PORT Stephens Council has opened its Climate Change Policy for community feedback until 24 July, 2020.
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Earlier this year Council voted against declaring a Climate Emergency.
For a tourism destination that now has a strapline which states that Port Stephens is Incredible By Nature, we can see that we live in a community which has business offerings that are clearly linked to the environment.
Therefore, it is also clear that addressing climate change adequately is imperative for the future of tourism businesses and the community who live, work and play in the region.
Councillor Arnott said, “This is a policy statement outlining Council’s belief in human-induced climate change, the consequences of climate change, from worsening bushfires to coastal erosion, and outlining Council’s commitment to do its part in combating climate change.
“The policy also includes residents and businesses, because we need everyone in our community to do their part to work towards reducing our carbon footprint.
“The recent summer bushfires show just how important it is that we take climate change seriously.
“I’m pleased that my motion from February, which was a result of community action, has led to this policy being put on public exhibition.
“I encourage all stakeholders, from residents to businesses, to have a read of this policy, and provide comments to Council.
“This policy is a fantastic step in the right direction and I’m excited for Council to continue playing a central role in combating climate change,” he said.
Kathy Brown of Econetwork Port Stephens told News Of The Area, “It is encouraging to see Port Stephens Council developing policy in this area, however it’s long overdue.
“Port Stephens is especially vulnerable to dramatic changes in climate not only because of our coastal location but because of our population dynamics.
“Climate Emergency Declarations with all layers of government were mobilised in 2016 and since then 89 councils across Australia have recognised this as an important step in developing strategies to cope with climate change.
“For example, the first council in Australia to declare a Climate Emergency, Darebin in Victoria, as part of their strategy, built on an existing policy that provided solar panels to low income households. “Darebin Council recognised that because of the cost of heating many of their elderly residents were not adequately heating their houses in winter.
“They recognised it as a social equity issue.”
In this region the council provided the funding to supply low income households with solar panels.
The panels were then paid off through rate payments over several years.
“Looking forward to the implementation of similar policies at Port Stephens Council.
“The policy on exhibition is a good first step but EcoNetwork would like to see the details.
“The value of the policy is very difficult to judge based on a 3 page outline,” she said.
Brown went on to thank the community and especially Climate Action Port Stephens who unsuccessfully tried to have Port Stephens Council declare a Climate Emergency in February this year.
As a result, Council committed to “initiate the development of a Climate Action Policy as a priority”. Climate change has been linked to the catastrophic bushfires of 2019/20 and the decimation of the koala population in Australia, a species which is now forecast to be extinct by 2050.
Brown urges the community to read the policy on Council’s website and provide feedback.
By Marian SAMPSON