C20 - Climate change and greenhouse gas reduction policies and programs

Many of ESDD’s programs and activities are explicitly in pursuit of the government’s climate change and greenhouse gas reduction policies. Major activities include the following. For more detail, see Section A9.

ACT Planning Strategy

The ACT Planning Strategy became effective from September 2012 as a Notifiable Instrument under the Planning and Development Act 2007. As the overarching planning policy under the Canberra Plan, the Planning Strategy sets the direction to 2030 and beyond for a more compact and sustainable city. It addresses a range of challenges including accommodating population growth with urban intensification in centres and at nodes along transit corridors, integrating land use and transport planning to help achieve the targets in Transport for Canberra, and supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation actions from Weathering the Change Action Plan.

Master plan program

The master plan program addresses the potential for place-specific changes for Canberra's local, group and town centres and the key transport corridors that link them.

A master plan sets out principles, outcomes and actions to lead and manage this change over time. The master plans create opportunities by: incorporating government policies, such as Transport for Canberra; considering the views of the local community through extensive significant community engagement; and providing a framework to inform statutory or legislative documents, such as precinct codes.

All master plans aim to promote better understanding of future growth impacts, including consideration of greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets. The introduction of the policy for triple bottom line reporting means all master plans need to address potential social, environmental and economic outcomes. Master plans underway or being commenced in 2013 are for Pialligo, Oaks Estate and Tharwa ‘villages’, Weston Creek, Calwell and Mawson group centres, Woden Town Centre and the Athllon Drive transit corridor.

The City Plan, which will provide a strategic framework for growth in Canberra’s city centre, is being undertaken with funds from the Australian Government’s Liveable Cities program.

East Lake

The Canberra Spatial Plan first identified East Lake as a site for future residential intensification due to its proximity to Canberra's central employment areas and major transport routes. The ACT Planning Strategy reaffirms the government’s commitment to the development of East Lake. Consistent with Weathering the Change, East Lake will provide for increased opportunities for higher density residential development in a central location, enabling reduced travel distances and reduced consumption of land, water and energy.

The vision for East Lake is for a lively, high density urban community that provides an Australian showcase of sustainable development. It is expected to provide a mix of housing choices in an environment of high quality open space and public realm, well connected to existing and new shops, schools and other facilities. A range of innovative residential, commercial, retail and clean industrial uses will provide for new employment opportunities, reflecting the characteristics of the immediate and surrounding environment and building on this unique place.

Molonglo Valley

The planning and design framework for Molonglo Valley stage 2 aligns with the government’s aim of becoming a sustainable and carbon neutral city by 2060. The framework incorporates climate-responsive design and options for alternative energy generation, water reuse and recycling, to adapt to a changing climate.

Planning for the district’s principal commercial centre in stage 2 is consistent with the ACT’s sustainable urban development policies, including the ACT Planning Strategy, Transport for Canberra and Weathering the Change. The vision is for a vibrant, mixed use urban village that links ‘town and nature’ adjacent to the Molonglo River Park and near other key destinations. The opportunity exists to achieve innovative outcomes that have the potential to provide an exemplar for the transformation of Canberra, over time, into a more compact and sustainable city. The centre has the potential to be developed as a 'carbon neutral' precinct with, for example, co-generation and tri-generation and district energy systems being explored.

Transport planning

Transport for Canberra includes a range of policy measures and actions to reduce energy use in transport and increasing vehicle efficiency. The policies are based on reducing travel demand and including encouraging walking, cycling, and use of public transport.

In 2012–2013, these measures included:

  • completion of the Gungahlin to City Transit Corridor Study
  • commencement of the Light Rail Integration Study
  • Park and Ride and Bike and Ride feasibility studies
  • Adelaide Avenue (Woden to City) Bus Stops Feasibility Study
  • City Bus Layover and Interchange Feasibility Study and
  • progress on the Strategic Cycle Network Plan.

A Low Emission Vehicle Strategy is currently in development. The strategy will encourage use of ‘greener’ vehicles, including electric vehicles, and incentives to purchase vehicles that are ‘best in class’. The draft strategy will be released for public consultation in late 2013 and is expected to be finalised in 2014.

