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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 16 August 2018) . . Page.. 3050 ..

We need to make sure that we, as a community, are reducing our emissions in accordance with the latest scientific evidence if we are to limit the impacts of climate change. And the purpose of this bill is to ensure we are doing exactly that.

Madam Assistant Speaker, the bill that I am presenting today will bring forward the ACT’s principal target date for achieving net zero emissions to 30 June 2045. Currently, the principal target date is 30 June 2050. Bringing forward the principal target date was the advice to the ACT government by the ACT’s Climate Change Council in October 2017, which is made up of leading experts in the climate change field.

The council’s advice was based on four things: first, the latest scientific evidence of the impacts and risks of climate change both globally and in the ACT; second, the ambition to limit the impacts of climate change to a two-degree warming scenario; third, the latest information and analysis on the ACT’s emissions and technical options for emission reductions; and, finally, the ACT’s ability to reduce emissions as a relatively prosperous and well-educated region.

Most importantly, the council’s advice suggests we can achieve this new target with technology that already exists today. But we are not adopting this new target just on the council’s advice. Tackling climate change requires community buy-in, so we have also tested this target with the community, as part of an extensive community consultation process on the development of the ACT’s next climate change strategy.

That process began in December 2017 with the release of a discussion paper on how the ACT can become a net zero emissions territory. We asked the community for feedback on a wide range of issues, including the new target I am proposing today; where we should be aiming to reduce our emissions as a territory; and what the community can do to contribute.

We received feedback from not only the community but community interest groups, industry bodies and businesses. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive about us taking action to tackle our emissions, including by adopting new emissions reduction targets. We did not receive a single comment suggesting we should not be taking steps to tackle climate change or should not be adopting targets to do so.

It is safe to say that the community is on board with us. Throughout the consultation process, I have been genuinely inspired to hear the desire of ACT citizens to do their part. Their ambition and creativity on what can be done, whether it be in relation to transport, buildings, living infrastructure or other areas, tell me that we have a wonderful base on which to achieve this new target.

One issue that always arises in setting targets is cost: specifically, how much is it going to cost us as a territory to reach net zero emissions by 2045 and how does that differ from reaching net zero emissions by 2050? The simple answer is that the full cost is unknown at this stage. The answer will ultimately depend on changes we see in the future, such as developments in national energy policy and how much behavioural change can occur from community leadership.

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