Council investigates bold new emissions target

Cairns Regional Council will investigate options that will allow the organisation to achieve the bold target of zero net emissions by 2030.

Council is reviewing its climate policy to set a 2030 target and is tapping into the aspirations of high school students to help shape its future strategy.

Mayor Bob Manning said the inaugural Cairns Youth Climate Summit had generated a host of ideas from the 36 school students, which will feed into the development of Council’s new action plan.

“We want young people to be empowered and to feel that they are having an input into the future of our city and the actions taken to tackle climate change,” Cr Manning said.

“The Youth Summit gave students a platform to voice their concerns and present ideas that could help address this challenging issue.

“We can now take some of those ideas and incorporate them into our future climate actions.”

Among the options to be considered by Council is transitioning to renewable energy – a key aspiration voiced at the Climate Summit – by purchasing power from North Queensland wind and solar farms.

Offsetting emissions through local carbon farming, such as tree planting, will also be investigated.

As well as capturing carbon, reforestation would deliver wet tropics habitat connectivity, as well as reduce erosion and sediment runoff, and therefore improve water quality flowing to the Reef – another aspiration captured at the Cairns Youth Climate Summit.

A report with options (and associated pathways) for a 2030 emissions reduction target will be presented to Council in the first half of 2020.

Cairns Youth Climate Summit

Cairns Regional Council held a Cairns Youth Climate Summit to provide an opportunity for high school students to help shape climate actions for the region until 2030.

Believed to be the first council-led youth climate summit in Australia, it involved a survey that was completed by 227 students and a one-day workshop where 35 student delegates worked with experts from Council and key related agencies to develop their aspirations and ideas in key action areas.

Students identified a number of key action areas relating to different levels of government and industry, including the move to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030; improving the design and efficiency of buildings to achieve zero emissions buildings; and using nature to capture carbon and enhance natural assets.

Student delegates then had the opportunity to present these at the Student and Industry Leader Panel on 13 November at the Cairns Performing Arts Centre.

At the event, students delivered a collective Youth Aspirational Statement for 2030, which aimed to help inspire, motivate and unify the Cairns region towards climate change action.

The outcomes of the Summit are being considered in the development of Council’s climate policy and actions for 2030.

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