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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Introduction

Overview

The Paris Agreement highlights the importance of state governments addressing the critical challenge of climate change. The Tasmanian Government is committed to undertaking practical actions to reduce our emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Tasmania is already a genuine leader in the response to climate change. In 2014, our emissions were down by 87 per cent on 1990 levels, exceeding our legislated target of 60 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. Our per-capita emissions remain among the lowest of any jurisdiction in the developed world, and around 90 per cent of our electricity supply is from renewable sources.

The Independent Review of the Climate Change (State Action) Act 2008 (the Act) notes that relative to most other Australian jurisdictions, Tasmania has a low carbon economy.

By continuing to make a strong contribution to international efforts to combat climate change, Tasmania will not only play its role to limit the impacts, but also ensure the State is well positioned to benefit from opportunities that will arise. A low-carbon, climate resilient economy can lead to increased investment, jobs and economic growth, while changes in the climate can support growth in key sectors such as tourism and agricultural production.

The Tasmanian Government is committing $3 million in new funding to support the delivery of Tasmania’s Climate Change Action Plan 2017-21 (Climate Action 21). This builds on over $400 million already committed to action on climate change, including a comprehensive targeted fuel reduction burning program, the Tasmanian Energy Efficiency Loan Scheme, modernizing and upgrading our renewable hydro-electricity assets, and investing in our irrigation infrastructure to provide greater surety for farmers in a changing climate.

The Tasmanian Government will continue to build on these commitments. Strengthening the Act to provide a more robust framework for action on climate change is an important step and will ensure Tasmania continues to be a leader in taking action on climate change.

The Tasmanian Government response to the Independent Review provides a brief overview of Tasmania’s greenhouse gas emissions, considers national and international responses to climate change, and sets out the Tasmanian Government’s position on each of the recommendations to amend the Act.

Background

The Act provides the framework for the Tasmanian Government’s action on climate change mitigation and adaptation. The Act establishes the target to reduce Tasmania’s greenhouse gas emissions to at least 60 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Subsection 18(1) of the Act requires an independent review of its operation every four years, the latest of which was completed in 2016.

Under the Act, the Independent Review must address:

  • the extent to which the objects of the Act are being achieved; and
  • the extent to which additional legislative measures, if any, are considered necessary to achieve the targets set by the Act within the periods contemplated by the Act.

The Minister for Environment and Parks (the Minister), Matthew Groom MP, is responsible for the operation of the Act. In setting the Terms of Reference for the Independent Review, the Minister asked that the following matters also be considered:

  • The appropriateness of the emissions reduction target contained within the Act;
  • How the Act could assist Tasmanian Government agencies to incorporate climate change considerations into strategic decision making and risk planning; and
  • Establishing a statutory requirement for the Tasmanian Government to prepare regular climate change action plans.

In May 2016 Jacobs Australia Pty Ltd (Jacobs) was appointed to undertake the Independent Review.

The Independent Review has been completed in consultation with the Tasmanian community, including industry, non-government organisations, individual community members, and state and local government. Jacobs released a discussion paper in June 2016 which received 20 written responses.

The review specifications, discussion paper, written submissions and the Jacobs review can be found on the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Tasmanian Climate Change Office website at www.climatechange.tas.gov.au.

Independent review recommendations

The Independent Review makes five recommendations to amend the Act. They are:

  1. Set a new aspirational long-term emissions reduction target of zero net emissions by 2050.
  2. Consolidate the objects of the Act.
  3. Require agencies to consider climate change in decision making.
  4. Include a set of principles in the Act to provide expectations for decision making.
  5. Make it a statutory requirement for the Tasmanian Government to have a climate change action plan.

The Independent Review also highlights key considerations relevant to the Act and action on climate change in Tasmania more generally. These include:

  • Taking action across all sectors to reduce emissions; and
  • Using an adaptive management framework to inform climate change action.

The Tasmanian Government response to the recommendations, and the commentary more generally regarding climate change action, is detailed below.

Tasmania’s greenhouse gas emissions

The Minister is required to report on Tasmania’s emissions under the Climate Change (Greenhouse Gas Emissions) Regulations 2012 which is made under the Act. Tasmania’s greenhouse gas emissions reporting is based on the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory data, which are used to prepare Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report.

The National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report uses methodologies developed by the Australian Government. These methodologies conform to the guidelines prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in accordance with the rules for reporting applicable to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol.

The latest greenhouse gas accounts for 2013-14 released by the Australian Government show that Tasmania’s emissions were 2.3 mega-tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. This is a decrease in emissions of 87 per cent since the baseline year of 1990, and means that in 2014, Tasmania achieved the emissions reduction target set by the Act for the second year in a row.

The majority of Tasmania’s emissions reductions can be attributed to the land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector, and to the forest management sub-sector in particular. Emissions in other key sectors, such as energy, agriculture and industrial processes, either grew or contracted slightly.

Based on the 2013-14 greenhouse gas accounts, Tasmania’s emissions, excluding the LULUCF sector, were at the same level as in 1990. Over this period Tasmania’s Gross State Product has increased by 58 per cent, showing that the State can achieve economic growth without increasing emissions.

International and national climate change policy

The Independent Review of the Act coincides with a number of important developments in climate change policy, both nationally and internationally.

The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UNFCCC was held in Paris in December 2015. Negotiations at COP21 resulted in the Paris Agreement, which includes a goal to keep global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016 after the threshold 55 countries, accounting for at least 55 per cent of global emissions, ratified the agreement. This includes some of the world’s largest emitters such as the United States of America, China and India.

The Australian Government ratified the Paris Agreement in November 2016, and currently has an emissions reduction target of 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) is the cornerstone of the Australian Government’s policies to reduce emissions. Projects supported through the ERF have seen 143 million tonnes of emissions reduction. This includes five Tasmanian projects.

The Paris Agreement highlights the importance of state and local governments taking action to reduce emissions. Most Australian jurisdictions are already taking action on climate change, and many have legislative targets in place to reduce emissions.

This includes the Australian Capital Territory, which has legislated to achieve zero net emissions by 2050. South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales have also publicly flagged their intention to legislate for the same target.

An emerging area for future consideration will be complementarity between federal, state and local governments around climate change policy, particularly in areas such as renewable energy generation to support emissions reduction. Tasmania’s abundant renewable energy generation resources mean that we are well placed to support national efforts.

The Tasmanian Government supports a coordinated effort to taking action on climate change that complements national policy settings to ensure there are no additional regulatory burdens on Tasmanian industry.

Response to the Review

Recommendation 1 (Accessible HTML)

Recommendation 2 (Accessible HTML)

Recommendation 3 (Accessible HTML)

Recommendation 4 (Accessible HTML)

Recommendation 5 (Accessible HTML)