Wednesday, 13 October 2021 11:33

Councils join national call for Federal Government commitment to strong, unified action on climate change Featured

By Staff Writer

Local government councils representing more than two million Australians have called on the Federal Government to commit to strong, unified action on climate change, ahead of the UN Climate Conference COP26 in November.

Rural councils like Broken Hill in New South Wales, to inner-city suburbs like Wyndham in Victoria have joined 105 signatories in the Better Futures Australia (BFA) Declaration to urge Federal leaders to put politics aside and work with them to slash greenhouse gas emissions. 

The signatories from seventeen councils represent more than seven million Australians and over $330 billion in GDP and assets. 

In a statement issued by the Cities Power Partnership - a national network of local councils leading the way to a thriving, zero emissions future - Broken Hill Mayor, Darriea Turley said Australians don’t have time to waste in taking urgent action on climate change.

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“Cities and towns are driving down greenhouse gas pollution through investment in renewable energy and sustainable transport. Broken Hill Council has declared a climate emergency and we have a goal to source 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030. But everyone - governments, business, cities, and citizens - must do their part to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Mayor Turley said.

“The quicker we act, the sooner we’ll realise the lasting benefits like cheaper electricity, more comfortable housing, the development of growth industries and healthier communities.”

Mayors calling for unified climate action include dairy farmer and Mayor in Kiama, Mark Honey; to inner-city Labor Mayor Cr Annalivia Carli Hannan of Moreland, Melbourne; and Capital City Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor of Adelaide. 

Dr Portia Odell, declaration signatory and director of the Cities Power Partnership, said local governments working together were making serious inroads into reducing Australia’s climbing emissions.

“Working together, local councils can be far more than the sum of their parts when it comes to tackling climate change,” she said.

“But despite the great work we’re seeing from cities and towns across the country, tackling climate change needs a concerted, unified effort from all levels of government.”

The Better Futures Australia Declaration states that:

“We are Australian business and industry leaders, investors, local and state and territory governments, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, healthcare and social institutions, farmers, developers, unions, workers, artists, academic and cultural institutions, and communities. Together, we are committed to leading by example and supporting Australia’s international commitment to transition to net zero emissions before 2050.

We commit to:

  • taking climate actions through individual effort and collaboration to ensure Australia contributes to limiting average global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels;
  • showcasing new climate commitments and actions to inspire other Australians to realise zero emissions opportunities;
  • advocating for a national response that will deliver action at the scale required to reach net zero emissions well before 2050; and
  • working together, alongside and in partnership with Federal, State and Local Government leadership, to support the delivery of the Paris Agreement.

We recognise that responding to climate change requires all of us to act, alongside and in partnership with Federal, State and Local Government leadership. We invite all Australians to join us in helping to ensure our nation can, and will, meet its commitment under the Paris Agreement.”

Local goverment signatories to the declaration are:

  • City of Adelaide, SA
  • City of Mitcham, SA
  • Mount Barker District Council, SA
  • Town of Gawler, SA
  • City of Melbourne, VIC
  • Moreland City Council, VIC
  • City of Yarra, VIC
  • Wyndham City Council, VIC
  • Blacktown City Council, NSW
  • Blue Mountains City Council, NSW
  • Broken Hill City Council, NSW
  • City of Sydney, NSW
  • Inner West Council, NSW
  • Kiama Municipal Council​​, NSW
  • Randwick City Council, NSW
  • Waverley Council, NSW
  • City of Melville, WA

Blacktown (NSW) City Mayor Tony Bleasdale, said: We want to be leaders on the important issue of climate change, and are joining other cities and organisations to highlight the importance of Australia’s international commitment to net zero emissions before 2050.

“Blacktown City has over 400,000 people – the largest local council in NSW – and we will grow to over 600,000. Without urgent action on climate change, the impact of increasing urban heat on our community could be catastrophic. To achieve our climate action goals, we are committed to carbon neutrality for our operations from financial year 2020-2021, and have an aspirational target of carbon neutrality for Blacktown City by 2040. We are continuously improving our energy efficiency, and increasing the proportion of renewable electricity in our energy mix. We plant many thousands of trees, and are running a trial of heat refuges for our more vulnerable residents.As a local leader in climate change mitigation and adaptation, we urge the Australian Government to take stronger action for a climate resilient, zero emissions future.

Sydney Deputy Lord Mayor Sydney Jess Scully, said: The world is waking up. We’re seeing more dramatic, accelerated and focussed climate action from all around the world, but we are not yet seeing that in Australia. And if we all work together and show that climate action isn't just driven by environmentalists but by business, by local government, by citizens, then we have a greater chance of putting pressure on those leaders who are not stepping up and leading.

Inner West (NSW) Mayor Rochelle Porteous said: Inner West Council is proud to have signed the Better Futures Australia Declaration. We’re responding to the climate crisis by working to become carbon neutral and 100% renewable, reducing our emissions by 28% compared with 2016/17, divesting from fossil fuels, more than doubling our rooftop solar capacity and purchasing renewable electricity from a solar farm to power 25% of our needs. 

Inner West is already one of the greenest Councils in New South Wales, but we recognise Australia’s targets are far too modest and we urge the Australian Government to commit to a 2030 target for at least 75% reduction in emissions.

Kiama (NSW) Mayor Mark Honey, said: I am more than delighted last week to sign the Better Futures Declaration, supporting the call for Australia to make an international commitment to transition to net zero emissions before 2050.

While it is pleasing to see various state governments fill some of the Federal Government's void in this space, Canberra remains the place that has the deep pockets and legal clout needed to get this nation united and on the road to net zero. 

In the lead up to the Glasgow UN meeting, and a looming federal election, there are rumours and noises from our capital they might soon be changing their ways. For my part, I think we should keep up the pressure on our leaders until we have something more concrete.

Adelaide Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor, said: I believe that everybody has a part to play in creating a low carbon economy, so whether it’s a resident, or a community group or a business or a level of government, its only if everyone works together that this is going to happen.    

Mount Barker Mayor, Ann Ferguson said: Mount Barker District Council is one of the fastest-growing Councils in South Australia and we are striving to manage this growth sustainably. 

Like all parts of Australia, our community faces the threats and impacts of climate change and we are obligated to cut emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change, now and in the future. We also recognise the opportunities and potential to thrive in this changing environment. Mount Barker District Council seeks to address the controllable climate risks and reduce our emissions by implementing a range of actions throughout council operations and through partnering with our community. 

Addressing the challenges posed by climate change requires action by everyone: all levels of government, business, community groups, households and individuals to secure a safe future and the wellbeing of our people, a thriving environment and resilient and sustainable economy.

Moreland Mayor (VIC), Cr Annalivia Carli Hannan, said: Local councils are leading the way in reducing emissions and working with our diverse communities to create a safe climate. In Moreland, we have reduced our Council emissions by 69%. The next decade is critical and our Zero Carbon Moreland plan is to create a healthy, sustainable and thriving community.

We are protecting our community by supporting residents on low income to benefit from solar power and insulated homes, powering 14 electric vehicle charging stations with 100% renewable energy and collaborating with neighbouring councils to build community skills for collective climate action.

The climate emergency requires urgent action by all levels of government. Local councils can not do all the heavy lifting. The more we come together to tackle environmental problems and move to net zero carbon, the greater the chance we have of achieving the goal of preventing temperature rise of more than 1.5°C.

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