Councils lead on climate and energy*
Despite the national debate about renewable energy targets, state and local governments are responding to community concern about climate change by taking action to reduce carbon emissions while developing local and regional climate change adaptation approaches.
Whether under US President Trump or elsewhere, any retreat on climate action has seen coalitions of mayors and civic leaders redoubling their efforts through the Compact of Mayors. The Compact of Mayors is the international local government alliance on climate and energy.
While the Compact of Mayors is reporting on over 630 member local councils globally just 8 per cent have met all compliance steps; in Australia that figure jumps to 54 per cent meeting all steps outlined in the initiative.
According to ICLEI Oceania Compact of Mayors Managing Director, Bernie Cotter, “Councils in Australia have out-performed local government globally with a high proportion meeting all compliance steps, usually within one year from sign up, due largely to the fact that Australian councils already have existing comprehensive strategies, plans, and action on corporate and sometimes community responses.”
Councils usually start with a good understanding of their corporate emissions and the value of a municipal-wide emissions profile. Many have set targets or aspirations for reduction of greenhouse gases either matching or exceeding national or state targets. Finally most councils have a climate plan that covers mitigation or adaptation or both.
“Local councils have not had to take such a big leap to join the Compact of Mayors and be recognised internationally for their local action. Leader councils were initially concerned that a comprehensive community emissions report may hold up their reporting or be too expensive.” However with the resources from ICLEI and its technical partners even this step is becoming easier to achieve.
The other positive is that the Compact of Mayors assists better reporting of local approaches and supports state based programs already underway.
“Reporting on the Compact of Mayors through the Carbonn Climate registry immediately connects councils to similar cities, best practice and examples of climate action already implemented around the world.”
ICLEI Oceania, with funding support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, now offers councils a free rapid assessment to determine the work and resources required. In addition, through technical partners like Ironbark Sustainability, a fully compliant community emissions inventory (called GPC) is being offered for less than $5000 including annual reviews.
Until the end of March 2017 ICLEI Oceania will provide a $2000 reduction to that GPC inventory for the first 10 councils joining the Compact of Mayors through a letter of intent. This reduces the overall cost to under $3000. And the offer is always open to any council for a free rapid assessment of how their existing work may be recognized as meeting compliance steps before official sign up.