Our Record On The Environment And Climate Change
Under my leadership, our Sunshine Coast Council has been on a strong and consistent sustainability journey for many years.
While we have had a focus on growing a stronger and more sustainable economy – because we had to – we have also made it a priority to take real and decisive action to preserve our environment, improve our liveability and better position the Sunshine Coast to adapt to the challenges of a changing climate.
What we haven’t done is engage in attention-grabbing stunts like declaring a climate emergency, with no tangible actions behind the announcement to improve the resilience of the region to climate change. I think our residents appreciate that position, certainly their feed back to me would suggest so!
Our community is proud of the Sunshine Coast solar farm and the carbon neutrality accreditation of the Sunshine Coast Airport.
In 2017, our Sunshine Coast Council adopted its Environment and Liveability Strategy, which provides a vision and contemporary approach to delivering a healthy environment and liveable Sunshine Coast in 2041.
In that same year, we commissioned our Sunshine Coast Solar Farm, making Council the first government in mainland Australia to offset more than 100% of its electricity consumption with energy from a renewable source.
Council is also investing in climate change adaptation by developing a comprehensive Coastal Hazard Adaptation Strategy, to better understand and plan for current and future impacts of coastal hazards (including sea level rise) and to provide innovative management options to make our coastline and communities more resilient.
Under my leadership, our Council has continued to invest in expanding our conservation estate through land acquisitions to increase biodiversity protection, connectivity and resilience of priority habitat areas. I really appreciate the genuine support I get from Coast residents who love our synergy between the environment , economy and community
This now covers over 6900 hectares and is understood to be the largest council owned conservation estate in south east Queensland.
In fact, nearly one-third of Council’s conservation estate has been acquired in the eight years that I have been Mayor – vastly more that under any other Council since the Environment Levy was first introduced in the 1990s.
Our Sunshine Coast also hosts the largest Land for Wildlife program in the country, with over 1100 landowners involved and over 8800 hectares of privately-owned land being managed with conservation objectives in mind.
Our Council continues to provide a range of community programs aimed at sustainable living via our successful Living Smart program and environmental initiatives – to encourage our residents to act sustainably. For itself, our Council has also set a target to be a zero-net emissions organisation by 2041.
In June, we entered into an Australian-first blue carbon initiative with the State Government and Unitywater, covering more than 5000 hectares in our Maroochy River Catchment. This initiative will help to ensure that we maintain sustainable land use practices on the Maroochy River floodplain.
Previous Sunshine Coast and Maroochy Shire councils talked a lot about coming up with a solution for the Maroochy River floodplain – but did absolutely nothing.
Some candidates, standing in this election singularly failed to do anything for this important area of our Sunshine Coast. Ask them!
It is our Council, under my leadership, that is providing new options for landowners for the use of their land for carbon farming, while preserving large areas of the Blue Heart for environmental and important flood storage purposes.
This is only the tip of the iceberg.
In October, we committed to seek a nomination of our Sunshine Coast as a UNESCO Biosphere. This is a decision that reflects the values of our community and will help to ensure our community’s focus on sustainability in every sense – and our deep attachment to our natural environment – are reflected in everything that we do in the future.
I am proud of our record on protecting our environment and responding to the impacts of a changing climate. There is more that we can do however, and I have flagged some of my plans in my 2020 election commitments.
Our natural environment and outstanding landscape are some of our greatest assets. My commitment is to ensure we keep it that way.
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