Moreland City Council declares a climate emergency [VIDEO]

At Moreland City Council’s meeting on 12 September 2018, councillors unanimously adopted a resolution acknowledging that “we are in a state of climate emergency that requires urgent action by all levels of government, including local Councils.”

The motion which was presented at the council meeting and moved by Councillor Dale Martin was seconded by Councillor Oscar Yildiz and passed unanimously after an interesting debate which was video recorded, starting at 2 hours 19 minutes:



1. Council acknowledges we are in a state of climate emergency that requires urgent action by all levels of government, including local Councils.

2. Councillors receive a briefing from officers on how to best act on the ‘climate emergency’ acknowledgement and ensure this is embedded into future strategies and the next council action plan.

3. Council updates the Zero Carbon Evolution 2040 framework to embed the ‘climate emergency’ acknowledgement.

»  Agenda for the Moreland Council meeting on 12 September 2018

» Video recording of the council meeting debate on the Climate Emergency motion – at 2:19:10


The motion at Moreland Council calls for councillors to receive a briefing from officers on how to best act on the climate emergency acknowledgement.

Consideration of the climate emergency will also be embedded into future strategies and the next council action plan, as well as updating the municipality’s Zero Carbon Evolution 2040 framework to embed the climate emergency acknowledgement.


The following transcript is the excerpt of the meeting debate in the chamber which was featured in The Sustainable Hour on 94.7 The Pulse on 24 October 2018:

Cr John Kavanagh: “Next a motion has been submitted by councillor Martin. Is it as printed in the agenda?”

Cr Dale Martin: “Ah yes, it is, it is.”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Okay, so councillor Martin is moving what’s printed in the agenda. Do we have a seconder for that? Councillor Yildiz, thank you. And Councillor Martin.”

Cr Dale Martin: “Yep, so firstly I’d like to just really acknowledge the work that our counterparts over in Darebin have done in this space. They are really trailblazers in this area and in recognising this as a really important issue and really allowing us to learn from them in the process.

What we’re asking for, and as leaders in our community, we’re aware of the impact that climate change is having on our environment and we are aware of the eminent threat that it poses to not just our food systems but our health and the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable members in our community.

And I really, actually, would like to thank Councillor Tapinos for sending me the definition the other day of the word emergency because what it does, the definition of the word emergency, is ‘a dangerous situation requiring immediate action’ and the synonyms of emergency are crisis, urgent situation and extremity. And, these are things that we are recognising, and we are seeing in our community right now. We have beaches down at the Great Ocean Road that are eroding week by week. We have bleaching of our Great Barrier Reef. We have bushfires in the middle of winter. We recognise that we’re having more and more intense heat waves, we’re having flooding.

These things are happening to us and we are aware of it, we are aware that we are at an ecological tipping point and that we have a limited amount of time to act.

Now, as council, we have taken quite a lot of action in this area and I acknowledge the work that we’ve already done in this space, and our ongoing partnership with the Moreland Energy Foundation, which enabled us to have our Zero Carbon Evolution Strategy. The other work that we have done, including the Urban Heat Island Effect, food systems, procurement, divestment, Watermap, Waste and Litter, Integrated Transport, Cooling Communities and Urban Forest Strategies, these are all steps that we are taking to mitigate the effects of what is a climate emergency.

So, I really implore my fellow councillors here today to actually stand with us, and stand with Darebin, and stand with now a number of cities across the world that are recognising that we are at this point, we are at a climate emergency.

I just would like to finish with the one quote that is actually written in our Zero Carbon Evolution plan, and that is from Ban Ki-moon, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, and that is “we are the first generation to be able to end poverty and the last generation that can take the steps to avoid the worst impacts of climate change”.

So, councillors, I implore you to support this motion.”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Okay, just before I move to the seconder, just a reminder, councillors, that we need to stick to the topic and not personalise it too much. Thank you.”

Cr Dale Martin: “Ta.”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Councillor Yildiz?”

Cr Oscar Yildiz: “Nah, it’s alright.”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Alright. Okay. Councillor Abboud.”

