This post originally appeared in the Kiama Independent on 12 October 2018
Some of the world’s best minds working to tackle climate change will arrive in Kiama for the inaugural Cities Power Partnership National Summit, on October 18-19.
The group of 11 council leaders attending the summit will be calling for cities and towns around the country to make tackling climate change a top priority.
The summit, run by the Climate Council, will draw together local government leaders from across Australia, as well as climate experts, community and industry at The Pavilion Kiama to develop strong, regional responses to climate change.
Kiama Mayor Mark Honey said the summit was important and would help to develop the South Coast’s climate response.
“We’re proud to welcome some of the world’s foremost climate experts to Kiama, along with mayors and community leaders from cities and towns across Australia,” Cr Honey said.
“Climate change is too big for us to face alone, but by working together we can develop smart, practical responses to the climate challenges we face.”
Controversial US Mayor R.Rex Parris will also make his way to the South Coast for the summit.
Mayor Parris is a staunch Republican and climate visionary who has led his blue-collar city of Lancaster, California, to become the “solar capital of the universe,” producing more clean energy than it uses.
The Climate Council’s Professor Lesley Hughes said local councils on the South Coast were already making a big difference to the region’s climate impact.
“With councils from Shellharbour all the way through to Bega Valley signed up to the Cities Power Partnership, the South Coast is a hotbed of climate action,” she said.
“This area faces serious impacts from climate change, from extended bushfire seasons through to worsening coastal flooding, so developing a unified regional response to drive down greenhouse gas pollution is crucial.
The aim of the summit is to connect local councils to strengthen their climate response.
“By joining forces, councils are able to pool knowledge and resources to step up to meet the climate challenge,” Prof. Hughes said.
In recent years, Kiama Council has gone to great lengths to make itself more environmentally sustainable.
It implemented the OK Organics waste service in an effort to reduce waste to landfill and greenhouse emissions. The Pavilion – the venue for the summit – was the first commercial venue to use the OK Organics waste service.
Staff at council’s administration building also use the system.
Recently, Kiama Library signed up to have solar panels installed.
Council has also made moves to establish a baseline for local emissions, so they can better assess how they are tracking in the long term as a community.
“All this gives us a great story to tell when we host the inaugural Cities Power Partnership National Summit,” Cr Honey said.
“I look forward to standing up in front of other mayors and councillors who are part of this great initiative, and telling them what a great job Kiama is doing when it comes to climate change and sustainability.”
In September, Shoalhaven City Council chose to disband its Sustainable Futures Committee, a decision Mayor Amanda Findley, who is also attending the summit, did not support.
Following the decision, more than 500 people signed a petition urging council to reinstate the committee – together with the Shoalhaven Natural Resources and Floodplain Management Committee – tasked with sustainably managing the region’s environment.
Concerned Mollymook resident, Judy Hamilton, was upset by the decision.
Ms Hamilton said she believed councillors had a duty of care to protect residents, business interests and the environment.
“The decision to disband the committees, reflects a failure of council’s responsibilities to sustainably manage our environment, or the region they have been elected to represent,” she said.
Mayors taking part in the summit:
- Mayor R.Rex Parris – Lancaster, California, USA
- Mayor Mark Honey – Kiama, NSW
- Mayor Amanda Findley – Shoalhaven, NSW
- Mayor Kim le Cerf – Darebin, Victoria
- Mayor Damien Ryan – Alice Springs, NT
- Mayor Julia Leu – Douglas Shire, QLD
- Mayor Ken Keith OAM – Parkes, NSW
- Mayor Gregory Conkey OAM – Wagga Wagga, NSW
- Mayor Lindsay Shurey – Randwick, NSW
- Mayor Shane Rattenbury – Canberra, ACT
- Mayor Glenn Dewhurst – Gosnells, WA