Climate Crunch Time

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    Climate Crunch for Gwydir Shire Councilors as they approach elections
    Gwydir Shire Council Building Bingara.

    Climate Crunch time for new Councillors

    After the elections it will be climate crunch time for the new Gwydir Shire Councillors.

    On the December 4 residents will elect councillors for the next four years. And it will be a mixture of old, and new faces to take charge on behalf of the residents.

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    While many recommendations from the staff will be rubber stamp jobs, there will be exceptions.

    Some decisions will be difficult with lots of factors in play.

    But, none will be more important than Gwydir Shire’s climate change policy. And the climate crunch will be one of the first matters faced.

    Climate change: ‘the net zero train is leaving the station.

    Have you noticed that despite the horrendous impact of Covid 19, the overriding issue is still climate change.

    Or specifically, the rapid conversion of sceptics to believers. And, these new believers are the very loudest of all calling for action.

    In the last few weeks both News Limited (Fox News) and the Business Council of Australia have taken to the media. Their target is the Federal Coalition government in Canberra.

    Their demands are not only for the Morrison government to get on board with the rest of Australia. But also to set meaningful emission reduction targets.

    For example, conservative commentator Simon Benson when writing in News Limited’s The Australia newspaper said:

    ‘The net zero train is leaving the station and it is leaving whether everyone is on board or not.’

    This is an extraordinary acknowledgement and a total back flip. From being the most powerful voice against climate change action, the organisation is now the most compelling for action.

    The debate is now over for those dragging the chain on 2030 and 2050 targets.

    By now you will be thinking, how does all this become crunch time for Gwydir Shire Councillors?

    The answer is simple; Gwydir Shire Council does not have targets or a specific emission reduction policy.

    But, it does have a climate change adaption policy and until recent events, this was acceptable.

    However as Benson suggests, it is now time to move past adaption to a policy of mitigation of carbon emissions. This requires explanation.

    Adaption and mitigation policies.

    Climate change policies are either weighted towards adaption or weighted towards the mitigation of emissions.

    Adaption

    Adaption involves changes made to better cope with hits from climate change. For example, to better prepared for fire seasons, adapt planning decisions, adjust pool hours, insulation of buildings etc.

    Adaption by its nature is reactive. And, the hotter, the wetter, the drier it gets, the more funds are needed to meet the changing situations. Just about every organisation and individual has adaption policies. It’s about life changes to cope.

    Additionally, some mitigation actions are included, for example, roof top solar. But this is not the main intent of adaption policy.

    Mitigation

    Mitigation is about carbon emission reduction, usually with targets to measure success or failure.

    For example, renewable power, electric vehicles etc.

    Mitigation by its nature is proactive.

    Reduce emissions and therefore, reduce the adaptations required.

    However, in the real world climate action is about both options, the weighting is the important thing.

    Businesses, all state governments, agriculture, and a significant number of local government councils have set climate mitigation targets. They also have adaption policies, usually with targets to measure progress.

    They are already on the train, restless and waiting for those walking to the station.

    So, where does Gwydir Shire Council’s adaption policy sit in relation to the rapid changes.

    Simply put, it’s climate crunch time. What was okay in 2020, is now not sufficient.

    Climate Crunch time for Councillors

    For many councillors across Australia its climate crunch time.

    Like federal and state politicians, it’s also leadership.

    Shire councillors approve policies and budgets. The staff under the general manager cost and implement them.

    New and re-elected Gwydir Shire Councillors in December will decide on one of two options.

    1. To join the councils who have set emission reduction targets
    2. Continue adapting to climate change as it cranks up.

    Option A is also about the greater financial opportunities and funding available to early movers under option.

    Option (b) is simply to tick-off on an adjusted plan for the next 12 months.

    Option (a) calls for a significant amount of work. For example, debate and set targets, craft emission reduction policies, decide ongoing adaption, analyse opportunities and identify the financial help available.

    This is a major task and with public consultation, it will take considerable time. It may well mean less important work is deferred.

    While the NSW Government has “hard” targets, GSC may feel the best option is a “soft” approach initially. This, it can be argued, is acceptable and a far better option than missing Benson’s train.

    The other arguable point is that GSC’s progressive nature is not a great fit with a conservative climate change policy.

    Finally, Bingara Magazine will be asking intending candidates their positions regarding all issues.  One of those will be the climate change policy options.

    Further articles will be published on important election issues.

    Shrinking window of climate mitigation – CSIRO

    CSIRO Report on Climate and Disaster Resilience – CSIRO

    Rural councils battered by climate change join national call for action | Farm Online | Australia

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