Cr Natalie Abboud: “Ah, thank you. So, this is not just a local problem, this is a problem for the whole planet. And the implications for each of us not doing anything is like when there’s a big demo at the city and you think to yourself, ‘ah, I might not go’, and then you remember that if you’re not the only person that decides not to go, nobody goes, and nothing gets done.

So, I’d like to draw attention to something that really struck me, because I’m kind of concerned with how farming happens, which is that right now, probably tomorrow night, as hurricane Florence, which has been billed as the strongest storm to ever make land fill, land fall, with winds of up to 209 kilometres per hour, has caused over a million people and their mobile homes to be evacuated from the path of this storm. It’s caused the largest pig abattoir in the world to be evacuated and closed down – that employs four and half thousand people, so they’re not working today, they’re not. The pigs… last time a storm hit this area the dead pigs were floating down the river. This storm is expected to go over half a dozen nuclear power plants, it’s expected to drop 600 millimetres of rain over industrial waste sites, pits holding coal, ash and huge lagoons full of animal waste. If this is not an environmental emergency, then we probably haven’t grasped the idea of emergency at all.

I wanted, I couldn’t come to terms with this at all, but this figure says two and a half thousand billion – which is how many cubic meters of ice have melted in the last 25 years, and half of that ice melted in the last 12 years. What’s happening is, storm surges are hitting the Antarctic where the floating ice is gone. They’re hitting the ice shelves and they’re fracturing the ice shelves, causing the glaciers to be able to reach the water quickly, which is resulting in sea rise.

Now, back to the local level, I have friends who live in Tathra. In the last 6 months they’ve had to evacuate and be on a watch and alert alarm – one of those episodes happening in the middle of winter. I have friends who live in Canberra that have just resigned to the fact that it just doesn’t rain there anymore. All through New South Wales farming communities are collapsing because there is no rain. They’re re-discovering stuff that hasn’t been taken into account and needs to be addressed again, like burying grain, like burying hay so that they can dig it up and feed it. You know, lambs are being born, you know, up – a sheep is having two lambs, but it can’t support either of the lambs and the lambs are having to all be taken away and be babysat by a boy who’s at boarding school because who would stay on a farm when farms are in drought. The whole system in collapsing and if this is not an emergency and we don’t do something, then I don’t know what it looks like.”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Thank you councillor. Any other speakers? Councillor Tapinos. A reminder to you as well, sir.”

Cr John Tapinos: “Well, after hearing my fellow councillors I must admit I am a little bit scared about the impeding disaster emergency we’re hearing about pigs are floating down the river, lambs that are needing to be cared for by others….”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Alright, come on, councillor, stick to the…”

Cr Lambros Tapinos: “This the nature of the debate, and…”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Yes, it is, I know, okay…”

Cr Lambros Tapinos: “It’s the nature of the debate that’s occurring and it is frightening stuff and its quite scary stuff, and we should all be so concerned. But I wondered what are we actually doing about it, because it seems to me this motion not to have much substance at all. It’s a declaration, that’s all. At least our counterparts in Darebin actually have conference.

So, I mean, if I’ve ever seen a feel-good motion in this chamber, this must certainly be one, where we can get up here and make this drastic declaration of emergency, the world is collapsing, but yet all that we are seeking for is a declaration. A declaration. Surely, Mr Mayor that this motion should at the very least be calling for an update of our municipal emergency management plan. Now, that is the management plan that we undertake emergency response to. Surely if all these things are a dire need in our city, we can effectively indicate through our emergency management plan that we need to take drastic action – inform ambulance, fire stations, local authorities, services and police. This is what the declaration of emergency will do.

On the contrary, though, what we should be doing, and what we are doing, thank you for brining it to my attention, cause it’s already on the agenda two or three times already today alone, is implementing those policies that we’ve already spoken about. Our carbon reduction policies, investing real money into local change, solar panels, planting more trees. It is these motions that I want to be debating this late at night. The ones that actually do things, not just bland declarations of emergency. Thank you.”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Thank you, councillor. Any other speakers? Did you want… yes, councillor Riley.”

