A view of the golden cliffs and blue ocean of South Port beach, taken from the Port Noarlunga jetty in late afternoon sun.

Published on 31 January 2023

City of Onkaparinga declares climate emergency

City of Onkaparinga has taken the next step in its decades-long response to climate change in Southern Adelaide by declaring a climate emergency.

City of Onkaparinga Mayor Moira Were said the declaration, made at the adjourned 17 January Council meeting held last night, builds on council’s commitment to tackling climate change, recognising that urgent action needs to be taken.

“City of Onkaparinga has been responding to climate change for more than 20 years, most recently by adopting our Climate Change Response Plan 2022–27,” she said.

“The motion was brought forward from a community forum by Cr Marion Themeliotis and there was a highly quality robust debate.

“Councillors drew on their own consultations with the public, community surveys, youth surveys, professional experience, their own research and inputs from community members and council staff.

“Declaring a climate emergency strengthens our position, acknowledges our roles and responsibilities as South Australia’s largest metropolitan council, and recognises the existential threat climate change poses to our communities.”

Onkaparinga joins more than 2300 jurisdictions in 40 countries around the world that have declared a climate emergency, including the state of South Australia in 2022, and more than 100 local governments across Australia. Combined, these jurisdictions amount to more than one-billion people.

As part of the declaration, Council also resolved to aim for net zero corporate carbon emissions by 2040, building on its existing commitment to reduce its carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2030.

The work so far

The 79 initiatives in council’s Climate Change Response Plan, adopted in August 2022, contribute to five overarching goals—climate-smart neighbourhoods, climate-ready communities, climate-resilient natural areas, low-carbon transition, and climate risk reduction.

Initiatives range from completing urban heat and tree canopy mapping and an ecological linkage study, to developing a coastal adaptation plan, changing Onkaparinga’s remaining street lights to LED, and replacing old fleet vehicles with electric.

Sixty-four of the 79 initiatives are already funded through existing resources, with the remaining initiatives to be dealt with through council’s budget process (one requires external funding).

The plan’s adoption followed council’s endorsement of a Towards Zero Corporate Emissions Roadmap, which sets a target of an 80 per cent reduction in the organisation’s corporate greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Mayor Moira Were said council is already more than halfway to the 2030 target.

“Since our baseline year of 2010–11, we’ve reduced our corporate emissions by 54 per cent by doing things like changing 12,000 street lights to LED, installing more than 550kW of solar at council facilities, and upgrading 35 buildings,” she said.

“Other major projects in the past 18 months include the opening of the Southern Materials Recovery Facility in Seaford Heights—which is processing the yellow-bin recyclables of more than 360,000 residents in our own backyard—and the completion of our Coastal Adaptation Study, which is helping us get on the front foot with sea level rise impacts over the next 80 years.”

Find out more about the City of Onkaparinga's climate change work at council's website.