Word change cools storm over climate
THE controversial climate emergency motion that sparked a Hobart City Council walkout will go back to council as a non-emergency motion.
The original motion — to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency — was heavily amended by the council planning committee on Monday night in a 3-2 vote to remove the word “emergency”.
Councillor Bill Harvey, who brought the initial motion, signalled he will put forward the original as an alternative at next week’s full council meeting.
He said he was disappointed with the outcome and they had missed an opportunity to send a strong signal to the Federal Government.
The amendments were raised by Alderman Jeff Briscoe who said Hobart did not need to call a climate emergency.
“There is a po l it ica l movement to call it an emergency but we don’t have to in this council because we’re already doing so many actions on the ground,” he told the planning committee.
“Emergency is something emotive. We’ve been working on actions to reduce our carbon footprint — I think we’ve got to continue our progressive policies that we’ve done since 1999.”
The topic has been hotly debated since it was first raised as an urgency action on May 19 when three aldermen — Briscoe, Damon Thomas and Simon Behrakis — walked out of the meeting to stop it going to a vote.
Cr Harvey said declaring a climate emergency was about a statement of leadership.
He said on Monday night Auckland Council had just made the declaration that day, joining more than 600 jurisdictions around the world, including the Australia Capital Territory and 23 other municipalities across the country, in declaring a climate emergency.
“This leadership statement means we commit further to what we’re already doing,” Cr Harvey said.
“Leadership requires us to make that bold statement. It’s not about us doing a huge amount more but about putting that pressure on other levels of government.”
Ald Tanya Denison, who voted in support of the amendment, said Hobart was already a world leader in climate change action and didn’t need to join hundreds of other councils in declaring an emergency.
Ald Behrakis said given 600 jurisdictions had already signed up it would be more a show of following a trend than a show of leadership.