Climate change action in the ACT

What is the ACT Government doing about climate change?

The ACT Government recognises the urgent need for action to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. It is critical we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to zero as quickly as possible to help keep global warming well below two degrees to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change. It is also essential that we take measures to adapt to the climate change impacts that are already occurring, and will continue to occur, due to the greenhouse gases already emitted.

The ACT continues to be a world-leader in climate change response. This has led to growth in businesses of the future and a growing resilience to the threats posed by the changing climate.

The ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-2025 sets out the next steps in how Government will work with the community to respond to climate change and achieve net zero emissions by 2045, while building our resilience to climate change impacts.

Canberra's Living Infrastructure Plan: Cooling the City outlines how Government will work with the community and industry sectors to reduce urban heat and improve liveability.

Together with Canberra's recently refreshed ACT Planning Strategy, the Strategy and Plan are an integrated approach to Canberra's growth as an increasingly efficient, exciting and sustainable city.

What are the ACT's emission reduction targets?

The ACT is recognised as a global leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and has some of the most ambitious emission reduction targets of any jurisdiction in the world. The targets, set under the Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act 2010, are to:

  • maintain a 100% renewable electricity supply from 2020
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions (from 1990 levels) by:
    • 40% by 2020
    • 50-60% by 2025
    • 65-75% by 2030
    • 90-95% by 2040
    • 100% (net zero emissions) by 2045.

These targets are based on advice from the ACT's Climate Change Council, taking into account the latest climate change science, and the fact that as a well-educated and prosperous community, the ACT is well positioned to make a rapid transition to net zero emissions.

What are annual ACT emissions and are they declining?

The Government publishes an annual inventory of the ACT's greenhouse gas emissions. ACT emissions have been steadily declining since 2015-16, largely due to the shift to renewable electricity. By 2020, emissions will be around 40% below 1990 levels.

In 2017-18 the ACT emitted 3,368 kilotonnes carbon dioxide, equating to 8.09 tonnes per person. This was a further reduction from 2016-17 when emissions were 3,928 kilotonnes CO2-e, or 9.64 tonnes per person. In recent years however, the ACT's transport emissions have risen, making clear the need for concerted efforts to reduce emissions in the transport sector.

Find out more about measuring ACT emissions.

How is the ACT engaging with other jurisdictions around the world on climate change?

The ACT is recognised as a leader in delivering real climate outcomes both nationally and internationally. We have raised our profile which helps attract new zero economy type businesses and investment in R&D, training and education. Through our engagement with other jurisdictions and cities nationally and overseas we are sharing and learning, from our collective experience.

The ACT actively works with other states and territories to progress climate action. For example, the ACT Government:

The ACT is also part of numerous international alliances, declarations and partnerships on climate change:

Find out more about our partners.

The ACT's Climate Change Strategy 2019-2025

How will the new Strategy ensure the ACT reaches zero net emissions by 2045?

The Strategy sets out actions that Government will take from now until 2025. These actions put us on the path to achieve the 2025 emission reduction target of 50-60% (below 1990 levels) and also lay the foundations for achieving net zero emissions by 2045.

The Strategy places a strong focus on collaboration, supporting community and business leadership and trialing new approaches to find innovative solutions.

What are some of the key actions in the Strategy?

Transport

  • Prioritise improving public transport services, walking, cycling, and other zero emission transport.
  • Facilitate the transition to zero emissions vehicles, including by transitioning to a zero emissions Transport Canberra bus fleet by 2040 at the latest.
  • Plan for a more compact and efficient city that reduces reliance on private car travel.

Buildings and energy

  • Transition away from natural gas by 2045, including by removing the requirement for new suburbs to be connected to gas.
  • Introduce minimum energy performance requirements for rental properties.
  • Incentivise all-electric, high efficiency apartment and commercial buildings.
  • Introduce higher energy performance and climate resilience standards for new buildings.
  • Develop a Climate-wise Code through planning regulations to ensure a sustainable, climate-wise built environment.

