Alexandrina and Victor Harbor Councils declare a climate emergency at December meetings

Backed by science: Climate scientist and councillor Melissa Rebbeck was praised by members of the chamber for her work on Alexandrina's climate declaration.
Backed by science: Climate scientist and councillor Melissa Rebbeck was praised by members of the chamber for her work on Alexandrina's climate declaration.

Both Alexandrina and the City of Victor Harbor councils have recognised a "climate emergency" passing declarations at their respective December meetings.

Alexandrina's elected members voted unanimously in favour of declaring a climate emergency, much to the delight of a packed gallery who erupted into applause when the decision was reached. This followed a deputation from Dr Kerri Muller who urged elected members to support the motion.

"Climate change is undoubtedly an emergency and it is arguably the greatest challenge in human history," she said. "We are now actively changing the climate of our only planet. By declaring a state of climate emergency, we trust that you as our leaders will take urgent and timely climate action."

Alexandrina's Climate Emergency Declaration was moved and developed by councillor Rebbeck, who works as a climate scientist and gave an impassioned speech when introducing the motion to the chamber.

"Why the emergency declaration now? Because we have taken just 50 years to increase global warming to one degree and we have seen devastating effects. But due population growth and an increased use of coal and fuel, we are looking at reaching two degrees as early as 2030," she said.

"I urge you to face it [climate change] full frontal, look it in the eye and do as much as you can to support our children and grandchildren and future generations to come." Cr Rebbeck also discussed the opportunities the declaration would offer council and the region through a focus on the development and use of green technology and regenerative agriculture.

CLIMATE: Victor Harbor councillors Marilyn Henderson and Carol Schofield with Mayor Moira Jenkins.

CLIMATE: Victor Harbor councillors Marilyn Henderson and Carol Schofield with Mayor Moira Jenkins.

At the City of Victor Harbor, Agricultural and Environmental Scientist, councillor Marilyn Henderson moved successfully for council to call a Climate Emergency Declaration. "The declaration is simply a statement supporting what we as a council are already doing," Cr Henderson said.

Cr Henderson had eight key points in declaring the climate emergency which included council undertaking a review of climate change mitigation and adaptation actions delivered by council to date and receive costed recommendations in regard to potential tangible actions that the City of Victor Harbor could seek to prioritise in the short to medium term and request the CEO write to State and Federal Members of Parliament which represent the Southern & Hills Council region, advising them of council's resolution and request they also act with urgency to address climate change.

Councillors David Kemp and Tim Glazbrook were more skeptical. "The earth has been cooling and warming for millions of years. We do not have enough information," Cr Kemp said.

Cr Glazbrook said mankind needed to change its ways. "We always want more and this council does not seriously want a climate emergency. Population growth is the major cause of climate change and if council was serious you would say no to more developments," Cr Glazbrook said.

Mayor Moira Jenkins was proud of council's environmental record. "We are showing leadership with the introduction of LED street lights reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the use of recycled plastics on roads, the planting of 3600 trees in 2019, banning of helium balloons at council events and the formation of the Renewable Energy Group to advocate for the greater uptake of renewable energy in the council area."