More extreme heat days, longer droughts and more intense wildfires. The impacts of climate change are already being felt in Central Australia, and we need to action to ensure a safe and healthy climate future for all.
The science of climate change is well accepted. The latest IPCC report outlines "code red for humanity", and calls on policymakers to take urgent action on climate change.
What can Council do?
We need a Council that takes climate change seriously.
Council can respond in two ways through both substantial reductions in greenhouse gases (mitigation) and helping to prepare for and respond to the changing climate (adaptation).
Council can work toward a more resilient future for our town by providing leadership and good governance on climate action and guidance and inspiration to the broader community.
Below are ten ways that Alice Springs Town Council can become climate ready.
These actions, taken from our town’s existing Climate Action Plan 2018-21, have been selected for their high impact.
Solar for renters
The NT has the highest proportion of renters in Australia. Council can help to make solar more accessible for a wide cross-section of the community by engaging a service that makes it more attractive for home-owners to install solar through different billing arrangements.
Education and signage on sharing the road with cyclists, cycling maps and support for new riders through workshops can help develop our identity as a bike-friendly town.
Building safe, secure infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians including additional bike racks around town and bike symbols on roads can reduce emissions as well as traffic congestion.
50% of renewables for Council
A renewable energy target of 50% on Council-owned facilities can be achieved through energy efficiency measures to reduce electricity consumption, installing solar directly onto facilities, or purchasing solar from community energy or large-scale renewables projects.
While there is a high initial investment, Council can save money over a 5-year period.
Community-owned solar helps to make solar energy more easily accessible to community members.
Council can support community-owned solar projects either actively or in-kind. This can include forming partnerships formed with community groups, advocating and assisting with the development of community energy projects.
Council can help to remove the barriers to driving an electric vehicle (EV) locally by lobbying NT Tourism and the NTG to set up a network of electric vehicles in central Australia.
Installing electric vehicle charging stations, including two fast charge stations, in central locations is another important step.
Within their own fleet, Council can replace one vehicle per year with an electric vehicle (when they are up for renewal).
Reduce organics waste
Most of our town’s greenhouse gas emissions come from food and organic waste, and almost 40 per cent of landfill waste in Alice Springs is compostable organic material.
Council can identify cost-effective measures to reduce food waste and garden waste going to landfill. This will also increase the lifespan of our tip facility which currently has capacity until 2025.
Lobby the NT Government
The Northern Territory Government has a big role to play in providing greater support for Council and communities initiatives to help reduce emissions across the Northern Territory.
Our Council can lobby the NTG to provide strong leadership on climate action and alignment between our Climate Action Plan and NTG climate policies.
Raise climate awareness
A more informed community is a more resilient one. Council can support local people by raising the awareness of the science of, potential impacts and mitigating actions of climate change.
Education displays and online resources, promoting ley dates such as Earth Hour and World Environment Day and informing sports clubs about the effects of climate change are just some ways Council can help to engage the community.
Renewable energy fund
Establishing a rolling fund for financing energy efficiency projects and renewable energy will enable energy efficiency/and solar actions from the Climate Action Plan to be completed.
By allocating 25% of Council’s facilities electricity expenditure to a renewable energy fund, Council can see a return in energy savings over a 1-5-year period.
Council energy audit
Council’s emissions are mainly produced by electricity, streetlight electricity and waste (landfill). Conducting an energy audit of key Council facilities will allow Council to identify effective energy efficiency measures that could be taken and establish a baseline from which improvements to energy efficiency can be made.
It's time to vote in a Climate Ready Council
Alice Springs residents will head to the polls on Saturday August 28 to elect nine Councillors, including a Mayor. It is our chance to vote in a council a Climate Ready Council that is ready to meet the challenges of climate change.
ALEC is surveying council and mayoral candidates to find out what Climate Ready actions they have already taken, and what actions they will support if elected. ALEC has received eight responses at the time of writing and you can view the full responses here.
Background on our Climate Action Plan
In January 2019, Alice Springs Town Council released a Climate Action Plan 2018-2021 for the town.
It was a definitive step forward in accepting the science and challenges of a warming climate. However three years on, not enough progress has been made.
Photo: 30kW solar panels installed on the Rediscovery Centre in 2015. Source: Alice Springs Town Council.