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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 18 September 2018) . . Page.. 3725 ..

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Minister for Corrections and Justice Health, Minister for Justice, Consumer Affairs and Road Safety and Minister for Mental Health) (4.50), in reply: The purpose of this bill is to 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 and because it is set in legislation we actually need a bill to change that date.

The ACT is one of the leading jurisdictions globally in tackling climate change. It is important to reflect on our successes. We should be proud, as the ACT, to have legislated strong climate targets as a result of the first Labor-Greens parliamentary agreement in 2008. That work undertaken then, a decade ago, has set the direction for the ACT since.

We set ourselves a goal to reduce our emissions by 40 per cent, based on 1990 levels, by 2020. We have seen many government policies, actions and decisions be guided by this target over the past decade. I am pleased to say that we are on track to achieve this through transitioning the ACT’s electricity supply to 100 per cent renewable sources, including wind and solar.

We have also recently released the ACT’s transition to zero emission vehicles action plan 2018-2021 to ensure that we are taking advantage of the global shift towards zero emission vehicles. The action plan will complement our existing programs. For example, we already have some of the most generous financial incentives for purchasing and registering zero emission passenger vehicles in Australia.

Most relevant to the bill is that we have not shied away from updating our emissions reduction targets to ensure that we remain at the forefront of the global drive to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible. For example, we immediately brought forward our previous target for achieving net zero emissions by 2060 to 2050 after the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties was held in Paris in 2015.

Our current target of 2050 compares favourably on the global stage with other jurisdictions now aiming to be carbon neutral even sooner. For example, Sweden has set a target for reaching net zero emissions by 2045, albeit with the use of offsets. Iceland is going even further, having announced plans for carbon neutrality by 2040. At the state level, Hawaii has pledged to become neutral by 2045.

There is clear scope for us to do more and we need to do it if we want to ensure that we are taking all the steps that a responsible government should if it wants to take climate action seriously. We are currently watching many serious impacts of climate change around the globe: increased typhoons, hurricanes and floods and, more locally in Australia, the increased effects of drought and earlier and worse bushfire seasons. The adoption of this bill is crucial to ensure that we are taking action to make our best efforts to militate against those serious impacts of climate change.

We are not bringing forward our net zero emissions target date to 2045 simply because other jurisdictions are also doing so. In October 2017 the ACT government received advice from the ACT Climate Change Council that bringing forward the target by five years is the most appropriate step to ensure that we are doing our fair share.

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