Imperative that local government shows leadership in sustainability

By Jane Hammond in Perth

Local councils could do much to halt the march of global warming and climate change, a leading scientist told the Local Government week convention in Perth in August .

Dr Mark Diesendorf from the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of NSW said urgent action was needed to stop global warming and local government stood at the forefront of community action and sustainable development.

He said councils could lead the way in developing and implementing environmental sustainability principles and could make small changes that could result in big benefits.

“Sustainability and ecologically sustainable development are not some kind of fashionable, optional add ons for our society. Sustainability is now essential for our survival on our planet,” Dr Diesendorf said.

He said much of Perth would be underwater, including the Narrows Bridge , if the sea level rose seven metres.

“Climate change is one example of how failure to establish sustainability is going to affect every one of us on this planet and is already beginning to make itself felt,” Dr Diesendord said.

“Local Government has substantial potential to change the whole sustainability scene in WA from biological diversity, air pollution, climate change, transport and town planning, to pollution and waste management.

“Many of these issues have impact not only locally but nationally and sometimes internationally.”

Dr Diesendorf said councils could encourage solar power by removing planning impediments to installing solar water heaters on roofs or regulations that prevent clothes lines in some areas.

He said the constituents of local councils were now demanding a better environment and councils with green credentials. In many cases sustainability could save money for councils and ratepayers.

“Local Government with the slenderest of resources, when compared to state and Federal governments, are the leaders in sustainable development actions in this country.”

Earlier Planning Minister Alannah MacTiernan told the convention climate change was an inconvenient truth and Perth would be 20 per drier by 2030 and 60 per cent drier by 2060.  

Ms MacTiernan said local councils needed to ensure they had in place standards of building that would accommodate the new reality of climate change and severe weather events.

She said the release next year of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the body that produces predictions on factors such as sea level rises and storm surges, could see a revision of planning issues such as dramatic changes to set backs for coastal developments.

“It is quite clear we have to act now and work together as a community to reduce emissions and take steps to deal with climate change. I would encourage councils to continue their valuable work on sustainability issues,” Ms MacTiernan said.


Comment below to have your say on this story.

If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at  

Sign up to the Government News newsletter

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required