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Media Release: Taking bold action on climate change - speech to ACT Labor Conference

July 20, 2019

Delegates, climate change is the biggest threat we face as a society.

 

ACT Labor has a long history of leading in climate action at the same time as building a fairer and more just society.  

 

In the past two years I am proud to say I have further contributed to this action by working with my community and Assembly colleagues in calling for reform of the ACT Energy Efficiency Scheme, a trial of a Virtual Power Plant as well as securing a commitment for the first single use plastic free government event and a trial of a reusable coffee cup zone.

 

I am proud of this record but there is more to do. 

 

At the start of this year I put out a discussion paper to the party membership that asked the question of where to next for environmental activism within our branch. 

I would like to thank everyone who engaged with me in response to that paper. 

These areas of focus are now the basis of this resolution that I am moving today and that has been endorsed by more than half of ACT Labor’s Sub-branches.

 

Unlike the Greens’ policies that favour those who can financially afford to take environmental action, and the Canberra Liberals who don’t even take climate change or environmental action seriously, Labor is committed to delivering policy changes and solutions that benefit all Canberrans.

It is therefore up to us to lead the way. 

 

It is clear from the discussions we’ve started that ACT Labor members have a lot of ideas and passion for environmental action.

The challenge now is for us to develop strategies that will deliver real change. 

 

The textile industry is one of the top five polluters globally, depleting non-renewable resources, emitting huge quantities of greenhouses gases, using massive quantities of energy, chemicals and water and not to mention exploiting people for their cheap or often free labour. 

This global impact is present here in Australia with 85% of the clothes we buy ending up in landfill. 

I call on ACT Labor to reduce the quantum of textile waste in the ACT by reducing, re-using and recycling discarded textiles. 

 

The Canberra climate means that the heating and cooling our homes is the largest contributor to household energy bills.

The environmental impact of high consumption is matched by the social impact from the cost and of course, this isn’t helped by poor quality building and construction practices. 

I call on ACT Labor to improve the quality of building and construction in the ACT so that our homes are built well and more efficient for everyone in our community, not just those who can afford to take on developers. 

 

Delegates, gas was the transition fuel to get us to a cleaner energy mix and now it’s time to transition off it.

It is a proven fact that household energy costs are higher when a household has more than one source of energy.

I call on ACT Labor to support Canberra households to reduce their reliance on gas and transition to affordable and genuinely renewable sources of energy. 

 

Vehicle emissions are one of the biggest contributors to pollution levels however our public transport system can provide an affordable and clean alternative for Canberrans.  

 

I call on ACT Labor to consider ways we can decarbonise our public transport system and consider how we can move to universal public transport access in the ACT. 

 

There’s no point talking about fighting and adapting to climate change if we aren’t also talking about how we can build a good society;

I don’t want to live in a world where decarbonising our economy means having to live in suffering.

Labor is the party that is committed to making and unmaking social conditions.

 

A plan to clean up and de-carbonise our economy will provide opportunity for economic gain for government, industry and working people.  

 

We must ensure that when developing new ways to tackle the impacts of climate change, both government and industry are committed to invest in secure, local jobs.

ACT Labor has already put in place the secure local jobs code, this is a significant and meaningful achievement and one we must back up with even more action. 

 

I call on ACT Labor to continue to progress a reform of procurement so that it is environmentally and socially just. 

 

Comrades, the challenges presented by climate change are core business for our mighty movement and we must step up to them.  

I commend the motion to you, and I look forward to working together to further shape a fairer and more environmentally prosperous Canberra.  

 

Statement ends