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One in five local councils aiming for zero emissions or 100% renewables

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source: huff post

Communities and local governments want zero emissions and 100% renewable energy targets and are leading the nation on climate action, new research released today by climate think tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) shows.

The research, being launched at the Australian Local Government Association National General Assembly and conducted by BZE over the past few months, surveyed 152 different councils across Australia covering almost half of the Australian population.

The research – conducted as part of BZE’s Zero Carbon Communities project – shows that nearly one in five Australian communities and councils have set zero emissions or 100% renewable energy targets.

The survey shows that local governments and communities are leading the way in setting zero emissions targets. Communities want strong climate action, and in many cases have the capability to deliver on zero emissions targets.

President of the Australian Local Government Association, Troy Pickard, said that local governments have always been a leader on climate action.

“Local government is both an innovator in relation to developing new practices as well as embracing emerging technologies. BZE’s Zero Carbon Communities Project is one of the important ways we can innovate and collaborate to address the very real threat that climate change poses to our communities and our planet,” Mr Pickard said.

The Zero Carbon Communities survey showed that local communities and local government were setting ambitious targets for a range of reasons, including economic, social and environmental benefits.

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This is consistent with what is happening in other countries. Over 1,000 mayors committed to climate action, including 100% renewable energy targets, at the Paris climate conference.

“Many cities, councils, and countries around the world have set 100% renewable energy targets and are well on the way to achieving those targets,” said Anna Leidreiter from the World Future Council, also presenting at the ALGA National General Assembly.

In the national survey conducted by Beyond Zero Emissions, councils noted that more support from Federal and State/Territory governments was necessary to deliver on ambitious climate action. Policy uncertainty and lack of federal funding are key factors which are currently hindering local action.

State and Federal governments should immediately develop a zero emissions roadmap complete with a local zero carbon communities program, in order to meet commitments outlined at the Paris climate conference.

The survey also highlighted a group of high ambition councils and communities that are setting the pace. These include Byron Shire, ACT, Adelaide, Melbourne, South Australia, City of Darebin, City of Moreland, City of Yarra, Sydney, Coffs Harbour, Yackandandah, Lismore, Uralla and Mount Alexander.

Beyond Zero Emissions has already partnered with the Mayor of Byron Shire on the Zero Emissions Byron project. Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson, presenting on the project at the ALGA conference, noted that good progress was being made.

“Byron is a logical fit for this because we are well on the path with renewable energy. BZE have put together a roadmap and we’ve taken up the mantle. It’s a whole-of-community approach, with renewable energy, agriculture and buildings,” Cr Richardson said.

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Beyond Zero Emissions has developed a blueprint that is available to communities wanting to transition to zero emissions. For more information go to zerocarboncommunities.org Stephen Bygrave is CEO of climate think tank Beyond Zero Emissions.  

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