Newcastle City Council has become the first local government in Australia to commit to taking action under a new Climate Council initiative.
Newcastle recently joined the Cities Power Partnership, a Climate Council program that brings together Australian cities and towns that are driving solutions around climate change.
Participating local governments are asked to pledge five key actions to reduce their climate impact.
Newcastle was the first in the partnership to make its pledges, which include harnessing renewable energy to meet the city’s power needs and finding sustainable transport solutions.
“How we respond to climate change now will determine whatNewcastle’s future looks like,” Newcastle City Council Interim CEO Jeremy Bath said.
“It’s important for our community that we build sustainability into the way we do things, which is why we have moved quickly to increase our renewable energy capability and find smarter, more efficient energy solutions for our city’s needs.
“Newcastle has a reputation for innovation, and we’re proud to be the first council to pledge to take climate change action as part of the Cities Power Partnership.”
Newcastle’s pledges include two actions around renewable energy. A new solar farm at Summerhill Waste Management Centre will generate 5MW of energy to help power Council operations across the city. In addition, Council has installed eight rooftop solar systems on public buildings, including the art gallery and museum, and two solar battery systems. Two local start-ups, Batrium and SwitchDin, have supplied battery management technology to help manage demand and weather prediction.
The latest National Greenhouse Gas Inventory shows that transport emissions account for 17% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Two of Newcastle’s pledges involve finding more sustainable ways for Novocastrians to travel, including the development of cycling infrastructure and the installation of fast chargers for electric vehicles throughout the city.
The final pledge is around energy efficiency. Energy-efficient LED lighting trials are underway for Newcastle’s main roads. Council is also running trials to replace large sections of street lighting with smart-controlled LED lighting that will house “Smart City” technology including a WiFi network and environmental sensors.
“The technology around renewable energy is improving all the time, and these five pledges are just the beginning,” Mr Bath added. “As energy prices continue to rise, a transition to sustainable power will also help to drive cost savings for our residents.”
Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie says:
“Recent reports show that changes to the way cities and towns consume and generate energy could generate up to 70% of the emissions reductions needed to tackle climate change. Newcastle is leading the field in regional efforts to combat climate change, and I’d like to congratulateNewcastle City Council for showing the rest of Australia how it’s done as the first council to make its Cities Power Partnership pledges.”