Kyneton Transition Hub is a part of the international transition town movement and is concerned with sustainability issues in a broad sense. Our special focus is on building strong and resilient communities in a future of peak oil and climate change. Our vision for the Macedon Ranges region includes initiatives to make our region more resilient and sustainable and also ways to contribute to a more resilient and sustainable world.
For these reasons we make the following comments regarding the draft Climate Change Action Plan:
- The targets fall far short of what is required to contribute a fair share in addressing climate change. For Australia (and the world) to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 is too little, too late to avoid catastrophic effects; to take that as our target when we are a relatively wealthy part of the world is far too little. We should be aiming for 50% reduction in the life of the current council (2020), and neutrality during the subsequent council (2024). This will be aided by quickly advancing technologies (e.g., battery storage) but should also be a budget priority.
- The council should take responsibility for their overall impact on climate not just those things that are measurable. For example, actions on green power and waste should not sidelined as they are not happening in our back yard or not measured as the council’s direct impact. Green power should be the norm and waste issues need to be addressed as if we owned the land fill sites. The council’s attitude to this is a little like the sailor who is happy that the leak is in the other end of the boat.
- Divestment from fossil fuel and other unsustainable industries should not be something we consider or plan for the future. It should be something we undertake immediately and finalise within the life of the current council. Again, we’re in that leaky boat.
- We support the move to invest in renewable energy for council owned buildings but would prefer much quicker progress, especially as when the payback period is over there are continuing savings in both money and carbon.
- There are many community-owned buildings in the region, and council should encourage and facilitate their installation of solar PV. Council should also encourage and support community-owned renewable energy initiatives like the solar and wind farms in Woodend.
- Urban agriculture should be encouraged through edible trees on nature strips, a clear and positive nature strip garden policy, support for community and neighbourhood gardens, and encouraging edible gardens on under-utilised council land and open spaces. It may be difficult to measure the carbon impact of these initiatives however that does not mean they should be overlooked.
- Support for local agriculture that recognises its role in carbon reduction and sequestering. Encourage and support proactive initiatives such as soil enrichment, regeneration and the use of biochar.
- Resilience and sustainability can only be achieved if equitable solutions are sought. This relates to food security issues, homelessness and access to housing. Council should work with other groups to help secure equitable outcomes for all.
- Work with local communities and community groups to preserve and enhance our local parks, botanic gardens and nature reserves.
- Bring sustainability issues to the fore in all council decision-making. This may require a sustainability reference group that includes community members and experts to ensure sustainable outcomes. [For example, we recently became aware that a cleaning tender which has until recently been undertaken by locals now requires $50,000 bond. This rules out most small local businesses and ensures the work will now be done by larger corporates based in Melbourne and possibly sending staff from elsewhere. If environmental impacts had been fully considered the bond was unlikely to be approved.]
- Enhance council decisions by embedding community consultation into the processes. This is likely to be some form of deliberative democracy such as citizens juries.
This is only a brief outline of our key concerns. We would be happy to discuss this in more detail as the climate change action plan takes shape.