The council has deferred taking steps towards a climate change policy despite passionate pleas from community members to act now.
Councillors heard from climate change advocates Peter Matthison, Dr Sarah Mollard and Rachel Sheppard during the September 18 Port Macquarie-Hastings Council meeting.
Mr Matthison said he had seen the local environment change already because of climate change and he knew much more change was coming.
He wants people to be prepared for that change.
"Fortunately the population is now undergoing rapid mass awakening," Mr Matthison said.
He said the land, animals and insects were dying, soils were eroding and degrading, the Arctic was melting and bushfires were ravaging the land.
Mr Matthison urged the councillors to declare a climate and ecological emergency.
Dr Mollard, a GP, said health impacts of global climate change were well understood.
She said actions local government could take to manage the risk may include small things like planting enough trees in parks and on streets.
"Programs to encourage heat tolerant house design for new developments or support solar power for pensioners so they can afford air conditioning may reduce emergency department presentations in a heat wave," Dr Mollard said.
"Community resilience activities can help us mitigate the mental health impacts of the climate emergency.
"Making public transport and cycling more accessible, switching to solar power for council activities and investing in an electric vehicle fleet have health and economic benefits as well as helping to address the root cause of the problem."
Ms Sheppard told the council meeting that awareness of the climate emergency was starting to go mainstream.
"I want you to have the tools to recognise how vocal science deniers derail conversations about the climate emergency," she said to the councillors.
Ms Sheppard said Australians, especially our leaders, continued to be unduly influenced by science deniers.
She urged the councillors to recognise when strategies were being used to derail conversations about the climate emergency, to remind themselves of how mainstream emergency awareness was becoming and decide how to proceed in the best interests of our community.
Councillors debate climate change policy/action plan
Cr Peter Alley proposed the general manager draft a scope for the development of a climate change policy/action plan.
"This motion is about a plan to make a plan," he told the council meeting.
Cr Alley said the idea was for the general manager to draft a scope for the sorts of things which might be in a climate change policy or action plan and discuss them in a councillor briefing.
But that did not go ahead.
Cr Mike Cusato put forward a move to defer the motion until it was a legislative requirement for council to have such strategies and action plans in place.
The vote was tied and mayor Peta Pinson used her casting vote to get the deferral across the line.
Cr Cusato said it was not the council's role to adopt a climate change plan.
"It [climate change plan] is not going to change anything in the local government area, besides waste money," he said.
Cr Pinson said the council was already doing the work.
"We will always have an impact on our earth because as humanity we are hungry for new roads and new roads come as a result of using finite resources," she said.
But Cr Alley said there may be things falling through the cracks as the council was not doing the risk identification work.
Cr Rob Turner said it was not until the council put a list and framework together would it realise where the gaps were.
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