Council adopts climate change and resilience strategy

BRIGHTON Council has adopted a comprehensive climate change and resilience strategy designed to demonstrate its local leadership in mitigating and planning for climate change.

Brighton recognises the scientific community’s broad consensus on climate change and has adopted a strategy that acknowledges the issue and its impact.

Council has agreed to a broad range of initiatives, both for its internal operations and in its role as a leader for the broader area, that will place Brighton at the forefront in establishing a sustainable future for the community.

The strategy is aimed at reducing risks, costs and Council’s environmental footprint. It also seeks to work with and empower the community to address climate change issues, minimise harm, reduce environmental impacts and create resilient and sustainable communities.

The benefits for Council and the community include links to funding opportunities, improved risk management, identification of energy efficiencies and cost savings, improving Council’s practices and the development of community and environmental resilience to change.

The strategy draws from and builds on current Council initiatives to create a unified approach to climate change and broader sustainability and resilience objectives.

It has four key strategic directions: Provide leadership for effective climate change programs locally; Reduce greenhouse emissions, environmental impacts and become more resource-efficient; adapt and plan for climate change; and identify opportunities to innovate in research, markets, technologies, institutions and to build sustainable and resilient communities.

Brighton Council’s leadership team has considered the implementation of the strategy and will review and report regularly on progress and performance.

Brighton Mayor Tony Foster said undoubtedly everyone should be concerned about the impacts of climate change and play their part to mitigate the situation.

“I believe this important issue should be led by State and Federal Governments but at the moment it seems to be more a political debate rather than an environment and social issue demanding attention,” Cr Foster said.

“It seems to be councils around the country that are providing real leadership and action on the critical issue. Brighton Council is determined to do its part and provide local leadership through our climate change and resilience strategy and in line with our overall strategic plan for the next decade.

“Brighton Council recognises the scientific community’s broad consensus on climate change. The accelerated changes in the earth’s climate in recent times are as a result of human-induced actions caused by the additional, non-natural, release of greenhouse gas emissions, for example from land clearing and the use of fossil fuels.

“We recognise that climate action integrates and overlaps closely with broader goals relating to social, economic and environmental sustainability and resilience.”

Cr Foster said many of these broader sustainability goals were integrated into existing legislative responsibilities of councils, and Brighton’s climate change and resilience strategy would interact with a number of Council’s existing and future plans, programs and responsibilities. It will be integrated across all appropriate Council functions.

Under the four key objectives, the strategy comprises more than 80 specific actions covering initiatives from emission targets and measurement, energy reduction and alternative energy sources, to grant funding, environmental sustainability, waste management, biodiversity and land management, community information, education and stakeholder consultation and the establishment of sustainable technologies and businesses.

“Council’s leadership team has advised that much of the work required to effectively address climate change does not require major adjustments or reallocations of Council’s core responsibilities or resources.

“However, it does require better integration of climate change considerations when planning or delivering projects, programs or legislative functions. Generally, such integration is more efficient in the long run anyway, especially if it is done early and clearly shown.”

Cr Foster said Brighton Council had strong financial drivers for being efficient and for minimising costs.

“Brighton also has a good culture of being innovative and considering opportunities that may benefit the community or provide savings or additional revenue.

“This strategy will require internal resourcing and a small amount of external resources, however Council’s climate change actions to date have generated both long-term financial savings, benefits to the local economy, community benefit and improvements to the local environment.

“On this basis, it is likely that many other actions outlined in the strategy that will be pursued in future will be similarly successful,” Cr Foster said.

Full details of the climate change and resilience strategy are available on Council’s website.