The Cairns Regional Council Sustainability Team is leading initiatives to cut local emissions and educate the community on climate change, while also supporting local industries to transition to a low emissions economy.
This case study highlights the success of the team in addressing public concern and working towards a more sustainable community.
Why is Cairns Regional Council taking action on climate?
Recent polls showed that 90% of the community is concerned about the impacts of climate change on the Cairns region.
Additionally, a youth survey showed 43% felt no hope in addressing climate change. The youth of Cairns are calling for action and whole suburbs are mobilising calling for Climate Action now.
How Cairns Regional Council is taking action
Cairns Regional Council’s (CRC) Sustainability Team is responding with strong action through collaboration, codesign of programs, education to build capacity within council, in the community and supporting industry to transition to a low emissions economy.
Building internal capacity
The team has formed cross functional teams to deliver a whole of organisation approach, ownership and delivery of action across all council departments, engaging executive team and Councillors for buy-in and advocacy for projects.
Sharing knowledge and ideas
In 2021, the team facilitated 7 sector-based workshops and 3 summits to inform the climate change strategy including a co-designed e-mobility and sustainable transport workshop with Yarrabah Council.
Empowering young leaders
In 2019, the team was the first local government to deliver a Youth Climate Summit. In 2020, the team hosted students to participate in the Sustainable Schools Network (Fight for Planet A). The 2021 Youth Climate Summit built on the previous summit and educated and empowered the next generation of youth.
Establishing a community of practice
In 2021, CRC and FNQROC were successful in obtaining funding to establish a Rivers to Reef Climate Alliance with surrounding councils to build capacity to respond to climate change through adaptation, mitigation and transition projects. Council’s Sustainability Grants program has just funded the establishment of the community-led Zero Emissions Cairns.
Benefits to the community
CRC has been tracking its emissions since 2010 and by the end of 2021 will have reached its previous target of a 50% emissions reduction based on 2007/2008 levels. The team has worked tirelessly across the organisation to improve the energy efficiency of Council operations and delivered a program of large scale solar (2.8MW).
A Climate Change Strategy 2030 is currently being finalised which will shape the next decade of climate action. The Strategy incorporates commitments to achieve net zero emission by 2030 for council operations including purchasing electricity from 100% renewable energy sources and a commitment to prepare the community to adapt and prosper in a changing climate and reduce their emissions..
Cairns Regional Council Sustainability Team was a winner in the Climate Champion category in the Cities Power Partnership Climate Awards 2021.