Councils join to lobby government on climate action

Morrison Taylor (Councils government)
Mick Tsikas/AAP

Seventeen councils have joined together to call for ambitious federal government targets ahead of 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 government leaders to put politics aside and work with them to slash greenhouse gas emissions. 
 
The signatories represent more than seven million Australians and over $330 billion in GDP and assets. 

Broken Hill Mayor, Darriea Turley said Australians didn’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—government, business, cities, and citizens—must do their part to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” 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.”

Local government councils included: 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; and City of Melville, WA.

Blacktown 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.”
 
Kiama 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.

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“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.”
 
Better Futures Australia (BFA) is a network of hundreds of climate champions, ambassadors and partners from every sector of society and the economy—finance, business, resources, agriculture, health, faith communities, local and state governments, First Nations, unions, social services, the community sector and more. Among the hundreds of supporting organisations, over 100 have formally signed on to the Better Futures Australia Declaration, making them part of the global Alliances for Climate Action.