The Cities of Hobart and Sydney have led the way by becoming the first two Australian capitals to declare climate emergencies.
Hobart City Council passed its declaration of a climate and biodiversity emergency on 17 June by eight votes to three, while Sydney’s passed on 24 June by nine votes to nil.
Brimbank City Council, in Melbourne’s west, on 25 June also declared a state of climate emergency, saying it will prepare a Climate Emergency Plan outlining how council will react.
A motion proposed by four VIC and NSW councils and approved at the ALGA National General Assembly on 17 June called on the federal government to declare an emergency and create a $10b fund to help local councils build the resilience of their communities.
Hobart Lord Mayor, Anna Reynolds, said the council’s move reflects the concerns of the community.
“Acknowledging that you have a really strategic problem for the future is more than symbolic, it’s about recognising that this issue is going to effect our operations and our community is incredibly concerned about the impact of climate change on the future of our city,” she was quoted by the ABC as saying.
Sydney councilors endorsed Cr. Clover Moore’s Lord Mayoral Minute which urged rapid action from the Federal Government, including money to help people working in fossil fuel industries to find alternative jobs.
“By declaring a climate emergency, we call on the Federal Government to respond urgently, by reintroducing a price on carbon to meet the Paris Agreement emissions reduction targets,” Lord Mayor Moore tweeted.
“We also call on the Government to establish a Just Transition Authority to ensure Australians employed in fossil fuel industries find appropriate alternate employment.”
The ACT Government Legislative Assembly declared a climate emergency on May 16, the first Australian parliament to do so. Globally, more than 600 jurisdictions passed similar declarations including the cities of Auckland, London, and Vancouver.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City of Sydney became Australia’s first carbon neutral council in 2007, and as of June 2017, had reduced emissions by 25 per cent through actions such as the installation of solar panels, LED lights, tri-generation, and a Tesla battery trial.
“In 2020, we will transition to 100 per cent renewable energy, allowing us to meet our 2030 target in 2024 – six years early,” her Lord Mayoral Minute said.
She called on all federal and state politicians to unite behind the community and work toward a low-carbon economic that helps everyone, including people who are currently working in fossil fuel industries.
“We know the transition to renewables and a low carbon economy can be achieved, because countries all across the world are doing it successfully,” she said.
“It just takes leadership.”
She said countries like Germany and Spain are investing billions of euros to support coal areas as their communities transition away from coal.
“This is the kind of leadership Federal Government must provide to achieve its Paris Agreement commitments and to support our communities in the transition away from fossil fuels.”
Image: Hobart Town Hall by Edward H Blake, Wikipedia.