City Of Darwin Declares Climate Emergency, Brisbane City Council Doesn’t

Climate emergency declaration

Image: Tama66

Darwin’s Mayor has declared a climate emergency, while Brisbane City Council’s failure to do so has landed it in hot water with Keep Queensland Beautiful.

Darwin Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis declared a climate emergency on Tuesday night, calling on Territory and Commonwealth Governments to join him.

“I am alarmed at the current escalation in climatic issues affecting our City, the Northern Territory, our nation and the world,” said Lord Mayor Vatskalis. “We need to act now and respond collectively to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions through our actions and policies.”

Mayor Vatskalis has asked Council officers to identify opportunities to reduce emissions across all Council’s service areas as a priority and is encouraging Darwin’s wider community to do the same in their homes and places of work.

More Solar Power Could Be A Good Start

More solar power on Council buildings and assets, or taking advantage of other forms of renewable energy, would certainly make good inroads into Council further reducing emissions – while saving it a bunch of cash to boot.

Type “solar” into City of Darwin’s web site search feature and only two results come back. One of the pages mentions solar panels installed on The Mall since 2010, and a 99.84kW system installed at Casuarina Library in 2013. The Library installation has generated 543.19 MWh of clean electricity to date, avoiding 212 tonnes of emissions.

Elsewhere I found mention of a 100kW system at Council’s Operations Centre and another at Casuarina Pool. For these and other installations Council may have, raising awareness of their existence on its web site would also help raise awareness of the emissions and bill-busting attributes of solar power among Darwin’s businesses and residents.

There’s plenty to like about going solar in Darwin – lots of sunny days and the Northern Territory has the most generous feed-in tariff in Australia. One of the challenges of installing solar panels in Darwin is it is more costly than in other capital cities. Even so, a recent article from SQ’s Ronald on simple payback of a 6.5kW system in each of Australia’s capitals notes Darwin has the fastest simple payback time – just 2.6 years. Another challenge is the NT has the highest proportion of renters in Australia ( 42%).

According to the Australian Photovoltaic Institute, around 16.7% of dwellings in the City of Darwin LGA have solar panels installed.

In declaring a state of climate emergency, City of Darwin joins 888 jurisdictions across the world to have done so, including 29 Australian councils. Other Australian councils to have declared a climate emergency in the last couple of months include City of Sydney, Noosa Shire and City of Melbourne.  An initial attempt to have City of Hobart declare one in May didn’t end well, although it was eventually declared in June.

Brisbane Could Lose Keep Queensland Beautiful Award

Meanwhile, across the border in Queensland, Brisbane City Council has voted down a motion from Greens councillor Jonathan Sri that it too declare a climate emergency. Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner had earlier called the motion “alarmist grandstanding“.

However, it seems the failure to pass the motion has really pissed off Keep Queensland Beautiful. The organisation met yesterday to discuss revoking Brisbane’s 2016 “Queensland’s Sustainable City” award. KQB says this led to Brisbane being the Queensland nomination for the national awards, which it subsequently won.

“Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has an opportunity today to announce that Council will revisit the motion at the next Council meeting (next Tuesday),” said KQB prior to the meeting yesterday.

At the time of publishing there was no further information on whether KQB will make good on its threat, or if City of Brisbane will revisit the motion next week.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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