The Climate Council is an independent, non-profit organisation launched in Australia’s largest ever crowd-funding campaign. Its mission is to provide authoritative, expert advice to the Australian public on climate change because a response to climate change should be based on the best science available.
When thousands of Australians pitched into crowd-fund the Climate Council in 2013, it was given a clear indicator of the public demand for reliable, independent information on climate change. It is therefore imperative that climate science remains front and centre of issues which Australians care about and demand action on.
The Climate Council has demonstrably shifted the public narrative on climate change. The Climate Council has linked more frequent and intensified extreme weather with climate change, highlighted clean energy powered solutions that are reliable and affordable and held the Federal Government to account to their international commitment to limiting global warming.
The Climate Council is known for its excellent spokespeople, clear communications, prolific output and “cut through” online content. The Climate Council spokespeople are well respected by the media, science organisations, NGOs, those working in health and emergency services and local government.
The Climate Council is comprised of 26 staff and supported by a team of passionate volunteers and an independent Board oversees the organisation. It is led by ten world-renowned academics, climate scientists and business leaders who have signed on as Climate Councillors. The Councillors are experts in their fields, including renowned climate science researchers as well as policy experts and a former Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner. Professor Tim Flannery, Chief Councillor, is one of Australia’s leading writers on climate change and was named Australian of the Year in 2007.
In July 2017, the Climate Council launched the Cities Power Partnership (CPP), a unique, evidence-based national program for local government that seeks to accelerate Australia’s transition to a renewable energy future. The CPP provides council members with the knowledge, support and network to achieve their climate solutions projects.
The Climate Council was in Paris in 2015 at the climate negotiations when 1000 mayors stood together pledging to do their share to cut city emissions. It’s anticipated that globally, cities will spend US$375 billion investing in climate action by 2020, with the majority focused on transitioning to renewable energy and sustainable transport (UNFCCC, 2017).
An eight-month research and planning phase commenced shortly after, where the Climate Council met with local councils, policy experts and climate scientists, as well as conducted a review of the knowledge and resources local governments have access to in order to transition to a sustainable, renewable-powered future. Following the planning phase, the following goals for the CPP were devised: Begin or increase the number of renewable energy projects in their jurisdiction; Reduce council operational and community greenhouse gas pollution and energy usage; in taking these steps, play a role in reducing energy costs for ratepayers.
A clear knowledge gap existed within a lot of Australian councils about how to take effective action on climate change. On the other end of the spectrum, there are many well-resourced councils who are leading the charge on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The CPP has bridged this gap by providing resources and support to councils, while providing opportunities for leading councils to share their experiences through the CPP network and in the media.
As Australia’s leading climate program for local government, it has developed a reputation that more and more local councils want to be a part of. Having grown the program from 30 councils in July 2017 to 100 in October 2018, the CPP has greatly expanded engagement and awareness of the need to take action on climate change. Councils are encouraged to engage their communities in the projects they are undertaking and the benefits on reducing emissions.
Globally, the way cities use and generate energy alone has the potential to deliver 70% of the total emissions reductions needed to stay on track for the 2 degrees limit set under the Paris Agreement. Through forming a national program for climate action and emissions reductions at the local level, the CPP is demonstrating that communities across Australia can lead the charge despite inaction at state, territory and federal levels. At present, the CPP have received over 300 pledges for climate action, including over 130 pledges to increase the uptake of renewable energy. Through committing to climate action pledges, local councils are reducing their greenhouse gas emissions with long term benefits for the environment.
A core component of the CPP is collaboration and knowledge sharing. Before the CPP launched, councils reported knowing very little about what other local governments were doing to take action on climate change, and how it could be applied to their own community. Through the CPP, members are connected with other councils in a ‘buddy’ system, encouraging knowledge sharing across regional and state boundaries. A great example of knowledge sharing is the Bogie Bulk Buy of Strathbogie Shire Council in VIC. The Bulk Buy is an innovative scheme that enables solar to be accessible and affordable to residents and businesses. As a result of the CPP social media profiling of this project and providing Strathbogie with the opportunity to share their experience in a webinar, a further four councils are replicating the scheme with another five councils expressing interest.
The CPP has increased knowledge sharing and communications between local governments. These relationships are fostering greater collaboration and impact. Furthermore, councils are encouraged to engage their communities in their projects and pass on the knowledge they gain through the CPP.
As a climate communications and research organisation, the CPP provides a practical way to implement the knowledge and resources within the Climate Council. It is important that the Climate Council is seen as a leader of climate action, and the CPP is a fantastic example of creating positive change.
For further information on the Cities Power Partnership visit citiespowerpartnership.org.au