Friday, August 27, 2010

Canberra Greenhouse Gas Reduction Target 40% by 2020

The local government in Canberra has announced ACT Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets of 40% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. The Minister for the Environment Climate Change and Water, Simon Corbell MLA, stated that the details would be in a "Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Bill 2010" to be introduced in the ACT Assembly on 26 August 2010. However, this proposed legislation does not yet appear to be available on the website of the ACT Legislative Assembly. The minister announced regular reporting, a Climate Change Council and voluntary private sector agreements. However, there were no details of how it is proposed to actually cut greenhouse gas emissions, or what this is expected to cost.

A 40 page "Weathering the Change: Primer 2 Report" by consultants Kinesis estimates that without action Canberra emissions will increase 40% by 2020 (excerpt appended). The report estimates possible reductions from several strategies: Energy efficiency; Fuel switching; Renewable energy; Waste to energy; Travel/transport; Employee density; Street lighting; and Bio-sequestration. The report does not appear to discuss the use of Green ICT, using Internet and computer systems to increase energy efficiency. Canberra is largely a service economy, with most workers sitting in offices using computers, so failing to address this is a major flaw in the report.

A 80 page "ACT Zero Net Emissions Initiatives: Gap Analysis & Opportunity Identification" report by Heuris Partners was also released (Dated May 2010 and marked "Discussion draft: In confidence"). The report mentioned the Internet in relation to greenhouse gas reduction, but only for public relations purposes, not to actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions: "Consumers are increasingly turning to the Internet as a trusted source of peer-generated information". There was mention of the use of smart meters for energy reduction: "Energy price structure. Increasing the use of “smart meters” and removing energy pricing".

Heuris Partners state on their web site that "We conduct bottom up sectoral research on mineral and energy demand ... We have designed and led major organisation design projects in some of Australia’s largest heavy industrial and mining companies ... ". The primary way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Australia is to reduce the use of coal, so it would have been prudent for the ACT Government to select consultants who do not design and lead major projects for mining companies.

Excerpts from the reports:

Weathering the Change: Primer 2 Report


Introduction .... 3
1. Findings from Action Plan 1 Review .... 4
2. Methodology .... 5
3. ACT Future Scenario Results .... 9
3a. Conservative Scenario9
3b. Progressive Scenario 11
4. ACT Future Scenario Analysis Summary .... 14
4a. Energy Efficiency 15
4b. Fuel Switching 18
4c. Renewable Energy20
4d. Waste to Energy 24
4e. Travel/Transport26
4f. Employee Density29
4g. Street lighting 31
4h. Bio-sequestration 33
Appendix 1: Assumptions Behind The Modelling.... 35
Appendix 2: Annual Emissions Reduction Data.... 39


The following Primer quantifies the extent to which technological and policy interventions could reduce ACT emissions. Its purpose is to inform the appropriate interim targets to be established as part of the ACT Government’s commitment to zero net emissions by 2060.

The Primer is preliminary in its findings and does not seek to describe, quantify or cost actual policy mechanisms. It provides a hierarchy for interventions that could be implemented within the ACT and gives an indication of their potential contribution to emissions reduction. It is informed by a detailed review of Weathering the Change: Action Plan 1 and consultation with key ACT DECCEW staff.

Two scenarios, a conservative and progressive, were described and modelled to 2020. The reduction potential of each scenario was quantified using the ACT Greenhouse Reduction Modelling Tool, which was developed by Kinesis. The tool contains an accurate representation of the ACT’s current emissions profile, including commercial, residential and transport emissions, consistent with the ACT Greenhouse Gas Inventory 2006 (ACT GGI) compiled by pitt&sherry.

The assumptions behind each scenario were determined at a workshop with key ACT DECCEW staff,
working in collaboration with Kinesis.

The conservative scenario is based on a small deviation from current business as usual projections.

The progressive scenario shows the level of ambition required to achieve the Legislative Assembly’s recommended target of a 40% reduction on 1990 levels by 2020. In the progressive scenario, Greenpower was used to make up the shortfall needed to reach the 40% target.

Key findings from the scenarios are:
  • Under the conservative scenario, ACT emissions will grow by 28% from 1990 levels by 2020.
  • Under the progressive scenario, ACT emissions will fall by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020.
  • Trigeneration, lighting and Greenpower provide the most significant emissions reduction opportunities.
Also included in the Primer is a description of possible policy actions that could give effect to the modelled interventions. The Primer does not model specific emission reductions attributable to each proposed policy action.

This Primer provides the basis for a platform capable of delivering a best practice response to the climate problem. As a policy tool it encompasses the attributes agreed to within the UN Bali Agreement (1) and established by the Prime Minister in ratifying the Kyoto Agreement in 2007, for developed nations to adopt:

“Measurable, reportable and verifiable nationally appropriate mitigation commitments or actions, including quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives...

