Central Coast Council has “declared a climate emergency” on the motion of Cr Kyle MacGregor.
Three councillors left the room before the debate, declaring pecuniary interest conflicts did not allow them to stay.
Three other councillors voted against the motion. They were Crs Greg Best, Chris Burke and Troy Marquart.
The declaration directs the CEO to prepare a report on the costs to implement a series of measure including: immediately implementing council’s climate change policy and setting council emissions reduction target below 2017/18 levels.
Cr MacGregor, a Labor councillor, also asked the report to identify opportunities and support for local industry that reduces emissions or increases community resilience to climate impacts and employment opportunities that would encourage a just transition away from fossil fuels.
The declaration included advocating for local workers in the power and mining industries to transition into new employment that reflect their skills and pay levels and developing the Warnervale Employment Zone and other land on the coast as job hubs for industries such as renewable energy, smart manufacturing, robotics, and other sustainable industries.
At the start of the meeting, when councillors declare their conflicts of interests, Cr Bruce McLachlan asked for clarification on whether he needed to leave the meeting as he believed the declaration could create a substantial increase to his home insurance charges.
Director of Governance Mr Evan Hutchings said that each councillor had to make up their own mind on the issue.
Crs McLachlan, Jilly Pilon and Rebecca Gale Collins left the chamber.
Cr MacGregor said that declaring a climate emergency was an important step for council to take to stand shoulder to shoulder with the millions of Australians who demanded that all levels of government take immediate and effective action on the climate change emergency.
Afterwards he said he was pleased that the Central Coast had joined the 30 councils in Australia.
“This motion puts us in line with other major metropolitan councils such as Wollongong, Newcastle, Sydney City Council and North Sydney Council.
“However, our motion goes further with practicable action to not only respond to this threat to our people, but to provide high quality modern jobs for our people with the establishment of a just transition authority here on the Central Coast and the development of our employment lands in line with this.
Cr MacGregor said that real action on climate change should not be seen as an economic threat, but rather, an opportunity to diversify local economies, develop productive and profitable businesses and provide opportunities for economic development.
Central Coast Council agenda 8.2, August 26
Reporter: Merilyn Vale