City makes stance on climate change

City of Bayswater civic centre.
City of Bayswater civic centre.

THE City of Bayswater is tackling a “world emergency” on climate change by setting renewable energy and gas emission targets for the next 10 to 20 years.

Councillors voted 9-2 to support a draft Renewable Energy and Emission Reduction Position and Action Statement at the August 20 council meeting.

Deputy Mayor Chris Cornish and Councillor Michelle Sutherland voted against it.

Crs Cornish and Petersen-Pik were concerned about not consulting the public before the decision while Cr Sutherland believed it should be the Federal Government leading the change.

The council has also become a member of the National Climate Council’s Cities, Power, Partnership network.

The statement proposes a staged approach to achieve a corporate renewable energy target of 100 per cent by 2030 and a corporate greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 100 per cent by 2040.

“The City of Bayswater recognises that lowering carbon emissions through cost-effective means – including improving energy efficiency and increasing the amount of renewable energy used – is a key element of sustainable service delivery for local governments,” the statement read.

“The City chooses to pro-actively lead the change in WA by embracing sustainable targets of net zero emissions by 2040 and 100 per cent renewables for its corporate practices by 2030.

“The adoption of these targets now allows the City to prudently plan for actions over the next 10-20 years to deliver these targets.”

Bayswater town centre. Picture: Kristie Lim.

Stage one involves monitoring and reporting on emissions from electricity, gas, street lighting and the City’s vehicle fleet and engineering plant.

A corporate emissions reduction and renewable energy plan with possible actions will be formed as part of stage two before the actions are implemented as part of stage three.

Cr Giorgia Johnson, who proposed to form a plan earlier this month, said climate change was a worldwide movement and problem.

“If the financial risk is increasing, we need to accept that this is the right thing to do,” she said.

“The City spends $4 million on electricity and fossil fuels (each year) … we could invest in renewables.”

Mayor Dan Bull said the City was keen to ensure its everyday operations did not contribute to climate change.

“A position and action statement allows council to respond quickly on issues of importance,” he said.

“The City’s current energy costs for its operations are $26 million over 10 years.

“We have a responsibility to deliver sustainable cost-effective services … our approach is both environmentally and financially prudent.

“The business case supports a move away from the use of fossil fuels and towards renewable energy to reduce costs.”

All governments need to act: Curtin University climate change expert

Professor Peter Newman.

Curtin University climate change and sustainability expert Peter Newman, who had helped the City of Fremantle achieve its climate change goals, said climate change was no doubt a “world emergency”.

“Generally speaking there is a lot more that can be done by local governments than roads, rates and rubbish,” he said.

“Local governments that are leaders in this area are going to be better prepared for the next economy.

“The Federal Government actually don’t have many powers, they can set goals and signals but the reality is, we just have to get on with it.

“(Bayswater’s targets) are achievable and they are not that unusual.

“Once you send the signal to the community that ‘we are part of this’, there are businesses and communities that will say ‘we are doing our bit and we will do a bit more for you’.

“Most of these changes are not happening with the regulations, they are happening because the market is taking it up very quickly.”

Professor Newman said as national governments signed up to the Paris Agreement, which dealt with greenhouse gas-emissions mitigation, adaption and finance, every level of government needed to do their part.

He said he was going to address climate emergency at the City of Swan on Wednesday night.

“Last year was the hottest on record for the whole of Australia by a significantly large degree,” he said.

“We had the worst extremes of flooding in Queensland and extremes of droughts through the middle of the country.

“So, anyone who says we are not hitting to something of a significant change, has really got their head firmly in the sand or in an air-conditioner box.”

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