This is the standard the ACT Government should seek to achieve as it moves to design and implement Weathering the Change: Action Plan 2. ...


From: Weathering the Change: Primer 2 Report, Kinesis, 2010

ACT Zero Net Emissions Initiatives: Gap Analysis & Opportunity Identification


1. Overview of findings
2. a. Energy use - abatement opportunities to 2020: implications of recent Australia wide analysis (ClimateWorks Australia Low Carbon Growth Plan )
b. Emissions abatement in more detail - commercial buildings
3. Energy use in buildings - overcoming barriers to energy efficiency improvement
4. Transport energy use - abatement opportunities to 2020
5. a. Longer term change: sustainable consumption/behaviours – the context
b. Longer term change: sustainable urban form & service provision
c. Longer term change: sustainable consumption/behaviour
d. Longer term change: sustainable transport
6. Leveraging ACT’s leadership opportunity: filling the policy vacuum

1. ClimateWorks Australia - Low Carbon Growth Plan
2. Climate change mitigation policies & programs: Australian jurisdictions’ performance
3. Exemplar overseas climate change mitigation plans: Amsterdam & Copenhagen
4. Sustainable consumption/behaviours - issues and approaches
5. Addressing transport emissions growth ...

1. Summary of findings

Analytical Approach
We have focused on the deliverability and risks associated with 2020 targets, addressing:
  • The current suite of ACT policies and programs (including “Weathering the Storm” and the ACT’s Draft Sustainable Energy Policy 2010–2020) – including a focus on honouring and possibility extending the concept of ACT end user stewardship inherent in the current policy framework/targets
  • Work by Kinesis (review of “Weathering the Change”, action primer) & Heuris (power supply options & EPB modelling) and other analysis:
    • the ClimateWorks(CWA) updated Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC) for Australia; reviews of emissions abatement performance in a range of municipalities/global cities (Tyndall Centre, ICLEI), and recent work on sustainable consumption/ lifestyles & behaviour change
  • The effective demise of a Federal carbon pricing scheme and, with it, a major downgrading of the Commonwealth focus on climate change.
  • The implications of the changing national context
  • Possible “gaps” in policies/programs and options to address these gaps involving either:
    • new initiatives; and/or
    • increasing the effort/focus on existing programs/projects

    The analytical approach has involved:
  • Revisiting current national/international context for future action
  • A scan of existing cost effective mitigation programs in other Australian and overseas jurisdictions and a comparison against current and proposed policies, programs and projects for the ACT.
  • A high level analysis of the potential scale of emissions reductions associated with options available to the ACT covered by CWA MACC that the CWA report recommends:
    • Implementing now;
    • acting to remove barriers/motivate action
  • Behavioural change options not directly covered by the CWA/McKinsey work.

Current policies and programs - summary of findings
  • The current range of ACT mitigation initiatives compare well with other comparable jurisdictions here and overseas in terms of the breadth and scale of activities and a graduated approach to managing a difficult transition to a lower carbon footprint
  • Kinesis analysis and proposals for further interventions provide a basis for extensions to existing approaches
  • The ACT’s current position provides a strong platform on which to base expanded community engagement, and detailed mitigation actions allied to improved data and performance measures
  • Examination of domestic and overseas policies and programs suggests opportunities for:
    • Useful extensions of existing approaches in ways offer further emissions abatement within the short/medium term
    • Areas for further study/analysis
    • Expansion of engagement with ACT community to shift focus of debate to shared responsibility for reduced environmental impacts
    • Establishing ACT as a leader in national action to address emissions abatement

Global/national context
  • Moving into the Anthropocene - humans and our societies have become a global geophysical force
  • Not just carbon: biological fabric of the Earth; water system; stocks/and flows of major elements (nitrogen, carbon, phosphorus, and silicon); energy balance at the Earth’s surface.
  • Began around 1800: industrialization - central feature enormous expansion in the use of fossil fuels.
  • Post 1950 “Great Acceleration”: atmospheric CO2 concentration risen from 310 to 380 ppm since 1950 (about half of the total rise since 1800 in just the last 30 years.
  • Reaching criticality: next few decades will see tipping points.
  • Federal Government have largely vacated the field
  • No certainty about the timing and scale of a federally based carbon pricing mechanism: creates major uncertainty for business and confusion in community’s mind over why and how they should act over climate change Major opportunity for State/Territory & local government to deepen engagement and impact
  • Context for broad ranging engagement with people living and working in the ACT that addresses all aspects of
    environmental/social impacts of energy use, production, consumption and disposal:
  • ACT is large enough to support valuable experimentation with mitigation measures while small enough to enable critical community engagement
  • ACT policy has already established local responsibility (stewardship) for consumption of energy supplied from outside the ACT’s borders
  • Data/information is vital to prioritise activities (maximise leverage) to celebrate success/impact and establish audit trail to ensure actions receive full credit in national accounting
Source: The Anthropocene: Are Humans Now Overwhelming the Great Forces of Nature Will Steffen, Paul J. Crutzen, and John R. McNeill (AMBIO. Volume 36, Issue 8, December 2007)


