Albert Jacob: how local authorities can help fight climate change

Climate change is a global, national and local issue that is the responsibility of all spheres of government, as well as business and the community.

Local governments play a leading role in reducing their own emissions, adapting to climate change and supporting the community to do the same. We are often the first to respond to the impacts of climate change and our close connection to community and local knowledge means we are often best placed to recognize the need for local adaptation.

Many Western Australian LGAs are committed and taking action to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In our case, the city of Joondalup reduced its emissions by almost a third in 2020/21 compared to emissions in 2012/13.

The city has entered into a three-year power purchase agreement to purchase 25% renewable energy in the second year of the contract and 50% in the third year, which could reduce total greenhouse gas emissions greenhouse of more than 4,000 tons. , or about 20 percent.

The Western Australian Local Government Association is to be commended for facilitating this initiative with Joondalup and other councils.

The City of Joondalup is currently developing a new climate change plan, which will include new emission reduction targets.

There is an appetite in our community for the city to achieve ambitious goals that align with the state government’s goals for net zero by 2050.

A major hurdle preventing the city from meeting this ambitious goal is that approximately 37% of our emissions are related to street lighting emissions from Western Power-owned assets.

The city has no control over the efficiency of these assets, but is required to take responsibility for the associated greenhouse gas emissions.

This is an issue that affects the entire local government sector, and action in this space to increase the efficiency of Western Power’s street lighting assets will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the whole state.

Local governments cannot work alone to tackle this very important issue.

Joondalup’s preference is to ensure that all street lights within our boundaries are city-owned smart LED fixtures, seeking to maximize their financial and operational benefits, by increasing lighting levels and reducing energy consumption.

LED streetlights are up to 70% more energy efficient and also offer greater safety and convenience due to their superior lighting capability. As a city, we are very keen to work collaboratively with all stakeholders on what is an environmentally responsible initiative.

However, the city continues to act on aspects of climate action that are entirely within our control, and we are responding to an increased desire from residents to accelerate our work in these areas.

Our Leafy City program began in 2017 and has planted over 3,600 trees to help mitigate the impacts of climate change, rapid urban growth and the increased urban heat island effect generated by existing hard surfaces, creating cooler and inviting green urban spaces. Joondalup Council is also exploring options to install underground power in more of our suburbs so that we can further extend our urban canopy.

Since 2014, the city has installed solar photovoltaic systems on 18 of our buildings and backup solar battery systems on two city buildings. These generated the equivalent amount of electricity used by 66 homes in one year and nearly $70,000 in cost savings.

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We have also rolled out significant reforms to our waste services that have been welcomed by our community, such as the new three-bin collection system. Greater separation of our waste streams has improved the recycling rates of our municipal waste.

We are keen to build on these reforms by supporting initiatives such as collecting food waste in our organic bins, which can be done with support from the state government and the Waste Authority.

Local governments cannot work alone to tackle this very important issue, and increased collaboration and funding from state and federal governments is needed for our sector to adequately address mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

The city recognizes the importance of collaboration and knowledge sharing to address climate change and is working with WALGA and other local governments on climate change collaboration, coastal flood risk management, planning adaptation, environmental sustainability and urban forestry.

A collaborative approach is needed to help the local government sector tackle climate change.

Albert Jacob is mayor of the town of Joondalup