Climate change back on agenda
COFFS Coast Climate Action Group is urging the city council not to backtrack on its commitments to renewable energy and emissions reductions.
Coffs Harbour City Council will table its Renewable Energy and Emissions Reduction Plan and recommendations at next Thursday's meeting.
Targets - including council reducing its per annum corporate emissions from 2010 levels by 50% by 2025, and council energy use consisting of 100% renewables by 2030 - were adopted in 2014.
Climate Action member Catie Dale said the group was concerned the April 14 meeting would be a step backwards.
"While all councillors voted for the targets, we have been confronted with a disturbing lack of commitment to follow through with real action," Ms Dale said.
"We hold grave concerns that when council votes on the Emissions Reduction Plan on April 14, there will be an attempt to reduce the targets already adopted."
A council spokeswoman said the 2014 targets were provisional, and adopted in stages one and two of a five-stage plan.
"The resolution noted that a further council report be prepared to revisit the provisional targets in the context of the development and analysis of the impacts of stage three - Prepare a Renewable Energy and Emissions Reduction Plan," the spokeswoman said.
"If adopted, the plan provides a framework to prioritise actions to reduce corporate emissions and understand the long term costs and savings opportunities."
Ms Dale said it was in the interest of ratepayers for the council to take up those savings opportunities.
"With an electricity bill of around $4 million every year, it's surprising that council has not acted to reduce that cost in any meaningful way," she said.
"It is unacceptable to expect ratepayers to keep footing this enormous bill year after year, when better options are available.
"The solar panels on Rigby House save council over $30,000 a year in energy costs - now why don't we have panels on the council depot, sewerage plant, water treatment plant and sports stadium?"
The Climate Action Group has launched a petition calling on council to stick to its initial targets.
The online petition is close to meeting its 200-signature target and will be delivered to council prior to the April 14 meeting.
"Given that all councillors voted for this, and given that it is achievable and affordable, there is no excuse for council to water down targets," Ms Dale said.
"It is well and truly time for council to demonstrate leadership in the transition to renewable energy and a modern zero-carbon economy."