Success! Willoughby acknowledges Climate Emergency – Oct 2019

WEPA is pleased to announce that Willoughby City Council (WCC), after a lengthy debate on Thursday evening, passed a motion which acknowledged the Climate Emergency which exists. Council also agreed to write to the Federal and NSW Governments calling on them to act urgently to address climate change and its impacts (the full motion can be viewed here). A similar motion had been put to WCC in May earlier this year but had been unsuccessful.

Many thanks are due to Councillor Lynne Saville who organised and introduced the motion to WCC and to Councillors Wendy Norton and Nick Wright who spoke with conviction in its support. A great thank you also to the many local residents who responded to our request and contacted their local Councillors to let them know how strongly they felt about the issue; and to those who organised petitions in support and delivered them to WCC.

The motion now provides a solid base for climate action to receive the urgent attention at local level that is demanded by the magnitude of the environmental challenges we face.

At the meeting, people from across the community, registered to speak (11 for/1 against) on this historic occasion – including WEPA’s President, Gay Spies.

Gay’s speech follows:

17 October 2019

Address to Willoughby City Council, General Council Meeting on Item 16: Motion to declare a Climate Emergency

Good evening, Mayor Gail and Councillors

Thank you for the opportunity to address you on behalf of WEPA in support of the motion to declare a Climate Emergency.

The largest ePetition to the Federal Government has just closed.

Over 404,000 people have called on the Federal Government to declare a Climate Emergency.  That’s over 200,000 more than any previous petition and it caused the Government’s computers to crash repeatedly.

While the Government continues to hold out, cracks are appearing.

Our local Federal member, Trent Zimmerman, responding to pressure from the local community, has joined the Parliamentary Friends of Climate Action.

Worldwide, more than 1,000 councils have declared a Climate Emergency.

In Australia, as of yesterday, 62 councils have declared a Climate Emergency and this does not include this week’s sign-on of the Local Government Association.

Locally, this includes the councils of North Sydney, Northern Beaches, Lane Cove and Ryde. 

The first council to act was Darebin Council in Victoria in 2016.

Very few councils, when requested by their local community, have refused to act.

Some have done so on the grounds that they are already taking action.

Willoughby Council has so far taken this stance and WEPA acknowledges that council is indeed taking action, some of which is spelled out in the Green City Plan.

However, there is much more it can do.  And very few members of the community are aware of what council is doing in this regard.

In my experience, Willoughby Council has always wanted to be seen as a leader, not as a follower.

Council has a huge leadership role to play, educating and inspiring and encouraging the community to act together with it, sending a signal to residents, business and particularly young people, many of whom will have attended the Strike4Climate, that their council is onboard with them.

People will wonder why they should act, if the level of government closest to them does not.

So I urge you to step up and support this historic motion, join the ranks of other councils and work with them and other levels of government to get action moving.

We are all in this together and we don’t have a lot of time.

Gay Spies
President, WEPA


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