By Alison Leitch

Local governments can play an important role in responding to climate change including through local climate strategies, policies to divest from fossil fuels, mitigation and adaptation response, and emergency management response. We have seen the importance of emergency response in the recent devastating floods across Queensland and New South Wales. 

So how is your local government doing and what are local governments doing around WA? 

There are three key things you should check to hold them to account.

  1. All local governments must have an investment policy which is publicly available. You can go online and check if your local government has inserted a clause into their policy which preferences fossil fuel free investments
  2. Many local governments also maintain a climate strategy. Check your local government’s website to find if they have one, and to help review it. The strategies are subject to community engagement, so get yourself on the email list to be notified when the climate strategy is coming up for review.
  3. Finally, has your council joined the Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership? To find out check Cities Power Partnership: local councils leading the charge to net zeroIf you are not happy with you Council’s performance on any of these you should contact them in writing and let them know.
Spotlight on Joondalup

Sadly, one of Perth’s largest local governments and also where I happen to live, the City of Joondalup currently fails on all 3 counts. They have no divestment clause in their investment policy after Mayor Albert Jacob made sure to quash efforts by and Joondalup residents to have one inserted back in 2019. They are not a member of the Cities Power Partnership. 

Their existing Climate Change Strategy 2014-2019 is overdue for replacement, was vague on detail and had no targets specified. However, keep your eyes peeled as a new strategy is in development and expected to be released for public comment later in 2022. 

Other local government news:

In a more promising development, the local government peak body WALGA has helped develop a renewable electricity purchase agreement with 51 participating local governments.

These local governments are forming a joint buying group which will enable substantial reduction in their collective corporate emissions through purchasing energy sourced via Synergy from three WA wind farms at Albany, Emu Downs and Collgar.

Initially operating over a three year term, the agreement will see 31 local governments going 100% renewable from the outset with 43 local governments committing to 100% renewable energy by the end of year 3. 

Others will commit to specific percentages which will at least see them on track towards meeting any targets for renewable energy. For instance, the City of Stirling (one of the largest Perth metro Councils) will source 75% of their power needs equating to around 50,000 kWh per year. Combined with using rooftop solar across their properties, the City of Stirling says this will enable it to meet its target of 50% renewable electricity by 2025. 

Now let’s see State and Federal governments commit to similar!

In Western Australia, the McGowan Government supports Woodside’s monstrous new gas project. The Scarborough gas field cannot go ahead if we are to get to net zero greenhouse gas emissions fast.

Western Austrailia’s emissions have risen alarmingly and all governments need to seriously address the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions: fossil fuels.

Support the movement to stop Woodside’s new gas project from going ahead. Compared to renewable resources, gas is not a suitable transition fuel and the International Energy Agency has said that no new coal or gas projects should go ahead.

Learn more about the “Say No To Scarborough Gas” campaign by clicking here.