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Climate Change: will it be the the elephant in the room for Eden Monaro

While half of the South Coast electorate of Eden Monaro recognises Climate Change the other half, being the Eurobodalla end still refuses to recognise it and instead labels it as Variable and Changing weather. While Council, in their submission report, acknowledges that the Inquiry "is to consider, and report to the Premier on the causes of, and factors contributing to, the frequency, intensity, timing and location of bushfires in NSW in the 2019-20 bushfire season, including consideration of any role weather, drought, climate change, fuel loads and human activity. (page 68) the Council has made no mention of climate change. Instead their submission to the NSW Independent Inquiry to the Bushfires advises: It is further recommended that the NSW and Australian Governments fund more specific research: on the likely short- and long-term impacts of the changing climate on bushfire frequency and behaviour. Cr Pat McGinlay brought a Notice of Motion to declare a climate emergency to Council’s 13 August 2019 meeting. The motion also suggested all future or revised strategies include an assessment of the potential climate change impacts with a third point requiring council staff provide councillors with a range of options for community engagement in relation to climate change. Cr McGinlay’s motion did not receive sufficient support, however, two replacement amendments brought by Cr Pollock were adopted. The first motion recognised focused and strategic actions were required by local government to address variable and changing climate, immediately and in the longer term. So while we know that Eurobodalla continues not to recognise Climate Change by the universal definition now widely accepted to our south Bega Valley Shire Council clearly and publicly states that it "recognises that climate change is one of the greatest social, economic and environmental challenges of our time and Council accepts the science and government position on the issue. Climate change is a broad issue and can also be linked in many ways to environmental sustainability and the need to manage resources efficiently and effectively. Council itself is a significant stakeholder in the management of resources locally and as such has a duty to be efficient and reduce environmental harm where identified." This makes it a difficult task for both candidates as it appears that the Eurobodalla votors from Tuross River to The Tilbas and Akolele have a council of non-believers and the Bega voters to the south are represented by a council of climate change believers. So where does that leave Fiona Kotvojs (Liberal) vs Kristy McBain (Labor) At a national level the Labor Party (ALP) their climate change policy includes a number of initiatives around reducing greenhouse gas emissions, capping Australia’s biggest polluters, boosting electric vehicles (EVs) and rebuilding the Climate Change Authority (CCA). It is considered that Greenhouse gas pollution reduction targets should be at least 65% by 2030, to be in line with the science, so Labor’s target of 45% will need to be rapidly ratcheted up. In turn their Transport policies could be extended to be more effective, their policy is not explicit on coal and they are silent on the current Coalition Government’s potential investment in fossil fuel power generation, and the need to phase out domestic and export coal and gas. Most lacking is a clear climate adaptation strategy, including funds to adapt to intensifying climate change As for the Liberals; the Climate Council has conducted a detailed assessment of the current government’s climate performance in its report, ‘Climate Cuts, Cover-Ups and Censorship’. The Climate Council says "The period 2013-2019 is characterised by slashing climate science funding, cutting effective climate change programs, rejecting the expert advice of national and international bodies, senior ministers publicly making misleading claims, a lack of credible climate policy, and consistently covering up poor performance. "The report describes how the Federal Government has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep the public in the dark on climate change. Deep funding cuts and job losses at the CSIRO have weakened Australia’s climate science capability. As a result, Australia is unprepared to cope with the impacts of climate change. The Climate Council rates the LiberalNational Government’s climate performance over the past five-years as the defining leadership failure of the past decade." It will be of interest to see how long the candidate can stand in her opinion that she gave the SMH (Liberal candidate opens key byelection battle with climate pledge May 24th 2020) saying "I believe that the climate is changing, I believe that humans contribute to that change in climate and I believe that we need to have a reduction in emissions," she said on Sunday at a press event with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.We need to look at approaches to be adaptive and to have our communities resilient."

The SMH also reported that Fiona Kotvojs 'also entered the political debate over hazard reduction as a way to cut the risk of bushfires, given her experience last summer saying "The difference in areas where the fuel had been managed and the national parks and state forest had done hazard reduction burns – I know that in those sections around our property, the fire came through with far less intensity, it was much easier to manage." ' On the South Coast the impacts of the fires were massive on all levels. Currently there are two enquiries being conducted and a considerable amount of finger pointing. Some will recognise Climate Change, others will denounce it. The Eden Monaro is still primarily in drought and we are just five months away from the bushfire season with no game plan in place. Nerves are exposed and residents are angry, frustrated, stressed and dismayed. No doubt the elephant in the room will be discussed more openly as the election date (as yet not announced) approaches.

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