In 2012-2013, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government slashed green energy use from the mandatory 37.5 percent to just 5 percent. This caused renewable energy use in the government buildings to drop by more than 80 percent, and carbon emissions rose by 15 percent. Last week, the ACT government shared in a report that green energy purchases will continue to be 5 percent of total power use through 2018 and 2019.
The report – the Carbon Neutral ACT Framework – also shared that any additional green power energy purchases over 5 percent would be put on hold until after 2018.
"Following the review of the framework in 2016, the government will determine the most appropriate level of GreenPower purchase for achieving carbon neutrality [for the ACT government] in 2020," the report read.
To work towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, solar panels and solar hot water would be used in government buildings, among several other initiatives besides implementing renewable energy.
Simon Corbell, environmental minister, also made it clear that when the ACT government launches the framework, energy performance of government buildings would be monitored closely.
"A couple of great examples are already underway at Dame Pattie Menzies House in Dickson, where the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate is," Corbell said. "They've achieved a 68 per cent reduction in the use of energy in their building.
"At Ainslie Fire Station, [there has been] a 30 per cent reduction in energy use through improvements to the heating and cooling systems and installation of a large set of solar panels."
Greenhouse gas emissions produced by government buildings will be reported via the ACT Government Enterprise Sustainability platform, where it will be easier to monitor energy performance on a large scale. The framework also plans on providing corporations with access to money to have a carbon fund, allowing department to seek out a loan for energy efficiency measures.
A spokesperson for Corbell has shared that any money the government has since saved from purchasing less renewable energy has been used to implement energy efficiency measures in government offices.
"The government is of the opinion that this change of focus from purchasing offsets to energy efficiency savings represents better value for money from the allocated funding," he said.
He is also very confident that the improvement in energy reduction over the next six years would keep the ACT on track to reach the renewable energy target of 90 percent by 2020, since the ACT government only makes up about 5 percent of the total energy use in the territory.
Despite the drop in renewable energy use and the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, the director-general of the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate believes the ACT is leading the way. Dorte Ekelund shared that the government has continued to demonstrate a high level of environmental awareness.
"We're a community that really gets climate change is real and collectively we have an obligation to do something about it," he said.
Information sourced from Canberra Times.