Page 3920 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 15 Sept 2009

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The public was very interested in this inquiry. We received 36 submissions from the community and held 11 public hearings. On behalf of the committee, I take this opportunity to thank the community for these contributions. It is evident there is great interest in finding local and sustainable solutions to climate change. The views we heard reflected the passion, creativity and analysis of so many of the ACT community who want a sustainable, zero carbon ACT.

We received a very clear message that, despite the complexities of climate change, the need and desire for action were well founded, particularly in the short to medium term. There was also confidence that well-planned policy and programs could address unexpected outcomes and impacts. Our colleague the minister, Mr Corbell, indicated that the ACT government recognised that the community expects strong targets and that we have a very strong moral obligation to future generations to adopt stronger and more visionary targets.

Throughout the submissions and evidence, the word “leadership” was often mentioned. The committee agrees that the ACT should take a leadership role.

The committee received a very clear message that the science of climate change indicates that all of us, no matter how big or small or unique our carbon footprint, should take steps to reduce our carbon footprint as soon as possible. The scientific evidence indicates that, if we wish to avoid threshold climate change, we need to make significant global cuts by 2020. We are all special cases, whether by being a small jurisdiction or having particular industries. We should do the best we can. Dr Richard Dennis of the Australia Institute said:

While the ACT is a small territory and a small country in a big world, frankly, everyone lives in a small community as part of a big country somewhere, and if individual communities do not try to make a significant difference then there is literally no prospect of our solving the problem.

The committee received a very clear message that in the context of the ACT, with 73 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions from running our buildings, we could realistically expect to significantly cut our greenhouse gas emissions dramatically by applying energy efficiency measures and make significant ongoing financial savings in the process.

On the evidence before us, the committee is of the view that there is a strong case for ambitious action in the ACT, particularly in the short to medium term. It is on this basis that the committee recommends an ambitious, non-enforceable target of a 40 per cent reduction by 2020 on 1990 levels. The committee is confident that, with the effective implementation of appropriate energy efficiency programs and policy targeting both the residential and commercial building sectors, the ACT will be able to reduce its emissions by 40 per cent by 2020.

I would like to reiterate the evidence put before us that this should not be at any great cost to the ACT economy or community. Rather than pushing our local households or businesses out of Canberra, it will save them money. Economic analysis shows energy efficiency makes economic sense; environmental analysis shows it reduces

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