ACT raises bar with 100 per cent renewables target and divestment pledge

ACT chief minister and treasurer Andrew Barr has announced his government is now targeting 100 per cent renewable sources for all the territory’s electricity by 2025, and will also strategically divest from fossil-fuel companies.

The minister said the 100 per cent renewables target would make Canberra “the first capital and the largest city in Australia to be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025”.

The previous target was 90 per cent renewable energy by 2020, something the ACT is on-target to achieve with the current reverse auction for wind farm developments and further solar initiatives.

“We can do this. We have shown it’s possible – now we have one small step left. 100 per cent renewable energy will drive further jobs growth in our research and corporate sectors,” Mr Barr said.

He said the ACT had already seen a 400 per cent increase in renewable energy jobs in the past five years.

“Canberra can and should be a beacon for everyone who realises the world must act decisively now to stave off a future of catastrophic climate change,” Mr Barr said.

“Our policy is a stark contrast to that of the Liberal Party and the Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who insists that coal is good for humanity. As the Federal Liberal Government denies the existence of climate change, the ACT Labor government is doing everything we can to ensure future generations aren’t burdened with the consequences of global warming.”

The fossil fuel divestment announcement was made following a vote by ACT Labor branch members at the ACT Labor Party Conference on Saturday.

Mr Barr, who backed the divestment motion, said it was the “right thing to do” for a capital city aiming to become “the knowledge capital”. and the Conservation Council ACT both welcomed the renewable target and the moves to shed high-risk carbon-intensive investments.

“We are delighted to see the government stand up for a safe climate and clean energy future by committing to get the territory’s money out of coal, oil and gas companies,” campaigner Josh Creaser said.

“In stark contrast to the federal government and their dogged support for the coal industry, the ACT is once again taking the lead on climate action by committing to go fossil free.”

Larry O’Loughlin , ACT Conservation Council spokesperson said, “This is a strong step from Chief Minister Barr. We look forward to seeing a full plan from the ACT Government by the end of 2015 that delivers full divestment from fossil fuels by 2018.” said that as of 30 June 2015, the ACT held investments in 63 of the world’s largest 200 fossil fuel companies as documented by Carbon Underground.

These include:

  • Exxon Mobil – which has provided millions of dollars in funding to climate change deniers
  • Whitehaven Coal – which, last month, reported a net loss of A$343 million on the back of collapsing coal prices
  • Santos – Under wide-ranging criticism from farmers and environmental groups for plans to drill 850 coal seam gas wells across the Pilliga Forest, the recharge zone for the Great Artesian Basin. Their exploratory drilling operations have already contaminated groundwater in the area, according to
  • Anglo American – which has been coordinating a global campaign to encourage institutions not to divest from fossil fuels and has worked hard to undermine climate policy
  • Glencore – which has claimed that governments will fail to implement measures to cut carbon emissions
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