Compare the climate-related policies of the Greens, Labor and Liberal

Voter's choice

With the 2016 ACT election just around the corner on Saturday 15 October, there are many territory and local issues for Canberra voters to consider: health, education, light rail, housing affordability, and the list goes on. All of these things are, of course, important, and of varying importance to you and your family, but this page is dedicated to policies related to climate change and comparing what the ACT Greens, ACT Labor and the Canberra Liberals are offering.

By comparing policies, you can make an informed choice when voting. Share and discuss the policies with family, friends, colleagues and complete strangers so that more Canberrans are aware of what they’re voting for. Of course, there are many smaller parties and independents also running so please search for their websites if you are after their policies.

The ACT Legislative Assembly is increasing in size from 17 to 25 members so electoral boundaries have changed and there are many more candidates than in previous elections. Also, voting rules are different for the ACT election than the recent federal election. Particularly, if you number only 5 boxes and none of those candidates gets a quota, your vote will not count toward any other candidate. Visit Elections ACT for information about how to ensure that your vote counts.

Visit the ACT Legislative Assembly website for more information about the territory parliament and current members.

This information was sourced from the parties’ own websites and policy documents. See the bottom of the page for the list of sources. We have as much as possible simply quoted directly from the sources, but have paraphrased where necessary to reduce the number of words or present information in a comparable format. Also, it can be difficult to determine in some instances whether funding for particular programs or initiatives is already included in or is additional to broader programs and whether proposed policies are for new or continuing funding. Refer to the parties’ own websites for the full original text and detail.

We have done our best to group policies together in themes to allow for easier comparison, but many policies are relevant to multiple themes so we have included some cross-references where this occurs.
Browse the table or jump straight to a theme: Party values, Overall view of climate change, Emissions reduction and fossil fuel transition, Renewable energy, Transport and infrastructure, Land management and conservation, Adaptation

A summary of each party’s climate-related policies


ACT Greens

ACT Labor

Canberra Liberals


Shane Rattenbury

Andrew Barr

Jeremy Hanson

Political spectrum




Party values, election platform

The Greens have a vision for Canberra that puts the community first. We are not a party for big business, developers or pokies. We will stand with the people, for the environment and the future of our city.
We believe in a Canberra where everyone matters, where we care for each other.
A Canberra that takes real action on climate change – and builds new jobs and new industries in renewable energy.
A Canberra that's admired by the rest of the country for being prosperous and fair.
A Canberra where the community comes first.
It's the Greens who have driven and delivered the biggest reforms this city has ever seen – from leading the nation on climate action, to our world-class renewable energy targets, to changing the conversation on light rail.
But at this election, there is a real danger that the Liberals will take us back decades on climate action, gay rights and public transport. They will put the big end of town ahead of the community.
It's the Greens who will rebuild trust in our politics by creating an ACT Integrity Commission.
We will tackle Canberra's hidden poverty with new, innovative affordable housing projects.
We will extend light rail, and we won't stop until every Canberran has the best quality public transport.
We will put the community before big business, developers and pokies – and speak up for everyone who has been forgotten and betrayed by the other parties.
The Greens are the party of courage and community. We're committed, we're ready, and we'll put the community first.

ACT Labor is the party of fairness in Canberra. We have a proud record of fighting for equality and of countering discrimination and disadvantage.

"There is no point in being in government if you cannot make people's lives better. And you cannot do that if you are not paying attention to the economy. I believe in the modern Labor values of progressive social reform and responsible economic management." Andrew Barr, Chief Minister

What does the Liberal Party stand for?

