MEDIA RELEASE: Build climate transition ‘from the ground up’ with locals

  • A new report from independent public policy institute the Centre for Policy Development recommends government transition plans build on local needs to strengthen resilience and adaptability
  • Adaptive capacity – readiness for change – is multi-dimensional and differs from place to place. The report develops a framework to measure it and examines 11 Local Government Areas affected by transition
  • The ‘Making Our Way’ report will help government give support where it is needed, in the form that is most useful, that builds momentum in directions chosen by local communities 

THURSDAY 29 JUNE 2023 – Local transition plans for Australian regions affected by climate transition should be built “from the ground up” to strengthen resilience and adaptability, rather than adopting a one size fits all approach that focuses just on replacing fossil fuel industries with renewable energy industries.

The ‘Making Our Way’ report released today by independent public policy institute the Centre for Policy Development develops and applies a multi-dimensional analytical framework to 11 LGAs nationally affected by climate transition. 

The report recommends governments at all levels cooperate on a response led by the specific strengths, needs and capabilities of local communities affected. 

It also recommends a broad focus on enhancing economic diversity, greater access to services, and building social capital. Most communities affected by transition are below the Australian regional average in these domains.

However, a local plan is still critical as LGAs differ in many important respects – transition planning cannot be one-size-fits-all. For instance, LGAs in NSW and Collie in WA already benefit from dynamic local economies and strong domestic market connections that provide a good base to build upon with general business support. While LGAs in the Pilbara and Central Queensland likely require more extensive planning and infrastructure investment due to their more highly-concentrated economies and fewer connections to nearby markets. 

In preparing the report CPD researchers spoke to government officials and community leaders in eleven LGAs. These included Isaac, Central Highlands and Banana Shire (QLD), Singleton, Narrabri, Musswellbrook and Mid-Western Regional (NSW), Karratha, Ashburton and Collie (WA), and Latrobe (Vic). 

Report author, CPD economic adviser Mara Hammerle said all levels of government should share data and coordinate on plans to ensure they can work together effectively with local communities.

“The people and communities affected by climate transition should be at the front of the pack for jobs, projects and opportunities in emerging industries,” Ms Hammerle said. 

“Every place is different. Communities choosing their path will require support in different areas from government, and investments that make sense in one place won’t necessarily be needed, wanted, or viable in another.”

CPD sustainable economy program director Toby Phillips, who also authored the report, said climate transition presents an opportunity to bolster the long-term economic resilience of Australian communities. 

“One of the major challenges facing our nation as a whole is a lack of economic diversity, and this issue is particularly pronounced in the places most affected by climate transition.” 

“By taking a ground-up approach led by locals in these areas, we can build on community strengths, make regional economies more resilient to future challenges, and increase our national economic resilience at the same time.”
“Government bodies like the new Net Zero Authority have an important role to support communities through transition. They should focus on building adaptive capacity and playing to the unique strengths of each region.”

“This approach can ensure transition support goes where it is most needed, in the form that’s most useful, while taking local economies in the direction people want to go.”