The Australian Capital Territory

Population: 385,996 (2014)

GDP: US$27,448,000,000 (2014)

Country: Australia

Total GHG emissions (year): 3,990,000 (gross, metric tonnes CO2e, 2014)

GHG emissions/capita/year: 10.41 (metric tonnes CO2e, 2014)

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is home to the nation’s capital city, Canberra. Spanning 2352m2, the ACT is positioned between Sydney and Melbourne, 150 kilometers inland in south-eastern Australia. At an elevation of 650 meters, the ACT has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. Outside of Canberra city, the ACT contains agricultural land, small townships and a large area of mountainous and forested national park.

Under the Federation of Australian states and territories, the ACT Government is responsible for both state and local level services. A strategic priority for the Government is to enhance livability and social inclusion. This involves supporting the community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to a changing climate via a range of sustainability policies and initiatives. Sustainability principles are incorporated across policy arrangements for energy, the built environment, transport, waste, water, and environmental protection.

Climate projections are highly relevant to the ACT Government’s work in adapting our city to a changing climate and in protecting and managing our natural environment. Overall, the ACT regional climate models project a greater risk of drought and bushfires and increased severity of extreme weather events such as wild storms, flash flooding and prolonged heatwaves.

Most electricity in Australia is generated from fossil fuels, particularly coal. The ACT takes its electricity from the National Electricity Market, of which 74% is sourced from coal. As a result electricity currently accounts for 59% of the ACT’s emissions. In 2010, the ACT established a series of legislated greenhouse gas reduction targets including a 40% reduction from 1990 levels by 2020, moving towards carbon neutrality in 2060. The ACT’s second climate change strategy and action plan, AP2, sets out the pathway to achieving the ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets, with a strong focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy to reduce emissions.

  • Key Targets / Successes


    In October 2010, the ACT Legislative Assembly passed legislation for the introduction of the most ambitious greenhouse gas reductions targets in Australia. The Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act 2010establishes emissions reduction targets for the ACT of:

    • zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2060
    • peaking per capita emissions by 2013
    • 40% reduction of 1990 emission levels by 2020
    • 80% reduction of 1990 emission levels by 2050.

    The ACT Government’s second climate change strategy and action plan, AP2, provides a pathway with a set of actions to achieve the Territory’s legislated 2020 greenhouse gas reduction targets.

    In 2012, the ACT Government committed to sourcing 90% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, playing a major role in meeting the Territory’s ambitious emissions reduction targets.

    On 21 May 2014, the ACT Government launched Adapting to a changing climate: directions for the ACT, the first stage of adopting a comprehensive climate change adaptation strategy for the territory. The strategy is currently under development.


  • Current activities


    To meet the ambitious target of 90% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020, the ACT Government estimated that approximately 500 megawatts (MW) of large-scale renewable electricity investment will be required. In response, a blend of renewables is being pursued, including:

    • up to 400 MW of wind generation capacity;
    • around 90 MW of solar generation capacity; and
    • around 20 MW of energy from waste generation capacity.

    The ACT is the first jurisdiction in Australia to use an innovative reverse auction process to award a large-scale feed-in tariff. In this process, proponents compete to supply renewable electricity to the ACT against a range of selection criteria, including price. As the price of the renewable energy provided to the ACT is fixed for 20 years, and not subject to inflation, the real costs to the ACT will decrease as electricity prices rise over time. The 20-year length of the FiT also provides long-term security for proponents, allowing them to secure finance for their projects from banks and investors.

    The ACT Government’s first major investment in large-scale renewable electricity was the 20 MW Royalla Solar Farm, delivered by Fotowatio Renewable Ventures in August 2014. At the time, it was the largest solar farm operating in Australia.

    In 2014, the Minister for the Environment, Simon Corbell MLA, announced a 200 MW Wind Auction to be conducted by a competitive reverse auction process. The Territory’s wind auction received significant industry attention, attracting both domestic and international proposals. Competition was intense, both in terms of FiT price and contributions to the Local Investment Framework. The attention received reinforced the ACT’s emergence as a renewable energy investment hub and is supporting the reduction of ACT emissions and the growth of clean technology industries.

    These projects will meet one-third of the ACT’s total electricity demand by 2017 and reduce electricity emissions by 580,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per annum. In relative terms, this will be the biggest drop in greenhouse gas emissions of any Australian jurisdiction. Additional reverse auction processes are being considered to secure the balance of renewable energy needed to meet our 90% target.

    The ACT is on track to meet its commitments and provides an excellent example of the benefits of committing to an ambitious renewable energy target.


    Through a competitive process and innovative feed-in tariff structure, the ACT Government have been able to deliver a step change to renewable electricity at an average cost of around $1.79 per household per week. This cost is part of the estimated $4.67 per week electricity price impact required to achieve the 90% renewable electricity target. This weekly cost is projected to be largely offset by savings achieved in households through energy efficiency improvements from the Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme and other Government initiatives supporting energy efficiency improvements for low income households. The ACT Government has demonstrated that moving to high levels of renewable electricity is both achievable and affordable.

  • More info

    Most important economic sectors:

    The ACT Government see renewable energy and energy efficiency as tremendous opportunities, not only in terms of playing our part to address climate change, but also to create jobs, and to build a stronger, more diverse and robust economy for ACT. Investments in renewable electricity and energy efficiency are working to build local infrastructure, intellectual property, knowledge and skills of international significance, which are creating opportunities for exports and sustainable job creation.

    The ACT Renewable Energy Industry Development Strategy (REIDS) was launched in May 2015. REIDS aims to bring together industry and research sectors to accelerate the development of a renewable energy industry in the ACT. Focusing on solar, wind and energy storage, REIDS brings together a range of existing government initiatives and will facilitate the next generation of renewable energy technologies, including the creation of a renewable energy precinct and test berth facilities. REIDS includes the $1.2million Renewable Energy Innovation Fund, which was developed as part of the ACT Government’s 200MW wind auction.

    Important for the ACT is the continued growth of renewable electricity investment in our region. A key partner in this is the South East Region of Renewable Energy Excellence (or ‘SERREE’) which is working to develop a vibrant cluster of renewable energy businesses in Canberra and the surrounding region. A requirement of the wind auction was for proponents to contract with local businesses in the asset development and operational stages of the wind farms. SERREE will provide an important vehicle for this investment, supporting local jobs and creating international exposure for small business in the ACT and its surrounds. All three wind farms will be run from new management and operations headquarters in Canberra.

    Successful wind auction proponents will also deliver a range of benefits for the ACT through a $50 million economic stimulus package. The stimulus will include the establishment of new operations centres, research and development partnerships with local universities, a new national trades training centre, and an innovation fund for small Canberra renewables businesses. The ACT Government is also targeting skilled professionals around the country transitioning from work in decommissioned coal and gas generation assets across the National Electricity Market.

    GHG breakdown by sector (%)



    Stationary energy sources, including electricity, natural gas and fuel wood (metric tonnes of CO2e),2014



    combustion of petroleum based fuels



    Included under stationary energy (e.g. natural gas for home space and water heating)



    Synthetic gases



    Scope 1, net emissions from agriculture, 2014

    LULUCF would sequester 0.3%.



    Scope 1

    Fugitive emissions


    leakage of natural gas

    Current power sector mix (%)

    From 2014























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