Government leadership

  • Establish a pathway to zero emissions ACT Government schools – including by ensuring new schools are all-electric - and a zero-emissions health sector.
  • Ensure all newly built or newly leased Government buildings and facilities are all-electric and climate-wise.
  • Reduce emissions from Government operations by at least 33% from 2020 to 2025 and achieve net zero emissions from Government operations by 2040 – without the purchase of carbon offsets.
  • Ensure climate change outcomes (via the ‘social cost of carbon’) are considered in all policies, budget decisions, capital works projects and procurements.

Waste

  • Introduce a service for all households that accepts and recycles household food waste.
  • Develop a scheme for requiring large organic waste producers such as hospitality and food retail businesses to have a separate organic waste collection.
  • Identify sites to establish organic waste treatment facilities, such as anaerobic digestion and composting.

Support for low income households

  • Provide tailored programs and support for low income households and vulnerable sectors of the community.
  • Upgrade to efficient electric appliances in existing public housing properties and construct all new public housing dwellings as all-electric.
  • Expand the Actsmart home energy program to provide free, tailored in-home energy assessments for renters.

Cooling the city

  • Implement Canberra's Living Infrastructure Plan to achieve 30% tree canopy cover (or equivalent) and 30% surface permeability in urban areas.
Will the actions in the Strategy be enough to meet our 2025 emission reduction target?

The actions are intended to put the ACT on track to meet its 2025 emission reduction target. Our emission reduction targets are ambitious and meeting them will require dedication, ingenuity and active participation of the whole community. We will also need to learn as we go, trial new approaches and adopt emerging technologies. It is only by working together that we will be able to make the shift to a net zero emissions city.

The Strategy includes actions to 'explore' and 'trial' new approaches. These trials and investigations will inform the development of further measures as needed to meet our targets.

What does the climate emergency declaration mean and how is the state of climate emergency reflected in the Strategy?

The ACT declared a state of climate emergency on 16 May 2019, acknowledging the need for urgent action across all levels of government. The Strategy outlines the ACT's response to the climate emergency and contains actions to incorporate climate change considerations into Government policies, planning and decision making and to work with the community and stakeholders to encourage broad community and business participation in implementation.

Is the ACT too small to make a difference?

The ACT is a small city with big aspirations. An acclaimed national and international climate action leader, the ACT takes seriously our responsibility to our citizens to mitigate and adapt to the realities of climate change. This is reflected throughout the ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-2025.

At a time of climate emergency, the ACT is making the urgent and necessary transition to a clean energy economy. We are well on track to achieve our nation-leading legislated emissions targets, while investing in innovative research and development solutions to support this transition.

The impact of this work is not limited to the ACT. Through our leadership we have played a significant role in supporting the national renewable electricity industry.

The Strategy will have far-reaching implications for many areas of Canberra life, both now and into the future. In this, the ACT is both setting the standard and collaborating with other local jurisdictions in the necessary transition to a clean energy economy.

Will the ACT Government continue to purchase carbon offsets?

The ACT has ruled out any future purchase of carbon offsets in order to meet our emissions reductions targets.

This approach has been adopted based on advice from the ACT Climate Change Council that purchasing offsets is a short-term solution that will not assist the ACT to achieve true net zero emissions. Instead the ACT Government will invest funds that would otherwise go to offsets in initiatives that achieve lasting emissions reductions, with a focus on our local region.

What is the ACT Government doing about its own emissions?

As part of the Zero Emissions Government Framework, the Government aims to achieve zero emissions in its own operations by 2040. This is a change from the previous target of net zero emissions by 2020. However, the Government has decided on an approach whereby it will achieve zero emissions without the purchase of offsets. Instead it will invest in direct and local emissions reductions measures to achieve a genuine zero emissions Government.

