We must address our climate emergency

Image credit: KAL, The Economist.

Yarra policy

In December 2018 the City of Yarra declared a climate emergency and committed to urgent action. In June 2020, Yarra adopted a Climate Emergency Plan, with a strategic priority of transitioning to zero emission transport. In July 2022 council adopted an ambitious Transport Strategy, including new deals for walking and cycling. The associated Parking Strategy is scheduled to be updated in 2024.

Excerpt from Yarra’s Climate Emergency Plan. Image credit: City of Yarra.

What Yarra can do

As a Local Government Council, the City of Yarra has significant control over transport emissions, Australia’s third largest source of greenhouse gas pollution. Council can help residents to decrease their transport emissions by encouraging people to use clean modes of transport, and by discouraging polluting modes of transport.

For Australia to meet its climate obligations, we need to fundamentally transform our transport system so everyone can get around easily and safely.

Climate Council – Shifting Gear: The Path To Cleaner Transport
The path to cleaner transport. Image credit: Climate Council.

Council can encourage clean transport by increasing the safety, convenience and enjoyability of walking, cycling, public transport and occasional car sharing, by:

  • Building 30 km/h Low Traffic Neighbourhoods that are safer and more enjoyable for people walking and cycling.
  • Working with VicRoads and Yarra Trams to build protected bicycle lanes and level access tram stops on a grid of shopping streets, to provide through routes for cycling and improve access to trams.
  • Relocating shopper parking to the first 5-10 bays on each side street, with drivers guided to vacant bays using sensors, thus freeing up space on the shopping street for protected bicycle lanes and level access tram stops.
  • Building footpaths on shopping streets and access streets that continue at grade when crossing minor side streets.
  • Removing the cap on the number of car sharing vehicles (such as GoGet and Flexicar), and allowing car sharing vehicles to be located on residential streets, close to users.
Image credit: Climate Council

Council can also discourage polluting transport by:


Funding to revitalise our streets in a climate friendly manner is readily available from our streets – by reforming how we price on-street parking. Learn more on our expenditure, revenue and budget pages.

Revenue from streets should be returned to streets. Image credit: Streets Alive Yarra.

Guidance from Transport for under 2 degrees

The Transport for under 2 degrees report makes it clear that transport needs to be quickly decarbonised:

– A full decarbonisation of the transport sector requires higher ambition

– Public transport, active modes of transport, shared mobility services as well as sustainable urban planning will be the backbone of climate- friendly urban transport

– The political task of promoting the successful structural change in the automotive and fossil fuel industry will require more efforts by policy makers

– Decision-makers have to prioritise regulatory action over incentivisation

Transport for under 2 degrees
Image credit: www.t4under2.org

Guidance from the LGCET

The Local Government Climate Emergency Toolkit recommends that council’s commit 5% of their budget to infrastructure for cycling and walking. For Yarra, with a budget of approximately $200 million per year, this translates to $10 million per year for active transport, matching the ask from Streets Alive Yarra.

Image credit: lgcet.com

Few downsides

Responding to our climate emergency has many upsides and few, if any, downsides:

Image credit: Joel Pett via USA Today

Local champion

Your local champion for this page is YCAN – Yarra Climate Action Now. View all of Streets Alive Yarra’s champions on our supporters page.

Yarra Climate Action Now believes that the climate emergency requires communities and all levels of government to take urgent action. YCAN is an award-winning community group, based in the City of Yarra, which campaigns at local, state and federal level to demand this action. Our members are ordinary people who are passionate about ensuring a safe climate and sustainable future. YCAN is our way to take action into our own hands; we think globally but act locally