The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today expressed concern that the ACT Government’s action on climate change is leaving Canberra’s most vulnerable households behind.
ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “The ACT Government’s announcement today of investments in climate action as part of next week’s 2021-22 ACT Budget fails to match its commitment to a just transition with actions.
“ACTCOSS is becoming increasingly concerned that Canberra’s most vulnerable households are being left behind by the government in the transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions in the ACT. The bulk of the ACT Government’s climate action is being targeted at homeowners through the $150m Sustainable Household Scheme. Meanwhile those living in social housing and private rental accommodation have been left short-changed by today’s announcement.
“Of the $50m committed over five years for the Vulnerable Household Energy Support Scheme, only 10% will be spent in 2021-22 to support those least able to afford to improve the energy efficiency of their home to cut energy costs and keep comfortable in extreme heat and cold. The $5m allocated to the scheme for 2021-22 that was announced today is less than half of the $12m promised in the forward estimates of the previous ACT Budget.
“The ACT Government needs to invest much more and act much more quickly to ensure that no-one in the ACT is left behind in our transition to net zero. While climate action may be one of the ACT Government’s highest priorities, investment and action to date suggests that achieving a just transition by supporting vulnerable households sits much lower on the priority list.
“In the absence of any further investment to support vulnerable households to improve energy efficiency in this year’s ACT Budget, ACTCOSS is urging the ACT Government to engage with the private rental sector to encourage landlords to access the Sustainable Household Scheme to improve energy efficiency of private rental housing in consultation with their tenants. Over a third of Canberra’s households rent and are faced with significant barriers to improve the energy efficiency of their home so that it is healthy and affordable to live in.
“We urge the ACT Government to engage with the community sector to develop and implement the Vulnerable Household Energy Support Scheme to ensure that it is adequately funded, appropriately targeted, and effectively implemented to meet the need within our community.
“Among the climate action investments announced by ACT Government today, ACTCOSS welcomes $3.1 million over four years to continue the Solar for Low Income Scheme, supporting low-income homeowners to install rooftop solar systems with subsidies of up to $2,500 to be managed through the Sustainable Household Scheme.”
Dr Campbell concluded: “Our community’s most vulnerable households must be the ACT Government’s top social priority as it addresses the climate emergency. Climate change is a social justice issue. Climate action and a just transition must go hand in hand. We need to see the ACT Government’s words matched with action to ensure that no Canberran is left behind in the energy transition.”
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.