Reducing Government emissions

Did you know since 2012, the ACT Government has already reduced its emissions by 11%?

All of us are responsible for acting on climate change. As a first step towards a more sustainable Territory, the ACT Government is committed to be carbon neutral in its own operations by 2020.

Five per cent of the Territory’s greenhouse gas emissions are produced by the ACT Government, with eighty per cent of these emissions linked to electricity and natural gas usage. Achieving this target will have a hugely positive impact on everyday life. We will become more resilient to the effects and costs of climate change. More sustainable practices will lead to more savings, to be invested in new projects, benefiting the entire community. This will also reduce how much it costs to run Government community sites and services.

Figure 1: Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Electricity cost is an indicative cost calculated for non-renewable sources.

Over the last three years, greenhouse gas emissions have decreased. This trend is predicted to continue over the next five years, due to the actions the ACT Government is taking to achieve carbon neutrality.

Our target is ambitious: achieving carbon neutrality is a challenge and makes the ACT Government a national and international leader when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon neutrality is a collective responsibility for the ACT Government: every agency is involved in increasing our sustainability. The Carbon Neutral Government Team, bringing together members from all agencies, has been set up in 2012 to coordinate this project.

During our transition to carbon neutrality, it is important to focus on delivering the most cost effective measures. The three major steps agencies must take on the way to carbon neutrality include:

Figure 2: On the way to carbon neutrality. The actions identified by the Carbon Neutral Government Framework are classified in three key, well-defined steps. 

These actions cover many areas such as:

  • Improving building controls by installing motion sensors that turn off lights in vacant areas, and turn on lights when movement is detected
  • Changes in behaviours and habits by encouraging staff to switch off their computer screen when absent from their desk.

We encourage staff to be more sustainable at work by choosing active travel such as walking, cycling or taking the bus. This is all part of our Active Travel campaign. We have 17 electric cars and 29 charging points available. Since June 2016, all staff also has access to eight electric pedal-assisted bikes.


From left: Udaya Kumar, Nicola Plunkett-Cole, and Richard Horton.

By providing agencies with the support they need, the Carbon Neutral Government (CNG) team is helping pave the way to a more sustainable future.

To help agencies track progress the CNG team has developed technical resources. One of these resources is the Enterprise Sustainability Platform (ESP), a database collecting, analysing and reporting energy and water use, costs and associated greenhouse gas emissions for each agency. More details about the Enterprise Sustainability Platform.

To assist agencies with reducing their carbon footprint, assessments are available for Government sites. These Government energy and water assessments identify potential upgrades to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and costs.

Agencies can now manage the cost of reducing emissions thanks to the zero-interest Carbon Neutral Government Fund. So far, this fund has financed 23 projects, which will save the ACT Government up to $2 million per year when completed. More details about the Carbon Neutral Government Fund.

Workshops, training sessions and tours are organised on a regular basis, to share knowledge and highlight successful implementation of sustainability practices. More than 30 events have been held since 2013, connecting agencies and professionals, and showcasing progress towards a carbon neutral government.

Becoming carbon neutral is a commitment. Agencies are accountable: ambitious targets are set for 2016/2017 and progress is monitored.

In July 2016 the Carbon Neutral Government project entered a new phase. All agencies now follow a Carbon Budget that measures and defines their greenhouse gas emission reductions. Carbon budgets are negotiated annually and identify the actions needed to achieve carbon neutrality. It is the responsibility of each agency to monitor their budgets and report their emissions on a quarterly basis.

These budgets are a powerful accountability tool. Directors-General are required to report their agency’s achievements via their performance agreements. This ensures that achieving carbon neutrality is and will stay a high priority across all agencies.