Shire declares an emergency

Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser

The Shire of Denmark has put climate change at the top of its agenda, declaring a climate emergency at last week’s council meeting.

The motion was submitted by Cr Kingsley Gibson and proposed targets of a 50 per cent reduction of current Shire emissions by 2030, and net zero emissions from all Shire operations and activities by 2050.

The Shire’s Sustainability Working Group will include a detailed response to climate change in its Sustainability Strategy and Action Plan within a year.

Shire president Ceinwen Gearon said the WA Local Government Association had a policy about declaring climate emergencies and a number of WA councils had already done so.

“In Denmark some years ago we developed a strategic community plan in close consultation with the community and it was clear that some of the issues that the community cared about,” Cr Gearon said.

“Then again in March this year we had the local students come to ask me personally to declare a climate emergency and I explained to them that I couldn’t, but that I was listening to what they are saying and that it would have to be a resolution of council for such an emergency to be declared.

“Cr Gibson worked closely with the Shire officers to craft a statement and a resolution and last Tuesday we resolved to declare a climate emergency. In doing so we are asking for State and Federal governments to take stronger action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and we have set some limits for our own organisation to meet.”

Cr Gearon said the declaration was another step forward for the Shire and the community on the path to sustainability.

“I think it is an emergency for the planet and any small thing we can do to help advocate others that have more impact take this situation more seriously,” she said.

There was a separate resolution at the same council meeting addressing the water crisis, requesting a meeting with Water Minister Dave Kelly and advocating for the community to be involved.

The City of Albany has not joined its neighbouring Shire in declaring a climate emergency, but Mayor Dennis Wellington said the City would continue its environmental work with or without a declaration.

“We started back in 2010 with the environmental policy, things like reducing the emissions from our car fleet and we’ve reduced it by 25,000kg a year, by putting in electric cars and hybrids,” he said

“We’ll continue to do that.

“By doing the FOGO (Food Organics, Garden Organics) to reduce the amount of waste going into the ground.

“By striving to do as much as possible, having renewable energy rather than using coal fire.”

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