File this one under: Experiments in Green Government. Watch this box.
There’s a spot in Australia called The Australian Capital Territory, where our National Capital, Canberra, sits and which has it’s own anachronistic government: a kind of glorified local council and junior “state” government at the same time*.
In 2008 they were lucky enough to elect a Labor minority government with a Green coalition. Now it seems they’re going to showcase the ACT in a grand symbolic experiment by enacting the strictest carbon reduction scheme in Australia.
ACT environment minister Simon Corbell tabled the new target in a Bill in the Legislative Assembly today. (Aug 26, 2010)
“Governments have a responsibility to act on this issue, and the ACT Labor Government is leading Australia on reducing our carbon footprint,” Mr Corbell said in a statement.
The ACT has also pledged to have its emissions peak by 2013, decline by 80 per cent by 2050, and for the ACT to be carbon neutral by 2060.
Forty percent cuts (from 1990 levels) in just ten years?
Samuel J at Catallaxy Files calculates that as the mother of all emissions cuts translating to a 62% per capita reduction in a decade.
The ACT Government today announced a target of CO2 emissions reduction of 40 per cent by 2020 (compared to 1990 levels). That is, in 2008 CO2 emissions were estimated at 1.2 Mt in the ACT. The “business as usual” estimate is 1.62 Mt in 2020 (a 40 per cent increase over 1990 levels). The ACT Government’s target is now 0.695 Mt in 2020 (a 40 per cent reduction on 1990 levels).
Compared to “business as usual” this means a reduction of 58 per cent in 2020.
Using ABS statistics he estimates the population growth at 1.08% pa.
Therefore the projected population in 2020 is 390,600.
And that’s a 62 per cent reduction in per capita emissions in the ACT to 2020.
This is one carbon reduction scheme that might actually help the country. Why? Because the main industry of Canberra is government and wishfully speaking, that ought to mean less of it. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there are many factories to close down. (It’s a shame the local territory government can’t do much about emissions from say, The Federal Department of Climate Change.)
But being realistic, it might just mean Queanbeyan will suddenly bloom. (It’s a satellite suburb of Canberra that’s “interstate” and under NSW law).
On ABC radio the Greens admitted it was ambitious, and in the land-of-big-wishes, were preempting failure already, making it sound more like an optimistic ambit claim, rather than a carefully designed policy:
…I think that one has to have these targets if you’re going to drive serious change.
“It may be that by 2020 we’ve only reduced our emissions by 33 per cent, that would still be a massive turn around.”
Wouldn’t it be better to legislate things that were realistic in the first place?
Some listeners to Ross Solly’s Breakfast on 666 ABC Canberra were critical of the ambitious target, reminding the Minister of Canberra’s failure to reach its no waste to land fill goal 2010 which was downgraded to an aspirational target earlier this year.
But what were the Business Council thinking?
Canberra Business Council chief executive officer Chris Faulks cautiously welcomed the targets for providing a level of certainty for the business community.
“It’s ambitious and it will be a challenge to reach the targets, but business would rather have some sort of clarity as to what the expectations are rather than have the uncertainty occurring at the federal level.
They’d prefer the certainty of knowing they’ll need to move interstate?
*To be fair on the ACT government, it serves 350,000 people, and isn’t that much smaller than Tasmania at 500,000 people, which in contrast, qualifies as a whole state and gets 12 senators, to the ACT’s 2.
I also used to live in the Bush Capital, know it very well, and I must say enjoyed it thoroughly (and if someone could move Mt Majura to Perth it would make my day.)