Council has been acting in relation to climate change for a number of years. Council’s first significant commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was joining the Cities for Climate Protection Program (CCP) in 2004. Based on participation in the program, Council identified a need to incorporate climate change into its corporate planning processes. To improve the capability of the organisation to respond to the risks posed by climate change. Council has responded in this regard through the establishment of the Ballina Shire Council Climate Action Strategy.
Ballina Shire Council has successfully achieved Milestones 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Cities for Climate Protection Program (CCP). CCP was a global program co-ordinated in Australia by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives - Local Governments for Sustainability, Australia/ New Zealand (ICLEI-A/NZ).
Ballina Shire Council's Climate Action Strategy
Since achieving Milestone 5 and completing the CCP Program, Council has progressed its response to climate change in various ways. These approaches have now been consolidated into Council’s Climate Action Strategy. This Climate Action Strategy seeks to broaden Council’s response to climate change to include both mitigation and adaptation strategies. Actions specific to the identified strategies that relate to reducing corporate emissions or supporting community action on climate change are included in Council’s Environmental Action Plan.
The Climate Action Strategy identifies Council's climate change response strategies and a series of key opportunities relating to both mitigation of greenhouse gases and adaptation to climate change. The strategy is designed to integrate with a variety of Council's function areas in order to both inform policy and decision making and be informed by other activities of Council. The Climate Action Strategy was adopted by Council in December 2011 and documents Council’s present thinking in relation to appropriate climate change responses. The strategy is based on consideration of current community expectations, scientific understanding, government direction and the opportunities for climate change adaptation and mitigation at a local government level.
Although the strategy focuses on Council’s business it also recognises that all levels of government and the community have important roles to play in climate action. The document collates some of the initiatives that Council is already undertaking and provides a framework to guide future decisions of Council in relation to climate change.
The plan's preparation
In 2010 Council hosted The Climate Ballina Citizens’ Forum, a 2 and a half day event to increase its understanding of our community’s perceptions and concerns around climate change. It also provided clarity on the responses required to address these community concerns and the expectations of Council’s role in this response. This forum was based around a process called ‘deliberative democracy’; a form of public participation where a cross section of the community comes together to talk about issues and their possible solutions.
The forum involved 20 Ballina Shire residents, selected from an initial group of 2000, to work with Council to come up with local ways of responding to the potential impacts of climate change. The group met with Council staff to listen to presentations from some of Australia’s experts on climate change and discussed different aspects of climate change and the implications for the Ballina Shire. The outcomes of the forum have been important in assisting the elected Council determine approaches to respond to climate change.
Of the 53 recommendations put forward by the forum, 40 were accepted by Council, four were noted and two deferred. Many recommendations covered areas of Council’s operations whilst others extended to other Local, State, Federal agencies and community groups. The recommendations from the Citizens’ Forum specific to Council’s operations were then used to inform the development of Council’s Climate Action Strategy and other relevant Council documents.
Council’s Environmental Action Plan
Welcome to Ballina Shire Council’s Environmental Action Plan. The Environmental Action Plan (EAP) documents Council actions that aim to improve our local environment through improving Council’s own operations and activities. The aim of the EAP is to provide guidance to the elected Council and the community on the types of actions that are taking place within the organisation. Whilst Council has always been active in improving environmental outcomes across its areas of responsibility, this is the first time these actions have been comprehensively documented.
How can I Contribute?
The EAP is a working document that is reviewed on an ongoing basis. This process provides an opportunity for Council staff, Councillors and community to regularly contribute to the plan by providing good ideas aimed at increasing the environmental sustainability of our Council and our shire. Community members wanting to contribute their ideas can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading Environmental Action Plan.
Ballina Environmental Action (BEA)
The Green Bea will be keeping the Ballina Shire community up to date on Council’s environmental initiatives and progress on Council’s Environmental Action Plan. Look out for BEA buzzing about in various Council media, such as Community Connect and local media.