Councils gather in Australia's renewable energy capital

Landmark research by the Climate Council about the compound costs of climate change has been released, just as Greens councillor Brent Hoare has finished his climate change road trip.

Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said "the impact of climate change could be absolutely catastrophic, and you just have to look at the fact that it will be concentrated in areas that are vulnerable to climate change: coastal areas that are vulnerable to sea-level rise, and bushfire-vulnerable houses."

Cr Brent Hoare said it was now a case that all levels of government had to act.

"We're in a situation where we are seeing clear evidence and costs of climate change all around us. This is not a future issue; it's absolutely an issue for today. We know how to reduce emissions and we need a Federal government that is committed to achieving swift and effective action on climate."

The Ward 2 councillor was among local government leaders who last week visited Port Augusta, Australia's renewable capital, to see first-hand the coal to clean energy transformation underway. The road trip was part of the Climate Council's Cities Power Partnership program.

Port Augusta has just marked three years since its last coal power station closed down. The pioneer regional city is thriving on renewable energy, Cr Hoare said.

Cr Hoare along with 13 other council representatives from all around Australia, travelled to South Australia to witness the renewable revolution, large scale clean energy and storage facilities first hand, and learn from experts how these technologies can be rolled out in the Mountains.

"It facilitated a rare opportunity to get behind the scenes of some of the largest renewable projects in the country and hear from top climate and energy experts," he said.

Former South Australian leader and renewable energy advocate, Jay Weatherill, met with these local government leaders in Port Augusta to underscore how supportive state policy and planning rules mobilised local governments and business to champion Australia's renewable energy and storage transformation.

"We have 14 renewable energy and storage projects under construction or due to start soon, supporting more than 2,000 jobs. South Australia generates more wind and solar energy than any other state, accounting for more than 50 per cent of generated power and we are a leader in rooftop solar - and that's because local and state governments, industry and community worked together to get us there."

Former Port Augusta Mayor, Sam Johnson, a key player in the region's energy revolution, said: "Just three years on, there are at least eight renewable energy projects in various stages of development in the Port Augusta and Whyalla region, supporting more than 850 jobs and approximately $1.5 billion in investment. This has seen our city thrive on cleaner power, less pollution and lower energy prices."

Cr Hoare said the former coal town's rebirth showed exactly what investment in renewables can do.

"Among the most important lessons from South Australia is that local and regional clean energy projects can form a crucial part of Australia's climate solution - but they need supportive state and federal policy to surge forward."