The Framework focuses on replacing natural gas and transport fuel use with zero emissions alternatives, such as renewable electricity. It will also apply a 'social cost of carbon' to remaining emissions from Government operations. A social cost of carbon is an estimate of the economic, social, and environmental cost of the damage from emitting greenhouse gases. From 2025, for every tonne of emissions from Government operations, the equivalent social cost of these emissions will be invested in emissions reduction activities. From 2021 an interim price of $20 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent will be adopted while work is done to determine an appropriate social cost of carbon for the ACT.

Reducing emissions from gas, transport and waste

How does the Strategy address emissions from gas?

The strategy acknowledges that the ACT needs to phase out natural gas if it is to reach zero net emissions by 2045. In response to this, the Government will:

  • develop a plan for achieving zero emissions from gas use by 2045
  • undertake a campaign to support the transition from natural gas
  • remove the requirement for gas connections in new suburbs
  • support the community to replace existing gas appliances with efficient electric appliances
  • incentivise all-electric apartment and commercial buildings
  • develop a Climate-wise Code through planning regulations to ensure a sustainable, climate-wise built environment
  • ensure all newly built or newly leased Government buildings and facilities are all-electric and climate-wise, and replace space and water heating systems in Government facilities with electric systems
  • consider the potential of hydrogen and biogas as clean natural gas alternatives through a new Sustainable Energy Policy.

Transitioning away from natural gas – a polluting fossil fuel - is not only necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it can also save households on energy bills, especially because they will only have a single connection fee.

How does the Strategy address emissions from transport?

Addressing emissions from transport is a key part of the Strategy. By 2020, more than 60% of ACT emissions will be from transport, the majority of these from private cars.

The Strategy contains measures to support Canberrans to make sustainable travel choices. These include improving walking and cycling infrastructure, supporting safe uptake of electric scooters and similar personal mobility devices, planning for a more compact and convenient city, incentivising the uptake of zero emissions cars, and improving public transport services.

In order to reduce emissions from cars, the Strategy supports the transition to zero emissions vehicles such as electric vehicles. Measures include implementing the ACT Zero Emissions Vehicles Action Plan 2018-21, and exploring financial incentives and regulatory options to encourage zero emissions vehicles.

The Strategy includes a range of other measures to encourage more sustainable transport, including holding 'car free days' in certain parts of Canberra, supporting car share and bike share schemes, investigating registration changes to support sustainable transport, and facilitate the safe use of new sustainable personal mobility options, such as electric scooters.

Sustainable travel choices also have other benefits including health benefits from walking and cycling, as well as less air and noise pollution from reduced car use and a shift to zero emissions vehicles. Reducing car use by choosing to walk, cycle or take public transport instead can also save you money.

What will the Strategy do about waste?

Emissions from waste are predicted to account for around 4% of ACT emissions in 2020. The Strategy addresses greenhouse gas emissions from waste through measures to reduce waste generation, divert organic waste from landfill, and exploring ways to reduce emissions from sewage and wastewater treatment.

Measures include introducing a household organic (food and garden) waste collection for all households, developing and consulting on a scheme for requiring large organic waste producers such as hospitality and food retail businesses to have a separate organic waste collection, identifying sites to establish organic waste treatment facilities (such as anaerobic digestion and composting), and supporting food rescue organisations to reduce food waste.

Cost of living and support for low income households and renters

How does the Strategy support low income households?

The Strategy is designed to support everyone in the community to be able to make the transition to net zero emissions and take advantage of the benefits it offers.

Key actions to support low income households:

  • Continue to deliver the Actsmart Solar For Low Income program and investigate options for providing solar to public housing.
  • Upgrade to efficient electric appliances in existing public housing properties and ensure all new public housing properties are all electric from 2019.
  • Trial interest free loans or other innovative finance for gas to electric upgrades and deep retrofits of low-income homes.
  • Expand the Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme (EEIS) to increase support for low income priority households and further encourage a shift from gas to high efficiency electric appliances.
  • Identify vulnerable and disengaged sectors of the community and implement measures to support their participation in shifting to net zero emissions.
How will the Strategy benefit renters?

