Interestingly, only about a third had such targets. I guess because I’ve been reading a lot of local government climate change strategies that do have targets, I’d assumed it was far more common. The push for targets originally emerged from Cities for Climate Protection and has remained a mainstay of many local government strategies since that time, but how valuable is it?
The targets I’ve reviewed in strategies range from those based on modelling of community-based emissions to those that are designed to act as stretch targets, with everything in-between. It’s a tricky area. Those based on modelling are imperfect as they cover emissions within the community over which local government has little control, while all targets are influenced, to greater or lesser degree, by political requirements, such as the need to be seen to be a leader in the field.
Is the current approach in which each of Australia’s 570 local governments develops targets, perhaps ideally coming together in a mosaic of actions and targets that form a national approach the best way to go? Or would we be better with clear national leadership in which a clear role for local government is identified? Councils rightly argue, we had that during the Carbon Pricing Mechanism but in the absence of such a coordinated approach, what choice do they have?
I’m personally a little sceptical about the value of targets for community-based emissions but I’m happy to stand corrected if someone can make a case for how they have worked successfully in their council.