Word change cools storm over climate

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS - JACK PAYNTER Ur­ban Af­fairs Re­porter

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.

Bill Har­vey

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