NSW climate emergency motion passed despite heated debate

NSW councils have declared a climate emergency at the recent LGNSW Conference, and will urge state and federal governments to develop climate risk standards, such as provide more renewable energy for all new infrastructure and property projects.

Ryde City Council Mayor Jerome Laxale moved the motion calling on the NSW government to join 900 governments around the world and 30 Australian councils in declaring a climate emergency.

“This motion is a plea for our state government to lead a statewide response to the climate crisis we are currently facing,” he said.

“Taking action on climate change is responsible,” he said. “It’s about identifying risks to our community and mitigating them.”

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore applauded the efforts of City of Sydney councillor Jess Miller, who led work on the motion, which was put forward by the City of Ryde’s Jerome Laxale.

“We need to work together to protect our communities from the risk of increasing flooding, heat, droughts and storms,” Ms Moore said.

The motion was put to an electronic vote after lengthy debate, where it narrowly passed 51 votes to 49.

Following the climate vote, Bega Valley Shire council put forward a motion calling on the state government to revise the NSW Renewable Energy Plan to adopt a renewable energy target of 100 per cent by 2030.

The Shire said it was time to update current LGNSW policy to reflect scientific advice and community sentiment, saying the target is achievable and affordable.

Albury Deputy Mayor Amanda Cohn stood to support the motion arguing the production of solar energy could bring jobs back to regional communities.

But Greater Hume Shire Council deputy Mayor Doug Meyer said replacing food-producing land with solar panels would “decimate” farming communities.

“It’s already pitting community against community,” he said. “My Shire is prime agricultural land, it produces the food you eat. If you’re going to replace it with solar panels, what are you going to eat?”

The motion was defeated 49-51 after another division.

Motions to progress waste to energy proposals, to increase hazard reduction burns and to prepare guidelines on principle-based procurement were carried, but not without opposition.

A motion urging the local government insurance broker Statewide Mutual Scheme to refuse insurance for fossil fuel projects and to divest from fossil fuels shares was voted down, as was a motion to phase out the controversial herbicide glyphosate.

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