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Queanbeyan-Palerang needs a plan to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions and The Greens today committed to work with the community to achieve this during the next term of council.

The Greens will also work to protect and restore nature, and better prepare the community for natural disasters, more of which are anticipated under temperature rises locked into the climate system.

Greens candidate for QPRC, Katrina Willis, said the council climate action plan sets a target of net zero emissions by 2050 but not the pathway to achieve it. The community action plan has no target.

“The recent droughts, floods and bushfires have shown us that the effects of climate change are already hitting hard – everything from homes and livestock destroyed, businesses disrupted to the premature and low birthweight babies born last autumn,” Ms Willis said. “The Bushfire Royal Commission estimated that the smoke during the extensive bushfires in 2019-20 caused 445 deaths.

“Locally, QPRC has already spent more than $40 million to repair roads damaged by floods and fires over the past two years. It cost almost $60,000 to cart potable water to Braidwood for three weeks when the Shoalhaven River stopped flowing in early 2020.

“Bungendore’s water supply was also close to drying up. Added to these costs is the disruption to businesses as the Kings Highway was closed for weeks and income foregone by the many volunteers who fought the fires.”

The Greens propose an interim target of at least 35% below 2005 emissions by 2030. This is ambitious given local population growth but is achievable if we focus on the easy gains such as improving energy efficiency, switching to renewable energy, improving building standards, increasing tree cover and reducing waste to landfill.

Transport emissions also need to fall with more support for active and sustainable transport (more cycleways and footpaths, better local and inter-city bus services) and the switch to electric vehicles.

“Many people and businesses are reducing their emissions and the council has invested in its own energy transition but this is not enough,” Ms Willis said. “We need to work together and the council needs to provide the right policy frameworks and regulations where it has the legislative power to do so. Where it lacks power, it needs to advocate for change.”