By Andrew Barr, Chief Minister, ACT Legislative Assembly

Canberra is a progressive, inclusive and innovative city where the benefits of a zero-emissions future are shared. Having reached 100 per cent renewable electricity, and as we continue to take our next steps towards zero-emissions, it’s important we provide clear, early signals on the pathway to reduce emissions in our two largest remaining emission sectors: transport and gas.

Reducing Canberra’s gas reliance and increasing use of Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEVs) will be critical to achieving our commitment to net zero emissions by 2045. Canberra is the right-sized city to pilot new, innovative ideas and demonstrate that an orderly and managed transient is possible.

The shift to 100 per cent renewables and phasing out of fossil-fuel cars and fossil-fuel gas can be achieved, but won’t happen overnight. It will require collaboration and a coordinated approach over decades.

Our pathway to electrification

Natural gas currently accounts for 20 per cent of the ACT’s emissions, while gas prices have risen by around 25 per cent since 2016. Reducing Canberra’s gas reliance will be a long-term transition – we’re not switching off the gas network overnight.

Most Canberrans will gradually make this transition over the next twenty years without the need for government support, in the same way most households bought their own digital TV when it suited them. But for those that do need assistance, we already have great support in place to assist households and businesses with the upfront costs of efficient electric appliances through the Sustainable Household Scheme.

As part of the initial phase of the transition, new ‘greenfield’ suburbs will no longer be connected to gas mains, and from 2023 new gas connections will cease for future infill developments. Canberra’s first all-electric suburb, Ginninderry, is currently being developed.

The ACT Government is also a large gas user. We are actively working to reduce our gas consumption. We have opened our first all-electric office building, are now building our first allelectric hospital building, and have committed to all new public schools being all-electric.

Zero emission vehicles

With emissions from transport accounting for around 60 per cent of ACT emissions, the transition to ZEVs is another key part of our sustainable efforts. The ACT is already one of the most attractive places to buy a ZEV with no stamp duty, two years free registration and interest free loans available of up to $15,000 for eligible ZEV purchases.

We are supporting the roll out of public charging infrastructure, with recently procured new charging stations tripling our public charging capacity. And just like our approach on electrification, our ZEV strategy sends a clear signal to the market that the ACT will cease registering non-ZEV new vehicles by 2035.

We are sending the necessary signals to ensure the transition cost of embracing ZEVs will be largely met through business-as-usual purchases. To address our own emissions in delivering government services, we are working towards a renewable energy powered bus fleet, have trialled electric fire engines and are now working with Volvo on a range of renewable emergency vehicles.

Battery storage

A secure and reliable energy supply is a priority for all levels of government in Australia. The ACT is delivering the Big Canberra Battery – a disaggregated battery storage system – to future-proof the ACT’s energy supply and reduce the load on our electricity network.

We are leveraging the expertise of our world-class tertiary research institutes to support reliable energy storage solutions and to optimise our existing network. Stream One of the Big Canberra Battery will provide at least 250MW of new ‘large-scale’ battery storage in the ACT.

It is a critical initiative that will strengthen the stability of our energy grid, foster growth in the renewable energy sector and potentially provide a source of revenue. Following this, Stream Two will seek to deliver batteries at 14 government sites to help reduce government power use and reduce the strain on the distribution network. Stream Three will deliver medium-sized neighbourhood batteries.

As a combined network, this battery system can address network constraints, enable more Canberrans to have solar and shorten the pay-off period of domestic solar systems. This will not only foster growth in the renewable energy sector, including employment opportunities, but may also provide a dependable source of ongoing revenue for the ACT.

A just transition

These are ambitious changes to the way we live our lives. Clear policy settings and market signals will play a powerful role in melding business as-usual purchases to drive the transition to net zero.

We are demonstrating the opportunities for people to make the transition. But we also know that this is a massive transition and clear policy settings need to be combined with direct government investment and regulation in some areas. The urgent need to replace fossil fuels and prevent climate change can only occur by empowering and mobilising people to make these choices.

Providing policy certainty and having accessible and affordable options are critical for this transition to happen. To help the community get on board, we have launched the Everyday Climate Choices initiative. Its goal is to help the community by providing practical steps to save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

Everyday Climate Choices is focused on providing practical steps to help our community move towards a net zero emissions future, transition off gas and consider ZEVs. Programs such as the popular Sustainable Household Scheme provide Canberrans with zero-interest loans to support the purchase of energy efficient products.

This includes efficient electric heating and cooling, rooftop solar panels, household battery storage systems, induction cooktops and ZEVs. With our clear pathway, the ACT will continue to lead the transition to build the net zero emissions economy of the future.

Find out more about the ACT’s climate action strategy and policies by visiting

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1 Comment
  1. Alkè 2 years ago

    The example of Canberra, an advanced, state-of-the-art city, shows how technological advancement and environmental friendliness can coexist perfectly.
    Even the most populated population centers can become sustainable, greatly reducing carbon emissions: in this transformation, the actions of institutions to help citizens is crucial.
    Indeed, it cannot be assumed that the effort should be borne entirely by the population, but it is the municipal governments that must, through infrastructure innovation and the implementation of precise programs aimed at phasing out fossil fuels and gas, facilitate citizens on this path.
    Canberra represents the hope that more and more cities around the world can become more sustainable and take inspiration from its example.

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