The Strategy includes measures to improve the energy efficiency of rental homes which will improve comfort levels and save renters money on energy bills.

Key actions for renters:

  • Introduce minimum energy performance requirements for rental properties.
  • Provide free, tailored in-home energy assessments for renters.
  • Introduce mandatory disclosure of energy performance for all rental properties.
What is the cost of the Strategy?

Developing a clean economy and tackling climate change delivers significant economic benefits and helps avoid damages caused by climate change. The Strategy is expected to deliver cost savings over time for many households, such as reduced energy costs from energy efficiency improvements and savings on connection fees from shifting off gas. There are also extensive co-benefits to the initiatives in the Strategy, such as more comfortable houses, improved health, more shade and amenity, cleaner and quieter vehicles etc.

In situations where there may be additional up-front costs for households (e.g. to purchase more sustainable buildings, cars or equipment), the Government intends to support vulnerable households through a range of programs and incentives.

The Government has committed $17m of dedicated funding for the initial work and initiatives of the strategy. Many elements of the strategy will be delivered through future budgets for electric buses, tree planting, transport system improvements, new active travel infrastructure, new and upgraded schools and health facilities, and followups to effective trials of new approaches. These investments will be guided by ongoing development of strategic approaches, changing technology and emerging research.

The strategy will also deliver considerable economic savings to households and businesses, and to the ACT budget. These include building the growing industries of the future in Canberra, making our businesses more efficient and competitive, improved health and education outcomes from greater thermal comfort in homes, and reduced risks and costs from heatwaves, fires and storms.

For example, estimated lifetime savings from the Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme (EEIS) are around $500 million in energy costs, and many participants report a reduced need for health services. Businesses that participate in the business, energy and water program save on average $2,500 per year on energy and water. Industry investment activities delivered as part of the 100% renewable electricity target are estimated to bring $500 million of additional investment to Canberra. Actsmart-accredited schools use 24% less water and produce 22% less waste than non-accredited schools, freeing up scarce resources for core activities.

What can consumers do to manage energy costs?

The ACT Government has a number of programs in place to help Canberrans save energy, reduce their emissions and cut their energy bills.

For tips on how to reduce energy consumption and bills for your home or business, ACT residents can receive free advice from an independent energy advisor by calling 1300 141 777 or emailing actsmartadvice@act.gov.au.

Learn more about the Actsmart Household Program.

How will the Strategy support any industries affected by the transition to zero emissions?

The ACT is already a hub for renewables industry, research and skills training, and the next phase of our climate change action will continue to support this. The ACT Government will work with industry to promote a zero emissions economy, and engage with industry and workers to identify sectors likely to be affected and to support the re-training of workers where needed.

Reducing emissions from government

What are the targets for reducing emissions from Government operations?

The ACT Government has committed to reducing emissions from Government operations by at least 33% from 2020 to 2025, and to achieving zero emissions from Government operations by 2040.

This is a change from the previous target of net zero emissions by 2020 - however, the Government has decided on an approach whereby it will achieve zero emissions without the purchase of offsets. Instead it will invest in direct and local emissions reductions measures to achieve a genuine zero emissions government.

Why is the ACT Government moving to a zero emissions approach for our own operations, and what does this mean in practice?

The new Strategy introduces a new Zero Emissions Government Framework, which shifts Government from a target of carbon neutrality by 2020 (through purchasing offsets) to a target of achieving zero emissions from Government operations by 2040, without the use of purchased offsets. Instead of purchasing offsets, Government will invest the equivalent cost of emissions into actions to further reduce emissions from Government operations. This approach will provide more local economic benefits than purchasing carbon offsets and is better aligned with the long-term goal of achieving zero emissions.

The Zero Emissions Government Framework sets a target for zero emissions in Government operations by 2040. This is more ambitious than the ACT-wide target of net zero emissions by 2045. This is because Government is committed to leading by example. Demonstrating this leadership will help drive innovation and adoption of new technologies and will demonstrate the feasibility of zero emissions options. It will also provide the Government with opportunities to save money through improved efficiency and modernise and upgrade facilities.

