’WE’RE FAILING’: Council's strong stand on Climate Emergency
BALLINA Shire Council has joined 75 local governments across the country to declare a climate emergency.
The declaration is calling on all levels of government to deliver urgent action and acknowledge the climate emergency the world is facing.
Councillor Jeff Johnson, who put forward the motion, said the council needed to take a stand now before Ballina Shire becomes further impacted by climate change.
"I'm just really concerned for coastal areas like Ballina where we're going to reach this 1.5C in the near term unless we address this," he said.
"We're failing, we're asleep at the wheel and it's on our watch.
"We're probably the last council in the Northern Rivers region so we're not leading the way.
"Hopefully as more economists and insurance companies, the reserve bank and other institutions … hopefully this can bring about some change."
Every councillor except Cr Phillip Meehan voted in support of the climate emergency declaration.
Cr Meehan said while he acknowledged climate change was real, he believed the council shouldn't become involved in a movement that was linked to strong political campaigns, similar to The Green's climate change policies.
But Cr Keith Williams said the council shouldn't be swayed because of political motivations and instead needed to listen to the community's viewpoint on climate change.
"I'm not generally a big fan on declarative statements but I do think that the timing at the moment is that it's important both our state and federal government get the message that our communities want climate action," Cr Williams said.
"It's quite clear that a large number of local councils in our state support this, they have the same worries as us.
"It needs urgent action by our governments, not further placating of the fossil fuel industry."
Ballina Shire Council will now join Byron Shire, Lismore City and Tweed Shire Councils as the fourth Far North Coast local governments to declare a climate emergency.
The council will write to the State and Federal Governments to insist legislated programs be introduced to drive emergency action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the lower of the Paris Agreements or a maximum 1.5C warming.