The following is a guest post by Hasmukh Chand, a local resident interested in environmental protection & conservation through science & policy research.
This post is part of his candidacy to be selected to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Lima, Peru in December 2014. See – http://unfccc.int/2860.php
I wish Hasmukh success. J
Marrickville: leading the way in climate action
I have been living in Marrickville for over five years now and I have been noticing that Marrickville Council and the people of Marrickville are becoming increasingly progressive towards climate change and environmental issues. At first I thought that it was odd that all this good work that was going unnoticed. A close friend of mine who has lived in the area has made similar observations on a number of occasions. Perhaps, this is because the political and mainstream media cycles these days are dominated by conservative news when it comes to Australia’s position on climate change and the environment.
Harnessing the sun’s power has been long recognised as an important mechanism for reducing our current reliance on conventional fossil fuels which contribute to climate change. According to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), Australia receives about ‘58 petajoules worth of sunlight each year, approximately 10,000 times Australia’s annual energy consumption’.
Marrickville Council has recognised the importance of the sun. For example, part of Marrickville Council’s Community Strategic Plan includes ‘the uptake of energy efficiency and low carbon, renewable energy in homes, businesses, street, public spaces and Council facilities and operations’ forms a core part of the Council’s Community Strategic Plan. The Council Administration building in Petersham, for example, is sporting eighty new solar panels, which will collectively save nearly thirty tonnes of emissions per annum. Solar panels have also been installed on the Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre, the Council Depot, Tillman and Deborah Learning Centres and the Chrissie Cotter Gallery.
In an effort to further reduce the impact on climate change, Marrickville Council is also actively encouraging its constituents to embrace the power of the sun. To achieve this goal, information such as Your Home: Guide to Environmentally Sustainable Homes as well as other fact sheets are available through the Council’s website. I think that the leadership shown by the Council has been one of the driving forces behind the uptake of solar power by residents in Marrickville Local Government Area.
In fact, the people of Marrickville should also be congratulated for embracing the Council’s vision and helping do its part in addressing greenhouse gas emissions. Anyone commuting by train (particularly between Marrickville and Sydenham train station) would have noticed an increase in the number of households with solar panels on their roofs.
The benefits of solar and other renewable energy systems go far beyond that of addressing climate change. Earlier this year, a research by Pew Charitable Trust and the Bloomberg New Energy Finance found that in 2013, $4.4 billion was invested in renewables in Australia alone. Nearly half of this came from household investment into solar technologies. In other words, investing in renewables means more jobs and innovation.
A second and perhaps over looked benefit has been highlighted by Marrickville Council’s Green Equity Paper (2009). The Council found that solar panels and other solar technologies not only reduced emissions, but also reduced the cost of electricity. This is particularly important for those from low income households. This is why I feel greatly heartened by the fact that Marrickville Council has added its voice to many other stakeholders such as climate change activists, conservationists, political parties and the renewable industry, asking the Federal Government not to alter the Renewable Energy Target (RET).
Under the RET, the Government set goals to generate 20% of national electricity from renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydro, by 2020. To meet this goal, the RET provided financial support to households and businesses through the sale of renewable energy certificates for those installing solar panels, solar water heaters and heat pumps. Unfortunately though, as I write this the Federal Government’s RET review panel has released their report. The panel is recommending that the Renewable Energy Target either be ‘scaled back or scrapped entirely’. If the Government adopts this, it would be a significant obstacle for renewable technologies uptake and emissions reductions.
Regardless of the outcome, while the higher levels of government drag their feet on acting on climate, I congratulate Marrickville Council and the people of Marrickville Local Government Area for doing their bit (whether small or big) towards making a positive difference. I personally find these acts encouraging, as the news on all things climate change and environment related continues to be bleak and depressing. I look forward to seeing more solar panels and other great initiatives taking root all over Marrickville.
By Hasmukh Chand