Episode 5 – Finalist – Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards

Adventures with an environment-conscious inner-urban community

2016 to 2019 – Carbon Neutral Adelaide

Since 2016 we’d had regular contact with the Carbon Neutral Adelaide team, culminating in our carbon emission inventory for the 2017 year. I’d also attended the Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards nights in 2017 and 2018.

I’d found the Awards nights to be highly motivating. To be in the room with such a mix of corporates, NGOs, SA Government and Adelaide City Council people, all focussed on working more efficiently and will less emissions was memorable and inspirational.

Carbon Neutral Adelaide origins

In 2015 Premier Jay Weatherill and Lord Mayor Martin Haese announced a vision to make Adelaide the world’s first carbon neutral city. They put together a 5-year plan which you can download here:

Carbon Neutral Adelaide - Action Plan - 2016-2021
Carbon Neutral Adelaide – Action Plan – 2016-2021

South Australia was already well down the pathway towards decarbonising the electricity grid; the Carbon Neutral Action Plan was designed to ensure that Adelaide City development continued to be at the forefront of NetZero ambition.

The origins of Martin Haese’s enthusiasm for NetZero are informative. He attributes his “conversion” to becoming a carbon neutral advocate to a visit to Adelaide by Christiana Figueres, who is deservedly recognised for her extraordinary leadership on global climate change action through “collaborative diplomacy”.

Haese’s approach to sustainability is quite commercial; he particularly likes the concept of decoupling carbon emissions from economic growth. During his term as Lord Mayor his advocacy had a significant impact, including through substantial incentives for sustainability improvements in the city. Many sustainability projects at Christie Walk have benefitted from those incentives, enabling us to increase our ambition substantially.

Carbon Neutral Adelaide partners

A key plank of the Carbon Neutral Adelaide plan was to establish partnerships with a wide range of commercial organisations and community groups “to build capacity, identify and address barriers, provide a competitive advantage, and improve access to resources and expertise.” To maximise community participation a goal was set to recruit 1,000 partners by 2020.

Christie Walk partnership

In July 2019 I put together a proposal for Christie Walk to become a formal partner, which was agreed at subsequent Community Corporation meeting. We prepared the documentation and readily agreed to the central commitment of partnership: “Your organisation commits to actively contribute to the community’s shared aspiration for the City of Adelaide to be the world’s first carbon neutral city.” Our partnership was confirmed in November.

Christie Walk - one of the 175 organisations partnering with Carbon Neutral Adelaide
Christie Walk – one of the 175 organisations partnering with Carbon Neutral Adelaide

2019 Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards

We then set about providing more detailed documentation to nominate Christie Walk for the 2019 Carbon Neutral Awards.

Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards 2019 Finalist
Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards 2019 Finalist

Christie Walk was a finalist in the Leadership and Influence category at the Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards Ceremony on 13th November, a fine tribute to the visionary hard slog of the founders, and to all those who have input so much over two decades to make Christie Walk the gem that it is today.

You can read about all the award nominees here:

Christie Walk - from the Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards 2019 booklet
Christie Walk – from the Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards 2019 booklet

It was tremendously heartening and encouraging to be in the room with 175 Carbon Neutral Adelaide partner organisations, all of whom have set their sights on significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating some of the causes of our global climate crisis.

Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards 2019 Finalists - chosen from 175 partner organisations
Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards 2019 Finalists – chosen from 175 partner organisations

It was also a refreshing example of bipartisanship. David Speirs – Minister for Energy & Water – paid tribute to the leadership of the previous Labor government in setting up Carbon Neutral Adelaide in partnership with the Adelaide City Council.

Particularly encouraging for us was that Minister Speirs also recounted his very clear memory of an impactful site visit of Christie Walk in which he participated whilst a student in 2004.

Christie Walk - Finalist - Leadership and Influence - Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards 2019
Christie Walk – Finalist – Leadership and Influence – Carbon Neutral Adelaide Awards 2019

Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance

Carbon Neutral Adelaide – and other Australian cities are members of the global network, Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance:

CitySwitch

Specifically for business there’s the CitySwitch program, which is designed to help office-based businesses to improve their energy and waste efficiency.

Lifting ambition

All of these initiatives are extremely important, not just for what they achieve, but for their contribution to lifting global ambition.

There’s a virtuous cycle:

  • Advocacy
  • Action
  • Outcomes
  • Celebration
  • Repeat

With that process we can lift ambition and do all we can to promote an orderly transition to NetZero. The alternative is unthinkable.

A massive lift to ambition is needed for an orderly transition to NetZero
A massive lift to ambition is needed for an orderly transition to NetZero

Lessons learnt along the way:

  • Our experience working with State and Local Government has been entirely positive; very worthwhile the effort.
  • In addition to motivation and ideas for action, we’ve also received significant practical assistance such as sustainability grants.
  • The fruits of advocacy can have ongoing impact long after the seed is planted. Never underestimate the potential benefits.
  • Goals and targets are important; they do help set priorities for organisations, leading to positive outcomes.

You can continue reading of our adventure with Episode 6 – More evacuated tube solar hot water boosters.

It’s part of our special series:
Aiming beyond NetZero at Christie Walk – Adventures with an environment-conscious inner-urban community.

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