LOCAL COUNCILS ARE OUTSTRIPPING the Federal Government on policies to tackle climate change, committing to hundreds of projects to cut greenhouse gas pollution, according to a report released today by the Climate Council's Cities Power Partnership.
The report, Tackling Climate Change Together: Local Governments Lead the Charge, highlights hundreds of climate pledges made by councils in the Cities Power Partnership, Australia's largest council climate alliance.
Member councils are required to make five climate pledges, committing to projects ranging from powering council facilities with clean energy through to setting ambitious city-wide renewable energy and emissions reduction targets.
The pledges come as the Cities Power Partnership grows by 31 new councils, taking the network to over 100 councils representing almost 11 million Australians.
Chief Climate Councillor Professor Tim Flannery said that as Federal climate policy sees Australia falling short of our emissions reduction targets, climate action from our cities and towns is more important than ever.
"Despite the latest data showing that Australia's emissions are soaring, our towns and cities are quietly shifting to a renewable future. A huge surge of local government renewable energy projects are underway - and with over 100 councils joining the Cities Power Partnership, we'll see many more."
"As councils control over $380 billion of the nation's land and assets, what happens at the local government level is hugely significant - and there's a clear signal coming from them that climate action is needed, now."
Key report findings
- Cities Power Partnership councils have submitted over 300 climate and energy pledges, making up a huge combined effort to drive down greenhouse gas pollution.
- Over 130 of the submitted pledges focus on increasing renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas pollution at council or community level.
- Councils are setting ambitious emissions reduction and renewable energy goals, with over 70 pledges focused on how councils can work together and with their communities to drive down local emissions by city-level clean energy or emissions reduction targets and and help to educate and change community behaviour to reduce climate impact.
- Councils are saving ratepayers money through energy efficiency, with over 60 pledges to introduce energy efficient lighting (particularly street lighting) and to make council buildings more energy efficient, reducing climate impact and saving thousands of dollar off power bills.
- Sustainable transport is a priority, with over 45 council pledges to make fleets compliant with greenhouse gas emissions requirements, accelerating local uptake of electric vehicles, providing electric vehicle charging infrastructure and encouraging sustainable transport use through council transport planning and design.
Cities Power Partnership councils are supported to realise their clean energy ambitions through practical resources and case studies, expert advice, media profiling and opportunities to collaborate with other councils.
The opportunity for councils to join forces in the Cities Power Partnership and develop a strong, unified climate response helps to mobilise action in councils that may have previously lacked the resources or scope to commit to climate projects.
Councillor Belinda Coates of the City of Ballarat, Victoria, one of the newest councils to join the Cities Power Partnership, agreed that collaboration with other councils was key to developing a meaningful regional climate strategy.
"As a regional city, we can't wait to join forces with our peers in the Cities Power Partnership to strengthen our climate response and learn from others, rather than reinventing the wheel," she said.
"As we know, regional and rural areas are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and developing a unified regional response to drive down greenhouse gas pollution is crucial. In Ballarat, we're powering ahead with a strong renewable energy target and working towards becoming carbon neutral."
"Tackling climate change is a priority for our council and our community. We can't rely on the Federal government to take action, so it's up to us."