Last month the ACT held an election and Labor was returned to Government, continuing a 19-year run. In a new document known as the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement for the 10th Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory, it confirms the principles in which the ACT Labor and ACT Greens will work together on.
These principles include some bold plans for the future, of the most interest to us, is the detail under the heading ‘Next steps on climate change action’.
While agreements are not funded policies, it is clear ACT are about to take big steps to address climate change and it’s great to see support for solar, battery storage and electric vehicles.
The ACT Labor and Greens Agreement will take the next essential steps to a net zero-emissions ACT, through the following actions:
Phase-out of fossil-fuel-gas in the ACT by 2045 at the latest, support energy grid stability and support vulnerable households
1. Implement a program of zero-interest loans of up to $15,000 for households and not-for-profit community organisations to assist with the upfront costs of investing in:
- rooftop solar panels;
- household battery storage;
- zero emission vehicles and efficient electric appliances.
The program will include an education and communications component about energy efficiency and the shift from gas to electric.
2. Progress a project with relevant asset owners and key stakeholders to reduce the emissions intensity of the existing ACT gas network as much as is possible, by injecting zero-emissions gas alternatives.
3. Enact minimum energy efficiency standards regulations for rental properties in 2021 with progressive implementation over the coming years.
4. Implement a five-year, $50 million program to improve building efficiency and sustainability for social and public housing, low income owner-occupiers, and the lowest performing rental properties; this includes upgrades to government housing, and financial incentives to implement minimum energy efficiency standards in rental properties.
5. Deliver at least 250MW of new ‘large-scale’ battery storage distributed across the ACT.
6. Develop the Molonglo Commercial Centre as an all-electric commercial centre (no new connections to gas mains network, but allow transition gas arrangements such as tanks), in partnership with expert stakeholders, and use lessons from this project to assist the phase-out of fossil-fuel gas in the ACT, and demonstrate national best practice.
7. Legislate to prevent new gas mains network connections to future stages of greenfield residential development in the ACT in 2021-22. Future stages of Jacka and Whitlam will be all-electric.
8. Commence a transition project, working with industry and other stakeholders, to advance all-electric infill developments, with a goal of no new gas mains network connections to future infill developments from 2023.
9. Ensure all new ACT Government buildings and facilities are fossil-fuel-gas free, including new leases. All retrofitting in Government buildings and facilities will have a goal of net-zero emissions post-retrofit.
10. By 2021, implement the ACT ICRC recommendations to make it simpler for ACT consumers to get better energy deals by requiring electricity retailers to provide customers with a reference bill for a typical consumer, and notify customers if they have a plan that could reduce a customer’s bills.
Significantly expand the number of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) in the ACT
- Engage with the ZEV industry and adopt an ambitious target for new ACT vehicle sales to be zero-emission by 2030.
- Provide financial incentives for the purchase of zero-emission vehicles. This includes free vehicle registration for new zero-emission vehicles for two years, introduced as soon as practical.
- Develop additional financial incentives to support greater ZEV uptake by businesses and the community sector.
- Implement a pathway for the ACT to use only zero-emissions public transport, garbage trucks, taxi and rideshare vehicles by the mid 2030s – with no further purchase of non-zero emissions buses. Short-term leasing of buses to meet peak operational requirements is permitted.
- Build at least 50 electric vehicle recharging stations across Canberra and the region, holding a reverse auction for their construction in 2021-22. This will include working with service station providers to explore broader public charging infrastructure.
- Enact regulation in conjunction with the Territory Plan Review to require charging infrastructure for new multi-unit residential and commercial buildings, and investigate measures to support retrofitting of charging infrastructure in existing buildings.
- Conduct market sounding to attract zero-emission vehicle industries and other economic and training opportunities to the ACT.
- Research and pilot further Vehicle2Grid and Vehicle2Home projects to improve energy efficiency and grid reliability
These are easily the most ambitious set of plans for any state or territory we’ve seen in Australia to tackle climate change. I’d love to see much of this, like the EV incentives, additional charging infrastructure and zero-interest loans on solar and battery storage, repeated across the country. You can read the full 27 page agreement here.