Local Climate Emergency action

Ben Ramcharan and other members of the community write letters to Council, urging them to declare a Climate Emergency

Ben Ramcharan and other members of the community write letters to Council, urging them to declare a Climate Emergency
Photo of Ben Ramcharan

Local Climate Emergency Action

There is no question that we are facing a global Climate Emergency. This year’s fire season was a sobering reminder of how serious the situation has become and how important it is to act now to avert catastrophe.

When it comes to local council, we need to adopt an approach of thinking globally and acting locally. There is a lot that Council can do to take strong local action on the Climate Emergency and become part of the global movement away from fossil fuels and towards a cleaner, safer future. We need councillors who will take brave, meaningful and real action. As a councillor, this will be one of my highest priorities.

Climate Emergency Declaration

Declaring a Climate Emergency is the perfect way for Council to tell the truth about the current situation and create an atmosphere where action is a focus and a priority. Unfortunately, too many councils have declared a Climate Emergency and then become complacent. I will support a Climate Emergency Declaration in Nillumbik but we need to make sure it is presented alongside a guarantee of strong, ongoing action. I will work with experts and local members of the community to make this a reality.

I will support a Climate Emergency Declaration but it must come alongside a plan for real, consistent action.

Declaring a Climate Emergency is a powerful way of putting climate in the spotlight – both locally and on a much broader scale – but we have to do it right. It has to come alongside a well-thought-out plan. I will work hard to make sure this happens because right now, it is more important than ever.

A Strong Plan

Council needs a climate plan which is dynamic, which involves constant evaluation, and which is able to adapt over time to become stronger and more effective throughout its lifetime. Dealing with this issue isn’t a case of passing one plan or one motion and then celebrating our victory. It will take constant work over a long period of time to ensure we’re doing everything we possibly can.

A climate plan can pave the way towards a cleaner future, allowing Nillumbik to reduce carbon emissions, draw carbon from the atmosphere and create cheap, clean energy for the community. We know that renewables are becoming increasingly cheaper and this can be passed on to the community, especially through schemes which help decentralise energy generation, such as community solar.

A strong plan will make energy in Nillumbik cheaper and cleaner.

Council needs a plan that will take action from four major angles:

  • reducing Council’s carbon footprint;
  • reducing the community’s carbon footprint;
  • working to draw carbon out of the atmosphere; and
  • building resilience to cope with the potential future impacts of Climate Change.

Nillumbik’s Unique Opportunity

As the Green Wedge Shire, Nillumbik has a unique opportunity to draw carbon out of the atmosphere. The Green Wedge is widely known as the lungs of Melbourne and a strong plan to encourage native vegetation in the Green Wedge will help draw an enormous amount of carbon from the atmosphere. You can see my stance on the Green Wedge here.

The Green Wedge presents a unique opportunity for Nillumbik to draw carbon from the atmosphere.

As well as enhancing vegetation in the Green Wedge, Council can provide support for landowners to draw down carbon on their own properties. This can be done by helping landowners to revegetate in an appropriate manner which encourages new vegetation in a location where it doesn’t pose a fire hazard and providing more viable alternatives for green waste disposal to reduce the need for burning off, which simply releases carbon back into the atmosphere.

What Else Can Council Do?

Nillumbik Council is already taking some action on climate such as converting their fleet cars to electric, building an electric car charging station in Diamond Creek and supporting the construction of  a solar farm in Plenty. This is all commendable but it is not enough. We need to take action on a much larger scale.

Further to action on the Green Wedge, Council needs to work closely with experts to determine the most effective course of action that can be taken locally. We also need to look towards the action taken by other councils. This includes:

  • Advocating to higher levels of government
    Local councils across Australia have used Climate Emergency Declarations as a mechanism to educate the public and put pressure on State and Federal Government to take stronger climate action.
  • Darebin Council’s SolarSaver Program
    Darebin Council has a plan to fit 1000 homes and businesses with solar over a 5 year period. Under this scheme, residents pay no upfront cost and instead pay the money back over a 10-year period, interest free, using the money they save on their power bills. This compares to Nillumbik’s plan to install panels on 100 homes and 20 businesses.
  • Full upgrade of the fleet vehicles
    Banyule Council is undergoing a staged process to upgrade their entire fleet of vehicles to electric. This includes all vehicles from cars to rubbish trucks.
  • Building a council-owned solar farm
    Councils such as Lismore and Sunshine Coast have built their own solar farms, where they generate power which they sell back to the community at a cheap rate, meaning cleaner, more affordable power for the community. While Nillumbik are developing a 5MW solar farm, they are looking for this to be owned and run by the private sector and this means less benefit to the community.
  • Darebin Council’s Cool Shade Program
    Darebin Council has provided 482 homes with free window shading and weather sealing to reduce reliance on heating and cooling systems.

By looking at the examples set by other councils and looking to experts for advice and the local community for guidance, Nillumbik Council can drive strong local Climate Emergency action and lead the way in creating a sustainable future.