The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River has committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions within the next nine years, though acknowledges a similar 2030 aspiration for the wider community might be harder to achieve. The Shire could struggle to reach its own goals, upping the ante in its fight against climate change after declaring a formal climate emergency in 2019, and setting the net zero emissions goal for 2030 rather than 2050 as canvassed during public consultation. The new climate action plan, formally launched earlier this month, replaces the old Local Energy Action Plan framework which led to a 31 per cent reduction of Shire emissions per capita on 2007 levels, and a 17 per cent reduction in emissions from residents. The new plan moves away from unattainable targets to focus primarily on Shire emissions, while offering a range of strategies, education measures, sustainability grants, and additional lobbying to help drive a reduction in residential emissions. It also acknowledged “lack of community ownership” was a shortcoming of LEAP, which failed to meet its 2020 reduction targets. Shire sustainability planning officer Katie Biggs told the Times the latest plan focused on “what the Shire as an organisation needs to do to reach net zero emissions and how it can support the community towards zero emissions”. “We are confident that we will meet this target as an organisation, but acknowledge that this is more of an aspirational target for our community,” Ms Biggs said. “We understand that there are some things that are outside of our control, but we can still play an important role by collaborating with community, advocating for change, and building partnerships with State Government and other stakeholders.” Lobbying and education were big factors in hitting this targets, as well as a rosy-eyed view on the future uptake of electric vehicles within the community. The plan puts a strong focus on the Shire’s uptake of renewable energy, including a commitment to buy “green” power which was discontinued last decade under former chief executive Gary Evershed as too expensive. The Shire started buying 25 per cent green power from Alinta in February and the new plan augurs more. While hopes around the Augusta-Margaret River Clean Community Energy group’s hybrid project in Scott River would eventually be a source of clean power for the region, Ms Biggs said the Shire was exploring its further options. “Green power provides an important lever to push the market towards more renewables and away from fossil fuels,” she said. “One of the options being considered by the Shire is a Power Purchase Agreement through the WA Local Government Association, which is a method of renewable energy supply.” The Shire’s foray into renewable energy through major rooftop installation on the civic centre and recreation centre would also be expanded under the plan.