This is a once-in-a-generation moment for local government. A chance to rebuild their local economies, drive local investment and create jobs by supporting industries and sectors that invest in a zero carbon future.
After all, be it fires, floods or COVID-19, local councils have been at the forefront to the response of economic recovery.
In fact, 2020 saw councils sign a record-breaking number of agreements to purchase renewable energy from solar and wind farms. Investing in clean initiatives like renewable energy not only sets communities up to diversify skill-based industries, it allows councils to claim back their energy independence and build resilience to future economic shocks.
A recent report by the Cities Power Partnership, Clean Jobs for Communities: How local governments can lead strong, sustainable economies, identified dozens of projects by trailblazing councils that are already reaping the benefits of initiatives like putting solar on council buildings or rolling out electric vehicle charging stations in the community.
On Queensland's Sunshine Coast, a council-owned 15 megawatt solar farm provides enough energy to meet the council's annual electricity demand, which includes facilities like libraries and aquatic centres.
The initiative not only created 100 jobs during construction and five ongoing jobs, it is expected to deliver the council net savings of more than $22 million over 30 years, reducing energy costs and creating more comfortable workplaces and community facilities.
Sydney's inner suburbs of Randwick, Waverley and Woollahra are breaking new ground and working together to drive sustainable transport by installing on-street public electric vehicle charging stations in key hotspots across the region.
The partnership has supported 12 jobs, is reducing community emissions and creating better, more functional cities.
In Victoria, councils like Mornington Peninsula Council and Mildura Rural City Council are creating local jobs through supporting businesses and households to improve their energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is a no-brainer to help slash households power bills, reduce emissions and create thousands of jobs.
The examples above are just some of the inspirational initiatives local governments are taking to lead the nation's shift to clean, growth industries of the future.
Dr Portia Odell is director of the Cities Power Partnership, Australia's largest network of local governments taking action on climate change.