Australian mayors want more ambition on climate change, 100% renewables

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Group of mayors across Australia demand Federal Government lift its game on climate action, support local communities and aim for 100% renewables.

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Ahead of the Federal Election, a group of mayors from across Australia has called for Federal leaders to prioritise climate action and commit to phasing out fossil fuels, and lock in 100 per cent renewable energy targets.

In their joint statement to Federal leaders, the mayors listed three demands, including:

  • Strong national climate policy aligned to the science and a national commitment to rapidly transitioning to 100% clean energy;
  • Support the rapid phase out of fossil fuel subsidies which contribute to climate change; and
  • Provide long-term finance to support implementation of clean energy and sustainable transport, such as rooftop solar, battery storage, electric vehicle charging stations, public and active transport infrastructure in council and community areas

The mayors have come together as part  of the Cities Power Partnership, an initiative formed by the Climate Council which is seeking to facilitate the sharing of knowledge between local governments and which has received funding support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Climate Councillor Professor Tim Flannery called on Federal leaders to lift their ambition on climate change.

“Australia is not on track to meet its greenhouse gas pollution targets, and without decisive action we’re speeding rapidly towards a climate crisis,” Professor Flannery said.

“Mayors are making a stand to demand that our next Federal leaders commit to meaningful action on climate change – and that means switching to renewable energy and ending subsidies for the dirty coal and gas industries that are putting our communities at risk of serious climate damage.”

In joining the statement, Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore was highly critical of Federal Parliament and the efforts of some to derail action on climate change.

“This election, the conversation we should be having is about the devastating costs of not taking climate action,” the Lord Mayor said.

“By stoking fear and ignoring the science, our federal parliamentarians are distracting voters from the inarguable truth – that without urgent, coordinated, and global action to reduce emissions and shift to renewable energy, we will trigger runaway climate change.”

A total of 15 mayors combined to release the joint statement, and includes those representing the City of Sydney, Sydney’s Inner West and Randwick councils, Byron Shire Council and several regional councils across Australia.

Mayors pointed to the leadership already demonstrated by councils and communities across Australia, calling on the Federal Government to provide greater support for local governments to undertake actions within their communities.

“Byron Shire has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to tackling climate change – and now it’s time for our national leaders to catch up,” Deputy Mayor of Byron Shire Michael Lyon told RenewEconomy.

“We are at the forefront of community-owned renewable energy with groups like COREM and Repower Byron Shire, we are creating the social infrastructure as a model for Australia to follow.”

“We call on the next Federal Government to ensure that local governments are adequately resourced to tackle climate change, and to commit to credible national climate policy that facilitates a swift transition to 100% renewables and phase out of fossil fuel subsidies.”

Mayor of Sydney’s Inner West Council, Darcy Byrne, highlighted both the environmental and economic benefits that come with ambitious action on climate change and called on the Federal Government to help facilitate further investment in clean energy.

“Carbon intensive energy is becoming comparatively more expensive. Sourcing energy from renewable energy projects such as solar farms, helps councils significant reduce their emissions footprint while also reducing the council’s energy costs.” Darcy Byrne said, speaking with RenewEconomy.

The Inner-West council signed an agreement with AGL’s Moree Solar Farm to supply 30% of the council’s energy usage.

“What we need is a Federal Government that can not only help with the capital investment in renewable energy projects, but also help establish the systems that will make it easier for new solar systems to be installed, including projects in the bush, and on public buildings such as schools and hospitals.” Mr Byrne added.

Both in Australia and internationally, city mayors have consistently lead government action on climate change, calling on Federal Governments to take greater action on climate change.

A total of 9,176 cities committed to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy which encourages cities to work cooperatively in taking action on climate change.

The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy called on all national Governments to lift climate ambition in line with the Paris Agreement as part of the Global Climate Action Summit held in last year in San Francisco.

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