Achieving these targets will involve replacing gas appliances with efficient electric appliances, replacing fleet vehicles with zero emissions vehicles, developing a zero emissions education and health sector, and shifting to a zero emissions bus fleet.

Will the Government purchase electric buses? 

By 2020, Transport Canberra buses will be the source of approximately half of the emissions from Government operations. Government has committed to achieving zero emissions from Government operations by 2040, and to shifting to a zero emissions bus fleet by 2040 at the latest.

The Government will take a staged approach to introducing zero emissions buses into the fleet.

100% renewable electricity in the ACT

How does the ACT Government’s renewable electricity target work?

The bulk of the ACT's renewable electricity target is being achieved through the ACT's large-scale renewable electricity feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme. This source contributes about three-quarters of all the output needed for the ACT's 100% renewable electricity by 2020 target. Other sources include rooftop solar generation in the ACT, voluntary purchases of renewable electricity through the GreenPower program, and the ACT’s share of national renewable electricity.

Renewable electricity output comes from ten different wind and solar farms in the ACT, NSW, Victoria and South Australia that were awarded large feed-in tariff entitlements through a series of innovative reverse auctions conducted by the ACT Government between 2012 and 2016.

The 100 per cent renewable electricity target is a 'net' target, under which the ACT procures enough renewable electricity to match demand over time. This is consistent with national and international practices in renewable electricity procurement, including the Greenpower program, and procurement by large energy consumers. Achievement of the target from 2020 will be measured on an annual basis, rather than at any single point in time.

Learn more about the ACT's renewable electricity target.

How do the ACT Government’s feed-in tariff arrangements work?

The ACT's renewable electricity auctions awarded 20-year feed-in tariff (FiT) entitlements under which the ACT electricity distributor pays successful renewable generators the difference between their wholesale electricity market earnings and their feed-in tariff prices.

A FiT is an agreed price for electricity fed back into the electricity grid. The ACT’s large-scale generators are paid a FiT on a monthly basis by the ACT’s electricity distributor, Evoenergy, on a 'contract for difference' basis.

The way this works is that each contract establishes a 'strike price', which is set over the 20-year contract period. Under our program, the ACT electricity distributor, Evoenergy, pays each generator for their energy produced based on the difference between the current wholesale price (which varies every 5 minutes) and the strike price.

When wholesale electricity prices are low, this requires Evoenergy to pay the generator, and when electricity prices are high, the generator pays Evoenergy.

This arrangement results in more certain revenue for the generators and helps to shield ACT consumers from high electricity prices.

Evoenergy passes costs on to ACT electricity consumers, which are included as part of the distribution cost on an electricity bill alongside the costs of building and maintaining poles and wires.

The innovative nature of the auctions was recognised by awards given by the Banksia Foundation in 2014 and the Australian Institute of Public Administration in 2017. The ACT's approach has since been adopted by the Victorian, Queensland and Commonwealth governments in the design of similar schemes.

Learn more about the ACT's renewable electricity auctions.

When the sun doesn’t shine, and the wind doesn’t blow, how do we guarantee supply?

The ACT's renewable electricity target is generated from a number of sources in NSW, Victoria and South Australia. The output from ACT supported renewable generators in these areas will replace the largely coal-fired electricity that the ACT would otherwise draw from the national electricity grid.

This means that Canberra's renewable electricity will be supplied on a reliable basis. When the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining at our supported renewable generators in other parts of Australia, we will continue to draw electricity from other generators in the national electricity grid.

However, the design of our target will ensure that, over the period of a year, 100% of our net electricity demand will be met by renewables from 2020.

The ACT also recognises the importance of energy storage in supporting a high penetration of renewables in the national grid. That's why we are making a major investment in a distributed $25 million energy storage rollout that will see up to 5,000 small-scale, smart batteries powered by rooftop solar generators installed across the Territory, as well as a large research program at the ANU on integrating energy storage into the electricity network.