Territory Plan

Action 16 of AP2: A New Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan for the Australian Capital Territory (AP2) states that by the end of 2013 the ACT Government will publish a Ministerial Statement on how built environment and urban open spaces will be developed to respond to climate change, and will incorporate a review of the Territory Plan. The 2012 ACT Parliamentary Agreement also included the government’s commitment to revise the Territory Plan so that it is consistent with the 40% GHG reduction target.

ESDD is currently scoping out existing initiatives in the Territory Plan that will contribute to the GHG reduction target. The scoping study also considers how changes to the Territory Plan may contribute to future GHG reductions.

Policy research undertaken in conjunction with the Canberra Urban Futures program at University of Canberra will investigate Action 16. This will provide input relevant to the proposed Territory Plan review for overall GHG reduction and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Climate change strategy

The primary focus of AP2, which was released in October 2012, is to set the Territory on the path to meet its 2020 GHG reduction target and establish a strong foundation for the achievement of the overall target of being carbon neutral, or having zero-net emissions, by 2060.

AP2 was informed by the most up to date climate science at that time as well as professional economic and energy modelling. AP2 contains 18 actions to achieve four primary outcomes:

  • minimising the ACT’s contribution to global warming by achieving the ACT’s legislated GHG reduction targets
  • ensuring a fair society in a low-carbon economy
  • strengthening the ACT’s capacity to respond to a changing climate and
  • creating a more sustainable future.

Sustainable energy policy

In September 2011 the ACT Government released the Sustainable Energy Policy. The purpose of the policy is to establish an integrated policy framework for managing the social, economic and environment challenges faced by the Territory to 2020 as they relate to energy production and use. The framework consists of four key targeted outcomes:

  • secure and affordable energy
  • smarter use of energy
  • cleaner energy
  • growth in the clean economy.

Related to each outcome is a series of measures that will underpin the government’s energy policy work program to 2020. These actions are generally framed at a strategic level rather than detailing specific program measures. Further details of specific measures, as they relate to GHG emissions abatement, will be progressed through the implementation of AP2.

ACT Electricity Feed-in-Tariff

The ACT Electricity Feed-in Tariff Micro and Medium Scale Scheme closed in July 2011 following extraordinary demand in the first six months of 2011, driven by changes to Commonwealth and NSW industry support payments.

There were 11,033 solar generators connected to the ACT electricity grid as at 30 June 2012. This increased to 13,224 as at 30 June 2013. Despite the scheme having closed, ACT residents continued to install solar panels at the rate of approximately 170 new installations each month during 2012–13.

As at 30 June 2013 there was 35.15MW of solar capacity installed in the ACT, which should result in around 52,000 tCO2-e savings each year, not allowing for degradation of panels over time.

Energy efficiency improvement

The Energy Efficiency (Cost of Living) Improvement Act 2012 provides for the Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme (EEIS), a Territory-wide energy savings target and mandatory energy savings obligations for individual energy retailers. The EEIS will run initially from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2015, reducing energy demand. The Scheme is estimated to reduce the Territory's GHG emissions by around 750,000t CO2-e in 2020.

Tier 1 electricity suppliers (energy retailers with more than 5,000 customers selling more than 500GWh in a year) must participate by undertaking eligible energy efficiency activities in ACT households and businesses. Tier 2 suppliers may undertake activities or pay an 'Energy Savings Contribution' to the Territory, which will be spent on complementary energy saving measures.

The government will assess the operation of the EEIS in 2014 and consider its extension, opening the way to achieve further emissions reductions.

Solar auction

The ACT Large-scale Solar Auction represents the first 40MW capacity release under legislation, introduced in December 2011, to support up to 210MW of large-scale renewable energy capacity in the Australian Capital Region. The Solar Auction will ensure the highest levels of renewable energy generation at best value to the ACT community.

The first successful proponent in the fast-track stream of the auction was FRV Royalla Solar Farm Pty Limited, which will construct a 20MW facility on a rural property in the south of the ACT. Up to a further 20MW is available in the regular stream of the auction, to be announced later in 2013.

40MW of solar generation will supply around 2.5% of the ACT's electrical energy needs when it begins generating, displacing fossil fuel fired electricity generated through the National Electricity Market, and consequently reducing GHG emissions by 1,400,000 tonnes over the life of the solar generators.

