A seven-star housing standard, low income retrofits, a vision for reaching zero net emissions and bringing back the Greener Government Buildings program are just some of Environment Victoria’s recommendations to the Andrews Government on how be a climate leader.

Environment Victoria’s new report, Six Steps to Climate Leadership: The Path to a Cleaner, Healthier and More Prosperous Victoria, outlines ambitious changes the Andrews Government could make to transform Victoria into a “renewable energy heavyweight on the global stage”.

“Since the November 2014 election, the Andrews Government has consistently stated it intends to make Victoria a leader on climate change,” Environment Victoria chief executive Mark Wakeham said. “With the Federal Government missing in action on climate change and destroying renewable energy investment and jobs, state leadership is more critical than ever.”

The report looks at what other state governments are doing and what Victoria must do to catch up, listed under six broad categories:

  1. Commit to a goal of decarbonisation for the state
  2. Strengthen the Climate Change Act
  3. Make Victoria the home ground for Australia’s renewable energy industry
  4. Cut energy waste
  5. Retire our dirtiest power stations
  6. Rule out new fossil fuel projects for Victoria

There are many opportunities for the built environment included in the recommendations, for example raising the six star NatHERS housing standard to seven stars.

“Victoria should now move to seven stars, with progressive increases in coming years towards the goal of zero-net-carbon and water-efficient new buildings by 2020,” the report said. “Attention also should be given to improving compliance, to ensure new buildings actually perform to the mandated standard in practice.”

It noted the low standard of the existing building stock, too, recommending introducing minimum energy and water efficiency standards at the point of sale or lease, which would “leverage private investment in efficiency and drive the upgrade of the rest of Victoria’s housing stock over time”.

Other measures included investing in a comprehensive household retrofit program for low-income and vulnerable households; reinstating the Greener Government Buildings program that was axed by the previous government; and reinstating the also-axed Environment and Resource Efficiency Plans program.

Mr Wakeham said the government also needed to urgently close down outdated power stations like Hazelwood and Yallourn.

“Over 80 per cent of Victoria’s electricity is generated by burning dirty brown coal, making Victoria twice as polluting per person compared to similar economies,” he said.

“Norway, Denmark and Finland all have a similar population size and GDP to Victoria, but around half the emissions per person largely because their power supply is so much cleaner.

“Ambitious statements about clean energy and the environment now need to be supported by new polices that will clean up what is one of the dirtiest power sectors in the world, grow renewable energy and ensure that the state participates in the global clean energy jobs boom. Currently there are few polices in place that will actually achieve this.”