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12 March, 2021

Councillor calls for urgent climate action

DOUGLAS Shire Councillor Abigail Noli has joined 16 other mayors and councillors from New South Wales and Queensland in calling for the government to take urgent action to protect their communities from worsening climate change.

By Tanya Murphy

The statement released last week raises concerns that local councils and ratepayers are footing the increasing bills for climate disasters such as floods, storms, and bush fires, and asks the Australian government to do more.

“Extreme weather is hurting Australia, and our communities are paying the price,” reads the joint statement released last week.

“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.

“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.

“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 also left with the task of cleaning up - and paying for - the mess while we continue to deliver the essential services so many rely on.

“We are exhausted by the immediate costs and challenges, and we are worried about what’s to come.

“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. How will our communities cope?”

Cr Noli said the path to a climate-safe future offered new economic opportunities.

“We are among the sunniest and windiest countries on earth. 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,” she said.

“Local governments are embracing this opportunity, and are working out new ways to protect our communities and make our regions more resilient and prosperous.

“But we can’t do this alone. We need more 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.”

The statement was signed by the councillors personally and does not necessarily represent the official position of their respective councils.

However, the statement is an initiative of the Cities Power Partnership (CPP), a network of cities and towns tackling climate change, which both the Douglas Shire Council and Cairns Regional Council joined in 2018.

The CPP membership includes more than 140 local government areas and represents more than half of the Australian population.

Member councils agree to five pledges: To utilise renewable energy at appropriate Council buildings, to investigate and trial renewable energy opportunities at Council's transfer stations and landfill, to utilise energy efficient public lighting in appropriate locations, to create a revolving green energy fund to finance energy efficiency projects and receive savings, and to improve cycle lanes and cyclist provisions in appropriate locations.

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