A group of local government councils are joining forces in an ambitious effort to tackle climate change.
They have been inspired by a new report from the Climate Council showing cities, urban centres and rural townships have the potential to slash energy emissions by a staggering 70 per cent.
At least 35 councils, representing around 3 million Australians, have already committed to the Cities Power Partnership, a Climate Council initiative to slash emissions at a local level.
Millions of local residents are already involved — from installing solar panels to taking action in their own backyards.
Climate Council chief executive Amanda McKenzie said local leadership was crucial and added in the absence of national action, we need to see more local action.
She said she was frustrated by policy inaction from Canberra.
“This has been exacerbated by rising electricity prices, caused by more expensive gas, and a lack of policy,” Ms Mackenzie said.
“So we think it’s really important from a number of different angles for there to be greater action to bring on more renewable energy, more storage systems, more energy efficiency, and local sustainable transport solutions.”
PHOTO: Some people have taken action against climate change in their own backyards. (ABC News: Clarissa Thorpe)
Climate scientist Will Steffen said it was entirely possible for local councils to make a real difference in reducing carbon emissions.
“The global estimate is — and I think this is true for Australia — that about 70 per cent of the total emissions can be tracked back to cities and towns,” Professor Steffen said.
“That’s where the action occurs in terms of economic activity, energy use, and so on.”
PHOTO: Will Steffen said local councils could make a real difference in reducing carbon emissions. (Supplied: David Flannery)
He agreed local councils were in a position to make big inroads to both national and global emissions at the city level.
“In fact, I think there were over 1,000 city mayors in Paris who have gotten together and formed their own global network,” Professor Steffen said.
But he wanted to encourage local residents to be smart with how they go about reducing their carbon emissions.
“It depends on where you are and what your situation is, but one of the common approaches is simple energy efficiency,” he said.
“That is, becoming much more efficient in how you use heat, light, how you generate electricity, and so on.
“And that’s one way we can learn from each other, because some councils have taken a lot of action in that area, and others haven’t.”
Climate change is often viewed as a global problem, but in Lane Cove on Sydney’s north shore, Mayor Deborah Hutchens agreed it was one that has to be tackled locally.
“Get out there and campaign and be heard,” she said.
“Get the people behind it.”
Ms Hutchens said the council was most proud of its solar mapping project.
Locals have been hitting the pavement to find the sunniest spots in Lane Cove to harness the solar power.
“We have people involved looking at our strongest solar energy areas,” Ms Hutchens said.
“All of the councillors last night decided that they would support this project, so we’re very keen to go ahead with it.”