Benalla Ensign

Council rejects calls to declare climate emergency

- By Simon Ruppert

Benalla Rural City Council voted not to declare a climate emergency after a petition was brought to its meeting on Wednesday.

Benalla P-12 Captains Jessica Patterson and Lachlan Sands spoke to council via Zoom before Benalla Sustainabl­e Future Group president (BSFG) Peter Holmes, and Benalla GP Dr Gerard Brownstein, also spoke in favour of the declaratio­n.

“We are speaking tonight to show that the youth of Benalla recognise climate change and the threat it poses for our town and our future,” Ms Patterson told the meeting.

“Throughout previous years action has been suppressed by various means.

“This neglect has culminated to a point where solutions need to be implemente­d so much (more) urgently than if we had started perhaps a decade prior.

“As a community and local government (area) we have an important role to play in advocating for change and leading by example.

“After holding Benalla’s first Student strike for climate in May this year with more than 80 in attendance we are pleased to see that climate action is a priority for many Benalla residents, from young school students who helped make signs for the event, to long-term residents of Benalla.

“People from all ages and background support the progressiv­e change that a climate emergency declaratio­n would welcome.”

Mr Sands said by declaring a Climate Emergency Benalla would be demonstrat­ing its commitment to take control and decisively lead through (a) crisis that requires important and meaningful decisions to be made.

“Thirty-three local councils in Victoria alone have already declared a climate emergency.

“There is much discussion around the costs associated with declaring a climate emergency, but the true scrutiny should be directed at the cost if we do nothing.”

Councillor­s questioned both students about what type of action they would like council to undertake.

They were also encouraged, along with their fellow students, to have input into council policy on climate change, moving forward.

It was an invitation they were happy to accept.

After debating the petition council voted to reject the idea of declaring a climate emergency.

Benalla Mayor Danny Claridge said it was rejected, as the work council was presently doing in that area was over and above what a Climate emergency declaratio­n would require.

He also said declaring a climate emergency did not do much and that he had spoken to mayors of LGAs who had made that declaratio­n who said it had no affect no their approach to addressing climate change.

“Some LGAs have gone down the path of declaring a climate emergency about 12 to 18 months ago and nothing has changed,” Cr Claridge said.

“It is the easy way out to declare the emergency and make everyone happy, but what we want is to actually make sure we are proactive.

“We as a council are happy with what we have done for the community.

“If people want us to do more please let us know and we’ll happily listen to what they want to say.

“Our climate change adaptation plan 2013-2025 is due for review and that will be a community review where we will be asking the whole community to be involved in reviewing that document.”

Mr Holmes said he was disappoint­ed by the outcome.

“BSFG, and no doubt the wider community... are very disappoint­ed with this response from our elected leaders,” he said.

“Despite overwhelmi­ng worldwide evidence of the catastroph­ic climate related events in recent years, and the most recent IPCC report noting that ‘this is the last decade the world has in which to drasticall­y reduce greenhouse emissions in order to contain global warming to 1.5ºC’, council’s motion contains no indication of urgency whatsoever, and no demonstrab­le target to work towards in regard to reducing greenhouse emissions.

“BSFG will continue to advocate vigorously for action on mitigating climate change.

“Therefore, on behalf of the Benalla community, we will declare that the world faces a climate emergency, and must drasticall­y reduce its greenhouse emissions by 2030; and that Benalla must play its part in striving for these emission reductions.”

 ?? ?? Passionate plea: Benalla P-12 College Captains Lachie Sands and Jessica Patterson called on Benalla Rural City Council to declare a climate emergency at its meeting on Wednesday, September 29.
Passionate plea: Benalla P-12 College Captains Lachie Sands and Jessica Patterson called on Benalla Rural City Council to declare a climate emergency at its meeting on Wednesday, September 29.

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