Waste management

In 2012–13, ESDD made significant progress in the implementation of the ACT Waste Management Strategy 2011–2025 with the completion of an expression of interest process for the provision of a facility to recover biomass and residual wastes. This facility will underpin the Territory’s objective of recovering over 90% of waste by 2025 and having a carbon neutral waste sector by 2020. ESDD’s recommendations will be considered by government in 2013–14.

Carbon neutral ACT

The government is working to achieve carbon neutrality in its own operations by 2020 through the implementation of the Carbon Neutral ACT Government Framework. The framework enables and coordinates a whole-of-government approach to achieving carbon neutrality in a cost-effective manner. The framework focuses on embedding sustainability into core business and investing in cost-effective energy efficiency to 2020.

The 2012–13 Budget allowed for a Carbon Neutral Government Fund to assist directorates transition to a low carbon economy by making loans available to agencies to implement energy efficiency initiatives. Savings generated through these initiatives are used to pay back the loan.

Two rounds of funding in 2012–13 led to four successful applications, presently being implemented, with a total project value of $3.6 million.

Sustainable data management

Accurate data is critical in informing decisions and monitoring progress towards carbon neutrality. The project to implement a Sustainability Data Management System (SDMS) commenced in July 2012 and will provide the ACT Government with continuously updated, accurate and auditable water, energy (electricity and gas) and GHG emissions data and utility billing cost information for its assets and agencies.

It is expected the accurate utilities data will be used to identify performance indicators, resource use and greenhouse gas targets for facilities and to generate cost savings for the ACT Government through:

  • identification and resolution of billing errors
  • purchase of electricity from the market at optimal prices
  • improved resource management, including reduction, of energy and water usage.

Phase 1 implementation is for electricity, water and non-transport gas users and is expected to be completed by December 2013. The first agency phase is in process for ACT Property Group, Health Directorate, Legislative Assembly, Cultural Facilities Corporation, and Canberra Institute of Technology sites.

Office of the Surveyor–General and Land Information

The office of Surveyor-General and Land Information hosts the ACT Government’s on-line mapping service ACTMAPi. This service allows environmental data to be visualised together with a vast amount of other location data, such as land parcels, roads, heights and imagery. ACTMAPi provides access to both ACT Government and the general public.

ACTSmart sustainability programs

The Sustainability Programs section delivered a range of ACTSmart sustainability programs across the residential, low income residential, business, schools and community sectors aimed at contributing to the reduction of GHG in the ACT through a range of assistance including behaviour change, information and incentives.

Programs included incentive and educational programs focusing on water and energy efficiency, waste reduction, recycling and sustainability. They support policies including the GHG targets legislation, climate change strategy and action plans, ACT Waste Management Strategy and Think Water, Act Water Strategy.

HEAT Energy Audit and Advisory Service

The HEAT Home Energy Audit provides owners of homes built in or before 2006 energy efficiency advice and audits through the Home Energy Advice Team (HEAT). Over 7,297 households have participated in the HEAT home energy audit and 3,652 have claimed the rebate. HEAT also provides advice to residents and small businesses on energy efficiency measures. In light of a review of advice and incentive programs and the implementation of new initiatives, the HEAT program was closed on 20 April 2013.

Estimated savings per year under the HEAT audit and rebate program in 2012–13 are:

  • energy: 485 MWh
  • greenhouse gas emissions: 302 t CO2 -e.

An external evaluation of the HEAT program and a broader ANU study of Canberra residential energy and water consumption both showed that the HEAT program enabled participants to make significant energy savings.

Outreach low income energy and water efficiency program

The Outreach program assists low income residents to improve the energy and water efficiency of their homes, reduce their energy and water consumption, and contribute to reducing greenhouse emissions. Approximately 1075 low income households were assisted by the program in 2012–13 and 3,357 from the beginning of the program in 2010. Cost effective reductions in household energy consumption and GHG emissions are expected to be achieved over the life of the energy efficiency improvements implemented with these households.

The estimated savings per year from the energy-efficient appliances and retrofits (refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, draught sealing, and window treatments) installed in 2012–13 are:

  • energy: 1049 MWh (from both electricity and gas)
  • greenhouse gas emissions: 456 t CO2 -e.

These savings do not include all appliances and energy efficient products installed but not specified above and savings achieved by behaviour change. Total program savings will be calculated in a mid-program evaluation in 2013, using consumption data provided by ActewAGL.

