Byron mayor Simon Richardson flew out to Paris on Saturday (November 28) to join the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) and to share some of the shire’s experiences in planning for a zero carbon future.
Byron council already has plans to go far beyond the federal government’s emissions reduction target.
Cr Richardson was invited to promote the shire’s Zero Emissions Byron project at the United Nations Framework convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, which opened yesterday.
‘Whatever target countries sign up to in Paris, even if it’s lower than it should be, it will give security and confidence to regions, councils and companies and they will take that security and far outstrip that target,’ Cr Richardson said.
‘I’ll be involved in the Cities and Regions conference, where representatives from around the world will be showcasing what we’re doing and learning from each other.’
Byron Shire is aiming to become Australia’s first council to generate zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 through an ambitious project called Zero Emissions Byron (ZEB), a joint initiative of Byron Shire Council and climate research organisation Beyond Zero Emissions, together with the Queensland Centre for Social Change.
‘When facing the low carbon future ahead of us, we have two choices: ride the wave and make Byron economically, socially and environmentally sustainable and an inspiring model, or tread-water in the foam out the back of the wave and hope we don’t get left behind,’ Cr Richardson said.
‘This project to create Australia’s first zero emissions community in 10 years has the potential to secure millions of dollars of renewable energy and emission reduction investment, to secure and enhance the rich biodiversity of the region and support local communities establish cooperative models of living. It is the game changer for Byron and can be the game changer for Australia.
‘Re-navigating our economy to one powered by locally or regionally generated renewable energy with zero net emissions will create jobs, establish sustainable economies and ensure our society lives in balance with its environment. Byron Shire has the people with the skills and commitment to become a zero net emission community. Now is the time for this to start,’ he added.
Recently, the Australian Climate Leadership Summit recognised Lismore and Byron Shire councils along with the City of Sydney, the City of Adelaide, the City of Melbourne and the City of Perth for their emission reduction efforts earlier this month.
For more information on the Zero Emission Byron project visit www.zerobyron.org