Act Locally on Climate Change – motion to WCC

Image: The Conversation, Dean Lewins AAP

The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) Report on climate change has demonstrated clearly that the path to avoiding climate catastrophe is narrowing rapidly. The speed with which humans are altering the climate system must be addressed by immediate, deep and sustained emission reductions.

WEPA has agreed to write in support of West Ward Councillor, Lynne Saville, who has a motion on this issue which will go the next meeting of Willoughby Council on October 18 2021.  We would encourage our members, their friends and family, to email their Councillors and Mayor to indicate their support for this important step.

Councillor’s Saville’s motion is as follows:

 IPCC Motion
I have submitted the following motion for the next meeting in October:

THAT Willoughby City Council Council:

  1.   Note the warning from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that there is a narrowing window of opportunity to prevent catastrophic climate change.
  2.   Note that Council’s emissions reductions targets for its community and its own operations will need to be reviewed in light of the latest IPCC science on keeping temperatures at 1.5 degrees or less of warming.
  3.   Acknowledge the leadership of the NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean in substantially increasing renewable generation, dispatchable generation, ongoing jobs and grid stability for NSW.
  4.   Note that Australia has an abundance of low-cost renewable energy resources and can leverage our competitive advantages to meet growing global demand for zero-emissions products.
  5.   Requesting all local federal Members to support the Community Protection Pledge, a set of 10 commitments for keeping residents safe from worsening extreme weather, distilled from the Final report of the National Bushfire and Climate Summit 2020.
  6.   Write to the Energy Minister Angus Taylor and Prime Minister Scott Morrison urging them to take ambitious 2030 and 2050 targets to COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in November 2021 to modernise Australian industry and create jobs

Background supporting information from Councillor
The IPCC’s ‘code red’

On 9 August 2021 the IPCC released its latest report, which is a comprehensive assessment of the physical science of climate change. It is the most important climate science update for almost a decade.

The IPCC is the most authoritative international body on climate science. Established in 1988, the group publishes Assessment Reports every five to eight years. The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, described the report as a “code red for humanity”.

What does the report say?
The report shows there is a narrow path to avoiding climate catastrophe, but only through immediate, deep and sustained emissions reductions. This may be our final warning. It is clear that the scale and pace at which humans are altering the climate system has almost no precedent. The changes are being driven by burning fossil fuels.

An opportunity for leadership
All levels of government have a primary duty to keep residents safe, but the Federal Government’s leadership is crucial in responding to the scale of the risk of climate effects. Following the worst ever Black Summer bushfires in eastern Australia, 150 experts from around the country determined how Australia should respond to the growing risks of extreme weather disasters. The Australian Bushfire and Climate Plan made 165 broad-ranging recommendations.

The Community Protection Pledge distils those recommendations into 10 commitments that Federal Members can implement in order to protect Australians now, and into the future.

  • Addressing the root cause of the climate crisis and worsening extreme weather by accelerating Australia’s efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions need to plummet this decade, with net zero emissions achieved very soon thereafter.
  • Urgently implementing all 80 recommendations of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, including providing the necessary funding.
  • Increasing funding for research into climate change and extreme weather, including new and more detailed climate projections that better inform risk assessments and the impacts of such disasters on human health.
  • Investing in communities so they are better prepared when disasters strike and can recover more quickly; recognising that preparedness saves lives and many dollars in avoided disaster recovery costs.
  • Enhancing Australia’s capabilities for responding to extreme weather disasters in line with advice from State and Territory agencies. This includes better resourcing and coordination so that responses are swift, coordinated, and stop emergencies from escalating into disasters.
  • Improving community engagement, education and support around extreme weather so that individuals are better informed, prepared and empowered to act. This includes investing in adequate warning systems and locally-led initiatives such as community resilience hubs.
  • Making rapid and comprehensive recovery from extreme weather events a priority for all levels of government. This requires fast, evidence-based and transparent access to disaster recovery payments for survivors, so help gets to people on the ground quickly.
  • Preparing Australian infrastructure, including homes and community facilities, for extreme weather events. This includes reforming Building Standards and appropriate rebates and subsidies for retrofitting to ensure solutions are affordable to all.
  • Involving health and family violence experts in disaster planning and response coordination and ensuring adequate access to health services including mental health and family violence services, and access to telehealth for all those affected by disasters.
  • Providing adequate funding to support the critical role of local governments in disaster preparedness and recovery, so that they have the resources to build resilient communities.

NSW has embraced clean energy opportunities
The NSW Government has released the NSW Climate Change Policy Framework, which commits NSW to the aspirational objectives of achieving net zero emissions and helping NSW to become more resilient to a changing climate. The NSW government has adopted targets of 35% cut in emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels and net zero emissions by 2050.

Within this framework, the $750 million Net Zero Industry and Innovation Program aims to help carbon intensive industries transition to clean energy. This is complemented by the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap, the NSW Government’s legislated plan to bring online 12 gigawatts of renewable energy and two gigawatts of storage by 2030 and creating 6,300 construction and 2,800 ongoing jobs.

NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean has made a strong argument for his federal counterparts to adopt a net zero by 2050 target, including that Australia essentially already has one because it has been adopted by all Australian States and Territories.

Willoughby City Council has recognised the importance of climate solutions and endorsed the Green City Plan 2028 with commitment to a target of net zero by 2050 with interim target 50% less GHG emission levels by 2028 from operations compared with 2008/2009 levels with similar targets for the Community. Council’s adopted climate change mitigation and adaptation plan and roadmap for driving economic activity, meeting residents’ needs for better services and amenity, and meeting those emissions reduction targets. Actions taken so far to reduce emissions include:

  • Plans to plant trees along street verges, parks and reserves
  • Waste and circular economy initiatives and collaboration underway in WCC
  • Sustainability Reference Committee with expert community representation.
  • LED lighting on residential roads.
  • EV charge points in the CBD and
  • Support car-share schemes
  • The installation of PVC/solar at community centres, community libraries.
  • Increase number of Council’s fleet combustion engine vehicles with electric vehicles.
  • Aussies love renewables

Australia has the highest uptake of solar in the world. More than 2.68 million rooftop solar power systems have been installed in Australia, meaning one in four homes have solar panels on their roof. It’s not hard to see why: with the installation of a 6kW solar power system, a typical family saves around $1,500 on their annual energy bills.

Not only that, renewables create jobs: in 2019, at least 25,000 people were employed across renewable energy supply chains and almost 10,000 of those ongoing jobs were in rooftop solar. By 2035 the renewable energy sector could employ as many as 46,000 people under the AEMO’s Step Change Scenario.

But rooftop solar isn’t the only clean economy opportunity that could grow jobs. The Million Jobs Plan by thinktank Beyond Zero Emissions shows that one of the most impactful ways Australia can cut emissions is by making buildings more energy-efficient. The Better Buildings initiative demonstrates that it would create 180,000+ on-going jobs and reduce the cost of living for 2.65 million Australian households – and there’s no reason why WCC should not have a slice of the pie. Industrial areas, the CBDs, and up-zoned residential zonings within WCC offer enormous potential.


Leave a Reply