Last week, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris gave the keynote address at the inaugural Cities Power Partnership (CPP) Summit in Kiama, Australia. The two-day summit featured a lineup of renewable energy and climate experts, government officials, and industry leaders. Parris additionally joined with CPP representatives and a number of Australian government officials for a joint press conference, encouraging Australian mayors to follow Lancaster’s lead in taking local action to combat climate change. As a Republican who sees climate change as a bi-partisan issue, to be tackled by Democrats and Republicans alike, Parris urged Australians to put party politics aside, and join Lancaster and the CPP in the fight against climate change.
“Governments worldwide simply don’t have the time to waste playing politics on climate change. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report shows that we need urgent action from all levels of government to limit devastating climate damage to our towns and cities,” Parris said. “Despite these findings, greenhouse gas pollution, along with global temperatures continue to rise. Meanwhile, cities and towns across the globe are joining forces to drive down greenhouse gas pollution through investment in renewable energy and sustainable transport. Alongside my Australian counterparts, I urge Australia’s city leaders, conservative and progressive, to join us in putting political differences aside and commit to meaningful action to tackle the greatest challenge of our age – climate change.”
The city of Lancaster, an Alternative Energy Research Center of Excellence for the state of California, has become a global leader in municipal sustainability in only a decade. Since Parris was elected Mayor in 2008, the city has launched its own energy utility, which offers residents and business owners cleaner energy options; converted 25 school facilities and five city facilities to solar, creating hundreds of jobs in the process; and purchased 18,000 of its streetlights from Southern California Edison and converted them into energy efficient LEDs. In addition, Lancaster was also the first city in California to mandate Zero Net Energy standards for all new homes built in Lancaster and the first city in Southern California Edison territory to break away and forge its own Community Choice Aggregator.
During his keynote address, Parris highlighted a keystone of Lancaster’s success – the development of partnerships with like-minded, trail-blazing organizations. At the direction of Mayor Parris, the city forged a relationship with BYD, the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer, to build their North American electric bus manufacturing plant in Lancaster. BYD and the city also partnered with KB Home to develop the Zero House 2.0, a groundbreaking home featuring net-zero energy usage, as well as zero freshwater irrigation use. The city’s relationship with BYD led to another dynamic partnership with the region’s public transit agency, Antelope Valley Transit Authority, which plans to debut the nation’s first 100% all-electric bus fleet by the end of 2018. BYD has recently expanded to triple its former size and employs hundreds of local workers.
“Sustainability just makes sense. When done right, it not only reduces carbon emissions, it attracts new industries, produces jobs, generates revenue, and creates a better future for our children and grandchildren,” Parris continued. “The city of Lancaster knows firsthand the power of partnerships. I commend the Australian officials who are putting politics aside to partner together with Cities Power Partnership to do what is best for our cities, our residents, and our planet.”
The CPP is Australia’s largest local government climate program, run by Australia’s Climate Council. Launched in July 2017 with 70 member councils and growing, the CPP program represents more than 8 million Australians and 250 towns and cities. For more information on the CPP visit: citiespowerpartnership.org.au.