  • In Australia, its people and its future.
  • In the innate worth of the individual, in the right to be independent, to own property and to achieve, and in the need to encourage initiative and personal responsibility.
  • In the basic freedoms of thought, worship, speech, association and choice.
  • In equality of opportunity, with all Australians having the opportunity to reach their full potential in a tolerant national community.
  • In a just and humane society, where those who cannot provide for themselves can live in dignity.
  • In the family as the primary institution for fostering the values on which a cohesive society is built.
  • In the creation of wealth and in competitive enterprise, consumer choice and reward for effort as the proven means of providing prosperity for all Australians.
  • In the principle of mutual obligation, whereby those in receipt of government benefits make some form of contribution to the community in return, where this is appropriate.
  • In the importance of voluntary effort and voluntary organisations.
  • In parliamentary democracy as the best system for the expression and fulfilment of the aspirations of a free people.
  • In the separation and distribution of powers as the best protection for the democratic process.
  • In a federal system of government and the decentralisation of power, with local decisions being made at the local level.
  • In a constitutional head of state as a symbol of unity and continuity.
  • In Government being sufficiently responsive so that it can meet its proper obligations to its citizens.
  • In Government keeping to its core business and not competing with the private sector.
  • In the rule of law and justice, giving all citizens equal rights under the law, responsibilities to maintain it, and the freedom to change it.
  • In Australia playing a constructive role in the pursuit and maintenance of international peace in alliance with other free nations and in assisting less advantaged peoples.
  • In Liberalism, with its emphasis on the individual and enterprise, as the political philosophy best able to meet the demands and challenges of the 21st century.

In short, we simply believe in individual freedom and free enterprise; and if you share this belief, then ours is the Party for you.

Overall view of climate change

At this election, the ACT Greens are campaigning on the most ambitious climate and environment plan in the ACT's history. We're committed to 100% renewable energy by 2020, a carbon neutral Canberra by 2030, and more Green Homes for Canberra.

Canberra is already one of the most sustainable cities in the world, and ACT Labor is committed to continuing this good work. We understand the importance of building a long-term perspective on sustainability and environmental protection. Our approach to building infrastructure, including transport and housing, is influenced by our strategy to preserve and protect Canberra’s natural environment.
This is why ACT Labor introduced the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target of any jurisdiction in Australia. We have a legislated emissions reduction target of 40 percent by 2020 and we have committed to a 100 per cent renewable energy target by 2020.
Like all Canberrans, ACT Labor are proud of our city and its wealth of natural beauty. We will work to boost our eco-tourism economy and our science-based facilities.
What we’ve achieved:
In 2010, when the ACT Labor Government set its emission reduction target, the percentage of renewable energy in our electricity sector was around 11 per cent. What has been achieved is a testament to what can be done when government is really committed to reducing emissions.
It has been four years since the ACT Government released Climate Change Action Plan 2. Since that time we have systematically put in place the renewable energy and energy efficiency programs required to achieve our target of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020.
ACT Labor has ensured Canberra has established an international reputation for its sustainable energy policies.
What we’re doing:
We are focused on attracting international business investment and creating exciting new collaboration opportunities for local start-ups and entrepreneurs – such as the economic benefits that are flowing from successful reverse auction projects which now total more than $500 million.
This will ensure Canberra remains at the centre of this industry as it grows nationally and internationally.
As a leader in the renewable energy field, the ACT is reaping the environmental and economic benefits of reducing our emissions.
Not only are the people of Canberra now provided with mostly renewable energy, this policy delivers jobs and economic benefits by way of $400 million in local investment facilitated by our reverse auction process.
ACT Labor will actively implement its renewable energy policy through the next term.

“The Canberra Liberals are committed to protecting our environment for future generations of Canberrans. We recognise the need to tackle climate change and will continue the Territory’s renewable energy target of 100 percent renewable energy by 2020.” Nicole Lawder MLA, Shadow Minister for Environment

Emissions/ pollution reduction, fossil fuel transition

Target: carbon-neutral Canberra by 2030

Transition away from using gas: Invest $15 million over 4 years to:

  • Stop the rollout of expensive new gas infrastructure in all new suburbs
  • Remove all ACT Government incentives that encourage householders to install gas appliances (for example, through the EEIS and wood heater replacement program)
  • Set a minimum gas standard of 5 stars for all new gas appliance installations
  • Mandate that replacement hot water systems must not be gas
  • Change the Building Code of Australia requirements to prohibit gas hot water services in new houses
  • Providing a 20% rebate on up to $10,000 spent upgrading gas appliances to energy-efficient electric appliances, such as split system heating systems and efficient hot water systems (solar or heat pump) for households earning less than $100,000 per annum
  • Replacing gas heating appliances with energy efficient electric heating for those in low-income households.

See also Transport, particularly transitioning the bus fleet to clean technologies

Target: zero net emissions by 2050.

Sign up to the international ‘Under2MoU’ movement which originated from a partnership between California and Baden-Wurttemberg in Germany. Under2MoU brings together 129 states and regions across six continents that are leading the rest of the world in their commitments towards emissions reductions. Under Labor, the ACT will sign up following a personal invitation from California Governor Jerry Brown and South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill.

