I have been and still am trying to get my head around the pros and cons of whether or not the Council should declare a Climate Emergency.
I have spent my recent time listening to both arguments so that I might respond in what I believe will be the best way.
When debated at this week’s Council meeting I voted against declaring an emergency. Why?
As a practicing Christian (as I have previously indicated) I am a firm believer in Creation Care as the Bible explains it. I believe God has placed mankind on this earth with the responsibility to care for his creation. Likewise, I believe Jesus came to us not to save us, but the whole of creation.
I am also a pragmatist cast in a political role, rather than the other way around. In other words, I am more a “walk the walk” man, than a “talk the talk” man.
Please believe me when I say that the whole Council IS climate aware. Not one of them is a dis-believer.
Councillor Russo was absolutely right to bring the motion before Council.
Requested by a section of the Community she raised a motion that they wished debated. The group that we have heard from since then is passionate about the planet and the climate. They should be.
In my mind though, the best course of action is the real question we are trying to debate.
On Monday night Councillor Russo repeated many times that our Community has spoken. My impression of her argument was “the” community want this, therefore we should vote for this. This is simply not the case. The community has not asked us to do this. Only a section of our community has, albeit a passionate one notwithstanding. The other part of her argument, reinforced by those delegating, was that it must start with a declaration and that action follows.
Wikipedia explains declaring a climate emergency in this manner. A government admits that global warming exists and that the measures taken up to this point are not enough to limit the changes brought by it. The decision stresses the need for the government and administration to devise measures that try and stop human-caused global warming.
The remainder of her motion spoke to affirm what we have already done, are doing, and plan to do.
This repeats the sentiments of the motion by Cr Hughes a month ago. It mirrors also the sentiments of a subsequent motion on Monday night by Cr Dodd. A motion that unfortunately the gallery never got to hear because they left after Cr Russo’s motion was lost. In other words, confirming we are a Council that walks the walk.
It did not spell out what we are missing, which I believe such a declaration demands. New action.
Given we are already looking to create a Climate Action Plan, that will almost certainly contain the goal of the City of Unley’s operations becoming carbon neutral by a given date, the question must be asked what more do we need to do. In other words, we do not need to declare an emergency to instigate action. If this is not the case I would welcome suggestions for Council to consider. I believe the whole of Council would likewise. Indeed I would love to see a greater contribution to the debates we have already.
And here is the big rub. If we were to declare an emergency it would be incumbent on us to immediately take new dramatic action.
In declaring an emergency we are exposed to litigation, as was noted by two who spoke against the motion on Monday night, in making a declaration. Those Councils, who have declared emergencies, have been I understand the most likely to date targeted for inaction after declaring the emergency.