ACT climate change strategy:
  • possible expanded or supplementary measures – overview (1) Identify and address worst performers/biggest targets via aerial surveys of heat/energy losses and follow up with rigorous audit, reduction targets and support:
  • many households now use 2-5 kWh/day of electricity, about a quarter of the Australian average, while large consuming households consume four times the average*
  • the most efficient new office buildings use around two-thirds less energy than average, while 10% of buildings use more than double the average*
Possible focus areas

1. Building knowledge base:
  • establish information base on efficiency/emissions baseline and the impact of abatement actions:
    • Can’t manage what you can’t measure: quality of current information on commercial and residential energy consumption at a useful granular level is very poor
    • Establishing an audit trail is essential from both an individual household/business level and as a basis for establishing the additionality of voluntary/ complementary measures under a post Kyoto regime.
    • Information is owned by utilities – use aerial survey to identify low hanging fruit
2. Strengthen ACT’s analytical and execution capability in abatement/mitigation
  • Establish strategic partnership with ClimateWorks Australia to leverage McKinsey linkages as a basis for business and community engagement with delivering/exemplifying savings identified in the Low Carbon Growth Plan
3. Helping households:
  • High consuming households: private housing: audit + advice + possibly supported by targeted retrofit funding (means tested?)
  • Public housing: audit, advice and retrofit funding; drawing on and possibly extending existing $20m funding (addresses equity objective as well as energy efficiency)
  • Broaden engagement about lifestyle and behaviour change * Alan Pears: submission to Prime Minister’s energy efficiency task group (April 2010)
ACT climate change strategy: possible expanded or supplementary measures – overview (2)
Focus areas/broad approach (cont’d)

4. Demonstrating leadership via ACT’s “own use” buildings and transport
  • Buildings - strengthen current carbon neutral scheme/loan facility to model required behaviour & outcomes to include energy efficiency, emissions reduction and waste performance:
  • Buildings - mandatory action plans for buildings exceeding agreed energy efficiency/emissions benchmark by specified amount, with provision of progress reports to Chief Minister/Minister for the Environment & Climate Change
  • Retrofit programs to take into account embodied energy content of alternative retrofit options to promote reuse and recycling and demonstrate new lower carbon solutions
  • Identification of demonstration project to model successful adoption of co/trigeneration
  • New builds – establish well ”beyond compliance” standards for all new occupations (e.g. 6 star+ for commercial/community facilities with embodied & full cycle analysis as a prerequisite for tenders)
  • Transport - strengthen policies and behaviours in relation to selection and use of corporate cars/transport (e.g. bicycles, electric scooters); further promote behaviour change
  • Sustainability reporting : mandatory online/real time public reporting of emissions and waste performance
  • Provides legitimacy in engaging community & business leaders in debate and action 5. Harvesting private sector commercial savings (including buildings leased/owned by Commonwealth):
  • Audits across all CWA categories (particularly retail) with targets identified via aerial survey + support funding to address transaction costs (fixed amount per business to off set higher %age transaction costs for smaller businesses more support)
  • Target top ten worst performers in terms of total energy use in absolute terms/floor area/per capita, whichever is appropriate (combination of name and shame + support for change/retrofit?)
  • Financial support could be in the form of gain-sharing (loan funding for retrofit, with repayments funded out of audited savings to discourage rebound effects) or via new ACT white certificate scheme
ACT climate change strategy: possible expended or complementary measures– overview (3)

Focus areas/broad approach (cont’d)

6. Deepen community & business engagement & leverage enthusiasm and creativity
  • Promote integrated & interdisciplinary thinking in relation to urban form, infrastructure and service provision and behavioural change
  • Establish the economic case for action on sustainability (e.g. in relation to integrated urban design and
  • Deepen engagement with people in the ACT about links between climate change, sustainable consumption and lifestyle –(e.g. in relation to transport use/road pricing)
  • Institute Chief Minister's Sustainability Awards to acknowledge and celebrate exceptional and innovative achievements in the sustainable use of natural resources (c.f. Victorian Sustainability Awards -; Canberra Gold Award*)
  • Extend & expand Community Grant Program (existing $1m program expected to finish in 2010)
    7. Deepening/expanding the longer term policy framework
  • Revive carbon pricing by working cooperatively with States/Territories (e.g. McKibbin/carbon tax; interlocking tradeable white certificate schemes)
  • Seek to accelerate ramp up of Australia wide building and appliance standards ...
* ;

From: "ACT Zero Net Emissions Initiatives: Gap Analysis & Opportunity Identification", heuris Partners, May 2010

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