A revised draft Climate Change Response Policy has been adopted by Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.
Councillors voted at the December Ordinary Council Meeting to note the submissions and feedback the draft Climate Change Response Policy received during the public exhibition period and to adopt the draft policy with a minor amendment to include the word "towards" before "net zero" in the document.
Councillor Rachel Sheppard put forward the amended motion and said it's "very much in keeping with state and federal thinking".
"I think we should have a clear path forward and make sure it's directly related with state and federal levels of government with a clear path to action," she said.
Councillor Sharron Griffiths spoke for the motion and said council has worked to make "some really good changes" towards being more sustainable.
"For the past 10 years we've had a lot of (climate change) initiatives through council," she said.
"Whether you call it climate change, sustainability, or better financial management, either way there has been some good work done in this area and this motion shows that we are working towards something."
Climate change has been a hot topic for council and the community.
The council revoked its Climate Change Emergency Declaration at its February 2022 meeting, becoming the first council in the state to do so.
Any reference to the declaration was later removed from the Climate Change Response Policy.
The council also replaced references to "climate change" with "sustainable resource management" in the community-devised roadmap for the region's future, Imagine2050.
The Climate Change Response Policy was initially adopted by council on October 13, 2021.
At the October 2022 Ordinary Council Meeting, council resolved not to rescind the Climate Change Response Policy and it was further resolved to place the draft policy on public exhibition and report submissions to the December meeting.
The policy was exhibited from October 24 to November 20, 2022. Council received 22 submissions and one petition with 89 signatures from individuals.
During the council meeting on December 8, Cr Lisa Intemann said she understands climate change is a "controversial issue".
"All I can say is that this is a direction that the vast majority of the western world is heading towards," she said.
"It [climate change] is not a woke thing, this is about responding to actual physical things in the world."
Cr Intemann said climate change is "something that is going to take everybody to do something" to fix and that "it takes a collaborative effort".
She said that sustainability means looking to the future and not "making dumb decisions now that will cost us later".
Mayor Peta Pinson spoke against the amended motion and said she's "scratching her head and wondering where all of this is going".
"Well I'm going to be very unpopular today, aren't I? Because I'm going to speak against this and speak for the community that thinks this is woke, because I'm actually one of them," she said.
"I have to speak out against this. Our roads, including upgrades to Kennedy Drive, are using gravel that has been mined and we're about to see the decimation of mature trees on the breakwall," Cr Pinson said.
Cr Griffiths spoke in support of the amended motion.
"I don't have an opinion, I'm sitting in a neutral position looking at the data, what the evidence tells us and what other levels of government are doing," she said.
"I think Australians generally tend to sit and wait until we have a catastrophe before we react to it."
Cr Sheppard said the motion before councillors is a "solid middle ground".
"Most people in our community would be able to endorse this and I think that's the way forward with these issues," she said.
"I want to acknowledge there is a portion of our community that does feel differently, however we can still engage in that discussion in a respectful way.
"In my opinion, writing people's opinions off as woke is not the way to help foster a respectful discussion between each other as councillors."
The motion was carried five votes to four.
Council will now:
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