Friday, 6 November 2009

Climate Change on the agenda at Newcastle City Council

Here's the Notice of Motion I submitted today.





A. Newcastle City Council call on the Federal government to base its position at the global Climate Change conference in Copenhagen on the generally accepted consensus of scientific opinion in relation to carbon emission reduction targets necessary to avoid dangerous climate change (that is, in the range of 25% to 40% reduction on 2000 levels by 2020). Council write to each of our Federal MPs asking them to take our message to the Federal government and to the Australian negotiating team for the Copenhagen talks.


B. Newcastle City Council write to the Prime Minister, the Minister for Climate Change, the Leader of the Liberal Party, the Leader of the National Party, the Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Steve Fielding and Senator Nick Xenophon, and express Council’s concern about the CPRS not recognising the efforts of residents, businesses outside the CPRS, and councils to reduce emissions; and call on all parties to amend the CPRS legislation to ensure that voluntary actions result in the abatement of greenhouse gases additional to mandatory emissions reduction targets and that CPRS Permits are retired for every tonne of abatement from voluntary action.


Climate change is already having a significant impact on local government around the world, and is now a major consideration in all of Newcastle council's relevant planning documents. Whilst it has significant local impacts and causes, the challenge of climate change is a global one.

Over the years, Newcastle Council has developed a reputation as a forward thinking council in responding to climate change, by developing innovative programs, and by adopting positions that have significantly contributed to the national debate on climate change.

Many scientists and citizens around the world believe that the Copenhagen conference (7 December 2009 to 18 December 2009) represents a last chance for the world community to avoid dangerous climate change (that is, to avoid a 2 degree centigrade increase on pre-industrial global temperatures, which is the generally accepted threshold of catastrophic climate change). The Federal Government's own Garnaut Report identifies that this will require a reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions of between 25% and 40% on 2000 levels by 2020. The Federal Government's current targets - 5% (unconditional) and 15% (conditional on a global agreement) - are well below the minimum science-based levels identified in the Garnaut report.

The clear scientific evidence is that, in order to deliver a safe climate, we must bring greenhouse pollution in the atmosphere back down to 350 ppm or lower.

A call from Newcastle Council to the Federal Government in the run-up to the Copenhagen conference would help remind the Federal Government that councils and local communities are key players in climate change, and would reinforce similar messages being sent to the Federal Government by many groups and citizens in the grassroots Newcastle community who are urging our Government to adopt a science-based approach that gives our city and the world a realistic chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.

While many in the community see the Federal government’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) as not likely to reduce the carbon pollution by enough to avoid the severe impacts of climate change, the current legislation before the federal parliament has a perverse flaw in its design that means that voluntary emission reductions by residents or by Newcastle City Council will not lower the total emissions cap.

Under the current rules of the CRPS legislation, residents and businesses who decided to install solar panels or invest in energy efficiency measures will effectively be making it cheaper for the big polluters such as coal-fired power stations to pollute. This perverse flaw in the scheme has the potential to undermine community action and even action by local councils to mitigate climate change.

The federal government should rectify this problem by retiring CPRS permits where there are verifiable complementary abatement measures in the broader community, so the polluters can’t use them.

A range of humanitarian organisations recently highlighted the suffering in the world that is caused by inaction on reducing carbon pollution (See here).

Climate change risks unprecedented global hunger in our lifetime
04 November 2009
Caritas is joining other humanitarian organisations to say climate change needs urgent action at a UN meeting in Copenhagen in December to prevent global hunger.

The statement “Climate Change, Food Insecurity and Hunger” is signed by Caritas, the UN's food and health agencies WFP, FAO, and the WHO, plus the International Federation of the Red Cross, Oxfam, World Vision, and Save the Children.

The statement says climate change is undermining current efforts to end the suffering of over one billion people already affected by hunger. Not having enough to eat is already the single largest contributor to the global burden of disease, killing 3.5 million people every year, almost all of them children in poor countries.

The risk of hunger and malnutrition could increase by an unprecedented scale within the next decades. There could be declines from 40 to 90 percent of grasslands in semi-arid and arid areas. Coastal areas may become flooded or unsuitable for farming due to increased salinity from rising sea levels may make. By 2050, hunger could increase by 10 to 20 percent and child malnutrition is anticipated to be a fifth higher compared to a no-climate change scenario.

Environment ministers and officials will meet in Copenhagen from 7 December for two weeks to agree a new deal on climate change. The summit must be a start to improving food production, scaling up social protection systems, and preparing for disasters. Poor communities need support to build climate-resilient lives and escape hunger.

Key messages for Copenhagen:
• Climate change will act as a multiplier of existing threats to food security,
• Achieving food security requires substantial increases in food production on the one hand, as well as improved access to adequate and nutritious food and capacities to cope with the risks posed by climate change on the other hand,
• Governments must be assisted in enhancing food production and access, scaling up social protection systems and improving their ability to prepare for and respond to disasters,
• Community-based development processes need to be fostered in order to enable the poorest and most vulnerable to build sustainable and climate resilient livelihoods and move out of chronic poverty and food insecurity,
• The humanitarian community must get prepared for more extreme weather events and protecting the already food insecure better by strengthening both crisis response and crisis prevention.

No comments: