Climate Summit for Local Government

Sept 6-8, 2023 | Melbourne
The Bushfire Royal Commission report has now been tabled in Parliament by the Federal Government. It unequivocally acknowledges what the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA) and numerous other bushfire inquiries this year have already stated: climate change fuelled the Black Summer bushfire season, and we have entered into an era of severe consequences for our inaction on climate change.

The Cities Power Partnership, the Climate Council and ELCA have been closely engaged with the Royal Commission over many months – making submissions, providing expert testimony, and writing an open letter signed by more than 9,000 Australians following the release of the Commission’s interim findings.

Many of the final report’s 80 recommendations are consistent with recommendations from the Australian Bushfire and Climate Plan, developed earlier this year by ELCA in collaboration with hundreds of scientists, firefighters, bushfire survivors, community representatives, medics, and local government leaders – including members of the Cities Power Partnership.

The Federal Government must adopt every single one of the recommendations in this report and, importantly, act on the root cause of worsening bushfires in Australia by taking urgent steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

While predominantly directed at federal, state and territory governments, the Bushfire Royal Commission Report also recognises that everyone has a role in responding to the challenges of worsening fire danger. In fact, a theme running through the report is the importance of local knowledge and leadership, building the strength and capacity of local communities, and the importance of involving local governments and communities in planning and decision making.

Some of the specific recommendations with particular relevance to local governments include building the bushfire preparedness and response capability of councils (11.1) and increasing access to resources for councils (11.2).

Recommendation 11.1 – Responsibility for local government disaster management capability and capacity State and territory governments should take responsibility for the capability and capacity of local governments to which they have delegated their responsibilities in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from natural disasters, to ensure local governments are able to effectively discharge the responsibilities devolved to them.

Recommendation 11.2 – Resource sharing arrangements between local governments State and territory governments should review their arrangements for sharing resources between their local governments during natural disasters, including whether those arrangements:
(1)  provide sufficient surge capacity, and
(2)  take into account all the risks that the state or territory may face during a natural disaster.

To ensure the Federal Government implements all recommendations from the Royal Commission, ELCA has set up an accountability tracker, identifying 10 priority recommendations, to keep a close eye on progress and hold decision makers to account. In addition to watching for progress on the Royal Commission’s recommendations, the CPP, Climate Council and ELCA will also keep pushing hard to steer Australia towards zero emissions as soon as possible and a future beyond coal, oil and gas.

To read more, see the Climate Council’s summary on the Bushfire Royal Commission Report.

Councils around Australia are already leading the charge when it comes to protecting and educating communities on bushfire preparedness and response. Check out Nillumbik Shire’s (VIC) world-first Hybrid Solar and Battery Off-Grid Stadium and Relief Centre that was 2020’s Metropolitan Innovation of the Year award winner.

The Stadium plays a critical role as an Emergency Relief Centre and for the community vulnerable to power outages during heatwaves, flooding and bushfires.

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ELCA, like the Cities Power Partnership, is a project of the Climate Council.