Friday, March 27, 2009

report from the roundtable – 24 mar

There were a couple of key issues up for discussion at this week’s council meeting.

The first, Carbon Management Program – Forward Plan was about the where to from here with council’s Climate Change Commitment. Back in March 2007 (see
blog) council ratified a program of actions as a response to climate change. The actions put Yarra Ranges at the forefront of local government action on climate change and saw Yarra Ranges achieve carbon neutrality from 2007/08 onwards.

From my perspective I was greatly disappointed to see that the report before council was recommending an option (2) that would see the end of carbon neutrality for Yarra Ranges. Even more disappointing was the change back to consumption of coal fired, dirty power, rather than investment in the renewable, clean energy sector.

The report contained references to the lack of action on the part of the Shire in relation to reducing energy consumption across the organisation and using offsetting by the purchase of renewable energy certificates with the original Climate Change Commitment.

However if energy reduction activities did not happen it is a failure of the organisation to fulfil the Climate Change Commitment in totality. It was always the intent of the Climate Change Commitment to address the reduction of energy consumption with one of the key goals being “Maintaining carbon neutrality through progressively reducing consumption and reducing our reliance on offsetting emissions”.

The report went on to blame regulation by state and federal government as a reason to justify the turnaround in relation to carbon neutrality, but on the same hand considered the planting of 60,000 plants okay even though that doesn’t meet auditing protocols for offsetting.

Unfortunately I cannot reconcile the term “sustainable carbon management” used in the report with the purchase of coal fired power, this seems at odds to me.

I am more than happy for the organisation to focus on cost effective opportunities to reduce energy consumption, however with the majority of council supporting option 2 we have turned our back on achieving all of our Climate Change Commitments, a commitment we were all very proud of back in 2007.

I tried very hard to advocate for Option 3 which would mean council met all of its Climate Change Commitments, but to no avail.

It is very clear that the cost of inaction is far greater that the costs to adapt to and mitigate climate change. This message has been repeated to us time and time again by eminent people across the world.

What do we say to our children and their children when they ask what we did about climate change? This decision is not one to be proud of, we turned our back on renewable energy and we turned our back on real action on climate change.

Resolved on the motion of Crs Avery and Cliff
1. The proposal to allocate the annual Climate Change Commitment budget of
$790,000 in part to the annual Ribbons of Green program (for planting 60,000 plants per annum) with the balance directed to funding energy reduction measures to meet Council’s target of reducing corporate greenhouse gas emission levels by 30% on 2000 levels by 2010 be endorsed.
2. The proposal to return the cost saving associated with the energy reduction measures to fund additional energy reduction measures be endorsed in principle.
3. An annual status report be prepared for Council consideration on the implementation of the above program.
A division was called:
For: Crs Cliff, McRae, Templer, Avery, Higgins, Warren, Heenan and Cox
Against: Cr Dunn

On a brighter note, the item covering Public Place Recycling was far more positive.

The Shire has been undertaking a pilot program to ascertain the quantity of recyclable materials in bins in public parks, reserves and streets. This is something I have certainly pushed for throughout public places in my ward. Initial results indicated that there was a substantial amount of recyclable material available in the bins. The pilot program revealed that of 88 tonnes of waste material collected over 10 weeks 50% of it was able to be recovered for recycling.

From now on all recyclables put into the Shire's public bins will be recycled. This PET bottle was once destined for landfill, from now on it will be recycled, a great outcome for the environment.

The challenge will be educating the community that the recyclables they throw into our public bins will be recycled because under this system separate rubbish bins will not be required. In the past this recyclable material had gone to landfill but now it will be recycled.

I was very pleased to move the motion to support the shire wide implementation of a program to recover recyclable materials from all of our public bins. The environmental benefits are huge and will assist in minimising waste of reusable products, diverting products from landfill so they can be reused and recycled, minimising the need for raw materials (as there’s more recyclables in the system) and moving toward a zero waste society (per the intent of the State Government’s 2005 strategy “Towards Zero Waste”).

Resolved on the motion of Crs Dunn and Heenan
1. The proposal for implementation of a Shirewide Public Place Recycling Program with the existing infrastructure and collection arrangements to be endorsed.
2. Formal quotations for a three year contract for the sorting of material be obtained.
3. The sum of $5,000 for ongoing maintenance and management associated with the implementation of the Public Place Recycling Program be referred for inclusion in the 2009-10 budget.

note: this motion was unanimously supported by councillors

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At 1:19 AM, Blogger Tarun Kumar said...

Nice Article. Keep it up.

At 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cr Dunn

I was generally happy with the outcome of this item. It is a win-win-win situation, its reduces greenhouse gas use, it fixes problems in OUR shire and it may use local laboub to do so.
I understand your concern about "green electricity" but I still believe that our rate money should be spent in our shire in the majority. People who feel strongly about buying green electricity can do so on their individual homes or offices.
Mario Galteri

At 8:49 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

was there any reason why my comment was cut short and not fully reported?

Mario Galteri

At 9:39 PM, Blogger Samantha Dunn said...

Hi Mario, I do not publish third party commentary on my blog. Best regards, Samantha


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