Noosa Council announced on Monday it would become the first Queensland local government to declare a climate emergency but warned there was a risk of sea water inundation for more than 2000 properties by the end of the century.
Councillors agreed at Monday’s General Committee meeting that Council would write to all levels of government to say the time to take urgent action on climate change is right now. Cr Ingrid Jackson said it must also inform 2232 property owners identified under Council’s Coastal Hazard Mapping program of being at risk of inundation by 2100. It was Council’s job to protect people’s properties, she said.
Zero Emissions Noosa (ZEN) president Vivian Griffin congratulated Noosa Council on declaring a Climate Emergency but challenged them to put meat on the bones of its words.
Ms Griffin said other councils, such as Moreland and Darebin in Victoria, had developed Climate Emergency Action Plans, outlining what the Councils themselves will do in partnership with their communities.
“Up until now Noosa Council has had a major focus on its own emissions, and that is a worthwhile thing to do. However, emissions from the Noosa community total nearly 500,000 carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) tonnes, with the big chunks coming from transport and electricity,” she said. “In contrast, Council’s own operations total less than 50,000 CO2e tonnes.”
Ms Griffin said while ZEN Inc, a not-for-profit volunteer organisation, had been working on a number of community based initiatives to reduce emissions and were grateful of council funding a small band of committed volunteers “was no substitute for a whole of Council focus”. Mayor Tony Wellington said Council’s Coastal Hazard Adaptation Plan would set out how Council prepares for and responds to increased severe weather events, storm surges, sea level rise and coastal erosion.
“At the local level Council has an ambitious target to achieve net zero emissions by 2026. We will continue efforts to reduce emissions by implementing solar PV, identifying energy efficiencies and by making changes to our landfill site and our operations,” he said.
“We will continue to work collaboratively with our community to achieve emission reduction goals across the shire.
In making the declaration, Noosa Council joins other local governments in NSW, Victoria, SA and WA, the ACT government and 740 jurisdictions around the globe, including the national governments of the UK, Canada, Portugal and Ireland and the cities of Paris and New York.
“The Australian Federal Government’s own National Greenhouse Inventory reveals that we are not on track to meet our Paris Agreement targets. Indeed, overall emissions are trending up, not down,” Cr Wellington said.
The most recent IPCC Report noted that humankind has just 12 years to take action to keep warming to less than 1.5 degrees and avoid more serious global catastrophes, he said.
“Left unchecked, climate change has the potential for major consequences, particularly more severe weather events. And Noosa is not immune. As a coastal community we are particularly vulnerable to impacts of a changing climate.”
The declaration is set to be ratified at Council’s Ordinary meeting Thursday evening.