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ACT joins world leaders on net zero and moves to enable gas-free suburbs

Canberra City Centre, View from Mount Ainslie, Australian Capital Territory. Image: Ryan Wick
Canberra City Centre, View from Mount Ainslie, Australian Capital Territory. Image: Ryan Wick

The ACT government has cemented its leadership position, announcing it is bringing forward its net zero emissions target from 2050 to 2045. It this month also proposed draft amendments to its Territory Plan to allow for a trial of gas-free suburbs.

On Thursday ACT climate change and sustainability minister Shane Rattenbury said the government was setting a world-leading zero net emissions target for 2045, five years ahead of its previous target.

Interim targets have also been set, including:

  • 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020
  • 50-60 per cent below 1990 levels by 2025
  • 65-75 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030

“Our new target of achieving zero net emissions by 2045 will lead the nation, and stands among the world’s most progressive jurisdictions in our commitment to delivering real climate action,” Mr Rattenbury said.

Economic modelling showed that the 65 per cent by 2030 target could be met for a cost of $32 a tonne – about $5.8 million in 2030.

“This is reasonable and achievable,” Mr Rattenbury said. “However, it’s important to note that the modelling shows that our emission reduction plan could even be cost neutral because of the cost savings and co-benefits that emission reduction policies achieve. We are well-placed to respond to future technology and market changes as time progresses.”

Ginninderry gas-free suburb a step further

The government this month also progressed changes to its Territory Plan to allow for a trial of 350 all-electric homes in the 6 Star Green Star Ginninderry development.

The draft changes, currently out for comment, would introduce a new rule into the West Belconnen Concept Plan overriding a requirement to provide a gas connection to blocks in Stage 1 of the Ginninderry development, though would not prohibitgas services.

The ACT is the only jurisdiction in Australia that currently has a mandatory requirement for gas infrastructure to be provided in new estates and subdivisions. Planning and land managementministerMick Gentlemansaid the changes would allow the pilot to test whether the 350 homes were efficient and cost-effective without gas.

“For future residents, this trial will mean access to affordable housing, diverse and sustainable design and savings to energy costs,” Mr Gentleman said.

A media statement said given the rising supply and affordability of renewables, mandating the use of gas was not consistent with the current West Belconnen Structure Plan. It also said the proposed changes were consistent with the government’s net zero greenhouse gas commitments.

The government said the trial would include testing in a range of climate conditions, and would ensure higher design and insulation standards were set for any future proposals.

“The Ginninderry Estate development is at the forefront of energy system design in Australia,” Mr Gentleman said.

“This trial will mean higher design and insulation standards set for other developments in the ACT, which will bring advances in sustainability, more affordable living and greater customer choice.”

Previous modelling showed that each house could save about $14,000 over its lifetime by cutting out gas.

The draft variation is open for consideration until 22 June.

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