Local governments in Australia are in an enviable position to lead their community towards net-zero emissions. In fact, as stewards of infrastructure, and assets and land totalling $380 billion dollars, their role is vital for reducing carbon emissions and represents an upside for the management of council reputation.
Net-Zero Momentum Tracker, a report by Climate Works and the Monash Sustainability Development Institute, found that 37% of local governments interviewed have committed to reaching zero community emissions by or before 2050. Together, these councils represent 21% of the Australian population.
Most Australians are onboard with local government net zero directions. In a 2021 Lowy Institute Climate Poll:
Overall, we can see that many Australians will be very interested in knowing what their local council is doing in their community to achieve net-zero by 2050.
Strong leadership and strategy are essential for councils seeking to increase trust within their community regarding the net zero emission actions they’re taking. Councils need to ensure their constituents and stakeholders are both engaged and informed. Creating positive public opinion about net-zero goals is a key part of their governance and leadership role.
Even though councils will encounter constituents who disagree with their sustainability goals, it’s important to have inclusive communications to allow those members of the public to be engaged in the process on their terms. Listening to voices that disagree shows strong leadership. It’s important to manage disagreement with transparency. It’s an opportunity for councils to engage all on the potential impact of net-zero and global warming effects.
A good governance framework enables reputation stewardship. How an organisation or business approaches climate change is increasingly becoming a reputational risk that needs mitigation.
Taking action, like transitioning to 100% battery-operated equipment, such as our EcoTeq commercial mowersand other maintenance equipment, is a great opportunity to enhance a council’s reputation. With the vehicles seen out and about, they are tangible pointers to the council’s actions towards net-zero emissions.
If you are at the early stage of managing reputational risks associated with how your organisation is managing climate change, consider the following steps.
To manage reputation, we first need to benchmark current beliefs, perceptions and actions. The Lowy Institute’s survey results are a good general starting place, but it’s more important to take the pulse of your local community. You can do so via a community engagement phase.
Use your community engagement results to work out if there is a gap between your reputation and reality. Gaps can be positive or negative. Perhaps your community thinks you’re doing too little to address climate change because they have seen your maintenance crews using loud and carbon emitting maintenance vehicles in the community.
What actions can you take to bridge the gap?
Work out whether beliefs and expectation gaps are changing. When the gap widens or expectations shift, reputational risks increase.
Regularly survey employees, residents and other stakeholders to see if their priorities are changing.
When internal communications are poorly coordinated, it can hinder the monitoring of changing beliefs and expectations. Council messaging must be clear. Departments that interact with stakeholders have an opportunity to manage their expectations.
Council’s CEO is the person with ultimate responsibility for managing reputational risk, but they don’t have the time to coordinate the activities that affect reputational risk.
Assessing existing and potential risks to reputation and deciding whether to accept a risk or to act to avoid or mitigate it is reputation management. One person should have responsibility for managing reputational risk to ensure Council’s net-zero actions are not compromised. It will also help with consistent messaging.
This person would work with the parts of council where activities can affect or pose risks to its overall reputation. They can also enhance the coordination among its functions and units. Better decision-making will result in a smoother journey towards net-zero and clearer communication with all stakeholders.
We are Australia’s first zero-emission, 100% electric range of commercial mowers and maintenance equipment.
As a specialist 100% battery-powered equipment supplier, we partner with councils on their journey towards net-zero. We are 100% focused on performance. All machines in our EcoTeq range are purpose-built from the ground up as a 100% electric vehicle.
With zero emissions, and performance comparable to petrol or diesel-powered maintenance equipment, switching your fleet to the zero-emissions option is an obvious choice.
For us at EcoTeq, service is as important as the quality of our products. We’ll be with you every step of the way towards your net-zero targets.
Zero emissions. Zero compromise. Less reputational risk