Investigate establishing a green bond facility which will compliment regular bond issues. Money raised through a green bond would be used exclusively for government projects that meet set environmental criteria such as low carbon transport and energy efficiency projects.

The Canberra Liberals recognise that renewable energy is an important part of our transition to a low emissions economy.

Renewable energy

Target: 100% renewable energy by 2020.

Target: 100% renewable energy by 2020.

ACT Sustainable Energy Policy 2011–2020 is already in place.

Target: 100% renewable energy by 2020.

Transport, infrastructure, buildings, cities


Deliver stage two of light rail to Woden, and later extend light rail right across Canberra - connecting north and south – to create a vibrant city that is sustainable and easy get around

$57 million to expand and improve public transport including:

  • more frequent and rapid buses, integrated with Stage 1 light rail
  • $1.5 million in the flexible bus service to ensure that Canberrans with disabilities, or who are older and less mobile, can participate fully in our community
  • bus fare freeze

Transition bus fleet to clean technologies by 2030:

  • Commit $2.2 million to trial electric buses, hybrid buses, and buses fuelled by biofuels. This is likely to allow the most flexible and fast transition away from buses that run on fossil fuels
  • At the completion of trials, switch all purchases to clean, green buses.
  • Invest $130 million over the next four years to phase in clean energy bus technologies including electric buses and hybrid buses. These buses are an investment in our city’s future with all new buses likely to operate for approximately 15 years
  • Phase out the existing diesel and CNG buses as they come to the end of their service life
  • Invest in more buses to feed into our clean energy powered light rail and increase the size of our bus fleet to approximately 1000 buses by 2031 to serve our growing city.

Active Travel Capital:

  • Create a well-resourced Active Travel Office and employ an Active Travel Coordinator
  • Legislate and implement new, best practice active travel design standards
  • Establish a cross-city, business and community active transport association
  • Improve active travel project assessment by implementing the HEAT system.

Better bike infrastructure including bicycle hubs for town centres and a bike share scheme


Establish an Office of Water to manage all aspects of the water cycle including potable water, sewage, storm water and environmental flows

Invest in establishing a nation leading recycling and innovation technology park, building on existing infrastructure at Hume

Ban polystyrene packaging

Work with the private market to support a new processing plant for organic food waste

Fund an additional 100 double bins provided at local shops and town centres, phased in over 4 years

$2.8 million for housing including energy-efficient housing:

  • Set minimum standard for rented properties that includes either meeting an EER 2 (before 2010) or a NATHERS rating of 6 for houses built after 2010; or ensuring roof insulation rated at R4.0 or above (where there is attic space) and draft sealing, including all external windows and doors
  • Work with industry to review the EER system for home energy ratings and how it is applied in Canberra to support work being done by COAG nationally
  • Set a new energy efficiency target of EER7 by 2020 for new houses
  • Mandate energy efficient electric space heating for all new houses
  • Include home insulation as an activity under the Energy efficiency Improvement Scheme.
  • Double the funding for low income energy efficiency programs by investing an additional $1 million per year over the next 2 years
  • Increase funding for community curtain programs by $100,000 to ensure that the 200 people waiting for curtains can be supported by their community and receive free curtains.
  • Bringing the Nightingale model to Canberra – the Nightingale model for home buyers guarantees properties that are powered by 100% clean energy, have a minimum 7.5 star energy efficiency rating and cap the profit margin to 15% to keep housing affordable.

Light rail: Building the first of a five-stage Canberra-wide Light Rail network
Committed to building the second stage from Civic to Woden via the Parliamentary Triangle.#

Rapid bus plan: Committed to building a Rapid Bus Network for Canberra, which will include more rapid services, over 100 new jobs, including 80 drivers, 80 new buses, the design of a new North-side depot, and an investment of over $100 million to give Canberrans a real alternative to driving, alleviate road congestion and ensure our integrated public transport system grows with our city.

Better streets and cycleways: including $2.7 million for priority footpath upgrades, building the ‘Belco Bikeway’ connecting the town centre with local education institutions, installing more bike racks in Braddon, upgrading the Stirling Avenue walkway starting in Watson, the Active Streets for Schools program, Active Living Program, Age Friendly Suburbs program, Towards Zero Growth: Healthy Weight Action Plan.

