Alexandrina Council hears deputations on climate change

TEAM: Alexandrina Council Mayor Keith Parkes and CEO Glenn Rappensberg.
TEAM: Alexandrina Council Mayor Keith Parkes and CEO Glenn Rappensberg.

Alexandrina Council is under intense pressure to join more than 70 Australian councils to move a Climate Change Emergency Declaration.

More than 1000 jurisdictions in 24 countries have declared a climate emergency. The heat turned up at Alexandrina Council's November 18 meeting when there were three deputations seeking elected members to act on climate change.

Bruce Brooks (former manager of climate services at the Bureau of Meteorology), Anne Bourne and Marc Wilson made the deputations to council.

Mr Brooks said there was an increase in temperature, decrease in rainfall and a 40 per cent decrease in water run-off into the Murray/Darling Basin.

"This is quite alarming in my opinion. We are in an area of climate emergency," Mr Brooks said.

Councillors Bronwyn Lewis and John Carter asked Mr Brooks "what can council do and what happens if council supports a climate emergency?"

'We must first acknowledge the fact we are in a climate emergency and could reduce carbon emissions for a start," he said.

Ms Bourne said Alexandrina Council would join thousands of governments and councils world-wide if it acknowledged a climate emergency.

"There is till skepticism on this matter. Council must support the development of an action plan and gain access to the most relevant information," Ms Bourne said.

Ms Bourne congratulated Alexandrina Council on its uptake on solar and its endeavours to reduce waste collection. Mr Wilson said it was "easy to bury your heads with all this information".

"The three hottest years ever recorded were in 2015,16 and 17 and the 20 hottest years on record have occurred in the last 22 years. The role of council is to provide leadership," Mr Wilson said.

"Temperatures will continue to rise; 1.5 degrees and then two degrees. Council needs to look at the IPCC document and digest that information."

Councillor Bill Coomans said there was no balance on the argument of climate change. "We need to hear from those with an alternate view," Cr Coomans said.

There was no recommendation from council at its meeting to adapt the Climate Change Emergency Declaration and at this stage it cannot be confirmed it will be included in the December Council Meeting or a future Council Meeting.

Alexandrina Council stands by its positive approach to climate change and the uptake it has achieved in renewable energy.

"Our 2014-2023 Community Strategic Plan already commits Alexandrina Council to adopting progressive approaches to climate change and "climate-ready communities" is one of six key priorities identified in that plan as being of prominent interest to our community," Council spokesperson said.

"Our Environmental Action Plan adopted in 2014 contains detailed strategies and actions for responding to climate change including reducing council emissions, understanding risks, building resilience, planning for sustainable growth and providing community leadership.

"Earlier this year, council also resolved to join the Cities Power Partnership pledging to take action on climate change by making the switch to renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transport."

Alexandrina Council has installed solar on a number of council buildings and have electric vehicles as part of their corporate car fleet and in 2020, will install a 100kW solar system on the Goolwa Library and Administration Building, switch over to LED lights within the office and improve building management systems to reduce the amount of energy used.

"This project will reduce emissions whilst delivering expected cost savings of more than $40,000 per year. Other current priorities include coastal adaptation and investigating a switch to LED streetlights," spokesperson said.

Prior to the 2019 Federal election, elected members unanimously endorsed the motion that 'Alexandrina Council expresses significant concern about the continuing vulnerability of its communities to the impacts of climate change, particularly the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth and coastal localities as well as industries critical to our economic wellbeing, such as agriculture.'

Alexandrina Council also called on all parties and candidates in the 2019 Federal Election to demonstrate how they will support the community to navigate the unfolding 'climate emergency', including their positions on global and national plans and associated emissions targets as well as specific ideas for funding and policy support at a local level.''