‘The race is on’: Ex-mayor’s urgent climate change plea
Our coastal communities are battling against time and predicted rising tides according to former Noosa mayor Tony Wellington.
"The race is on," said Mr Wellington, who has been recruited by the Climate Council to help judge the Cities Power Partnership's annual National Climate Awards.
"Climate change is the most pressing concern of our era.
"It's at the local level that the initial impacts of climate change will be experienced, particularly in terms of managing natural disasters, as last year's horrendous bushfires demonstrated."
Mr Wellington said local government can make a huge difference in leading by example.
"Plainly, we can't wait for leadership at the federal level, so it behoves local governments to demonstrate the leadership that's lacking in Canberra," he said.
Mr Wellington said hates the "specious argument" that Australia's actions won't have significant impact on the planet.
"Australia is one of the world's highest per capita emitters, and that position worsens when you account for our fossil fuel exports as well as our domestic emissions," Mr Wellington said.
"Being a top emitter means Australia has a moral responsibility to become a global leader in climate solutions, and we're far from that at present."
Last year Noosa Council declared a "climate emergency", and as mayor Mr Wellington was awarded the Cities Power Partnership Ambassador Award.
"It was something of a surprise," Mr Wellington said.
"In many ways the award was for my fellow councillors and the council staff also.
"I was very lucky that everyone at council was committed to taking climate action seriously."
He said setting a zero-emissions target and allocating resources and staffing to achieve that target required a whole-of-council approach.
"The Cities Power Partnership have asked me to be one of the judges for this year's awards," he said.
"I am really looking forward to seeing the range of innovative ideas that are submitted by local councils across the nation.
"Last week Beyond Zero Emissions launched its Million Jobs Plan to demonstrate how Australia could deliver new jobs along with clean energy solutions to help restore the national economy."
Mr Wellington wants Australia to have "the courage to be a leader in new energy solutions".
"Like it or not, that's where the future lies," Mr Wellington said.
Local governments will be vying for top honours in the awards which have just opened for submissions.
Cities Power Partnership director David Craven said last year's awards attracted a record-breaking number of outstanding entries.
"From carbon-neutral kindergartens to ambitious projects installing solar battery systems in thousands of homes and businesses, it was fantastic to see so many local governments stepping up to meet the challenges of climate change, and we expect this year's awards entries to be no different," said Mr Craven.
New in 2020 is the Innovation Award which seeks to uncover bold, transformative climate solutions.
"We know there are so many innovative solutions happening across rural, regional and metropolitan Australia, and we want to shine a spotlight on these never before seen council-driven projects, policies and programs that are helping the entire country achieve lower greenhouse gas emissions," Mr Craven said.
FULL LIST OF AWARDS
•Renewable Energy Achievement Award
•Energy Efficiency Achievement Award
•Sustainable Transport Achievement Award
•Community Engagement Achievement Award
•Innovation Award (metropolitan)
•Innovation Award (regional)
•Climate Ambassador Award
•Climate Champion Award