Deliver green bins to every house that wants one, across Canberra, starting in Weston Creek and Kambah, followed by Tuggeranong in 2017, with the rest of Canberra to receive the service in the coming term of the Assembly.

Overhaul the current solar access rules. The new system will be developed in consultation with industry and the community with a view to avoid the negative outcomes that have resulted from the existing solar access rules.^

Develop an Infrastructure Plan for Canberra’s future growth. The document will include residential areas, transport connections, areas of densification and employment.

Public transport plan

Integrated bus network will aim to offer all Canberrans the option of travelling from their suburb to the City in less than 30 minutes, even during peak hours. Eight rapid bus routes and parkway express services will create a new level of connections in Canberra. Travel times across Canberra will be reduced by dispersing rapid buses on numerous major arterial roads rather than all travelling on the existing Blue Rapid spine. The Rapid routes identified will serve as the basis for future bus lane and priority measure investments.

The plan will be funded through the existing resources of ACTION and the reallocation of the funding for the Capital Metro Agency#. The initiatives include:

  • A better fit-out for new buses focusing on accessibility and comfort as well a new colour coding system
  • Eight separate Rapid routes including an airport service
  • Late night services on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights
  • Faster services including non-stop services to reduce peak hour travel times
  • A trial of electric buses with a view to the establishment of a fleet of electric vehicles
  • A new Parkway Express linking Woden, Belconnen and our major hospitals.

Autonomous cars: draft legislation released by the Canberra Liberals will provide for the safe testing and development of autonomous vehicles in the ACT. Autonomous vehicles have the potential to provide many benefits including increasing safety on the roads, increasing social inclusion and increasing fuel efficiency. A report from the Department of Infrastructure found that autonomous vehicles also have the ability to ease congestion on our roads.

Agriculture, forestry, land/natural resource management, conservation

Invest $16.8 million in planting an additional 7,000 new trees each year to address the heat island effect over and above current tree replacement program

Establish a tree canopy target of at least 40% summer shade on Canberra streets

Invest $20 million to improve waterways and urban lakes and support roof top gardens

Invest approximately $7million in two new Community Irrigated Recreation Parks (CRIP) in West Belconnen and one in the south of Canberra

Invest $300,000 per year to employ community co-ordinators to support volunteers in urban areas such as Park Care, Water Watch, and community garden volunteers

Promote local food production including community gardens and better use of verges, and increase funding for community grants program.

Commit $2 million per year in recurrent funding to ongoing weed and pest control. This will include targeting specific weeds, like African Lovegrass which poses a threat to biodiversity and agricultural productivity and increases fire risk

Empower the newly created single conservation agency by funding additional staff and research capacity. This will help undertake strategic conservation planning and management, across the ACT and within the region in collaboration with NSW agencies and local governments, including strategic mowing, revegetation, and working with landholders to create the right incentives for habitat creation on privately leased land.

Enforcing cat containment

Appoint an eco-tourism manager

Establish Ginninderra Falls National Park

Undertake a detailed feasibility study into the establishment of a new National Park to conserve and showcase Lowland Grassy Woodlands potentially including Kinlyside, Mulligans Flat, Goorooyarroo, Mt Majura, Mt Ainslie, Mt Pleasant, Mt Mugga Mugga, Callum Brae and Isaacs Ridge

Support the ACT Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) with a continued commitment of $140,000 for the next two years plus CPI (the federal Liberals cut national EDO funding by $10 million from 1 July 2014, which meant zero funding for ACT EDO).

$800,000 over four years through the environment grants program, available to ACT community groups wishing to conduct local environmental projects.

$120,000 ($40,000 per year for three years) for Landcare ACT to continue safeguarding the environment across the region through its catchment groups that focus on environmental issues like soil degradation, weeds, animal pests and erosion. Currently, Landcare ACT receives $60,000 per year from the Federal Government, but no funding from the ACT Government.

Ensure that all town centres and other areas of high density living have access to high quality irrigated green space.

Scientific research, policy advice, adaptation

Invest $10 million dollars to:

  • Support additional fire fighting staff over the next 4 years to respond to bushfires and other emergencies
  • Purchase a new aerial pumper and a Hazmat/breathing apparatus appliance
  • Establish a key stakeholder roundtable to discuss traditional fire management in Namadgi National Park
  • Ensure key stakeholders - including Emergency Services professionals and volunteers - are closely included in decisions such as the structure of emergency agencies and emergency service planning (such as bushfire zones).

