Australia Today

Sydney Has Officially Declared a Climate Emergency

The council voted unanimously on the declaration, and has called on the Federal Government to respond urgently.

by Gavin Butler
25 June 2019, 7:08am

The Sydney Harbour Bridge during the 2009 Australian dust storm. Image via Wikimedia

This article originally appeared on VICE Australia

The City of Sydney has declared a climate emergency. Last night, in response to a motion put forward by Lord Mayor Clover Moore, councillors voted in unanimous agreement that climate change poses a serious risk to the people of Sydney, along with the rest of Australia. The council called on the Federal Government to treat the crisis as a national emergency and respond by reintroducing a price on carbon to meet the Paris Agreement emissions reduction targets, and establish a body to help transition workers from fossil fuel industries to alternate employment, SBS reports.

"Successive federal governments have shamefully presided over a climate disaster, and now we are at a critical juncture—we face a climate emergency," Cr Moore said. "Australia's greenhouse gas emissions have increased for four consecutive years. It is clear that the current federal government's policies are simply not working and I call on council to declare a climate emergency."

The declaration sees Sydney Council following in the footsteps of global cities such as London, Auckland, Vancouver, and hundreds of others, according to Fairfax. It also falls neatly in step with a long-term strategic plan that the council revealed in 2007, Sustainable Sydney 2030, in which 97 per cent of residents said they wanted strong climate action.

Among the nine councillors who voted in favour were Kerryn Phelps—who stressed that “in the absence of climate change action by the national government it really is falling to the cities to do even more”—and Liberal Sydney Councillor Craig Chung—who previously proposed an amendment to “take out the weaponised language” of the motion.

Speaking to The Australian, Mr Chung said he supported action on climate change but strongly objected to Cr Moore’s “hysterical catastrophising”.

“Language like climate emergency, climate catastrophe and extinction rebellion do nothing to further reasoned and rational debate,” he said. “If we learned one thing from the May 18 (federal) election, polarised fear mongering is not what the community want. The electorate expects us to take action, debate clearly and rationally about solutions, stop weaponising language, and to deliver measurable and tangible outcomes for all Australians.”

Chief executive of the Climate Council Amanda McKenzie applauded the council’s declaration, stressing that “it is a genuine crisis… [and] Sydney has responded in an appropriate way.”

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