Where we are:
Our community has already felt the consequences of climate change.
In the 2019-20 bushfires 80% of the nearby Blue Mountains World Heritage Area was destroyed, with the loss of millions of native animals. We breathed in toxic smoke pollution for months and the northern part of our shire only narrowly escaped going up in flames. Climate scientists have linked these megafires with climate change. Unless global warming is reined in it is certain we will experience more loss and damage from extreme weather events. Heatwaves in Western Sydney suburbs are also a major concern. The impacts are damaging and they affect our health and wellbeing. The cost in dollar terms is high and rising.
The latest assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found emissions were already affecting weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. In Australia our climate has warmed dangerously and average temperatures above land have increased by about 1.4℃ since 1910. Unimaginable new climate extremes confront us: record-breaking droughts and floods, heatwaves and unstoppable bushfires. However, climate scientists also believe that we still have time to implement changes that can turn things around – stabilise the climate and see some cooling before the end of the century. If we can bring about immediate, large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, we can keep the earth’s climate within the target of 1.5 degrees of warming to avoid irreversible climate catastrophe.
We are being seriously let down by state and federal governments. We need to push them to do much more. In the meantime, we must provide leadership and act locally. Local solutions to climate change lead to greener, healthier and more liveable communities that also protect and value our natural environment.
Greens on Hills Shire Council will drive action to:
- Adopt a net zero emissions target by 2030 with interim milestones to be achieved using the best available scientific evidence.
- Declare a climate emergency, advocate State and Federal governments to do the same and join the Cities Power Partnership.
- Enact Environmentally Sustainable Design Policy for Council Buildings, establishing best practice standards for new council buildings and large upgrades. Councils should lead by example by updating and retrofitting their own buildings, and encourage and incentivise the rapid uptake of new methods of generating renewable energy at the household level.
- Run all council buildings on 100% renewable energy, whether it’s through solar and battery or purchasing green energy from the grid and
- Replace Council-owned fossil fuel vehicles with zero-emission vehicles.
- Rollout electric vehicle chargers across The Hills.
- Replace 100% streetlights and other public lighting with LED.
- Look for opportunities to build a ‘community battery’ that will help accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels.
Whatever we all do, a certain amount of warming is already locked in. The Hills Shire, along with other Western Sydney council areas are especially prone to the urban heat effect (this is where suburban areas with a lot of hard surfaces heat up much more than surrounding rural and bushland areas). We are already seeing near 50 degree days during summer and the Bureau of Meteorology predicts the number of extreme heat days will steadily increase.
The Greens understand that we must adapt at a local level to protect our citizens:
- Council needs to undertake a community wide climate risk and vulnerability assessment and arising from this create a climate change adaptation strategy to increase the resilience of our community to climate change impacts.
- Climate change adaptation and resilience should be integrated into all aspects of urban planning.