Aussie councils form nation-first climate alliance

Australian councils have launched a nation-first alliance to lobby the government for action on climate change.

Local councils across Australia are set to become the first to form an intra-governmental alliance to push for real action to curb the effects of climate change, this week announcing plans to form Climate Emergency Australia (CEA).

Trent McCarthy, councillor at Darebin City Council – the world’s first council to declare a climate emergency – on Friday exclusively told Government News that most of the thirty one councils who earlier this year declared a climate emergency have backed a plan to form the alliance.

The councils, who come from across all Australian states and territories, in June gave Cr McCarthy in principal support to form the alliance, which will include non-government and government organisations and will also be supplemented by another alliance of councils from across the globe.

Cr Trent McCarthy hopes to have more Australian councils join the alliance

The league of councils will work together to encourage local, grassroots action on climate change by sharing resources and best practice examples of green initiatives while pushing for state and federal funding.

Cr McCarthy says that the group will focus on three priorities: boosting the flow of funding from state and federal governments to councils, advocating for federal and state action and pushing for legislative reform to empower councils to act to curb climate change.

“We know that a lot of councils trying to keep their communities safe from some of the worst impacts of climate change need support from state or federal governments whether that’s through funding, legislative reform or at a coordination level,” he said.

The news comes after a motion in June calling for the Australian Government to declare a climate emergency received the support of 66 per cent of councils at the National General Assembly – all councils that Cr McCarthy is optimistic will join the alliance.

Cr McCarthy says the alliance is part of a broader bid to put intra-governmental collaboration on climate change on the Federal Government’s agenda – while also encouraging collaboration with the private sector to help governments identify solutions to global rising temperatures.

“This sort of synergy between state and local and federal action can deliver a lot of outcomes for communities who otherwise are experiencing distress,” he said.

Communities are increasingly calling on their local leaders to act on climate change, Cr McCarthy says, with many councils at the precipice of the issue.

“To give you a sense of some of the challenges there’s rural councils experiencing drought all the way through to inner urban councils dealing with a lot of human health issues such as heatwaves and an environment with a lot of concrete that needs to be cooled down.”

As well as being at the epicentre of the impacts of climate change, councils are well-equipped and ready to act to mitigate and prevent the impacts of climate change, but often held back by funding shortfalls, Cr McCarthy says, which is why he hopes support from higher levels of government will see real grassroots action emerge.

“What’s really driven those commitments and change is that communities stood up and seen this as a way to break deadlock in climate policy and it’s their leadership we need to acknowledge,” he said.

A new online tool which allows councils to share examples of best practice initiatives modelled from UK councils will also be launched as a part of the alliance.

“We  want to be able to share solutions as well. One thing we’re hoping to do before the end of this year is bring all the best tools online so any council can look at the smorgasbord of opportunities to keep their people and buildings as safe as possible.”

There are now 900 councils across the world who followed the City of Darebin’s lead in declaring a climate emergency.

The alliance is set to be formally launched later this year.

On Monday Darebin City Council launched a framework and resource to help councils with their climate emergency response.

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13 thoughts on “Aussie councils form nation-first climate alliance

  1. Climate change should be the focus of any modern government body, holding on to present fossil fuel conveniences and ignoring the environmental warning signs and hesitation to adopt cleaner energy solutions all need to be addressed and worked through.

    1. This is inspirational news. All those fighting to get a Climate Emergency declared in their communities will be applauding this initiative. Roll on!

  2. Instead of the usual stacking meetings to force passing of resolutions by simple majority, how about we all sit and discuss what is actually taking place as climate shifts; map areas benefiting from change as much as those detrimentally affected; discuss whether climate is likely to shift back again, and in particular assess the causal connection if any between atmospheric CO2 and increase in average temperatures against the warming/cooling effects of water vapour; and finally whether we are in fact facing emergency, or whether increased property damage has come about primarily because of massive human population growth bringing with it massive increase in property development. In short, in place of panic declaring emergency, how about sensibly well-informed discussion toward effective solutions?

    1. No – one is advocating panic. Only that the science be heard, and all the options for mitigation be urgently assembled and discussed, so that priorities for action can be agreed and implemented without delay. The best time for action was over 20 years ago, but we all delayed. Now it is obvious that further delay is not an option. Yes, I also wish the science were wrong, because I would rather not face the consequences of the facts. But sadly the science is robust and consensual, despite literally trillions of dollars spent by vested interests (who know the facts as well as the scientists) on sowing doubt about the climate reports, just as they did for many years with the proven harmful effects of smoking and asbestos. But the truth tends to declare itself eventually, even to those who deny it, like those who ignore the early signs of cancer and don’t get it checked out because they fear admitting the possibility. Science explores the facts as best we can. Unlike religion, it does not claim to be infallible. Even toddlers eventually question their early certainty that things disappear when they can’t be seen. Time to put the adult clothes on, assess the real tasks ahead, and get to work with the rest of the team.

  3. Have seen councils wander of into areas that are beyond their remit before and this surely is one of them.
    This is action on a still debatable matter. Is the science of CC settled – no. Are scientists unanimous – no. The list goes on as to why councillors/councils should stick to the 3 ‘R’s

    1. Thom is at best mistaken CC Science is settled it is already happening go ask the Pacific Island nations.

      Councils will be on the front line of dealing with climate change either with rising sea levels , inceased storm (cyclones) intensity and bush fires. Therefor have every reason to be concerned and to take action to address and mitigate the impact.

    2. You discredit science saying that, the adults have moved on from this, the science achieved consensus ages ago, maybe not unanimous but with the money involved there will never be unanimity on this, whilst there is corruption. It is time to act. You will still be denying the science while the earth becomes unsafe for us all, some people will never accept it, for the rest of us it is time to act responsibly and promptly…

  4. The Councils do not have the authority to “form alliances”. Their job is not too spend money unnecessarily but to maintain services for ratepayers. If they think they are going to start spending money on overseas trips etc. then it will be time to request petitions to sack the Council and install an entity to run the Councils day to day business. Councillors do not have the right to impose their personal views on the ratepayers.

    1. Hi William if you take a look at the enabling law of councils you will find statements that show action on climate change fit within their “job” as you put it. There is also elements that enabel councils to work outside their are to achieve positive out comes for the community. For example In Tasmania, “a council has the following functions: (a) to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the community; (b) to represent and promote the interests of the community; (c) to provide for the peace, order and good government of the municipal area.”

  5. We have so very little time left to avert catastrophe. We need ALL levels of government to move into emergency mode. As the Extinction Rebellion folks say, it’s time to tell the truth and act as though the truth is real.

  6. Sadly, effective action on Climate Change initiated at the Australian federal level is just not possible any more. Local Government can only do better by trying.

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