IN an unprecedented effort, Mayors and Councillors from 15 NSW Local Government Areas including Mid Coast Council have joined together to lobby the Federal Government on Climate Change.
The Councils have recognised the cost of extreme weather events and are hoping to create change.
The joint statement states, “Extreme weather is hurting Australia, and our communities are paying the price.”
Heavy rain, gale-force winds, storm surges and flooding are damaging our communities, endangering our residents and costing us millions of dollars in clean up costs.
Coastal erosion is a highlight with the cost of remediation of this one issue spiralling.
Locally we only need to look at the damage that bushfires, and East Coast Lows have caused to see that this issue needs addressing.
Dr Simon Bradshaw, Climate Council researcher told News Of The Area, “Our developed and populated beach communities like the ones near Port Stephens and the Myall coast are highly vulnerable to sea-level rise, worsening storm surges and coastal erosion driven by climate change.
“In the short term, communities must factor in an increase in coastal erosion events and undertake actions to keep livelihoods and businesses safe.
“However, to help prevent far more severe levels of coastal erosion in future, and to protect our beloved beaches and coastal infrastructure, we must rapidly cut emissions and address the root cause – climate change.”
The joint Mayors and Councillors statement goes on to say, “Schools and businesses have been forced to close, the lights have gone out, roads cut off, beaches washed away, and properties damaged.
“Many of our communities also experienced the Black Summer bushfire season of 2019-20.”
It is clear that the impacts of a changing climate and extreme weather are all around us.
“As the closest tier of government to the community, we are responsible for warning our towns and cities of disaster risks, helping them prepare, fielding calls for help, and responding in the moment.
“We are exhausted by the immediate costs and challenges, and we are worried about what’s to come.”
Escalation of extreme weather events has seen something that used to occur every few years, now, we are facing them every few months.
A report by the Climate Council revealed that climate-fuelled disasters have cost our national economy $35 billion over the past decade.
By 2038, the price tag of climate impacts will climb to $100 billion a year.
There is concern about how will our communities cope?
“We have the natural resources to become a world leader in renewable energies like solar and wind, and can create tens of thousands of jobs along the way.”
Local governments are embracing this opportunity, and are working out new ways to protect our communities and make our regions more resilient and prosperous.
The councils are seeking support from the Federal Government to further reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and invest in clean industries that create regional jobs, unlock business investment and spur technological innovation.
While MidCoast Council has joined the effort, Port Stephens Council are not involved at the current time.
Iain Watt, President of Econetwork Port Stephens told News Of The Area, “‘We are very disappointed that Port Stephens Council was not a signatory to this important call.
“Having last year adopted a new Climate Change Policy, and joined the Cities Power Partnership last, we would have hoped that Port Stephens would have joined with these other forward-looking Councils, including our neighbours Dungog and Mid-Coast, in pressing for federal government support and action.
“We are also awaiting Council’s promised Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan and Sustainability Strategy and Action Plan as the next steps in delivering on Council’s 2020 commitments to local action.”
By Marian SAMPSON