Page 210 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 13 February 2008

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The strategy is supported by action plan 2007-11. As the climate change issue will be with us into the foreseeable future, a strong emphasis of this action plan is increasing awareness both in the wider community and though educating children through schools and community activities and events.

The action plan sets out 43 initiatives that the government will implement from now until 2011. These initiatives touch on all aspects of the ACT—economy, society and environment—and includes improving the energy efficiency of government and commercial buildings, showcasing and promoting renewable energy technologies, increasing community and business awareness, supporting our specialist research facilities and ensuring easy market access to green power.

Government agencies have already been working hard to implement many of the initiatives in the action plan. For example, my department is well on track to deliver the $1 million energy efficiency fund for ACT government agencies. This loan fund, launched in early November, enables government agencies to access additional funds, interest free, to improve their energy efficiency and reduce their emissions. This might be through measures such as replacing hot water services, installing awnings, upgrading lighting, and many more measures that will specifically reduce the energy consumption of that agency.

Work on identifying and planning renewable technology showcases on public facilities around the city is well progressed, and I have already announced that solar and wind technologies will be installed on the Canberra Stadium. I will announce the details of that additional proposed installation shortly.

Another program that is up and running is a generous rebate for solar hot water systems installed on residential properties. Incorporated into the successful ACT energy wise program, householders who install solar hot water systems which replace existing electric or gas hot water systems receive a $500 rebate from the government, if the replacement comes as a result of the program recommendation.

Both ACT Housing and the Department of Education are progressing plans to increase the energy efficiency and emissions profiles of their buildings. Both agencies received $20 million each over 10 years to support this work. It is anticipated that initial improvements will commence in 2008.

An important action in the action plan is the government’s commitment to implement a renewable energy target. The ACT government is cooperating with New South Wales in developing legislation to establish renewable energy targets that will require, as a minimum, that all electricity retailers source 10 per cent renewable energy by 2010 and 15 per cent by 2020.

The establishment of a renewable energy target will help provide policy certainty for the renewable energy industry and complement the successful greenhouse gas abatement scheme already in place. Another important action is the government’s commitment to lead by example by heading towards carbon neutrality. Reducing emissions arising from energy use, water, waste and travel by staff will require agencies to undertake projects to offset their remaining emissions. The initiative will be introduced in stages to allow for training and learning. Guidelines are currently being developed to assist agencies with this task.

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