NSW grants to help councils combat climate change
NSW minister for environment Gabrielle Upton at the National Energy Efficiency Conference 2018

NSW councils can now apply for grants to plant trees, put up shade clothes and install water-misting systems in public places under the state government’s new $3.5 million grant program.

Announced by NSW minister for environment Gabrielle Upton on Monday at the Energy Efficiency Council Conference 2018 held at the Sofitel Wentworth hotel in Sydney, the new grants program allows eligible councils to apply for grants to upgrade community infrastructure to deal with scorching hot days and other “weather challenges” brought on by climate change.

Climate adaptation projects that might qualify for a grant include installing thermal casings and solar powered fans to protect Internet and phone services, and putting up shade clothes and canopies.

Other purposes could be using renewable energy to cool water reserves and dams to reduce algal blooms that affect water supplies, and planting sea grasses or mangroves to protect shorelines or reserves from erosion.

Councils might also qualify for grants to “replace concrete, which we know absorbs a lot of heat, with non-reflective material in council-run councils and libraries to reduce the risk of heat impacts on our young people,” Ms Upton said.

Ms Upton said this initiative puts the power in the hands of councils to tackle climate change impacts on a localised case-by-case basis – “I do believe that local councils have that insight, and the probably even better than state government.”

The $3.5 million grant program falls under the additional $40 million Ms Upton announced on Monday for the Climate Change Fund. Through the fund, a total of $1.4 billion is expected to be spent by the NSW government between 2017 and 2022 on the environment, reducing power bills and improving energy efficiency.

Other key environmental initiatives from the NSW government include information packs for farmers and other small businesses to shore up their defences against natural hazards, such as floods and heat waves.

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