Residents urge Yass Valley Council to declare climate emergency

Some have called it emotive, but that's not stopping a group of Yass Valley residents from urging their council to declare a climate emergency.

Iain Fyfe of Gundaroo said it would acknowledge the seriousness of the problem.

"Let's face it, it is an emergency," he said. "We've got to turn this attitude of avoidance around and confront it together as a community."

"By declaring a climate emergency the council would be setting an example," he said. "They're in a position of authority. They have legitimacy about what they do."

Planting more trees, installing solar panels on council buildings and reopening the Revolve shedat the transfer station were some of the actions the group would like to see Yass Valley Council take under the declaration, Al Phemister of Yass said.

"Together, those would ultimately bring about a huge change and harness the problem we've created," he said.

Advocacy: Al Phemister, Iain Fyfe and Barry Hunter are calling on Yass Valley Council to declare a climate emergency. Photo: Sam Hollier

Advocacy: Al Phemister, Iain Fyfe and Barry Hunter are calling on Yass Valley Council to declare a climate emergency. Photo: Sam Hollier

"This is about recognising that climate change is due to man's influence and reaching a critical moment. We need to do something about it now," Mr Phemister said.

The council has been providing recycling bins to Gundaroo Music Festival and could do the same at others, Mr Fyfe said.

He also said the council could provide more information about sustainable development, Mr Fyfe said.

So far, 34 Australian councils have joined Greenpeace's global campaign.

Mr Fyfe, Mr Phemister and Barry and Bev Hunter, also of Yass, want their council to become the 35th.

They met with Yass Valley mayor Rowena Abbey and the council's general manager Chris Berry to advocate for the declaration.

However, Cr Abbey shared concerns about the term 'climate emergency', saying it was "quite emotive" and could divide the community.

"These are good thoughts and I'm not against the thoughts, but I'm concerned about the messaging," she said.

"The terminology is quite emotive and not everyone believes in climate change.

"We can encourage more recycling but what does calling it an emergency do?

"We don't see that just making a statement is that relevant," Cr Abbey said.

Mr Fyfe suggested the council called it something else.

"Whatever they want to call it, let's go forward. I know it's a hard job but let's face it together," he said.

Cr Abbey also said the council already had policies in place to address its environmental impact.

The council has an Environmental Sustainability Policy (ESP) and is committed to reducing 80 per cent of rubbish going to landfill by joining the Garage Sale Trail and providing Return and Earn vouchers, as examples.

However, Mr Fyfe, who helped create the ESP, described it as "something that exists but sits on the shelf."

He also said the council's June 2018 decision to vote against any new industrial wind farms in the region was a "blocker" that the council could remove.

Cr Abbey said the council also had to consider what it could afford in terms of the actions it could take.

Mr Phemister said while it would cost the council to install solar panels on its buildings, it would make the council money in the long run.

"It's about making choices," he said.

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