Boroondara Climate Action Plan
Boroondara Council committed to develop a Climate Action Plan for the municipality at the end of 2019, but the plan has still not been completed. Finalisation of a plan which rapidly drives down emissions in Boroondara should be an urgent priority for the Council.
The positive news is that since the election of a new Council in October 2020, we have significantly more Councillors who are committed to meaningful climate action. Two of the Councillors who supported a climate emergency declaration in May 2020 were re-elected, and three new Councillors who scored strongly on our climate questionnaire plus another with good (though somewhat qualified) responses were also elected. That makes six of eleven Councillors who support effective climate action.
However, we can’t afford to slacken the pressure on the Council to produce an ambitious Climate Action Plan.
What’s the Council done?
The Council has now completed two rounds of community consultation on the Climate Action Plan. The first (in August and September 2020) included an open access on-line survey and a random phone survey. The results of the two surveys were broadly similar, confirming strong support for development of the plan, the high importance to the community of action in all relevant sustainability areas, and a high percentage of people already taking action, with many wanting to do more. Full details of the consultation results can be found here.
The second round of consultation (in March 2021) included another on-line survey and two on-line community forums. The results have not yet been published.
In addition, the KCCA was invited to make a presentation to the Council’s internal Climate Action Plan Advisory Committee in March. The Committee is chaired by Cr Wes Gault, and includes five other Councillors as members (Jane Addis, Susan Biggar, Victor Franco, Nick Stavrou and Garry Thompson). The KCCA submitted a document to the Council setting out recommended climate priorities and actions for the Council and providing examples of climate initiatives undertaken by other Councils. Our presentation was based on this document, and was well received. We were encouraged by the positive engagement of the Councillors who attended.
What happens next?
The Council is now developing a draft of the plan, and there will be a final round of consultation later in the year which will provide an opportunity for community members to comment on the draft. It is not expected that the draft will be released until August 2021.
Demand Climate Action in Boroondara!
The KCCA’s reception at our presentation was positive, but that is no guarantee that the plan itself will be up to scratch. The draft plan will need careful review when it is released, and a big community response to any weaknesses will be essential. We will provide a guide soon after release of the plan, but the core requirements for the Climate Action Plan should include:
- Strong Council leadership on climate action in Boroondara, including declaration of a climate emergency
- Ambitious targets for net zero emissions from Council operations and across the community
- Detailed initiatives to promote emissions reductions from households, businesses and transport
- Strategies to help the community adapt to climate change
- A strong governance framework for the plan, including regular reporting and a community reference group
Council Budget 2021-2022 – not good enough!
The Council has now released its Proposed Budget for 2021-2022 and is inviting community feedback, with a closing date of 5:00 pm Wednesday 26 May 2021.
The budget is a very disappointing document. There is only one item in the budget which is explicitly related to the Climate Action Plan, an amount of $400,000 for LED lighting and for heating and cooling upgrades to reduce Council’s energy use and greenhouse emissions. In the three subsequent years (to 2024-2025), the foreshadowed annual expenditure for implementation of the plan increases, but only to $1 million per annum.
Even allowing for climate related expenditure elsewhere in the budget (e.g. for active transport and tree planting), the proposed Climate Plan expenditures do not suggest that the Council is taking its climate responsibilities seriously. Of particular concern is the lack of any explicit allowance for expenditure to help drive down community emissions (e.g. in the form of incentive schemes, education programs or outreach programs).
In the context of a budget of $260 million plus $99 million of capital expenditure, the amounts included for plan implementation in 2021-2022 and beyond are woefully inadequate. Although the Council has not yet finalised its Climate Action Plan, there is no reason a significant contingency amount could not have been included in the budget for climate action, with the details to be confirmed as the plan is further developed.
We need to send a message to the Council that the lack of climate ambition evident in their proposed budget is not acceptable to the community. Please make a submission to the Council if you can! You can find the budget documents and details of how to make a submission here.
The KCCA will be making a submission, and we will provide suggestions about what to put in your submission when we have completed a more detailed analysis of the budget. In the meantime, you may find our submission to the Council on the Climate Action Plan useful.
Community Plan refresh
The Council is also undertaking a ‘refresh’ of its 10-year Boroondara Community Plan. This is a key document for the Council, outlining a 10-year vision to guide the Council’s planning, Budget, services and actions under 7 priority themes, including the Environment.
Consultation on the plan has been completed, and the updated plan will be available for public comment in July/August 2021. This will provide yet another chance to highlight the importance of climate action for the people of Boroondara.
What do our Councillors say about the climate?
All candidates were invited to complete our detailed climate questionnaire before the election in October 2020. The questionnaire (which also covered governance issues) was designed to identify the policies and actions which candidates were committed to pursuing if elected. You can find the full responses of the successful candidates who responded by clicking on their names below.
Garry Thomson (Solway)
Four of the elected Councillors declined to answer the questionnaire, three of whom were on the previous Council and voted against declaration of a climate emergency (starred below):
Jim Parke* (Bellevue)
Felicity Sinfield* (Cotham)
Nick Stavrou (Studley)
Cynthia Watson* (Maranoa)
We need to hold our councillors to account, and make sure they deliver what they promised. And of course we need to keep up pressure on the recalcitrant councillors to deliver for the community on the climate.
Join our Council Campaign!
If you would like to join our campaign for climate action in Boroondara or help with any of the other work we do, please volunteer here.