The council has taken a step in the right direction with its climate emergency declaration considerations, an alliance spokesperson says.
A robust 70-minute debate resulted in a request for a briefing to councillors before the end of 2020 and a report to the March 2021 meeting.
That will enable Port Macquarie-Hastings Council to more fully consider actions required following a climate emergency declaration.
Hastings Climate Emergency Alliance spokesperson Harry Creamer said they congratulated the council in taking the first steps towards a climate emergency declaration.
"It's clear that a majority of councillors want this to happen and we understand their wish to be as inclusive as possible, of other councillors, council staff, and of course, the community," he said.
Mr Creamer said the council has made a step in the right direction - it now needs to make the commitment to acting that follows from a climate emergency declaration.
The alliance of six local groups in late September officially requested council to declare a climate emergency before the end of 2020.
Cr Peter Alley raises climate emergency declaration discussion
Cr Peter Alley put forward a motion at the Wednesday, October 21 council meeting which covered the current external factors, council's actions so far and where to from here.
"Many in our community have been lobbying hard for over a year to encourage us to declare a climate emergency and I thank them for their representations to us," he said.
Cr Alley told the meeting a climate emergency declaration was an important milestone but it was not the destination.
He said it needed to be accompanied by real action on climate change, mitigation, adaptation and advocacy.
Cr Alley said a climate change declaration was a powerful statement to our community.
"It could also be called a hollow statement, but if it's accompanied by powerful action, it is a very, very powerful statement," he said.
"This motion will get us there."
Mayor puts forward another point of view
Mayor Peta Pinson said her position had always been declaring a climate emergency was a statement, it was not an action.
She put forward an amendment in a bid to lay the groundwork to establish a technical-based sustainability sub-committee instead of a councillor briefing and subsequent report.
Cr Pinson said she was an activator and not an alarmist.
The mayor told the meeting she could not say we had an impending emergency before us or our region was in crisis.
Cr Sharon Griffiths added the council already had plenty of measures in place.
The mayor's amendment was lost but Cr Alley incorporated the sustainability sub-committee into his motion, which got across the line.
The general manager is due to present a charter to the November meeting to support the implementation and establishment of a technical-based sustainability sub-committee.
Deputy mayor encourages community members to share their thoughts
Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann said as an individual, she would absolutely support making a climate crisis declaration right now, but she wanted it to be more than just words.
"It should actually lead to serious action," she said.
Cr Intemann said the motion gave the community a heads-up that the council was considering a climate crisis declaration and she encouraged people to share their views.
Defining pivotal issue of this council term, Cr Hawkins says
Cr Lee Dixon, speaking in support of the motion, quoted Sir David Attenborough, while Cr Geoff Hawkins, also in support, described the matter as the defining pivotal issue of this council term.
Cr Rob Turner said he was keen to get more information through a briefing.
Crs Alley, Dixon, Hawkins, Intemann and Turner voted in support and Crs Griffiths and Pinson voted against.
More than 1,780 jurisdictions in 31 countries have declared a climate emergency.
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