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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 March 2010) . . Page.. 1440 ..

The government recognises that climate change is the most critical issue facing us today as a community. Responding to climate change will be a measure of this generation. The policy we set today locally, nationally and internationally will face judgements over many generations to come. We need to work at all levels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Everyday decisions by individuals, community groups, governments and business are the building blocks now to how we reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.

The government is committed to the responsible management of the ACT, considering not just today’s needs but also the long-term impact climate change will have on our natural environment, quality of life and economic activity. The government, through the introduction and implementation of progressive and practical measures and programs, is seeking to take a leadership role worthy of our capital city and as a leader for other cities in Australia. To that end, the government has already announced a broad range of measures and approaches to tackle this issue.

Of course, the government has committed to an ambitious yet achievable long-term goal of zero net greenhouse gas emissions for the territory. In focusing on the ACT becoming carbon neutral within the next 50 years, the immediate challenge is to halt the growth in per capita emissions as soon as possible. The government has announced that we will be adopting a target of a peak in ACT per capita emissions by the year 2013, which is of course also Canberra’s centenary.

The transition towards zero net emissions will require the active involvement of the community, all sectors of the ACT economy and ACT government agencies. While there will be costs associated with action, the costs and risks associated with inaction, as have been already widely documented, are too large to avoid and to not act.

The government has, through the development of its draft sustainable energy policy and feed-in tariff, already seen significant results in terms of community feedback and consultation. There is a high level of awareness of climate change in our community, and many in the community see the move to renewable energy as a central plank of that process.

The government wants to see more Canberrans generating solar power, for example. We are reviewing Australia’s most generous feed-in tariff to potentially enable more Canberrans to sell power to the electricity grid. The feed-in tariff scheme commenced one year ago. As members know, it pays a premium tariff for all electricity generated. It is a growth scheme and renewable energy generators of up to 30 kilowatts in size are able to access the scheme at this time.

Canberrans are getting behind renewable energy in a big way. Residents, community groups and businesses are all installing solar on their properties. We currently have 1,535 systems installed. This has been a growth rate of 196 per cent in the first year. We estimate that the scheme will have an impact of less than $1 a week on electricity bills of householders. The feed-in tariff is proving to be an excellent policy reform that is increasing the uptake of renewable energy, helping create a clean economy in the territory. It is a progressive and practical solution.

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