Photo by Michael Nardella
We are very excited to bring you the great news that on Tuesday, 10 September 2019, the Yarra Ranges Council voted 5 votes to 3 to declare a Climate Emergency. The public gallery was overflowing with supporters of the motion, including children, and there was much excitement and jubilation once the vote was taken!
In making this Climate Emergency Declaration Council is declaring that we cannot engage in ‘business as usual’ if we are to seriously tackle the Climate Emergency. Council is saying, we need a society wide mobilization that takes very seriously the danger now facing our planet and all life on the planet.
The Yarra Ranges Council is taking leadership in making this Declaration. It is sending a very strong and unequivocal message to the community and to governments that we need urgent, collective action across all levels of government and the community. There is no time to waste! We must act NOW!
Cr Mike Clarke’s Motion: A Climate Emergency Framework!
In fact, Cr Mike Clarke’s motion went further than declaring a Climate Emergency. His motion created a Climate Emergency Framework which will enable a Whole of Council approach to the Climate Emergency, as well as also enabling greater collaboration between Council staff and the community in developing carbon abatement projects and activities.
This Whole of Council approach and greater collaboration between the Community and Council is what Healesville CoRE has been advocating for the past two years.
The Healesville CoRE Role in Facilitating this Outcome!
The Healesville CoRE team is really pleased to have played a prominent role in facilitating this outcome. Our President, Jeff Barlow, is a Community Member of the Yarra Ranges Environment Advisory Committee (YREAC), which is a Council appointed group to advise Council on environmental issues. Jeff brought a motion to YREAC in June this year, which YREAC supported unanimously, to request that Council signs the Climate Emergency Declaration. This was supported by a letter from Healesville CoRE and a further supportive motion, which Jeff organized, from a meeting of the Yarra Valley Community for Climate Action, both with unanimous support.
Cr Mike Clarke, who is the Chair of YREAC, then formulated his motion on the basis of the support of YREAC, as well as the support of other community groups and individuals writing to Council.
A community group asked Jeff Barlow to speak in favour of the motion at the Council meeting which he did, and young kids from the community, who were present, stood behind Jeff, facing the Council, as he made his presentation to Council. It was an historic and very moving occasion.
It is a real pity that the motion did not ask Council to sign the Climate Emergency Declaration, which would have had significant symbolic meaning, rather than simply declaring a Climate Emergency! However, the motion as passed, will have significant practical implications. Already plans are being discussed for the next steps in creating greater community/Council involvement in carbon abatement. More about this when we have something more concrete to announce.
Congratulations to Council!
Healesville CoRE would like to congratulate Cr Mike Clarke for bringing the motion to Council and for all the work he did behind the scenes to enable the motion to be passed. We would also like to thank our Councillors, who voted in favour of the motion, for their courage and wisdom in putting other concerns aside so they could focus on the big picture. They decided to move away from rubbish, roads and rates and away from bureaucratic concerns, to embrace the bigger picture of Global Warming, and to address the serious implications for the planet if temperature increases are not kept below 1.5 degrees. It is courageous leaders like these that the world needs – Federal politicians please take notice!!
Congratulations to our Community Who Lobbied for Change!
Healesville CoRE would also like to thank all those community members who signed petitions, attended meetings, voted for motions, wrote to individual councillors, and who spoke up for the Climate Emergency Declaration! It takes a community to get the action we need.
In our view, the Yarra Ranges community can be justly proud of the Council’s decision. When taken together with the work Council has been doing on renewable energy for Council buildings over the past 10 years and all the tree planting to store carbon, that has occurred, we can see a good start has been made to an ongoing process of broader community and Council action that will need to be mobilized. We think we are up for the challenge! Would you like to be involved too?
If you would like to support us in our ongoing work for the community please get in touch, become a financial member of Healesville CoRE or make a donation. Any or all of these would be very much appreciated. And remember to write to Council to congratulate them on this historic decision!