Responding to a changing climate

The ACT Government has committed to a target of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions from the ACT by 2045. Achieving this target will require long-term commitment and a strategic approach to reducing emissions and shifting to a low carbon economy.To keep us on track to achieve net zero emissions, Government has set firm interim targets based on advice from the ACT Climate Change Council. These targets are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by:

  • 50 to 60% by 2025
  • 65 to 75% by 2030
  • 90 to 95% by 2040

Smart urban planning for a zero emissions, climate resilient future will be key to successfully achieving these targets.

The ACT is on track to be powered by 100% renewable electricity by 2020. This means that from 2020 onwards, emissions from our electricity sector will be zero.

From 2020, transport will become the biggest contributor to ACT emissions, accounting for over 60% of emissions. At more than 20%, the second biggest contributor will be natural gas use in buildings. This shift in our emissions profile highlights the need to focus on reducing emissions from transport and from energy use in buildings. At the same time, improving energy efficiency remains a high priority so that we can cost effectively maintain our 100% renewable electricity supply.

Reducing grid electricity demand through increased efficiency and small-scale solar with batteries will continue to be important in maintaining this target. We have invested in solar and wind generation and committed to the roll-out of battery storage technology.

Reducing emissions from transport by promoting cycling and walking, increasing the use of (and reducing emissions from) public transport, reducing car trip distances, and encouraging the transition to zero emissions cars will be critical for achieving our emission reduction targets.

Our city is already experiencing the effects of climate change and is predicted to experience more heatwaves, more intense storms and increasing severity of droughts.

These changes impact on our vulnerable groups such as the elderly, very young, those with ill health and low income households in terms of environmental and economic impacts such as affordability and access to essential services.

The NSW and ACT Regional Climate Projections (NARCliM) provide information on the projected effects of climate change in our region for the near (2030) and far (2070) future. The most recent snapshot of future climate change indicates the ACT will continue to warm by about 0.7°C from 2020 to 2039, increasing to about 2°C in 2060 to 2079. As a result of the effects of climate change in our region, an average of five extra heatwave days above 35°C are expected by 2030 and up to 20 extra heatwave days by 2070.

Days of severe fire weather will increase in summer and spring. The potential for severe storms and flash flooding is also expected to increase.Adapting to the impacts of climate change in our region will mean improving our resilience to natural hazard events such as bushfire, storms, flooding, drought and heatwaves.

We can prepare for these impacts by planning to keep our city cool and liveable in a changing climate. Improving our 'living infrastructure' (plants, soils and waterways) will help keep our city cool and reduce urban heat impacts. This could include increasing tree canopy cover, designing parks and open spaces for natural cooling, restoring urban waterways and encouraging green roofs and walls.

Infographic showing the ACT’s main source of emissions in 2020, which are waste 6%, transport 62%, natural gas 21% and industry 9%.
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