Australian councils at the cutting edge of climate change policy

This article originally appeared in Architecture and Design here.

According to the Climate Council, Australian councils are way ahead of state and federal governments when it comes to tackling climate change and capitalising on renewable energy.

According to the Climate Council report, ‘Local Leadership: Tracking Local Government Progress on Climate Change’, one in five councils surveyed across Australia are aiming for “100 percent renewable energy” or “zero emissions”.

The report notes that urban centres are major contributors to carbon emissions, producing about three-quarters of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from electricity and energy use in buildings and transport.

By changing the way we use and produce energy, says the Climate Council, “70 percent of emission reductions required to meet the global climate agreement made in Paris can be achieved in cities.”

Some of the standout performers says that report, include metropolitan local government areas like Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney, as well as smaller shire councils such as Byron Shire, Lismore, Yackandandah and Uralla Shire.

Already, investments in renewable energy worth millions of dollars are being rolled out across Australia by a number of local councils including the Sunshine Coast Council’s 15MW solar farm, Lismore’s community-owned and council-operated solar farms, and Alice Spring’s solar city.

Other solutions introduced by councils include shifting to renewable energy for electricity generation in Adelaide; increasing the energy efficiency of buildings in East Arnhem Land; and building more public transport in the Gold Coast.

The pre-eminence of councils in implementing climate change ideas come as no surprise to the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) CEO Romilly Madew.

“In Australia, there are many parts of government, and different governments that are leading in developing more sustainable cities. Local governments are in the unique position of working closely with the community, and the GBCA works closely with a number of local governments and recently launched a new Green Star Communities Guide for Local Government to support sustainable city initiatives,” says Madew.

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