Cr Mark Riley: “After attending the conference today and with expecting our Spark Conference to happen next week, it’s quite evident we are doing things and this motion is intended to try and reframe the situation. And, obviously it brings out some passion in us and gets emotional reactions, and in fact we had psychologists for Safe Climate today talking to the conference about that and we had some excellent communications people talking about how we can frame that and how we can work with some of those issues.

So, it’s inevitable that’s going to happen when you start to touch on these things. I think we are, we have got much of the foundations, we are doing this kind of work and we’re trying to reframe it a bit because we have the United Nations already saying to us that after two years of… since the Paris agreement, the United Nations own environmental program put it like this, ‘today we failed’.

And, if you look at David Spratt, one of the other speakers today, he talked about the Paris text being a political fix. And, this is where some of the passion gets into it, because we’re actually, you look at all of the emission reduction commitments from all the voluntary national commitments that have been declared so far, we’re on a path to 3.4 degrees of warming when we know that Paris is meant to say that we’re getting to 2 or significantly under 2, and that would happen by 2100.

That’s only a couple of generations away, we’re already, you know, nearly to 2020. And that, you know, more than 5 degrees is a high-end risk and includes carbon cycle feedbacks in, taken into account. So, it just kind of gets worse. And, as I said earlier tonight, really, we should be sticking to around about 0.5 degrees of warming as an ideal level of warming that humans and other species can live and thrive in.

So, as much as this is a word or a title, and it’s a reframing, it is important to do that because I think the way that we communicate and engage with our own community is essential, and I’m not saying we aren’t doing it, I think we are, we’ve got a lot of leaders here. Some of them are in the room tonight, and many of them were in the room today at the Northcote town hall. And, when we put this up on the display board, it got an ovation from the audience.

Now, obviously that’s preaching to the converted, but those people have read, and very concerned and they’re passionate about it, and they would like to see Moreland line up with Darebin in terms of the framing of this, and I think we’re both doing good work in that area. Both councils are competing around it, and I just would like to encourage that we could actually do that as well, to actually really give a sense of the importance and the need to act now and to build on what we’re doing.”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Thank you, councillor. Councillor Bolton.”

Cr Sue Bolton: “Well, in response to Councillor Tapinos, the, well, if this was all we were doing, changing a few words, then yeah sure, that wouldn’t make any difference. But, the intent of this is for action to go, to go hand in hand with signing this climate emergency declaration. And in fact, even beyond the impact on the climate and people and other living animals that have been mentioned by other people in the chamber so far, there’s also even the fact that can we afford, like financially, as a community, afford to deal with all of these disasters.

You know, hurricanes beyond what we’ve experienced before, bush fires which are of a scale that we haven’t seen before, like, things are at a much higher scale, and there has been in media very little linking between these disasters and droughts and climate change.

So, I’m definitely in support of this motion. I think it’s a signal of the direction we want to go in. I think that there are other things that we need to do in addition to this, which will, you know, go hand in hand along with this. So, I’m certainly in support of it. I don’t think it is just a motherhood statement. I’ve been very opposed to just motherhood statements on council, and I think this signals more than that, and it’s up to us to put the more into the climate emergency acknowledgment.”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Thank you, councillor Bolton. Councillor…”

Cr Oscar Yildiz: “You see, I seconded the motion, and everyone spoke…”

Cr John Kavanagh: “You did get a chance but…”

Cr Oscar Yildiz: “Yeah, yeah exactly. But, it’s self-explanatory. It is making a statement, but if we didn’t get up and do this tonight, I think we’d be doing us injustice, because as a council we reflect a lot of what’s in the motion to start with.

So, I mean, I think councillor Martin mentioned the other councils, but we in particular are champions in this space. So, whether we make this statement or not, it’s just self-explanatory. Well, I don’t know why we need so much debate on something that makes us, that puts us on the map for the right reason. But also, it’s about our future generations. If we can’t start eating and breathing this and acknowledging this, in everything that we do, I don’t think we’re going to have a planet.

