The paper sets out a policy position on the role local government can play in moves towards a low carbon future, with findings reflecting a consensus view developed across a range of local government organisations.

This discussion paper considers the questions:

  • What are the strengths of the local government sector for a low carbon future and how can these complement national initiatives for a low carbon economy?
  • How can local governments and the national government work more effectively as partners to achieve mutual goals for a clean energy, low carbon future? 

The idea for the paper emerged from the 2011 Local Government Climate Change Round Table coordinated by ACELG and the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF), and attended by all local governmental associations and by leading councils and academics from around Australia. 

While acknowledging the importance of strategies to adapt to inevitable climate change, this paper focuses on actions that reduce carbon pollution and that can demonstrate economic and social benefits. The role and activities of councils relating to adaptation are documented through other mechanisms, in particular through NCCARF and other state and federally funded programs. Some of these initiatives have been previously documented by ACELG. Examples of innovation or exemplary adaptation work that were provided during the course of the research for this paper will be disseminated through other avenues.

As the focus of this paper is on local carbon reduction initiatives in a national policy context, information on the roles played by State and Territory Governments is limited to references in the detailed case studies. However, the importance of the relationship between local and state authorities in supporting local action on climate change is acknowledged as is the recent withdrawal of a number of state government programs that supported local action.

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