Queensland has joined other leading states in committing to a net zero emissions target by 2050, as part of its new Climate Transition Strategy.
It has also set an interim target of a 30 per cent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030, putting it broadly in line with the federal government’s Paris commitments.
“Setting a target of zero net emissions by 2050 sends a clear message that Queensland will be a leader in the low-carbon economy,” deputy premier Jackie Trad said.
“This will attract new investment and industries to our state, ensuring sustainable jobs for Queenslanders into the future.”
Ms Trad said the states were doing “the heavy lifting” in absence of any federal policy. The plan gives the federal government until 2020 before Queensland legislates to ensure emissions reductions are achieved.
“Should no coherent national framework be developed by 2020, Queensland will pursue avenues under the Environmental Protection Act framework to regulate greenhouse gas pollutants.”
Queensland’s plan also reaffirms commitment to 50 per cent renewables by 2030, as well as other programs including:
- A commitment to improve the sustainability performance of commercial, residential and government buildings through the yet-to-be-finalised Queensland Building Plan
- Developing a demand management and energy efficiency strategy
- 1 million Solar Rooftops or 3000 megawatts of solar photovoltaics by 2020
- Developing an electric vehicle strategy to prepare Queensland for a transition to electric vehicles
- Developing a zero net emissions transport roadmap
- Supporting greater industry use of biofuels
- Supporting carbon farming in regional and remote Indigenous communities through capacity building, recognising Indigenous benefits and offsetting government emissions with Aboriginal carbon credits
The government said the energy efficiency strategy could potentially see an energy efficiency obligation scheme similar to those in NSW, Victoria and South Australia, as well as a program for small-to-medium businesses to take up efficiency measures.
Like emissions reduction, a policy vacuum at the national level seems to be the case with energy efficiency, where plans for a national energy efficiency scheme have all but dissolved, and states are now expected to drive action.
Sustainable infrastructure and land-use planning
Government leadership is a key plank of the strategy, and includes reducing its own emissions, starting with the reinstating of energy and fuel use reporting by all government agencies.
The strategy said the net zero by 2050 requirement would be integrated into the infrastructure policy framework to drive sustainable infrastructure.
The land use planning system will also be used to help deliver the zero net emissions goal.
“Building on its commitment to improve the emissions performance of buildings, the government will ensure that changes to land use and built form – at the state, regional and local level – reduce energy emissions, promote energy efficiency, support renewable technologies and protect natural assets which act as carbon sinks.”
The Queensland Treasury Corporation will also be issuing certified green bonds to investors in “environmentally responsible projects funded in part by the Queensland Government”.
States have no choice but to step up
Ms Trad said she would join other state ministers and former vice president Al Gore in Melbourne at this week’s Ecocity World Summit to discuss the plan.
“In Melbourne on Thursday I will discuss with my counterparts from other states how we can work together to ensure that as Australians we meet our obligations under the Paris Agreement,” Ms Trad said.
“We shouldn’t have to keep the Turnbull government’s promises for them, but for the sake of our communities, our industries and our environment we have to step up.”
Environment minister Steven Miles said the strategy came at an important time when all eyes were on the Great Barrier Reef.
“The world is watching what we do to protect our Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Miles said.
“We must drive down emissions to prevent further coral bleaching events like the ones we’ve seen recently.”
Queensland joins Victoria, NSW, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT in setting net zero targets.
State Labor governments in Western Australia and the Northern Territory are yet to commit to an emissions reduction target.
- See also How states and territories compare on climate action (from January 2017)