It’s often an issue reserved for the upper levels of government, but climate-focused groups in Wagga Wagga believe their local council should be doing more to support the community reaching net-zero emissions.
Climate Rescue of Wagga Wagga Inc (CROW), Climate Action Wagga (CAW) and Wagga Wagga Fridays for Future called for Wagga Wagga City Council to “ambitiously support community net-zero emissions” in a motion put forward at the 21 March council meeting. A petition with 319 online and 71 wet signatures supported the call.
The groups called for the council to support an interim target of 50 per cent reduction in community emissions by 2030 in line with state targets, develop a plan for its role in achieving this and consult with the community on how to economically achieve reductions. They wanted this commitment to be included in the Wagga Community Strategic Plan.
“One of the main things is encouraging the council to take that step beyond just working on their own emissions and facilitating the community to move along with its emission reduction,” CROW chair William Adlong says.
While acknowledging the council has taken important steps towards reducing its own emissions in recent times, Mr Adlong says it’s now time they look to the emissions of the community. It’s a community he believes has made “a bit of a shift” on climate issues over the past few years.
“[The council has] developed a plan over the last nine months or so as to how to get their own emissions down to zero but their emissions are somewhere in the order of a 10th or a 20th of the total emissions of the local government area,” Mr Adlong says.
“The council does have a target for emissions within the community but they haven’t quite tackled making a plan for that yet.
“With 2016 through to 2019 being the driest years on record and with the floods and unprecedented fires, I think a lot more people are sensing that something needs to be done.
“For people who maybe aren’t as convinced about climate change, the things that we’re talking about are actually just good economically, they’re good business savings for residents.
“That’s one of the key things, fortunately, is that a lot of the things we need to do, actually save us money.”
Mr Adlong believes the council’s role to be uniquely important, as they have the local knowledge, relationships and people on the ground in regional communities, to make meaningful progress on climate issues that the State and Federal Government don’t have.
The Local Government NSW climate policy for councils is that they have a “responsibility to adopt policies and practices that prepare for the unavoidable impacts of climate change and minimise the risks to the community through limiting carbon emissions”.
“Climate change has the potential to damage council assets, cause serious disruptions to the delivery of council services, generate unbudgeted financial impacts and affect the overall wellbeing of the community – particularly those most vulnerable to weather extremes,” the policy reads.
“Local Government NSW stands ready to support member councils in their efforts to deal with and adapt to a changing climate.”
Wagga Wagga City Council staff will now provide a response report to the petition which will be tabled at the 11 April council meeting.