Climate change to be included in council's strategic planning

In February this year Blue Mountains became the third council in NSW to declare a climate emergency, behind Byron Bay and the Upper Hunter.

Now they hope to ensure there is a "formal framework" to make it happen in all aspects of council business and strategic planning.

Brought the climate emergency issue to council: Greens Cr Brent Hoare and member of the Hazelbrook RFS, says Australia is experiencing increased fire threat due to climate change.

Brought the climate emergency issue to council: Greens Cr Brent Hoare and member of the Hazelbrook RFS, says Australia is experiencing increased fire threat due to climate change.

In a mayoral minute at the November 26 council meeting, the council resolved to have a discussion about that framework at their March 2020 annual councillor and executive leadership team meeting, with an interactive briefing about the idea a month before.

Council has taken significant action by reducing emissions by 22 per cent since 2015. The council has adopted a 30 per cent reduction target by 2022 and resolved to become a National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) certified carbon neutral organisation by 2025

As an example of action, council is already replacing old inefficient LED street lighting and putting rooftop solar on council buildings. But Mayor Mark Greenhill said: "if we are serious about this when we approve stuff or build stuff, we actually put it at the heart of our thinking. It's asking, with kerb and guttering is this the best option for run-off or do we look at a better design? And are we looking at solar panels? We need to stop and think with every activity."

A report to council heard council "takes the issue of climate change very seriously and strives to show leadership in climate change mitigation and adaption".

"The science around climate change is unequivocal - global warming poses a grave risk to humanity. Australia is one of the most vulnerable developed countries to the impacts of climate change, and in the Mountains we are at the frontline of these threats. Heatwaves have become longer, hotter and are starting earlier, causing increasingly frequent storms and bushfires which pose a life-threatening risk to our community and visitors," it said.

Council heard the proposed recommendation could be funded from existing resources.

"Integration of sustainability into all levels of planning within council has been a priority ... over many years and will continue to be a major priority ... as part of strategic planning in 2020-2021 and in the subsequent four year program. Integration of climate action, both mitigation and adaptation, into all levels of planning is a significant opportunity to demonstrate council is committed to acting on its climate declaration."

Greens Cr Brent Hoare who first brought the climate emergency issue to the council said: "To achieve lasting change it's essential to bring people with us and to embed climate action in our core strategy."

"In the remainder of this council term and in the next, I am eagerly anticipating working constructively with all councillors to implement the decision taken at our November meeting to operationalise our climate emergency declaration."