After 2020, how will we maintain a 100% renewable electricity supply?

The ACT Government has committed to maintain a 100% renewable electricity supply from 2020 onward. This has been legislated in the Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act 2010.

Renewable electricity has enabled us to achieve our current emission reductions. Maintaining this renewable electricity supply is critical for supporting the shift to net zero emissions by 2045, particularly as we electrify transport and buildings. Energy efficiency improvements will continue to be a priority to ensure we can maintain the 100% renewable electricity supply in a cost-effective way.

What will the cost of renewables be for Canberra households and businesses?

The ACT Government's reverse auction feed-in tariff scheme showed, for the first time in Australia, that state and territory governments could work with industry to drive investment in renewable electricity while limiting costs to consumers and securing local investment benefits.

Renewable energy generation is immune to fossil fuel price hikes and helps to keep downward pressure on wholesale electricity costs.

Through our purchasing agreements with wind and solar projects across Australia, renewable energy generators receive a set price for the renewable electricity they produce over a 20-year period. This will help buffer us from price increases.

The ACT Government is confident that the cost of achieving 100% renewables will not exceed previous forecasts to peak at less than $4.90 per household per week in 2020 and declining over time as wholesale market prices rise.

How can I find out more about costs to consumers?

ACT electricity distributors are obligated under the Electricity Feed-in (Large-scale Renewable Energy Generation) Act 2011 to provide the Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability with quarterly reports detailing the costs of the ACT's large-scale feed-in tariff program.

These quarterly reports include information on network connection, feed-in tariff costs and the estimated earnings that flow back to Canberra's electricity users as an offset against future energy prices.

Details on costs associated with the Government's legacy small- and medium-scale feed-in tariff programs are provided in an annual Feed in Tariff Report, published each December.

What can consumers do to manage energy costs?

The ACT Government has a number of programs in place to help Canberrans save energy, reduce their emissions and cut their energy bills.

For tips on how to reduce energy consumption and bills for your home or business, ACT residents can receive free advice from an independent energy advisor by calling 1300 141 777 or emailing actsmartadvice@act.gov.au.

Learn more about the Actsmart Household Program.

The ACT's growing renewable and clean tech industry

How does the community benefit from the ACT Government’s investment in renewables?

Canberra is recognised nationally and internationally as a hub for renewable energy research, business innovation and investment. The ACT Government's investment in renewable energy will bring over $500 million into our local economy over 20 years.

Benefits to the community from our investment in renewables include:

  • Growing the local corporate footprint attracting leading international companies in the renewable energy and clean tech space
  • Building Canberra's capacity as a national tertiary education and trades' skills hub

Support for local businesses and start-ups in the renewable energy and clean tech space

  • Research partnerships to fund clean tech innovations
How is the ACT Government supporting local start-ups to deliver innovative energy outcomes?

The ACT Government's Innovation Fund (REIF) Direct Grants, and new 'Renewables Stream' of Innovation Connect, provides financial support worth approximately $1.1 million and $100,000 respectively to local businesses and start-ups.

Smarter home energy systems, hydrogen fuel cells and solar radiation forecasting for large solar farms are just some of the business ideas that have received support under these programs.

The Renewables Innovation Hub also provides opportunities and support for start-ups and organisations to access office spaces, workshops and mentoring.

What programs are available for those interested in solar battery storage?

Canberra is home to one of the most ambitious battery storage programs in the world. Through the ACT Government’s Next Generation Energy Storage program, we will roll out battery storage to over 5,000 Canberra homes and businesses. Subsidised battery storage brings many benefits, including:

  • control over when you use your stored energy
  • reducing your energy bills by using your battery at peak times
  • some battery storage systems provide backup power during an outage.

If you are a household or business that is interested in installing a solar battery storage system, visit the Actsmart website for a list of grant winners that can be contacted directly.