A case study project was conducted in 2012 which demonstrated a 22% average reduction in energy use across 11 households participating in the project.

ToiletSmart and ToiletSmart Plus

The ToiletSmart and ToiletSmart Plus programs assisted 993 homeowners to replace their single and older dual flush toilets with 4-star water-efficient dual flush toilet suites in 2012–13 and 8,041 since 2008. ToiletSmart Plus options included a free home water audit and some additional low-cost water saving fixtures and repairs.

It is estimated that water savings in 2012–13 from all toilets installed since the start the program are 298 ML. The cumulative water saving from 2008 to 2012–13 is estimated at 1107 ML. GHG savings from reduced water treatment are estimated at 354 t CO2 -e in 2012–13, with cumulative savings of 1317 t CO2 -e from 2008 to 2012–13.

ACTSmart Business Energy and Water Program

The ACTSmart Business Energy and Water Program provided advice and financial assistance for efficiency upgrades to small businesses in the ACT to assist in reducing energy and water consumption. The program commenced on 1 July 2012 and is funded until 2015–16. It is open to businesses in the ACT with electricity bills up to $20,000 per annum and/or up to 10 full time equivalent staff members.

Estimated energy savings from the 32 businesses that have completed upgrades in 2012–13:

  • annual energy savings: 275 MWh
  • annual greenhouse gas savings: 259 t CO2 -e
  • annual savings from business energy bills: $88,885

ACTSmart Government Energy and Water Program

The ACTSmart Government Energy and Water Program provides tailored assistance and advice to ACT Government agencies on energy and water efficiencies. The program commenced in September 2012. The program provides a site assessment and a comprehensive report that can be used to support applications to loan funding through the Carbon Neutral Government Fund to perform efficiency upgrades to reduce costs and carbon emissions.

Identified potential savings from the 21 sites that have received assessment reports in 2012–13 include:

  • annual energy savings: 908 MWh
  • annual greenhouse gas savings: 854 t CO2 -e
  • annual savings from ACT Government energy bills: $162,573

ACTSmart Business and Office and Public Event Waste and Recycling programs

The ACTSmart Business and Office programs help organisations put more efficient recycling and waste management into practice and contribute to reducing GHG emissions and the Territory's carbon footprint by supporting participants to improve the way they deal with their waste, including redirecting waste away from landfill and increasing recycling.

Over 35,376 staff have access to the programs. Approximately 7205 cubic metres of waste was diverted from landfill by the 203 accredited ACTSmart sites in 2012–13. This represents a reduction of 1042 t CO2-e. In 2012–13 these accredited organisations also recycled approximately 15275 cubic metres of mixed recyclables, representing 1232 t CO2-e avoided and 1838 cubic metres of organic material equivalent to 1009 t CO2-e avoided.

A 2012 agreement with the Queanbeyan City Council to make the programs available to Queanbeyan businesses and offices has been extended for another year.

As at June 2013, 49 events participated in the Public Event Recycling program. Diversion of waste into recycling streams included 25,473 kg of mixed recycling equivalent to 32.6 t CO2 -e of greenhouse gas emissions avoided and 9,332 kg of organic waste equivalent to 14.93 t CO2 -e of greenhouse gas emissions avoided. Over 905,000 visitors had the opportunity to recycle at these events.

Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) ACT

All ACT schools are now signed up to the AuSSI ACT initiative to support schools to introduce sustainable management practices into every day school operations and encourage change to more sustainable behaviours in the wider school community. A School Sustainability Progress Report has been developed to provide school environmental data in the areas of water, energy and waste.

AuSSI ACT works collaboratively with the ACT Education and Training Directorate to deliver an energy efficiency program. All government schools except those opening in 2011 have received a comprehensive energy audit and the AuSSI ACT Energy Best Practice Guide. AuSSI ACT accredits schools that have, over a twelve month period, implemented recommendations from the audit report and best practice guide and have achieved a reduction in energy consumption.

Approximately 1788 cubic metres of waste was diverted from landfill by the 37 AuSSI ACT waste accredited schools in 2012–13. This represents a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 259 t CO2 -e.

AuSSI ACT accredited schools had lower energy use per square metre of floorspace than non-accredited schools in 2012–13: 355 MJ/m2 compared to 429 MJ/m2.