit more detail about some of these programs, as they provide a great foundation on which to build our support for business.

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