BENDIGO is on the cusp of dramatically intensifying its response to climate change, assuming the community embraces ambitious plans to slash city-wide emissions.
It could see Bendigo residents rethink any ideas for net zero emissions by 2030, in favour of something closer to actual zero, climate advocate Ian McBurney said.
"It's a big undertaking. It's a moonshot," he said.
"If we went and put the word 'net' in front of it [the term 'zero emissions'] it would be easy. We could plant some trees somewhere and keep doing what we are doing.
"What we are saying is 'let's see how close we can get to zero emissions'."
Exact projects can only be established with input from businesses - including industrial manufacturers - community groups, schools and individual members of the public, Mr McBurney said.
Discussions have already started with the Bendigo Manufacturing Group, which represents some of the city's bigger carbon emitters.
Mr McBurney said the incentive was already there for big carbon emitters, who are seeing the cost of petrol, gas and other power sources rise.
"They've got a big power bill, so they will actually save the most amount of money from transitioning," he said.
Bendigo-wide ideas would feed into a wider regional road map, Mr McBurney said.
That is expected to happen over the next year through multiple forums, roadmaps and a Greater Bendigo Climate Summit, to take place in May.
Businesses - including industrial manufacturers - are being sought out to discuss what might be possible, along with community groups, schools and homeowners.
"We've had global climate talks and discussions about individual actions, but we can't do this on our own. We need to do it together," Mr McBurney said.
"If we actually play our cards right, as a city, we can really benefit."
Multiple forums will be staged to help community members work out what is already working well, and where the gaps are.
"Where there are gaps, we will create new projects. If no-one is looking at community batteries, let's set something up," Mr McBurney said.
The climate push is being led by the City of Greater Bendigo and has the support of the Bendigo Bank, the Bendigo Sustainability Group and a range of other players around town.
It is the culmination of work some sustainability advocates have been working towards for 20 years, Mr McBurney said.
They have long hoped for a shift away from a focus on individual actions towards collective, win-win approaches.
"To be honest, it's a relief. Too much of the whole challenge has been put on individuals," Mr McBurney said.
"What we do ourselves is important, but having conversations about this city, which we all love, and turning it into something even better, is really exciting."
For more info visit www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/climatecollaboration
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