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Labor environment ministers commit to decarbonisation

Simon Corbell

Labor environment ministers from the ACT, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland this week agreed to work to harmonise energy efficiency schemes across all Australian states and territories, and to increase the uptake of renewable energy, including utility-scale wind and solar.

A release by ACT environment minister Simon Corbell said the ministers would “work together to tackle climate change in a nonpartisan effort”. However, only Labor states were party to the agreement.

The ministers, along with senior officials from the federal, NSW and Tasmanian governments, met in Adelaide on Monday for a jurisdictional meeting on climate change. Western Australia and the Northern Territory did not send representatives.

A briefing was given by the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres.

Ms Figueres highlighted the large amount of work being done by both OECD and developing countries to address climate change, including the greenhouse gas reduction targets already set by nations including China, the US and Mexico ahead of the Paris Climate Conference later this year.

She said other nations were seeing the economic and environmental benefits of switching to renewable energy sources and were taking steps to make sure they could take advantage of the jobs, investment and security of switching to a decarbonised economy.

“There is a lot that can be achieved by state and territory governments taking the lead on climate change,” Mr Corbell said.

“As Ms Figueres has rightly pointed out, international experience has shown that growth in GDP is no longer linked to growth in greenhouse gas emissions.

“Around the world countries are showing that they can grow their economies while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Here in Australia we are fortunate to have the best renewable energy resources in the world and we should be leaders internationally.

“By working together, our states and territories can supplement federal government policies to really take advantage of the economic benefits that come with moving to a decarbonised future.”

The participating states and territories have agreed to establish a senior officer level working group as part of taking action across four key focus areas.

These include opportunities to develop joint policies to increase the uptake of renewable energy; approaches to harmonising the delivery of energy efficiency schemes for households and businesses; improving information sharing and best practice delivery of strategies for boosting community resilience to climate change impacts; and sharing data on emissions reductions targets and how each jurisdiction is tracking against them.

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