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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 854 ..

are becoming more pervasive and more damaging. The ACT will need to increase adaptation and resilience to cope with this impact. That is why the government declared, in 2019, a climate emergency and recognised the need for more concerted action across all levels of government.

Recent modelling has identified the four most significant impacts of climate change for the ACT. Bushfires will be more frequent and severe as rainfall is reduced and temperatures increase. Heatwaves will become more frequent, they will be longer and they will be hotter, day and night. Droughts will become more frequent and prolonged, as rainfall will be seasonally much more variable. Severe storms will be more frequent and over a longer summer season, with flash flooding and violent winds a fact of life for us now.

The current focus of work across government has been on urban heat island mitigation and response to severe heat events. We have released the Canberra’s Living Infrastructure Plan as a next step in increasing adaptation and resilience. In the months ahead the government will work across all directorates to develop an understanding of the capability of the territory government to respond to climate risks. We will be developing a whole-of-government approach to adaptation and resilience in the territory.

With that, I ask that all further questions be placed on the notice paper.

Supplementary answers to questions without notice

Environment—urban vegetation

MS VASSAROTTI: I will respond to some questions I took on notice on 30 March 2021 on urban vegetation from Ms Castley and Mr Parton. I was asked why the government had reduced tree, shrub and grass coverage in Canberra over the past eight years. The question referred to a recent report, Temperature Check: Greening Australia’s Warming Cities, by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub. This report claimed that total urban vegetation in Canberra had reduced from 62 per cent in 2013 to 34 per cent in 2020. This was clearly a concerning claim that required further investigation.

I am relieved to confirm that I did not fail to notice 60 per cent of Canberra’s vegetation disappearing some time after 2013. It was, in fact, a major error in the report. Noting that the original research was done by RMIT University and presented in the report, Mr Braddock’s office contacted the researchers from RMIT. The researchers confirmed that there was an error in the ACT results reported in the national assessment of urban tree cover.

I have included the technical details of this error in formal written responses to the members’ questions. The researchers are confident that this was an isolated error, affecting only ACT data, and have now recalculated the ACT-wide results published in the report. Their corrected results show that the combined tree and shrub coverage in the ACT in 2013 was 61.7 per cent. It actually increased to 67.4 per cent in 2020. Canberra and Hobart are the only capital cities that had more vegetation in 2020 than in 2013.

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