Triple threat

Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor explains how moving the City of Adelaide to renewable electricity fits with her vision for a more sustainable Adelaide and why it’s important.

Adelaide has a long and enviable history of being a city of firsts and this month the City of Adelaide became the first South Australian council to have all its operations powered by renewable electricity. A switch to 100 per cent renewable energy means all council-owned buildings, event infrastructure, electric vehicle chargers, water pumps, street lighting and traffic lights, even the barbecues in the park lands – everything the council operates will be powered by renewable electricity.

We are leading the nation and delivering a win-win-win scenario to a triple threat. First, we are saving up to 20 per cent on electricity costs, which will save ratepayers money, every year, for the next 10 years. Second, the amount of electricity being supplied to all council operations is equivalent to the electricity used by over 3800 homes. The switch will halve emissions from Council operations – a reduction of over 11,000 tonnes – the equivalent of taking 3500 cars off the road. Third, the agreement is helping to drive investment in two new solar farms at Coonalpyn and Streaky Bay. It’s expected that, during construction stages and on completion, both solar farms will help generate jobs for local people. A decade of saving money, halving emissions, creating jobs. So why is this important? And do we really care?

Now is not the time to forget climate change. Even as we are consumed on a daily basis with the COVID-19 pandemic, there are continuing threats with another scorching summer heading our way in just a few months’ time. Last summer, as records for heatwaves were broken, the City of Adelaide launched the Feeling Hot Hot Hot! campaign to better protect the health and wellbeing of the community by preparing them for the impacts of extreme heat as a result of a changing climate. The campaign included a Town Hall meeting with over 870 attendees who heard from an expert panel presenting extreme weather scenarios (a truly frightening yet realistic view), plus a range of training and education activities. It also included the Adelaide Heatmapping Project, a brilliant tool for identifying hotspots and urban heat islands.

This project has seen the City of Adelaide selected as a finalist in the category “Planning for better urban health” in the 2020 Wellbeing Cities Award alongside the cities of Buenos Aires, Cape Town and Philadelphia. It’s no small achievement for Adelaide to be selected from nearly 150 participating cities, representing more than 60 countries across five continents.

Cities are about people, and local governments play a key role in supporting the health and wellbeing of residents, businesses and visitors. We are doing this by helping them adapt and become more resilient to the impacts of climate change. I want the City of Adelaide to be an environmental leader and one of the world’s first carbon neutral cities, and this is clearly reflected in our new Strategic Plan 2020–2024.

Sandy Verschoor 160119 01 test web photos
photo-icon Tony Lewis

In September last year. The City of Adelaide joined hundreds of municipalities worldwide declaring that climate change should be treated as a national emergency, to communicate the urgency of rapid and meaningful action to reduce emissions and prepare for the impact of climate change. We coupled this with a renewed focus on zero waste, water sensitivity and greening, and a clear determination for the City of Adelaide to become a certified Climate Active Carbon Neutral organisation and join over 120 other certified organisations including the City of Sydney and City of Melbourne, and ANZ and Westpac banks. Taking a leadership position on emissions reduction for the state means the City of Adelaide needs to continue to deliver meaningful projects, ensure that our actions support low emissions jobs and growth, protect our environment, and support resilience and wellbeing. However, we can’t do this alone. We must continue to work hand in hand with the state government supporting their ongoing investment into renewable electricity supply, the conversion of vehicle fleets and solar and battery incentives.

We must celebrate our champions in the business and community sector and work in partnership with the 175 Carbon Neutral Adelaide Partners, including organisations such as Microsoft, the Property Council of Australia, Anvil Capital, Knight Frank, Mott MacDonald, Fulton Hogan, Schneider Electric, Siemens, the Universities of Adelaide and South Australia, the Adelaide Convention Centre and Uniting Communities. The Partner Program recognises that a whole-of-community approach is required to lower our city’s carbon emissions and operating costs. If ever we are going to be recognised as being the world’s most liveable city, we need to take action. We must innovate and create new solutions to wicked problems and then get loud and celebrate all the amazing, groundbreaking, nation-leading work that is happening in climate action on a daily basis in this city and this state.

Triple threat originally seen in The Adelaide Review, August 2020. Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.