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Will Eurobodalla councillors respond to call for action on Climate Emergency

Eurobodalla Councillor Patrick McGinlay has given notice that at the Ordinary Meeting of Council on 13 August 2019, he will move that Eurobodalla Council acknowledges and consequently declares that we are living in a time of climate emergency that requires focussed and strategic actions at the local government level, for the benefit of our whole community, in both the immediate and longer term. He is also seeking his fellow councillor's support that all future or revised existing Council plans, strategies and substantive initiatives related to any and all Council business and responsibilities, include and provide evidence of a consideration and an initial assessment of the potential impact on climate change in the broad sense and particularly environmental, economic and social impacts on our Shire and its community to ensure there are no gaps in our knowledge of activities that could have climate change implications. He will be moving that Council staff, within a reasonable timeframe (3 months from date of the motion), provide Councillors with a range of options for practical, effective ongoing community consultation mechanisms in relation to climate change with the objective to develop initiatives for either Council, Community or joint consideration/action to mitigate the process of climate change or adapt to its impacts within our community. Offering by way of background Clr McGinlay says "The intent of these three Notices of Motion is to state very clearly that this Council body is aware of and is responsibly responding to the scientifically evidenced critical issue of climate change and the current and potential impact it will have on our community, in the future. "It is proposed that each motion be voted on individually. "It is worth noting that at the recent National General Assembly of Local Government, there were more than a dozen motions put forward by many councils for consideration, all which gained support, to urge the federal government to declare a climate emergency. "That however is not the intent of these particular recommendations; rather it is to focus on what we can do, for our Shire, at a local government level. On the Recommendation/Motion 1. - Scientific Evidence and predictions Clr McGinlay offers: "The vast majority of the worlds’ scientists have been making the world aware for decades that there is a crisis in place in regard to climate change. I do not intend to go into a detailed argument here to justify the criticality of this issue, nor the extent to which human activity is contributing to this phenomenon. I will rely instead primarily on the findings of the:  UN sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report of 2108  The UN sponsored Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report of 2019.  Our own bi-annual CSIRO and BOM reports and predictions on the impact of climate change. "I note on a local level that the NSW RFS has just two weeks ago brought forward the official start of the Statutory Bush Fire Danger Period on the Far South Coast by two months from the previous 1 October, to now 1 August. Clr McGinlay advises in his Notice of Motion to Council that fellow councillor James Thomson, in another of his roles, provides the following supportive words: “As a committee member of Australian Coastal Councils Association I feel it is important that all levels of government recognise that we are experiencing a rapidly changing climate that is being influenced by humans. People living in coastal areas and the agricultural industry are likely to feel the brunt of the changes first and most dramatically. ESC has done an amazing job of finding efficiencies and reducing its carbon footprint and we need to make sure this continues. As community leaders we need to lead by example to reduce the harm done to the environment into the future.” Clr James Thomson Clr McGinlay advises, as background to his motion "As at July 2019 there are 28 councils elsewhere in Australia, representing roughly 3 million people, including the ACT Government, that have declared a climate emergency with more planning to put the motion forward. These will provide an additional source for collaborative efforts and shared ideas that can benefit our community." "Council has been taking actions to preserve our environment, many of which are relevant to mitigating climate change. These form a foundation upon which we as a Council and a community can build. "The second recommendation is to provide a framework to ensure we take a holistic perspective in regard to all of our various future and revised plans, strategies and major initiatives, to ensure there are no inadvertent gaps in our attempts to mitigate climate change and its impacts. "There is no intent via this motion that any decision needs to be made to allocate immediate funds, nor a further layer of scrutiny or ‘red tape’ that would absorb any significant time resources of staff. Rather it is, as with any initiative, plan or strategy, that the impact of climate change be incorporated as an incremental consideration into the project development/management process as are many other factors." Clr Pat McGinlay "Landcare also provides support for 24 groups across the Eurobodalla that undertake a variety of on ground works on private and public lands. The works aim to improve conservation of natural areas and a broad range of activities such as planting, weeding, feral animal control, and education. Sustainability: Emissions Reduction Plan, water and waste efficiency programs, energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. These programs all help to minimise and mitigate the volume of greenhouse gas emissions from Council and the community. "The 2017-2021 Emissions Reduction Plan follows over a decade of Council working in the arena of reduction of carbon emissions and increasing renewable energy sources both for the organisation and supporting the community. Eurobodalla Shire Council has been proactive and innovative in the space and continues to be a leader. The plan identifies 21 new actions and 48 ‘Core’ or ongoing actions covering the areas of community, fleet, energy management, street-lighting, leadership, planning, renewable energy and waste. Actions within the plan were designed to help meet the following goals and be achievable and measurable. Council’s goals are set out in the plan and include:  reduce emissions by 25% by 2020 for Council operations  reduce energy emissions by 80% by 2030 for Council operations  source 100% of Council’s electricity from renewable energy by 2030. On 12 February 2019, PSR1/001, minute 19/7, Council considered a renewable energy Power Purchase Agreement report and motioned that “Council commits to the Power Purchase Agreement with Procurement Australia.” Council continues to progress discussions with Procurement Australia, their consultants and tenderers on this matter. Discussions with Essential Energy, regional councils and Joint Organisations has progressed under the ‘Southern Lights’ project. This has resulted in the accelerated availability of main road LED street lights and smart controls. With support from the former NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) Council completed energy audits on three buildings. Funding was received from OEH towards energy efficiency upgrades for the Moruya Administration building air-conditioning system. Council continues to give preference to investing with financial institutions that do not invest in, or finance, the fossil fuel industry, within the constraints enforced by one of its main lenders, T-Corp. In July 2019, 45% of funds were invested in fossil fuel free institutions. Methane continues to be flared at two landfill sites and carbon credit revenue is redeemed for this activity under the Emissions Reduction Fund. Council & Community: Support for a range of community and business initiatives assisting in water, waste and energy reduction. Examples include;  providing support for and collaborating with the South Coast Health and sustainability Alliance (SHASA),  providing smart water monitoring, water efficiency support, advice and rebates to schools and large water using businesses,  supporting 55 food businesses to reduce or eliminate single-use plastic items through the We Care program In concluding his Notice of Motion Councillor McGinlay talks of consultation: "It is important to build upon the above and to be able to react to future impacts. The third recommendation is to provide for the development of a consultative mechanism to involve the considerable expertise and interest of our community to encourage them to contribute to developing solutions and ideas on an ongoing basis. "This recommendation simply seeks that staff provide a range of options for councillors’ consideration to enable community input in a practical and transparent manner to the development of solutions to the problems, both current and potential that will need addressing in regard to climate change. "Council has been very successful in attracting many grants for many projects because they have had plans and projects in place that are deemed ‘shovel ready’. The same approach needs to be taken to prepare for future community and organisation backed projects and initiatives that are related to climate change mitigation and adaption that will require funding. This will prepare us to be prime candidates for such targeted funding that will potentially become available from federal and state level sources as the impacts of climate change deepen." Councilor McGinlay will be urging his fellow councillors to support his motions "to consider their role as leaders within our community, and to accept the responsibility of taking action to respond positively to the difficult reality that we all face together, not just in the immediate, but longer term as a community in regard to climate change." "This is an issue that needs, at our local level, to be beyond partisan politics, regardless of whatever happens at a State or Federal level. We as elected leaders of our community have to take a long view and the opportunity to step up".


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