Yarra Council commits to ambitious climate emergency plan

Monday 15 June 2020

Yarra Council has unanimously adopted its first Climate Emergency Plan, which is only the second of its kind in Australia. 

“Yarra Council acknowledges the increasing urgency and scale of the climate emergency, has listened to the concerns of our residents, and is now ready to take further action,” said Yarra Mayor Cr Misha Coleman. 

“We’ve long been at the forefront of local government action on the climate emergency and through this ambitious Climate Emergency Plan we’re putting a climate lens on all aspects of our operations. The climate crisis is impacting people’s health and livelihoods, and so it needs all levels of government to take strong action right now”

Yarra Council was the first local government organisation in Victoria to become certified carbon neutral in 2012, and has recently received the Climate Active certification again for the latest reporting period. 

The adoption of the Climate Emergency Plan is timely as we move into the recovery phase of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and have an opportunity to ‘build back better’ – to create jobs and stimulate industries that reduce emissions during COVID-19 recovery efforts. 

The plan includes actions that aim to improve sustainable transport infrastructure in Yarra, as well as reducing Yarra Council’s reliance on fossil fuels and supporting the local community to take climate action. 

“We look forward to making Yarra a greener city with healthier ways to get around. We will be building back better after the COVID19 lock-downs by exploring how we can quickly increase the number of cycling and walking options around Yarra,” said Cr Coleman.

“We’ll raise the bar for new buildings to drive a shift towards all-electric homes, powered by 100% renewable energy, by working with other government partners to amend our planning scheme. 

“We’re looking at our own operations and aiming to reduce reliance on fossil fuels by getting Yarra Council buildings off gas, and instead being powered solely by 100% renewable energy. 

“We will also enable our community to cut their carbon emissions, lead grassroots projects and collectively push for the urgent climate action we need.”

Yarra’s Climate Emergency Plan aspires to achieve zero-net emissions across the entire Yarra community by 2030, while also ensuring the city is resilient to future pressures, such as those caused by extreme weather events.

“We have committed to ambitious actions that we can take as a local government and will work with and advocate to other levels of government to bring about the deep and rapid cuts to emissions needed,” said Cr Coleman. 

Yarra’s Climate Emergency Plan was adopted unanimously at a council meeting on Tuesday 2 June. 

Key actions from the plan include:

  • Speed up the roll out of cycling infrastructure by trialling temporary bike lanes to inform permanent upgrades 
  • ‘Get off gas’ by transitioning all of Yarra Council’s buildings to electric, powered by 100% renewable energy, by 2030. 
  • Transition all of Yarra Council’s fleet to electric vehicles powered by renewable energy by 2025. 
  • Create climate adapted green spaces by harvesting more stormwater to irrigate our parks. 
  • Introduce zero carbon standards for new commercial and residential developments, working with other government partners to amend the planning scheme. 
  • Enable our community to cut their carbon emissions and collectively push for the urgent climate action we need. 
  • Help residents and businesses take up renewable energy and facilitate solar installations. 
  • Advocate for urgent climate action by other levels of government, including strong renewable energy and carbon emissions reduction targets, along with policy and economic measures that both enable recovery from the pandemic and drive emissions reductions.


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