Councils are taking responsibility to reduce carbon emissions – leading the way by reducing their own emissions and assisting community action. But to transform a whole region to a low carbon economy, councils need to do more. They can collaborate on large-scale projects across municipalities, create opportunities for businesses from sustainable, low-carbon growth, and coordinate programs to increase their reach to communities, strengthen their messages and improve liveability.
The Western Alliance for Greenhouse Action (WAGA) is a partnership of eight councils in the west of Melbourne, representing a cross-section from urban (Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong and Moonee Valley), to growth (Wyndham, Melton and Greater Geelong) and rural (Moorabool). Jointly with LeadWest (an initiative of local government and regional businesses) and Regional Development Australia Western Melbourne, WAGA has developed a regional greenhouse strategy, ‘Low Carbon West’. Its purpose is to make a stepchange across this diverse region towards a growing low carbon economy.
Since the launch of Low Carbon West in November 2014, WAGA partner councils have taken numerous cross-sectoral actions to kick-start this transition. Those councils with significant industrial areas are offering Environmental Upgrade Agreements (EUAs) to help local businesses finance solar, energy efficiency and resource efficiency measures. Most recently this year, the WAGA councils developed a list of preferred providers for commercial solar and LED lights to help businesses choose the most cost-effective technologies.
Now WAGA is conducting a feasibility study into options for medium and large-scale renewable energy in the region. Low Carbon West also aligns with programs such as Carpool the West, a scheme launched in December 2016, which will facilitate carpooling for employees and students of the Cities of Wyndham, Maribyrnong, Brimbank and Melton, Mercy Health, Southern Metropolitan Cemetery Trust, Western Health, VicRoads and Victoria University. Carpooling has the potential to save up to 10 kilotonnes of emissions across the WAGA region compared with a business as usual baseline.
Low Carbon West, with its focus on a regional approach, provides a platform for these actions as well as insights and learnings for a range of organisations to contribute to sustainable, low-carbon economic growth across regional Australia.
Fran MacDonald, Coordinator, Western Alliance for Greenhouse Action
Michael Li, Sustainability Consultant, AECOM