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ACT Climate Change Council setting sights beyond electricity

Image: Professor Barbara Norman: next focus is transport emissions (Source: Canberra Times).

Reducing emissions from transport will be the next big challenge when it comes to combating climate change, according to the outgoing chair of the ACT's Climate Change Council.

The ACT already has targets to have 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2020 and to have no net emissions by 2045, which was brought forward in May from 2050.

Transport is the second biggest source of emissions in the ACT after electricity, making it the next frontier in the government's efforts to reduce the ACT's impact on climate change, Professor Barbara Norman said.

Professor Norman is the foundation chair of urban and regional planning at the University of Canberra and an adjunct professor at the Australian National University. She will finish her term as chair of the Climate Change Council in June.

Since it was established in 2011, the council had been working on the science of establishing the existing targets, but the council would need to turn its mind more to implementation and working with the industry and transport sectors, Professor Norman said.

"The next exciting phase will be on how we work with industry and communities and universities right across the board on implementation. The priorities in my view will be sustainable transport because that's the next big emissions reduction target if you like. Electricity is our biggest source of emissions, transport is the next, so that's our next big challenge, so we need expertise there."

The ACT Climate Change Council is recruiting four new members, with four members reaching the end of their second term and not able to re-apply under the legislation.

Professor Norman, and members Will Steffen, Frank Jotzo and Toby Roxborough will be stepping down next year, with expressions of interest to replace them open now. Climate Change Minister Shane Rattenbury will choose their replacements, including who will fill the roles of chair and deputy chair.

Ensuring Canberra's growth and new buildings both have less impact on the environment and can adapt to a changing climate was another major challenge for the council, and the council needed skills in that area, Professor Norman said.

"There's a lot of construction activity in Canberra, a lot of urban renewal happening in Canberra, and it needs to be done in a way that both reduces emissions in the future and adapts to the impacts of climate change – a hotter drier environment in the future."

The ACT faced a unique challenge to retain the character of the bush capital while growing, an issue that the council would consider.

"In a hotter, drier environment clearly the potential for wildfire, for bushfire, is increased and there's a lot of documentation around that so a very big challenge for us is how do we grow and stay green at the same time and not accelerate those risks in the future?" Professor Norman said.

"The committee would benefit from members with expertise in climate change science, such as academics," Mr Rattenbury said.

"We are also keen to have members with experience implementing actions to achieve zero emissions, be it climate wise building design and construction or zero emissions transport, and who have strong social analysis skills."

While the government is asking for skills in climate change science, environmental management, energy efficiency and expertise in the building and transport sectors, it is also looking for people who represent socially and financially disadvantaged Canberrans.

"Right across the globe in fact, not just in the ACT, the concern is that those who will be most affected by the impacts of climate change are communities often that are very vulnerable already," Professor Norman said.

Socially and economically disadvantaged people are more likely to live in accommodation that doesn't cope well with heat and are more exposed to the costs of both dealing with climate change and the impacts of climate change, she said.

"It's those sorts of considerations, cost of course is an important consideration, in anything that we consider in the future for a just transition to a renewable future so that everybody's circumstances are taken into consideration," Professor Norman said.

For further details and information on how to apply go to the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development website, https://www.environment.act.gov.au/cc/climate_change_council.

Applications close Friday 21 December 2018.

Source: Canberra Times

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