Australia: Federal government recognises the climate emergency

“The Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, acknowledged the federal government has recognised the climate emergency, and I think that should be celebrated,” Councillor Trent McCarthy told City of Darebin Council at its meeting on 26 February 2024.

He mentioned this in connection with putting forward a motion to launch Darebin City’s Second Climate Emergency Plan.

Audio excerpt from the meeting

“Climate emergency action is everyone’s business in this council.”
~ Councillor Trent McCarthy


The following is a transcipt of Councillor Trent McCarthy’s speech at the council meeting:

“On the 5 of December 2016, following your remarkable campaign by DCAN – Darebin Climate Action Network, CACE – Council & Community Action in the Climate Emergency, and other climate campaigners, I had the privilege as a councillor to put forward the world’s first climate emergency declaration, which was supported by all councillors.

That declaration led the groundwork for our rapid expansion of Solar Savers, which supported 2,200 residents and businesses to install over 9,600 kilowatts of solar, more than doubling solar energy production in Darebin in four years, as well as leading over 50 councils to create the Victorian Energy Collaboration, the largest emissions reduction project of local government in Australia.

Darebin City Council became carbon certified, carbon neutral, in 2020 and committed to the delivery, which we’ve seen recently of an all-electric aquatic centre at NARC, something that had never been done before in Australia.

Since then, 2,355 jurisdictions have declared a climate emergency, including 117 in Australia. We also led the creation of Climate Emergency Australia, which has been instrumental in connecting hundreds of local councillors and council officers in coordinated action, advocacy and knowledge sharing.

Recently, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, wrote to me and acknowledged the work of local councils and acknowledged the federal government has also recognised the climate emergency, and I think that should be celebrated.

I share all of this to set the scene regarding the item before us tonight: The development of Darebin Second Climate Emergency Plan has been a long time coming. So I want to thank council officers, community members of the Climate Emergency Darebin Advisory Committee, First Nations elders and other representatives. And of course they were incredibly committed local climate action groups and campaigners.

Over 1,000 people have contributed to this plan, and I want over 100,000 people to know about it. The four pillars of the plan are clear: Caring for Country, Towards Zero Emissions, Darebin Community Resilience and Adaptation, Innovation and Leadership.

The plan identifies a range of priority actions, Mayor, that Council will commit to, including First Nations initiatives to achieve climate justice, a financing scheme to support 1,000 households per year to switch off gas, go all electric and all renewable, and an energy equity scheme to help at least save a hundred 150 local low-income and rental households each year to reduce their energy bills, adopt energy efficiency measures and stay safe during heat waves – with 1,000 households to be targeted by 2027 and a pilot program to create place based low-emissions neighborhoods with a focus on our most vulnerable residents and households, and of course: integrating climate action and risk mitigation across all council operations and services.

Climate emergency action is everyone’s business in this council.

My additional point, commits Council to prioritise investment in the delivery of this plan in upcoming and future budgets, in line with the climate emergency we face. That’s what our community expects us to do.

And at a future council meeting, I’ll also be asking Council to consider supporting the Climate Rescue Accord, which builds on our climate emergency declaration with a new three Rs for local government: Reduce emissions – to move fast to zero – Remove CO2 – drawdown, rewilding and other strategies – and of course: Repair through active cooling strategies throughout our built environment.

Mayor, I commend this plan and I can’t wait to hear what our community has to say.”