Local governments prepare for COP26 Global Climate Summit

Australia’s efforts to address and respond to climate change are not taking full advantage of the opportunity to partner with local government for more effective emissions reduction, mitigation, and adaptation solutions.

Speaking after a meeting of the Global Covenant of Mayors Oceania, Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) President Linda Scott said the impacts of global warming and sea-level rise were increasingly being felt in cities, towns, and regions across the county.

As a result, many local communities are calling for climate action to be stepped up.

“A recent report from the ICLEI, or the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, revealed that if all the targets set by Australian local governments were met CO2 emissions would be reduced by an incredible 88,200 kt,” Cr Scott said.

“This would bring Australia 96 percent of the way to meeting its current target of a 28 percent reduction by 2030.”

“Australian local governments are conducting risk assessments, collaborating with industry on developing innovative solutions to our changing climate, reducing our reliance on dangerous fossil fuels, and rolling out new initiatives to cool cities and urban growth areas,” Cr Scott said.

Having identified potential solutions to the range of challenges, many councils need additional resources to implement targeted local projects that help communities transition to a low-carbon future

Ahead of the next federal election, ALGA is calling for the next Australian government to support communities in their climate change response by investing in a Local Government Climate Change Partnership Fund of $200 million per annum over four years.

ALGA is also seeking a targeted disaster mitigation program at the level of $200 million per annum for four years to strengthen community resilience response and recovery costs.

Analysis commissioned by ALGA indicates these two investment initiatives would deliver a cumulative Gross Domestic Product benefit of over $350 million while creating up to 2350 new jobs.

Cr Scott said the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) had acknowledged the importance of sub-national governments, including local governments, in addressing and responding to climate change.

COP26, which will be held in Glasgow in November, will again likely highlight the contributions of city and municipal governments in undertaking ambitious climate actions.

To support local government climate initiatives in Australia, ALGA recently signed a Memorandum of understanding (MOU) with ICLEI Oceania to collaborate on:

  • Awareness-raising and promotion of effective climate action;
  • Capacity-building and training for councillors and officers; and
  • Linking with international campaigns and programs such as the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy and the current Cities Race to Zero and Cities Race to Resilience campaigns.

“It’s through partnerships and collaborations that local government can better meet community expectations for reduced carbon emissions, greater energy efficiency, and improved heat adaptation strategies,” Cr Scott said.

“All communities need to prepare for a warmer world and the challenges and opportunities ahead.

“Local governments, properly resourced, can help them get ready – more importantly councils can ensure that no community is left behind in the transition to a low-carbon economy,” Cr Scott said.