19 July 2011 – The City of Newcastle is successfully positioning itself as the national research centre and showcase for clean energy technology and practice.

The momentum is building and more and more references are being made about our vision and this strategic shift in our local economy.

The council and its partners have been working for over 12 months to formulate a draft plan that will help us minimise our city’s carbon and water footprints.

The draft Newcastle 2020 Carbon and Water Management Action Plan (Carbon and Water MAP) is designed to add a new level of transparency and openness to a city-wide approach to helping our environment and our economy.

The plan is on public exhibition until Monday 8 August and the detail and the thinking behind the plan and the aspirational goals will all be publicly announced at Newcastle’s Energy Town Meeting at City Hall on Wednesday 20 July.

We have the CSIRO Energy Technology Centre, National Solar Institute, Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources, Clean Energy Connect Centre, a world class university, the TAFE-of-choice for sustainability qualifications and most recently, the Commonwealth Government $100 million Smart Grid Smart City trial, just to name a few.

The biggest strength that we have though is our community and the way our community thinks about things and then just gets on with the task at hand.

Novocastrians have had to be innovative over the years, making do with just a little. It’s this practical approach to life that is setting us apart from most other communities when it comes to working together to reduce our environmental impact.

We, in general, are a no nonsense group of individuals that finds a common sense approach to things as the most obvious route.

This makes my job at council just that much more rewarding because I know if we can shape a common sense plan that helps all of us reduce our consumption of energy and water as well as reduce waste and costs, there is a very strong chance we will get on with the job of making these changes together.

We are now at the point where this new draft plan has been completed and is ready for your review, input and discussion.

The plan has four main focus areas we believe will help us tailor the offerings to suit the needs and aspirations of the different sectors within the Newcastle local government area.

The four sectors addressed are council operations, the education sector, the business sector and the residential sector.

During the development of the plan, we came across the Green Vision developed by San Jose in the United States. It has 10 very clear aspirational goals that are easy to measure, easy to monitor and easy to report.

This triggered a similar approach and thinking in council that has led to the development of a suite of aspirational goals for each of our four sectors.

The greatest benefit of setting tangible and measurable goals is that we, as a community, will be able to monitor our progress over the next decade and if we find that we need to adjust our strategies or direction along the way it should be a relatively simple process.

The thing that excites me the most is the amount of buy-in and commitment council has experienced over the past year from each of the sectors within our community. There is a general sense of urgency being displayed and the need for us to ensure the comfort and well being power and water provides is in fact available and affordable for everyone within in our community, both now and in the future.

I think we all realise by now that the climate change issue and debate is very complex. I think we also realise this debate will probably continue for a long time to come.

That’s why taking action now is an obvious choice and if we can stimulate an entire new industry for us here locally, by doing this together as a community, then all the more reason to get on with the job.

Peter Dormand is the Environment and Climate Change Services Manager with The City of Newcastle.

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