ACT leaves most of Australia behind on climate change initiatives: report
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ACT leaves most of Australia behind on climate change initiatives: report

State and city governments worldwide are leaving their federal counterparts behind on climate change, according to a report into how regions are responding to the Paris climate agreement.

The Compact of States and Regions 2016 Disclosure Report said while many nations had been slow to act, territories like the ACT were becoming more ambitious with their emission reduction targets.

The ACT set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to achieve zero net emissions by 2050.

The ACT set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to achieve zero net emissions by 2050.Credit:Jessica Shapiro

"To date, a substantial gap remains between emissions reductions stated in national governments' climate plans submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the reduction levels consistent with limiting warming to well below two degrees Celsius," the report said.

"Compared to the data disclosed in 2015, a number of states, provinces and regions have indeed publicly submitted their climate plans and heightened their ambition.

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"South Australia, for example, has replaced its 2050 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent with a commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

"Similarly, the Australian Capital Territory has decided to bring forward its long term decarbonisation target by a decade and set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to achieve zero net emissions by 2050."

The ACT this week also took home the Carbon Disclosure Project's award for Best Renewable Target.

Climate change minister Shane Rattenbury said the "Davids" were showing the "Goliaths" how it was done.

"This report confirms what I saw at the United Nations conference on climate change in Marrakech, Morocco – it is cities who are taking on climate change and leading the renewable energy charge, even when their federal governments are dragging their heels," Mr Rattenbury said.

"We cannot, and will not, wait for the Prime Minister of Australia or the President of the United States to decide that the long term interests of our communities are more important that the interests of the coal lobby. Instead, cities like Canberra are taking action now."

To achieve its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent in the next four years, the report said the ACT needed to cut its emissions by at least 4 per cent each year.

Already the ACT had reduced its emissions by 24 per cent since 1990.

South Australia reduced its emissions by 8 per cent in the same time period.

The annual report tracks the progress of 62 regions worldwide in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

Katie Burgess is a reporter for the Canberra Times, covering ACT politics.

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