Strategic conservation planning, including identifying and actively managing biodiversity linkages and corridors to build resilience and help adapt to a changing climate, and building relationships with universities to undertake research aspects of this work and provide funding support for scholarships

Emergency services:

Hire more firefighters and more paramedics, invest in new equipment to help them do their jobs, start work on a new emergency services station in the CBD and strengthen our capacity to deal with bushfires. We’ll also introduce new measures to protect our emergency services workers

Expand our firefighting capability with an additional pumper-aerial appliance. This fire truck will complement the existing fleet and provide extra firefighting capacity. Unlike a Bronto, a pumper-aerial provides a fully-crewed fire truck as well as additional aerial capability.

Enhance our capacity to attack bushfires before they become a threat by partnering with the National Aerial Firefighting Centre and NSW RFS to contract an additional fast attack helicopter and by training additional volunteer Remote Area Firefighting Teams

Support volunteers to maintain the required high level of fitness with subsidised gym memberships which will improve firefighter safety and the ability of our firefighters to get the job done

No part-time fire stations

Invest funding for feasibility and design of a new Fire and Ambulance Station in the city centre. This new centrally-located station would relieve demand on Ainslie, Aranda and Fyshwick fire stations, provide greatly improved response times in Civic and reduce demand on ambulance stations across Canberra’s regions, allowing them to focus on suburban emergencies

Emergency services:

Retain fire fighters in the communications Centre (ComCen) which receives the ESA’s 000 calls

Provide an additional elevated fire fighting appliance (Bronto) and addition fire fighters for its operation, to ensure that the city is well protected in the event of major or multiple fires or emergencies

Recruit 12 additional trained firefighters to operate the Bronto and ensure an important start in strengthening the workforce to cope with population growth.

See note *

#Light rail will cost the ACT government $65 million per year for 20 years, paid to Canberra Metro Consortium from 2018 onwards (when services commence). This consitutes about 1% of the Territory's annual budget compared with 56% being spent on health and education. Damien Haas's article 'How are we paying for light rail in Canberra?' provides a good discussion about how light rail is being funded. What the Liberals mean by "reallocation of the funding for the Capital Metro Agency" in their bus plan is that they intend to cancel the contract for construction of light rail. Note, however, that the ACT Liberals previously were strong proponents of light rail – see their 2008 election policy 'Getting light rail on track' – and still admit that light rail might be needed in the future.

^The "current solar access rules" are Variation 306 to the Territory Plan introduced by the ACT Government in 2013. According to the Liberal policy document 'Planning for Canberra's future', "houses have been positioned to the northern edge of blocks in order to contain as much of the overshadowing in yards. This has resulted in many blocks having outdoor living spaces facing south. Further to this, the rules have resulted in estate plans being sub-optimally designed. In Moncrieff, hundreds of blocks have been designed in a north–south position in order to contain shadows at the front or rear of the block. This will result in hundreds of houses with lower energy efficiency and poor solar access due to living areas facing east and west."

*Strictly speaking, these firefighting resources are not discussed by the Liberals in the context of climate change or adaptation, only to address existing needs, but have been included here to compare with the Greens policy. Safeguarding the ACT community from Emergencies – elevated fire fighting platform and retain firefighters in call centre



ACT Greens website

Our clean energy future: Transitioning from gas to clean energy PDF document

Keeping Canberra green: enhancing our bush capital PDF document

Responding to bushfire risk: an investment in firefighting PDF document

Protecting our environment: Keeping Canberra Beautiful PDF document

Making homes more affordable: For everyone, including renters PDF document

People before developers: Bringing the Nightingale model to Canberra PDF document

Transforming Canberra into the active travel capital PDF document

Transforming transport: Clean, green public transport for Canberra PDF document


ACT Labor website

Subnational Global Climate Leadership Memorandum of Understanding, 'Under 2 MOU'

Transport for Canberra: Light rail to Woden PDF document

Transport for Canberra: More buses more often PDF document

Better streets and paths so all ages can get active PDF document

ACT Sustainable Energy Policy 2011–2020 PDF document


Canberra Liberals website

Planning for Canberra's future, 2016 PDF document

If you have feedback, questions, suggestions, let us know.