You know, you mention, councillor Abboud mentions the, the – I saw it yesterday on social media, how the hurricane was about to make in-rows and I went ‘oh my god, just imagine living in that’. And we’ve got, you know, the last, I think last 10 years have been the hottest it’s ever been in the last hundred years. We need to respond to this and if we’re not all as a council especially standing up to this, then we are, we’re doing the community, we’re doing the world injustice, I believe. Because this is a massive statement for us as a council, which we’re only a dot on the map, to be making. This, it’s not a motherhood statement, I think this is very important and I congratulate councillor Martin yet again. Well done.”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Okay. Any other speakers?”

Cr Lambros Tapinos: “Mr Mayor, can I move an amendment, then, an additional dot point if it’s acceptable to move considering I’ve heard the need for this and the passion around the chamber, that we add a dot point to amend our municipal emergency management plan to reflect this statement tonight.”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Just before I ask if that’s acceptable, can I get a comment from the CEO.”

Ms Nerina Di Lorenzo: “Just through the Mayor, the municipal emergency management plan is really about how the different services get together in the event of a specific municipal emergency. They may come as a result of climate change or other cause. I’m sort of hesitating about it because its purpose is a different purpose, and just looking at the director as well who looks after that, similarly, its purpose is different. It’s very much about the operations of what out response is when an event occurs, regardless of whether it’s created by one factor or not. So, it’s hard for me to advise anything other than that.”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Do you still want to go on with it?”

Cr Lambros Tapinos: “Yeah, I do, because from what we’re hearing around the chamber, there is clearly a need to address natural disasters.”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Okay, we’re not debating it. I’ll just see if it’s acceptable to move on seconder. Is it acceptable to move on, seconder?”

Cr Oscar Yildiz: “Ah, no it’s not.”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Okay, so, okay …”

Cr Lambros Tapinos: “Where’s the action!?”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Okay, okay, okay, so your other option is to find a seconder to the motion and then to, we’d debate that and then come back to the substantive. If you want, we could let it lapse.”

Cr Lambros Tapinos: “Well is there a seconder?”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Well, but it’s not acceptable to the original movement so does councillor Tapinos have a seconder for his amendment? Therefore, it lapses. Thank you. Alright, so we go back to a substantive motion and I think – did you want to close the debate or are you happy with that?”

Cr Dale Martin: “I mean, I can just say, briefly…”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Just to make sure we stick to the debate.”

Cr Dale Martin: “Yes, I just, just want to highlight for those in the gallery who are watching, point two highlights to receive a briefing from offices on how best to act on the climate emergency acknowledgment and to ensure that it is embedded into all, well, embedded into future strategies and the next council action plan. So, what we’re actually doing is recognising that Darebin has the climate emergency plan, recognising that Moreland is already doing plenty of fantastic work in that space. But what we need to do is we actually need to work with our offices to actually work out well, how do we do this; how do we best mitigate this problem. And I really do thank the councillors in this room for their enthusiasm to act on this emergency and really look forward to the unanimous support in the chamber to actually develop further climate emergency plans.”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Thank you, councillor. That closes the debate, now let’s put it to a vote. All those in favour. You’re voting in favour?”

Cr Lambros Tapinos: “I always was in favour, I just said it didn’t go far enough, Mr Mayor.”

Cr John Kavanagh: “Oh, sorry. I apologise, I just… and against? Thank you. Can we record it as unanimous, please? Thank you.”


“Landmark decision”

Convenor of Climate Action Moreland John Englart said:

“This is a landmark decision by Moreland Council that takes account of the need for rapid action and leadership on climate change. While leadership has been sorely lacking by the Federal Government for the last five years, we are pleased that our local government is filling the void on a local level and is following our neighbours in Darebin in adopting a climate emergency framework.”

The Climate Emergency motion at Moreland Council meeting follows on from the City of Darebin adopting a climate emergency plan at their Council meeting on 21 August 2017 and implementing a climate emergency framework as part of their Council Plan.

Over two days on 11-12 September 2018, the Darebin City Council convened and facilitated a successful climate emergency conference at Northcote Town Hall.

John Englart asks a question at Moreland City Council on climate emergency motion

»

» Climate Action Moreland – 6 September 2017:
Darebin Council adopts climate emergency plan

John Englart ask a question to Moreland Council at the council meeting at 33min 30sec.