Even amidst one of the world's longest COVID-19 lockdowns, Melbourne's councils are climate trailblazers, with City of Melbourne, City of Yarra and Nillumbik Shire taking out top honours in the prestigious Cities Power Partnership awards last night. 

The Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership Awards recognise the work of climate heroes in local governments across the country who are transforming Australia’s energy landscape. Awards host, ABC Fight for Planet A presenter Craig Reucassel congratulated the trifecta, noting that the winning projects shone in a competitive field.

 “It’s great to see three Victorian councils continue to lead on climate solutions despite being faced with the immediate challenge of COVID-19,” says Reucassel. 

“Love the community-focused approaches to tackling climate change, delivering major emissions reductions and significant cost savings for local residents and businesses.” 

Melbourne came out on top in the Renewable Energy category for the emissions reduction impact of its Melbourne Renewable Energy Project 2. 

The project united a buying group of seven large energy users from across the city to collectively buy renewable energy. Justin Hanney, Chief Executive Officer, City of Melbourne said he was proud to have the council’s second major bulk-buy renewables project recognised. 

“The City of Melbourne is honoured to receive this award, and we would like to recognise all of the project partners involved and commend them for their leadership and commitment to climate action,” says Hanney. 

"The project will reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 123,000 tonnes a year, that's the equivalent of taking more than 28,000 cars off the road every year.” 

“It’s a significant step towards our goal for all of Melbourne to be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy.” 

Nillumbik’s world-first Hybrid Solar and Battery Off-Grid Stadium and Relief Centre took home the Metropolitan Innovation Award that celebrates bold, transformative climate solutions.

Carl Cowie, chief executive officer, Nillumbik Shire Council said he is honoured to have the council's leading project celebrated on a national stage. 

“Nillumbik Shire Council is proud of this first-of-its-kind, innovative hybrid solar and battery project,” says Cowie. 

“We are highly invested in finding climate and community resilience solutions in Nillumbik and this multi-purpose development not only serves as an solar powered community stadium, but also as a community relief centre in an emergency such as bushfire.” 

Yarra’s sustainability team took home the Climate Champion Award that celebrates the work of council staff in driving the city’s climate response. 

Vijaya Vaidyanath, chief executive officer, City of Yarra said Council is immensely proud to be the recipient of the Climate Champion Award this year. 

“This award is testament to the leadership, innovation and unwavering dedication our staff have shown on climate change,” says Vaidyanath. 

“As a council and a community, we recognised that the time to act was now. We took a collaborative approach.” 

“We recognised the importance of community and organisational partnerships and most importantly we acknowledged the role everyone has in responding to the climate emergency.” 

“We set high expectations to deliver a best practice local government climate emergency response, and I am incredibly proud to say we delivered.” 

More than double the number of local governments entered the awards this year compared to last, showing how local governments are rising to the challenges of climate change, even in the difficult circumstances of 2020, and playing a vital role in Australia’s climate solution. 

The Cities Power Partnership Awards celebrated outstanding work from local governments in the fields of renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport, community engagement and innovation as well as individual climate champion awards.