Boroondara passes the Climate Action Plan and a Climate Emergency Declaration

Boroondara’s new Climate Action Plan was unanimously passed by Boroondara Councillors on 27th September.
The briefing notes note community-wide emissions reduction targets of 60% by 2030, and net zero by 2035.

In long awaited but still last minute move Cr Gault moved a motion to declare a Climate Emergency, which was passed 9/4 at 10.40pm.

Lighter Footprints extends our congratulations to the Councillors who supported the Climate Emergency Declaration and the Climate Action Plan’s new chapter for Boroondara. For more details see our live tweet string of the debate and successful motion. 

On Wednesday 29th September Council representatives will attend the Lighter Footprints meeting to outline the plan as approved by Council. Boroondara’s Mayor, Cr Garry Thompson, will be speaking, along with Cr Wes Gault and Mathew Dixon, Coordinator of Environmental Sustainability. RSVP here to get your Zoom link.

Lighter Footprints Co-convenor Lynn Frankes reflects on the plan development process –

A New Council with a more progressive outlook

For many years my impression has been that a number of Boroondara Councillors have had trouble even saying the words “Climate Change”. In October 2020 a new and more progressive Council was elected, including our first ever Greens Councillor, Cr Wes Gault. Climate change is now squarely on the agenda and I wonder whether the Council officers who have been quietly working away on reducing Council’s own emissions might have breathed a sigh of relief.

Local climate action through increasing tree cover and wetlands helps to reduce emissions but also improves our lives

Local climate action through increasing tree cover and wetlands helps to reduce emissions but also improves our lives

Consultation on a new plan

At the end of 2019 the old Council voted to develop a Climate Action Plan (CAP) to replace its “Our low carbon future strategy” which was due to expire in 2020. Throughout 2020 and 2021 Council has conducted community consultation on this new plan. Many of our supporters will have completed surveys and made submissions as part of this consultation process. COVID put a dampener on plans for in person workshops and pop up consultations but I think it is fair to say that the community has had an opportunity to contribute its views on what should be included in the plan.

Recycling with Lighter Footprints member Sarah Brennan

Recycling with Lighter Footprints member Sarah Brennan

Results of Council Surveys

You will be pleased to know that our community has consistently responded to surveys and consultations with resounding support for climate action. The November 2020 Climate Action Plan Research Report contains the graphic below.

89% community support for Draft Climate Action Plan

Council’s internal working group

Council created an internal working group focused on the development of the CAP called the Climate Action Plan Advisory Committee. The following Councillors are members of that committee:

  • Cr Wes Gault – Glenferrie Ward
  • Cr Garry Thompson – Mayor – Solway Ward
  • Cr Victor Franco – Gardiner Ward
  • Cr Susan Biggar – Riversdale Ward
  • Cr Jane Addis – Maling Ward
  • Cr Nick Stavrou – Studley Ward

We advocated for an external working group which would have included Councillors and community members but this proposal was not supported. The Kooyong Climate Change Alliance, which includes Lighter Footprints, was, however, given the opportunity to present to this internal working group.

The Big Shift – Aspirational Community Emissions Targets

The big shift in Council’s thinking is that there is a recognition that Council has a responsibility to assist the community to reduce its emissions, instead of primarily focussing on Council’s own emissions.

Community emissions make up over 99% of emissions in Boroondara as noted on page 12 of the draft CAP set out below:

Emissions in Boroondara from Draft Climate Action Plan

Aspirational Targets

The draft CAP sets “aspirational” targets for community emissions. The rationale for the targets being aspirational is that Council does not have the power to require community to take steps to reduce their emissions. The draft CAP states “Unlike Federal and State Governments, local governments do not have broad legislative or financial control over major community emissions sources.”

Lighter Footprints and the Kooyong Climate Change Alliance both submitted that the word “aspirational” should be dropped. We argued that the word “aspirational” gives the impression that Council is less committed to achieving the target than it would be to an unqualified target.

You can read the Lighter Footprints submission here and the Kooyong Climate Change Alliance submission here.

It’s all over bar the shouting – or is it?

We have completed surveys, made submissions, attended meetings and now we wait. Will Council substantially strengthen its draft CAP? Will the 2030 target for community emissions be beefed up? Council intends to vote on the draft CAP and an associated two year implementation plan at its meeting on 27 September at 6:30pm. You can watch the Council meeting online. Click here to learn how,

Lighter Footprints meeting 29 September – Don’t miss this one!

Mayor Garry Thompson, Cr Wes Gault and council officer, Mathew Dixon will introduce us to the approved CAP at our meeting on 29 September via Zoom at 7:30 pm. Councillors Hollingsworth, Biggar, Addis, Franco and Gilles have also indicated they intend to attend this meeting.  Click here to RSVP.

This will be the beginning of a new stage of climate action in Boroondara and I’m pretty excited about it. The plan will, no doubt, not do everything that we want it to do but it will be a substantial start. My assessment is that there is genuine desire on the part of a number of Councillors to achieve responsible climate action for Council and Community. I am hopeful that we will be able to partner productively with Council to achieve this.

Don’t mention the emergency!

We have not forgotten the 3,913 people who signed a petition asking the City of Boroondara to declare a climate emergency. Nor have we forgotten the Councillors who indicated they would support a climate emergency declaration in response to our election survey. The Kooyong Climate Change Alliance has been meeting again with these Councillors asking “If not now, then when?” We are hopeful that a climate emergency declaration will be made by Boroondara Council by the end of this year so – watch this space!

Local climate action includes support for public and active transport

Local climate action includes support for public and active transport

In summary

  • On 27 September at 6:30 pm, you can watch the Council vote on the draft CAP online. Click here to learn how. 
  • On 29 September at 7:30 pm, you can hear Mayor Garry Thompson, Cr Wes Gault and council officer, Mathew Dixon introduce the approved CAP. Click here to RSVP