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Local Kids Details Climate Aspirations

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Local students have taken their first steps in formulating their climate aspirations for Cairns and making an informed contribution to the city’s future climate policies.

The first Cairns Youth Climate Summit was held on Friday, with a student delegate planning workshop at Cairns Regional Council kicking things off.

More than 35 high school students and indigenous youth leaders from throughout the city took part in this landmark forum.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said the summit allows the next generation to express their concerns, ideas and climate aspirations as part of a Council program to engage the future leaders of Cairns in the development of policy and targets to address climate change.

“Cairns lies at the gateway to two of the world’s greatest natural wonders in the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics Rainforest, both of which are World Heritage Listed,” Cr Manning said.

“We recognise the importance of preserving and securing these two iconic natural assets for future generations, and part of this requires sustainable and informative climate action from all levels of government, nationally and internationally.

“Council has a goal to meet its 50% emissions reduction target for 2020 and is currently working on developing a new target for 2030 and updating its current Energy and Emissions Policy.

“Outcomes of the Cairns Youth Climate Summit will help inform this new target and policy.”

Students from across the wider Cairns high school community have also had the chance to provide input into the day through a survey asking them to share their hopes and ideas and actions relating to climate change.

Friday's workshop will put students in touch with climate experts from a number of agencies including Central Queensland University, Wet Tropics Management Authority, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Department of Environment & Science, Local Government Association of Queensland and Terrain.

Students will also have the chance to engage with Council, industry and businesses stakeholders and formulate goals and actions to address climate change in the areas of Powering our Future, Infrastructure Cities and Transport, Industry, Nature Based solutions, You and your community, Reef and rainforest resilience.

“We want to hear from the next generation of leaders and give them a platform to express their concerns and hopes for the region,” Cr Manning said.

“Perhaps today’s forum will unearth new ideas and concepts that will help us work together to create a more climate conscious and sustainable world.”

Students will have the opportunity to present the outcomes of today’s workshop to government, industry and community leaders at a special presentation next month.

Council environmental actions

· Making progress towards its goal a 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 2007/08 levels, by 30 June 2020

· Cairns’ landfill diversion rate of almost 60%, which is above the State average (45%).

· Council will spend $3.5 million to create mini-solar farms at its Wastewater Treatment Plants, which will be capable of generating 1.7 megawatt of energy, reducing the electricity costs at those treatment plants by 26% and approaching a total generation capacity of 3 megawatts.

· Council planted more than 100, 0000 trees over the past five years as part of revegetation projects.

· Methane from Cairns’ de-commissioned landfill has been captured and flared since 2012, eliminating over 80% of greenhouse emissions from the site and organics are processed into soil conditioner, reducing remnant emissions.