Nambucca Council wants a body to monitor emissions targets progress

As Greta Thunberg put it at the UN climate action summit in New York two weeks ago, "Change is coming, whether we like it or not."

Valla resident Dr Peter Sobey picked up this thread when he spoke to Nambucca Shire councillors at their September 26 meeting, encouraging them to support a motion to declare a Climate Change Emergency.

"Change presents us with challenges but also with opportunities," Dr Sobey said.

"At the local council level we face the challenges of rising sea levels, coastal erosion, and water security.

"The opportunities include providing community leadership in the education and engagement of our local community in adapting to the changes that are underway."

Dr Peter Sobey with Cr Anne Smyth

Dr Peter Sobey with Cr Anne Smyth

He said the Council's Clean Energy Committee (of which he is a member), was an example of the council's leadership.

"Witness the installation of solar panels on the Council Chambers building - the first of many such installations on council buildings that will save us all money and reduce greenhouse gasses," he said.

Declaring a Climate Emergency, symbolic as it is, will underline our commitment to take action as a community

Dr Peter Sobey

"Witness the installation of electric vehicle chargers in Macksville and Nambucca ... already owners of electric vehicles have these locations on their itinerary, and publicise them, because of our early move on this front.

" ... the Council has agreed to commit us to a Renewable Energy Action Plan.

"Declaring a Climate Emergency, symbolic as it is, will underline our commitment to take action as a community to do our small part in what is a global issue ... stepping up to the plate and accepting the challenge is the test of leadership.

"As the recent Global Climate Strike showed, the children are watching us and will hold us to account for our actions."

In his tabled report the council's general manager, Michael Coulter, referred to a piece by media commentator Waleed Aly, who wrote that in the context of the Paris agreement, a declaration of emergency might be an unhelpful over simplification of a complex global problem.

Mr Coulter said he agreed with this point of view: "The focus should instead be on ensuring independent verification that Australia's undertaking to reduce emissions by 26%-28% below 2005 levels by 2030 will be achieved and secondly via international diplomacy to ensure that all of the worlds' governments participate in the agreement."

Cr Susan Jenvey moved an amendment to the motion to receive the report, adding that 'Council adopt a motion declaring a climate emergency.'

This was lost and after debate, which, reportedly, heard a range of differing views aired, Cr Rhonda Hoban proposed that 'Council write to the Prime Minister and the leader of the Federal Opposition requesting the appointment of an independent body to monitor and report on Australia's progress toward reaching the emission targets it agreed to under the Paris agreement'.

This motion was passed.

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