Canberra's Living Infrastructure Plan: Cooling the City

What is the Living Infrastructure Plan?

The ACT Government’s new Living Infrastructure Plan, Cooling the City aims to help address the heating effect that climate change is having on the city, as well as enhance and value the natural environment that make Canberra a special place to live. Living infrastructure consists of the natural elements of the city, such as its trees, plants, soils, and water systems.

The Plan sets a new target of achieving an average of 30% canopy cover (or equivalent) and 30% permeable surfaces in urban areas by 2045. It includes a range of other initiatives designed to enhance and protect the natural urban environment, and to protect Canberra’s amenity as the climate changes.

What is the role of trees, waterways and soil in managing climate change impacts?

As outlined in Canberra's Living Infrastructure Plan: Cooling the City, living infrastructure will help the ACT adapt to a changing climate by keeping our city cool. Cooling the city through living infrastructure will increase Canberra’s resilience to climate change by reducing urban heat.

Living infrastructure also delivers a range of additional benefits, such as improvements to physical and mental health, increased amenity, economic benefits to tourism and property values, cleaner air and other environmental benefits.

How will we achieve the 30% canopy cover target?

The new target of 30% canopy cover by 2045 will be a significant increase from the current average canopy cover in Canberra's urban environment of 21%. The 30% target is made up of canopy cover or equivalent. This will allow for other types of living infrastructure to contribute towards the target and may include features such as green roofs and walls, wetlands and rain gardens, water features, watered grass, and garden beds.

The 2019-20 budget allocated funding for an additional 17,000 trees to be planted over the next four years. This is an early investment in living infrastructure and requires further investment in the coming years.

The urban canopy is also affected by the activities and development that occur on private land. Meeting our targets will therefore require a collaborative approach by government, community and business.

What is the 30% permeable surfaces target and how will we achieve it?

As part of the ACT's Climate Change Strategy 2019-2025, the ACT has committed to a 30% permeable surfaces target.

Increasing our permeable surfaces is essential to helping keep Canberra 'green'. More soft surfaces (such as soils, grasses, timber decking, and gravel) and less hard surfaces (such as concrete and asphalt) means rain can be more easily absorbed into the ground and provide much-needed moisture for healthy trees and vegetation growth. This will support our waterways and water management and reduce stormwater runoff. It will also promote the growth and health of trees by supporting deeper tree root growth.

This will make for a stronger, more resilient Canberra environment and help our city mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. As with the 30% canopy target, the 30% permeability target will require a collaborative approach by government, community and business as it will apply to both public and private land.

How else is the ACT preparing our city for climate change impacts?

As the climate continues to change, the community is at risk of extreme weather events occurring such as heatwaves, droughts, bushfires and storms.

In addition to reducing emissions, the ACT Government is preparing our city for climate change impacts by incorporating climate change projections and risk vulnerabilities into disaster and emergency planning, particularly for extreme heat, bushfire and flash flooding. Government is also working to inform the community and encourage community preparedness for climate risks through targeted Emergency Services Agency outreach and the Actsmart sustainability programs.

Longer and more severe heatwaves are predicted for the ACT. Canberra's Living Infrastructure Plan: Cooling the City sets out how Government will work with the community and developers to reduce urban heat and ensure our city remains highly liveable in a hotter and more extreme climate.

Definitions/glossary

Carbon offsets
Carbon offsets are a form of trade. When you buy an offset, you fund projects that avoid or store greenhouse gas emissions. The projects might restore forests, update power plants and factories or increase the energy efficiency of buildings and transportation.
Greenhouse gas emissions
Greenhouse gases are gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect, a natural process that warms the Earth's surface.
Living infrastructure
Our city's natural assets are 'living infrastructure'. This includes street trees, ovals, wetlands, creeks, nature reserves, parks, green roofs, vegetation in private yards and balconies and living walls.
Net zero emissions 
'Net zero emissions' means achieving a balance between the amount of greenhouse gases we produce and the amount stored or offset through tree planting or other activities.