The 600 people who filled the lawn in front of the Eurobodalla Shire Council during the Global Climate Strike on September 20 wanted action on climate change at all levels of government.
“They are determined, passionate and clear about what needs to be done to avert a climate catastrophe,” says Allan Rees from Eurobodalla 350.org
“It was bigger than any previous Eurobodalla climate rally with more groups than ever taking part”.
While the idea of a ‘climate emergency’ has been rejected by councillors, Council is now asking community and business groups to help in identify further action to reduce greenhouse emissions and in doing so tackle climate change.
The yearly progress report on the shire’s Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) was accepted by Councillors at their last meeting (September 24). They also authorised a workshop to identify and consider potential actions for Council, businesses and the community to further progress the plan.
Eurobodalla Council’s Environmental Services Manager Deb Lenson says the ERP was mid-way through its four-year implementation cycle, with 21 new actions and 48 ongoing actions across Council’s operations.
“The ERP sets out Council’s goals to reduce emissions by 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2030, with 100 percent of electricity sourced from renewables by 2030,” she says.
“We’re on track with some targets already met, including a 36% reduction in emissions.
“We will also be accepting expressions of interest from individuals and groups with expertise in developing practical steps to further reduce emissions and address climate change.”
Kathryn Maxwell, President, Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance (SHASA) addressed Councillors in the public forum prior to the meeting.
“We have a climate crisis to deal with. The last few years has seen a significant increase in extreme climate events including stronger storms, more severe droughts, stronger winds, less water runoff into rivers and dams, and longer and more severe heatwaves,” Ms Maxwell said.
“The Eurobodalla is not immune to these impacts. We have seen a significant decline in rainfall in the last three years, hotter and more humid summers, with the sun’s rays being much stronger.
“Over 60% of Eurobodalla’s residents are over 60 compared to 27% for the rest of regional NSW. Older people are much less able to cope with temperature extremes and their health is already being adversely impacted by the changing climate.
“We are told by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor and the majority of Councillors that the Council does not need to declare a climate emergency because they are already taking climate action.
“However, their actions are pretty much restricted to reducing emissions for the Council. Very little is being done to help the community reduce emissions or adapt to the rapidly changing climate.
“Last year the Southcoast Health and Sustainability Alliance prepared a budget submission to the Councillors where we asked for a number of climate adaptation measures. These were ignored by the majority of Councillors,” Ms Maxwell said.
Among other ideas, one presented by SHASA talks about building shelters which cover car parking spaces that are fitted with solar panels.
“Byron Shire installed these at Mullumbimby, and a number of Council’s in Queensland have also installed them,” Ms Maxwell said.
“These car parks are dark bitumen colour and as a result are heat sinks. We also need many more water fountains so that people can easily stay hydrated.”
Ms Lenson says additional actions, like coverd carparks will be presented to Councillors for condideration along with other ideas that might come from the workshop.
To enquire about participating in the Emissions Reduction Plan workshop, contact Council at [email protected] outlining your expertise, the group you represent and your contact details.