Climate Summit for Local Government

Sept 6-8, 2023 | Melbourne

NATIONAL emission levels are on the rise with emissions increasing by 1% in the year from March 2016, but Byron Shire Council is taking action.

The Australian National Greenhouse Gas Inventory’s quarterly update report, released on August 4, shows national emission levels (excluding the land use and forestry sector), rose by 1.6% during the March 2017 quarter.

Byron Shire Council recently joined the Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership, connecting with towns and cities throughout the country that are getting on with the job of tackling climate change.

It’s part of Byron Shire’s plan to become Australia’s first Zero Emissions community over the next ten years.

The council is investigating various energy generation opportunities, as well as exploring reactivating Australia’s first hydro system, which provided 100% hydro power to the town of Mullumbimby 100 years ago.

Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson rising national emissions are a cause for concern.

“Locally we’re doing a lot of work to ensure that we are on track to a sustainable future,” Cr Richardson said.

“Reducing our emissions and transitioning to clean energy isn’t just good for our environment – long term, it will also drive cost savings for Byron.”

Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said the latest emissions data shows the crucial role that local action can have in addressing rising emissions.

“While it’s hugely disappointing that national emissions have continued to rise, the situation would have been much worse if not for action taken by local and State governments,” Ms McKenzie said.

“Local councils such as Byron Shire that have a clear climate and energy policy are already helping to drive down pollution and bring on more renewable energy.”

Off the back of announcing its commitment to the Cities Power Partnership, Byron Shire Council is being asked to take another bite out of climate change, by serving only vegan food at official meetings, functions, and other events.

In a letter to Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) points out that while the council’s goal of becoming Australia’s first zero emissions community is admirable, it could immediately reduce its emissions – without any cost to ratepayers – by enjoying eco-friendly plant foods.

“[V]egan meals offer the easiest and most effective way to take a bite out of climate change,” wrote PETA Associate Director of Campaigns Ashley Fruno.

“As local community leaders, the members of Byron Shire Council must surely set an example, eating as if you mean business, by enjoying only planet-friendly vegan foods during all official events.”

Byron Shire Council has also received some of PETA’s free vegan starter kits.

This article first appeared in the Byron Shire News on 11 August 2017