Regional communities right around the country are adopting renewable-powered technologies to combat climate change and take ownership of economic opportunities. And in the race to become Australia’s first renewable-powered community, one shire is emerging as a clear frontrunner.

Traditionally known as the Spa Capital of Australia, Victoria’s Hepburn Shire is fast making a name for itself on climate and renewable energy, with today’s launch of its clean energy plan. The plan incorporates an ambitious target to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and 100% renewable energy by 2021 – a mere two years from now.

And they’re well on their way.

Community-owned Hepburn Wind farm, with its two turbines affectionately named Gale and Gusto, already produces enough energy to power over 2000 homes. But the Shire’s ambitious 2030 net-zero emissions reduction plan will rely on more than renewable power to get the job done. It will also incorporate rapidly reducing greenhouse gas pollution from transport, agriculture, manufacturing and stationary energy use (that includes things like diesel and gas consumption for energy, such as domestic heating).

Many of us can only imagine living in a truly renewable community, where each and every activity we undertake – from the morning commute, right through to cooking the evening meal – is powered by renewable energy.

For the residents of Hepburn Shire, this dream will soon become reality.

By 2030, the Shire’s clean energy plan will have prevented about 260,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution from entering the atmosphere annually. That’s the equivalent of taking 60,000 fossil-fuelled cars off the road.

The people of Hepburn Shire understand all too well the threat of escalating climate change impacts, and the need to act now. In February of this year, bushfires blazed across much of Victoria, threatening lives and homes in the region.

But as far as action from the ground-up goes, Hepburn is not alone in its ambitions: other Australian communities are stepping up to the plate, too. Byron Shire and the ACT have both set net-zero emissions targets, while communities like Yackandandah and Tathra have set 100% renewable energy targets.

What is clear from these communities taking charge is that real action on renewable energy and climate change isn’t just possible, it’s already happening in cities and towns all around us.

And it’s being led by neighbours, friends, families – real people who want to see a significant difference in our world.

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