It was good to see the article in LG Focus on Australian councils addressing climate change at the grassroots level. ICLEI Oceania was very pleased to invite and host Byron Shire to attend the Paris Climate Conference last December as part of an ICLEI delegation of approximately 10 city leaders and managers.
Byron Shire stood out as it is relatively small yet progressive municipality leading the way on reducing emissions and switching to renewable energy, compared with most other delegates representing capital or much larger cities.
Byron provides a great example of how to reduce emissions ‘within its own footprint and using its own initiatives’ rather than purchasing offsets from further afield. This approach could be adopted by many smaller, self-contained communities.
Paris saw a focus on the work of those cities that had joined the Compact of Mayors and were keen to compare and learn from their experiences of taking local climate action. The Compact of Mayors is a movement of over 500 cities committed to climate action. Already 13 Australian cities have joined with Bryron to participate in reaching or exceeding the targets set by the Paris Agreement.
The Compact of Mayors has now joined with the Covenant of Mayors bringing a further 7000 signatories to a new program called the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. ICLEI, as a founding partner, is encouraging Australian local governments to join, and will provide access to the basic resources to meet the compliance requirements that demonstrate local mitigation and adaptation commitment.
Byron Shire has also joined the ICLEI international 100% Renewable Energy Network. They were able to attend some dedicated meetings at the Paris Conference to exchange thinking and information with other network members. Byron’s Mayor was particularly interested to chat with delegates from Aspen – the prime ski resort in Colorado – as they both experience the challenge of having to cater for a huge influx of visitors each year – and their emissions – yet operate from a small rates base.
This reflects the value of international events and the effectiveness of initiatives that make it easier to cooperate, and benchmarking with other cities on an issue that affects us all.
ICLEI is the leading global network of more than 1500 cities, towns and regions committed to building a sustainable future. The ICLEI Oceania office is located in Melbourne and provides support to cities and councils in the Pacific, New Zealand and Australia as they pursue sustainable development.