Cities Partnership Turns On The Juice

The ACT Government has joined the Cities Power Partnership, a program enabling local governments to collaborate in their efforts to decrease carbon emissions and prevent climate change impacts, launched by 2007 Australian of the Year, Professor Tim Flannery, in Canberra last week.

It will empower the participating 35 cities and councils to collaborate in identifying opportunities for clean power technology, energy efficiency and ways to adapt to a changing climate.

Councils and governments will deal with issues such as transport, environment, water and climate change adaptation in a cooperative fashion.

Climate scientist and ANU Professor Will Steffen said important grassroots action like the Cities Power Partnership is timely. “We’ve had basically a decade of flip-flopping and inaction at the federal level, but a lot is happening at a local level,” he said.

“The idea is to build on what’s already going on, learn from each other and ramp it up.” Professor Steffen sees Canberra leading the way for the partnership in a number of instances, especially the sharing of information.

“After leading the way with research and green energy, we’re also now moving into the sustainable transport sector with light rail, integrated buses and electric cars and of course Canberra continuing to promote cycling and improving pedestrian access in and around the town centres,” he said.

ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury said he was glad Canberra could be partnering up with so many other local governments to commit to environmental action. “We’re looking to support the councils that perhaps don’t have as much a capacity as we do,” Minister Rattenbury said.

“We think we can use our expertise to help others but also learn. “In signing up for this, the councils are making a commitment to get on with things, and it’s from there that we can move into the information sharing.”

He said Canberra is leading the nation with “our progressive targets of 100% renewable electricity by 2020, reducing emissions by 40% by 2020, and achieving net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest”. “The responsibility for climate action is not one that can be done in isolation. It is increasingly clear that to achieve real progress you need to seek partners and share experiences.”

Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie echoed Professor Steffen’s comments that Canberra’s knowledge will be highly valuable to the partnership. “What we’re keen to see from Canberra is a lot of sharing of information in terms of how they have completed key projects, how they made it financially viable, etc.”

This article originally appeared in the Canberra Weekly on July 27, 2017.

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