Six City of Greater Geelong councillors voted against declaring a climate emergency despite thousands of people heading to City Hall for a climate strike only days before. Photo: MICHAEL CHAMBERS

City rejects climate change declaration

October 9, 2019 BY

THE City of Greater Geelong failed to declare a climate emergency at a council meeting last month, despite five councillors voting in favour of the proposal.

Elected representatives were confronted with a crowd of outspoken community members at the September 24 meeting, who expressed their disappointment by shouting and chanting in the council chambers once the vote was counted.

Cr Sarah Mansfield, who chairs the city’s environment and sustainability portfolio and put forward the notice of motion, said without “urgency of action at all levels of society”, climate change posed serious risks for future generations.

She spoke of rising sea levels, an increase in bushfires as a result of the global temperature crisis, rainfall shortages and her fears for her own children.

“I’ve been gripped with the overwhelming fear of what lies ahead for our kids.

“The young people in our community share this anxiety. This is the future they’re immediately facing.”

Cr Jim Mason was applauded when he said he accepted the science, stating climate change wasn’t a “matter of belief”.

He acknowledged while the COGG had achieved positive outcomes in the environmental space, it could do better.

Cr Stephanie Asher was interrupted several times when she moved an amendment to the original motion, with the councillor claiming her additions – which included the adoption of a Sustainability Framework – made for a “beefed-up version” of the declaration without “party politics” or the word “emergency”.

“Passion is really important to get things done. I’m also really passionate about climate change action, I’m also passionate about getting things done and I’m also passionate about standing up for what I believe in,” she said.

“To declare a climate emergency now is just to tick a box and do a series of ad hoc actions.”

Cr Jim Mason said he was offended by the insinuation that he was being political about his support for Cr Mansfield’s notice of motion, claiming it was a “vague” and “tacit” remark.

Cr Asher’s amended notice of motion was supported by Cr Aitken, Cr Grzybek, Cr Kontelj, Cr Sullivan and Cr Nelson. It will see the COGG develop a Sustainability Framework that seeks to identify potential ways to action sustainable practices to combat the effects of climate change in the region.

City chief executive officer Martin Cutter was requested to submit the reports by February next year. The Surf Coast Shire declared a climate emergency in August.