Two North East councils have signed on to a national partnership, aimed at tackling climate change at a community level.
Albury Council was one of the first to join the Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership program when it launched last year, and will now be joined by both Wangaratta and Benalla.
The municipalities have six months to identify five “pledges” they will take, which Wangaratta has already completed.
Development services director Barry Green said the council is looking to trial electric vehicles in its fleet, adopt cycle lanes in road works such as in the railway precinct and conduct education and behaviour change programs.
The council is also reinforcing roofs of older halls to cope with solar panels.
“As we’re doing some of that maintenance work, we’ve got that in the back of our mind,” Mr Green said.
Wangaratta mayor Ken Clarke said joining the 100 other councils in the program was an important step forward to finding climate solutions.
“The Rural City of Wangaratta has taken the pledge to tackle climate change in our own backyards as part of the Cities Power Partnership,” he said.
“Across Australia, shire, towns and cities, through local governments, are cutting greenhouse gas pollution, switching to clean energy and building resilient communities, and we’re proud to be playing an important part in this mission.”
A report released on Tuesday by the Climate Council, titled Tackling Climate Change Together: Local Governments Lead the Charge, said climate action at a federal level was stalling.
“Under current policy settings, Australia will not meet its 26 to 28 per cent emissions reduction target,” it stated.
“Despite this, towns, shires and cities across the country are tackling climate change by driving down greenhouse gas pollution.”
The report singled out Albury Council for pledging to support community energy projects so residents such as renters can benefit as well.
The council has pledged to lead by example with a shift to renewable energy and “set targets to increase the level of renewable power for council operations over time”.
Wangaratta Council is not new to renewable energy projects, with plans to install solar panels on the roof of the city’s saleyards and support for an ambitious project to connect the entire town of Milawa to solar power.
Climate councillor Tim Flannery congratulated Wangaratta Council for joining the partnership.
“There are some great clean energy and transport projects coming out of Australia’s local governments and I’m looking forward to seeing what the Rural City of Wangaratta will bring,” he said.
The Cities Power Partnership member councils will come together for the first time at the national summit in Kiama, NSW this month to talk about their initiatives and share insights on climate action.
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