Should Clarence Valley Council declare a climate change emergency?
Should Clarence Valley Council declare a climate change emergency? Max Fleet

Council on the verge of a 'climate emergency'

SHOULD Clarence Valley Council declare a climate change emergency? That question was posed to councillors at the Corporate Governance and Works committee meeting on Tuesday.

The Climate Change Advisory Committee has asked the council to declare a climate emergency and push for greater action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The declaration would legislate that the council consider climate change when addressing all matters and aim to lessen its impact.

The motion before the committee meeting did not go over well with all councillors, especially Cr Arthur Lysaught, who said he did not believe any council staff or councillors were educated enough to make a statement on the need for a climate emergency.

If Clarence Valley Council was to vote to declare a climate emergency, it would not be the first council on the North Coast to do so.

In October, Byron Bay Shire Council declared a state of climate emergency in response to the latest emissions figures and a report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Councillor Cate Coorey urged other Northern Rivers councils to do the same.

"The latest science is telling us we have a very short window to act before irreversible and catastrophic impacts from global warming start to take effect," Cr Coorey said.

"In a shire like Byron that will mean sea level rise and a likely increase in floods, droughts, fires and extreme weather events such as damaging storms.

"Council has declared that we are in a state of climate emergency and that we need action by all levels of government," Cr Coorey said.

"We may not be able to to have a direct impact on political decisions at the State and Federal level but we can show some leadership locally and start taking action."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that human activities were estimated to have caused about 1.0 degree Celsius of global warming above pre-industrial levels.

It also found it was likely to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius between 2030 and 2052 if it human activities continued at the current rate.

In the attachments for the Corporate Governance and Works meeting, the City of Darebin, Victoria, draft climate emergency documentation was included, which states the council hoped to "restore a safe climate at emergency speed, dramatic and negative changes will impact on our community.

"However, there are actions we can take to secure our future and protect our community from the extremes of climate change," the report said.

It gave a breakdown of Darebin's community emissions for 2015/16 and explained key ways the council planned to respond to the climate emergency.

According to the business paper, the Clarence Valley Council was "doing well" in working towards strategy for renewable energy and reducing emissions however the Climate Change Advisory Committee believed the council should be engaging the local community and other levels of government to communicate that there is a climate emergency and that they need to do more.

The vote on declaring a climate change emergency will go before the full council meeting next week, with the committee recommendation to adopt it passing three votes to two.



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