Council to vote on climate emergency

By Greg brown

HOT on the heels of the COP26 United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, one Sunshine Coast councillor has a vision to join the growing chorus of voices calling for more to be done to arrest the evident adverse change in the world’s climate.

David Law, Sunshine Coast Division 10 councillor, wants the region to join Noosa Shire and become the second local government in Queensland to recognise that a climate emergency exists. He will raise the issue at Wednesday’s (November 10) ordinary meeting of Sunshine Coast Council.

In 2019 Noosa Shire became the first – and, to this day, only – council in Queensland to formally resolve to declare a climate emergency.

Noosa council stated that its administration accepted the latest science on climate change and “acknowledges that the Noosa Shire is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change including heat waves, more intense storms and sea level rise, all of which is likely to adversely affect the Noosa natural and human environment. Council therefore declares that we are in a ‘climate emergency’ which requires urgent action by all levels of government.”

Across Australia, 102 local governments have already made such a declaration. Notably, Brisbane City Council is one of two capital city councils (along with Perth City Council) to actively vote against a climate emergency declaration.

Cr Law has tabled a notified motion calling on the Sunshine Coast Council to accept the Sixth Assessment Report (August 2021) of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which reveals that “the Earth’s climate has deteriorated dramatically since they last reported six years ago”.

He asks the council to recognise that a climate state of emergency exists requiring urgent and sustained effort to achieve net zero emissions by 2041.

Cr Law is calling for the chief executive officer to investigate how a whole of council response to the climate emergency could strengthen the council’s daily actions on the emergency, and to prepare a report with relevant recommendations for council’s consideration by March 31, 2022.

Cr David Law at the May 2021 SS4C event (source: Cr Law’s facebook page)

In his reasonings supporting the notified motion, Cr Law outlines why he believes this step is needed.

“By recognising that we are locally and globally in a state of climate change emergency, we will be positioned to provide an organisation-wide emergency response to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make our contribution to the reduction of global warming,” Cr Law writes.

“I do not believe we are lacking information on this issue. There is a vast depth of scientific knowledge and expertise. Plus, we have the lived experience of the mega bushfires of 2019/2020 and in March 2020 the Great Barrier Reef had its third mass bleaching event in five years causing irreversible damage.

“As our global leaders are negotiating our future, it is time for the Sunshine Coast Council to increase and strengthen our response and provide the leadership for ourselves, our businesses and communities to do everything possible to respond to the climate emergency.

“In good faith the people of the Sunshine Coast have entrusted us with a moral duty as well as a duty of care for us all today and our future generations.

“I am aware of this whenever I think about my children’s future and ask myself what sort of world, what sort of climate, do I want them to inherit?

“No one can say we didn’t know about the climate crisis that is now at emergency status. What we must say is that we did everything in our power to avert the dangerous and irreversible changes to our climate,” Cr Law says in the motion.

On the letters page of this week’s GC&M News, John Brinnand highlights what locals can do before Thursday.

“If you are among the 71% of Australians who want more action on climate, contact your local councillor and encourage them to declare a climate emergency,” he writes.

So, if you think the council needs to formally recognise that climate change is something that needs its urgent attention, contact your local councillor and ask them to support Cr Law’s proposal at this Wednesday’s council meeting.

Cr Rick Baberowski –; Cr Winston Johnston –