Call for voluntary actions to be recognised

By Angela Dorizas

The Mayor of Leichhardt Municipal Council has called on the Federal Government to recognise voluntary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking at the ICLEI Oceania state forum, Mayor Jamie Parker called on councils to join with Leichhardt Municpal Council and the Total Environment Centre to campaign for voluntary emissions reductions to be separated from other actions that comply with the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS).

Under the current scheme, voluntary abatement within local government will not result in any additional environmental benefit. This can potentially create a disincentive for councils to voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

“If your council and all the things you are doing will make no difference to the total emissions in this country what is the point? There is no point,” Cr Parker said.

He said local government was an “underdog” because its efforts to voluntarily reduce carbon emissions would not be recognised under the current scheme.

Cr Parker said individual mayors, councillors and council officers had a responsibility to be advocates of change within their organisation and local community.

“Some councils are a nightmare and some of the mayors are hopeless – they’re stuck in the dark ages – but a lot of them are actually incredibly understanding of, and engaged with, this issue," he said.

“When you create that space for advocacy inside your organisation, not only to your own community, but to your own council, to state and federal governments in particular, that leadership will set your organisation apart in the community and increase the reputation and profile of the organisation.”

Cr Parker said councils should create a space for active community engagement  to help influence federal policies on climate change.

“There really has been over the last few years an upswing in grassroots activity, of local community activist groups and people wanting to take individual action,” Cr Parker said.

“We need to be engaging with those people in our communities who can help change policy.”

Cr Parker highlighted the progress Leichhardt Council has made in community consultation through the creation of its climate change taskforce, which is independent of council’s environmental committees.

“We didn’t bolt it on to our environmental committees, we created a specific space where people could come and discuss the issue,” Cr Parker said.

“There is an incredible groundswell of people who want to do something on climate change and the focus on this issue will actually generate a greater level of engagement in your communities.”

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