Leading beyond our borders: opportunities to reduce scope 3 emissions


To ensure the ACT continues to be a leader on climate action in Australia, the ACT Government is looking at opportunities to measure and reduce scope 3, or embodied, greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2020, the ACT Government commissioned a report to evaluate scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions for the ACT. Scope 3 include emissions that result from the production of goods such as food, building materials, electronic goods, clothing, and other consumables that are imported into the ACT.

Today, the ACT Government has responded to the report by the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, which made recommendations for the reduction of scope 3 emissions, including from ACT Government operations, household consumption, and in the construction and infrastructure sectors.

Minister for Emissions Reduction Shane Rattenbury said that the recommendations in the report will help the ACT Government extend its position as a leader on climate action in Australia.

“Before we can address our scope 3 emissions and set targets, it is important that we develop a way to measure and report these emissions,” Minister Rattenbury said.

“Estimating and reporting scope 3 emissions from all sectors across the territory is a complex task, but our methodologies have been improved over time and will continue to be refined as new information emerges, and as international practice improves.

“The legislated emissions reduction targets for the ACT only include scope 1 emissions (direct emissions such as from combusting fuel in cars) and scope 2 emissions (from purchased electricity). This is consistent with international greenhouse gas emissions accounting protocols designed to avoid double counting.

“While scope 3 emissions fall outside our emissions targets, we can still take action to cut these emissions by changing our purchasing behaviours, reducing consumption, and influencing supply chains to encourage low and zero emissions production.

“The ACT Government has reduced its scope 2 emissions to zero by shifting to a 100% renewable electricity supply through innovative contracts with renewable electricity generators. This made us the first jurisdiction in Australia to reach zero emissions in electricity.

“Our priority now is to reduce scope 1 emissions especially, through developing our plan to transition away from fossil fuel gas and cutting transport emissions by increasing the uptake of public transport, walking and cycling and zero emissions vehicles. But we can, and should, also seek to better understand and reduce our scope 3 emissions.

“The ACT Government currently considers scope 3 emissions in major infrastructure projects, including in Light Rail stage 2 and the new CIT campus in Woden, which use sustainability ratings that include calculation of scope 3 emissions.

“Major Projects Canberra is also currently developing a tool to calculate scope 3 emissions from construction projects. When the tool is developed and tested, smaller construction projects will also be able to report their scope 3 emissions.”

Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti said there are plenty of ways Canberrans can help reduce our scope 3 emissions and have a positive impact on our environment.

“Most of the scope 3 emissions in the ACT are from consumption, and not production, so Canberrans can all help reduce scope 3 emissions by buying less and buying local,” Minister Vassarotti said.

“If we demonstrate innovative ways to reduce local emissions, we can inspire and support other jurisdictions to do the same. When the places from which we source products reduce their emissions, our scope 3 emissions will go down.

“We have an opportunity to continue our leadership on climate action by setting new ambitions that will work towards our goal of net zero emissions by 2045. The ACT Government will continue to lead by example and will work with other state, territory, and national governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across Australia.”

For more information on the scope 3 emissions report, visit the Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment’s website.