Jeremy Bath, CEO of the City of Newcastle, talks about why his city is taking the lead on climate change.
There is a huge amount that can be done at local government level to tackle climate change. From transport through to urban planning, councils have the power to make the changes that will reduce our climate impact. Across Australia, a growing movement of local governments are setting ambitious targets around renewables and emissions reduction.
In Newcastle, we are finding a smarter and more sustainable way of doing things. As a vulnerable coastal community, taking concrete steps to address the challenges of the changing climate is vital for the future wellbeing of our residents and economy.
Newcastle is the first council in Australia to pledge to climate change action as part of the Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership. The council has committed to five key actions to increase our renewable energy capacity, create sustainable transport options and improve its energy efficiency. This includes development of a 5MW solar farm with capacity to power around 1220 homes.
This transition is not without its challenges. Newcastle’s economy and jobs have traditionally been heavily reliant on the coal industry, and a lack of a clear national clean energy target has created great uncertainty in the region. Part of our role in local government is to help our residents look beyond the uncertainty to opportunities for wind and solar energy to create new jobs and provide opportunities for Newcastle businesses to innovate and grow.
Recently, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that cities and towns are key to decarbonisation, and could deliver 70% of the emissions reductions needed to stay within the 2% global warming limit set by the Paris Agreement. We owe it to the people we represent to get smarter about climate change.