ACT to phase out natural gas, pursue electrification of transport


Looking to further the territory in delivering “global climate leadership”, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government has pledged to phase out gas and pursue electrification of transport. After it moved to cut emissions by 50-60% on 1990 levels by 2025, the territory has now outlined a plan to reach its ultimate target of zero net emissions by 2045.

With its switch to 100% renewable electricity next month, ACT is expected to ensure 40% greenhouse gas emission reduction on 1990 levels. Its further climate steps under the new policy package unveiled on Monday will focus on transport and gas, which are accounting for 61% and 22% respectively.

The government aims to phase out gas by 2045, transition to a zero emissions bus fleet by 2040, deliver all new government buildings and public schools as all-electric, deliver more battery storage for households and businesses and transition to a zero emissions government passenger vehicle fleet. As per passenger vehicles, it noted it will require incentives for drivers to speed up that transition.

The ACT government has already implemented a number of progressive climate policies and mechanisms, including its reverse auction scheme which has paved the way to 640 MW of wind and solar across 10 large-scale projects and already leveraged more than $2 billion of investment around Australia, and more than $500 million in the ACT. Last week, the territory announced a further reverse auction for up to 250 MW of new renewable energy generation and 20MW/40MWh of battery storage with the goal to maintain 100% renewable electricity into the future as its economy and population expand.

In order to go further towards its zero net emissions target, the ACT government has asked the community to do more to help. It called on Canberrans to ditch cars in favour of public transport, participate in “car-free days” and trade in gas-powered devices used in heating, cooling and cooking for electric ones. “This is not about making it the community’s problem, government will continue to lead and provide the framework and that’s very much what this strategy does. But we’re also being very clear, we want to partner with people,” ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury said.

As per new homes built in the ACT, the government will remove the mandatory requirement for gas connections and move to establish new policies to introduce electric appliances. Furthermore, the government will adopt a social cost of carbon and pursue long-terms emissions reduction measures rather than purchase carbon offsets.

Through a complementary Living Infrastructure Plan, the ACT will seek to plant hundreds of thousands of new trees and other ‘green infrastructure’ as part of a new 30% tree canopy cover target to mitigate the impacts of global warming.

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