Concerns on climate voiced

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Solar system: Solar panels atop the Frankston Library. Picture: Supplied

FRANKSTON councillors have voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency.

The move was put forward by new mayor Cr Sandra Mayer, who said she was “so proud” that her fellow councillors supported it.

“This is a credit to the volunteers, council staff, and councillors,” she said. “Leaders all over the world now need to step up.”

“As part of our decision, council made a commitment to review and update our Climate Change Impact and Adaption Plan, which is now eight years old. Once finalised, the plan will provide us with a clear roadmap of how we, as a city and a community, can continue to prioritise initiatives, infrastructure and projects that positively impact our planet.

“The bottom line is that year after year we are seeing the increasing impacts of climate change. Our local natural water sources are drying up, resulting in the death of countless native animals each year, particularly in summer. As a bayside suburb we need to consider and implement ways to ensure we are mitigating and minimising the risk of coastal erosion.”

Frankston Environmental Friends Network chair David Cross said “the Frankston community is very engaged on environmental issues and Frankston Council already has strong environmental credentials when you examine what they are already doing.”

“There are many environmental groups throughout Frankston suburbs, including ours that have been campaigning for greater action on climate change for a long time now, so council’s decision is one we very much welcome,” he said.

“The Frankston Environmental Friends Group, along with the broader environmental community, will be watching council’s progress closely and look forward to collaborating to find tangible and sustainable ways to combat climate change.”

Some members of the public gallery at council’s 18 November meeting rose from their seats to give councillors a standing ovation after the vote. Five members of the public made submissions to council at the meeting supporting the move.

All present councillors (Crs Glenn Aitken, Kris Bolam, Brian Cunial, Quinn McCormack, Lillian O’Connor, Sandra Mayer, and Colin Hampton) supported the move.

Cr McCormack said “it’s not up to other countries to act, it’s up to everybody to act.”

“We have 511 animal species threatened with extinction, and changes to biodiversity have also caused bush fires in Queensland and New South Wales,” she said.

“This is global and everyone needs to do their bit. (…) We’ve seen so much empty rhetoric from the state and federal governments on this.”

Cr Aitken said “were sea level rises to come to pass in our area, there would be widespread and devastating flooding.”

“Many homes here are built on concrete slabs, and they will be inundated,” he said.

Cr Brian Cunial said “councils across Australia should do anything they can to look at options like solar panels.”

The motion read that “Frankston Council acknowledges that current levels of global warming and future warming already committed constitute nothing less than a climate emergency for most life on this planet, requiring an emergency response by all levels of government, including local government”. Council will also “call upon the Australian state and federal governments to declare a climate emergency, and back this up with legislated programs to drive emergency action to reduce greenhouse gases and meet the lower target of the Paris Agreement to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.”

First published in the Frankston Times – 25 November 2019

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