At monday's Council meeting (Sept 20th 2021), Mitchell Shire Council voted 7-1 to Acknowledge a Climate Emergency, and to work with the community to develop a Climate Emergency Action Plan CEAP, and to allocate $110,000 in next years budget for this process.
This decision comes 7 months after BEAM Mitchell Environment Group made an impassioned presentation to Council to acknowledge overwhelming the climate science, to create local actions to mitigate climate change impacts in our region, and to build a resilience in our community to accommodate a changing climate as we slowly but steadily draw down carbon and cool our planet. This is an emergency, and substantial progress must be made THIS decade to 2030.
The 2019-20 wildfires down the east coast cannot be forgotten. this was exacerbated by climate change, and Emergency Leaders for Climate Action have called out for urgent attention to our climate trajectory. Climate change cannot be ignored.
BEAM had invited Council to DECLARE a Climate Emergency, but ACKNOWLEDGE is a good second best.
Over 30 of the 79 Local Government Councils in Victoria have already acknowledged or declared a climate emergency. Mitchell is not alone in being forthright on our climate challenges.
Submissions by BEAM and Mitchell Community Energy have demonstrated that in reducing emissions across all of Council activities through energy efficiency, electric vehicles and renewables generating power on all of Council's buildings, Council can make a substantial income in this "green economy". Acting earlier rather than later gives us choices of how to reduce our emissions.
Council, in supporting this motion, received a report in response to a Notice of Motion (Eldridge/Bannister) back in June to detail the implications of such a Declaration for Council, identified that such a Declaration or Acknowledgement fitted squarely within Council's Environment Policy that includes recognition of climate change across all of Council's departments.
BEAM suggests Council need not wait until next year for $110,000 to kick this process along- Mitchell Community Energy already meets with Council officers in Environment every 3 months to present a "report card" of initiatives and progress in renewable roll out. $110,000 is not needed for this.
So whether an Acknowledgement or a Declaration, it matters not. What is important is that Mitchell Shire Council joins the local government leaders in acknowledging a clear role and responsibility for local government to step up and address climate change challenges and reduce our emissions. BEAM stands with Council on this bold move, and invites broad community engagement in how we reduce our emissions, make our buildings and sub-divisions more energy efficient, and generate power locally from renewables. This is an exciting space.
Rooftop PVs for carparks can become commonplace- providing shade and generating power for electric vehicles.
A further encouraging position from the Council meeting was the adoption by Council, unanimously, of a Environmentally Sustainable Design ESD Policy for all of Council's buildings. This includes new buildings and upgrades, to meet National Standards of energy efficiency. Further, the policy aims to impact on new developments, whereby energy efficiency is a primary design goal. Will we see gasless developments? BEAM hopes so.