Russell Williams cleaning his rooftop solar panels in Glen Iris

Local Climate Action – Glen Iris

Russell Williams’ story

Russell was born in Queensland and moved to Melbourne in his mid-teens. A few years later when his family moved interstate, Russell decided to stay as he was studying engineering at RMIT. Apart from a couple of stints living in Southeast Asia where he worked in telecommunications, his adult life has been based in the part of the world he calls “314x.”

What is it like living in Glen Iris?

We love this specific location. It’s a nice leafy suburb and is very convenient to everything you could want such as shops, cafes, restaurants, doctors and chemists and is very close to transport. 

We have owned this house for 20 years – it’s one street away from High Street Ashburton. I walk the dog past the Ashburton shopping strip almost every day. My wife uses the community hall at the library for arts and crafts and she does yoga there as well. 

Everything you could want apart from a Bunnings is within walking distance. That’s why we like this area.

Ashburton shops in Glen Iris
Russell Williams recharging his electric car in Glen Iris

What is your motivation for joining a local climate action group?

“Getting together with a bunch of like-minded people is important. My preference is not standing on street corners and handing out leaflets, protesting or writing letters to the editor. I prefer to use my engineering and business experience to change the system from within.”

I’m 18 months into a masters studying energy systems because my preferred action is to change things by working in the energy industry. 

I’ve got this very strong view that we need to electrify everything. We firstly need to decarbonize our electricity industry and then we can use green electricity to decarbonise all the other sectors, whether it’s electric vehicles, heating, or creating green hydrogen to drive industry.

When did you join the local climate action group Lighter Footprints and how are you involved with them?

I joined Lighter Footprints a few years ago and am actively involved in the Energy Transition Group. It has a good diverse group of people with quite different backgrounds. 

The key things we’ve been involved in is making statements about getting off gas, contributing to the state government’s hydrogen strategy, and looking at how people can improve their home’s energy efficiency. 

My perspective is that it’s important to understand what you can do in your own backyard. We can influence politicians, that’s important, you can influence your workplace, friends and family, but it’s best to start in your own backyard. 

You gain so much credibility when you’re talking with people when you can talk about your own experience putting solar on your roof, or having an electric vehicle parked in your driveway. 

Russell Williams with his electric car in Glen Iris

What would you say to someone who is interested in taking climate action and thinking of joining Lighter Footprints?

“People have different ways that they can change the world. People like me are hoping to change the world within business by getting involved in the industries that need to change. What you do depends on your background and personality, but the one thing which is common to everyone is you can start fixing your own backyard.”

Want to be involved in local climate action?

You can: