Climate Summit for Local Government

Sept 6-8, 2023 | Melbourne

Critical decisions on climate change at a local level are needed within the next three years to put us on track to avert even more dangerous impacts, such as prolonged extreme droughts in Central NSW, according to a new report from the Climate Council

The Critical Decade 2017: Accelerating Climate Action, has found that Central NSW faces serious climate impacts, including reduced rainfall, prolonged drought and food and water scarcity becoming the ‘new normal’ unless serious cuts are made to carbon pollution. Parkes Shire Council emerging as climate leader by accelerating move to clean energy

Projected drying trends across southern Australia could see serious decreases in production in some of our biggest agricultural areas, including the Murray-Darling Basin.

However, solutions are in sight, with the report championing the emergence of state and local governments such as Parkes Shire Council as climate leaders, and the rapid growth of renewable power, such as solar and wind.

Parkes Shire Mayor Ken Keith OAM said Parkes is already seeing very dry conditions which are having an impact on our agricultural industry.

“We are Australia’s food bowl, so what happens here has serious consequences for the rest of the country,” he said.

“We urgently need to reduce our carbon pollution to support our farmers and protect our food and water.

“As the report notes, this is the critical decade to ramp up action on climate change and local government has an important role to play – that’s why we’re accelerating our move to clean energy and supporting our community to reduce emissions.”

Climate Councillor Professor Will Steffen said the pressure is on for Australia to do its fair share towards tackling climate change, and state and local governments are emerging as important players.

“We need to build on this action to create an integrated policy response at all levels of government to reduce Australia’s emissions rapidly and deeply,” he said.

“Despite inaction at the federal level, Australia’s transition to clean energy is gaining momentum, bringing with it opportunities for economic growth and increases in employment.”

Report Key Findings Include:

● Australia is highly vulnerable to many of the consequences of a changing climate, from worsening heatwaves, droughts and bushfires, to devastating coral reef bleaching, and most of our population centres being exposed to sea level rise.

● Climate change has increased the frequency and/or intensity of many extreme weather events – heatwaves, bushfire weather, coastal flooding, and drought.

● Extreme weather will worsen further if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.

Climate Council CEO Amanda Mckenzie said state and local governments are leading the transition to clean, reliable and affordable renewable energy and storage technology.

“Local governments are rolling up their sleeves to find climate change solutions, with many councils setting their own ambitious clean energy targets,” she said.

“We’re increasingly seeing councils turn to renewables to power major infrastructure projects, from Australia’s biggest floating solar farm in Lismore through to an entirely off-grid water treatment plant in Logan City that will service 400,000 homes.

“The transition to 21st century energy is happening, regardless of the state of Australian politics.

“Australia is a world leader in household rooftop solar; more than 1.6 million households have rooftop solar systems installed.

“However, the Federal Government needs to change its energy policies to support and accelerate the many effective actions on climate change that are already being undertaken by states, territories and local governments.”

This article first appeared in the Parkes Champion Post on 13 November