This week, the world’s top scientists have given their clearest warning yet of the severe and irreversible impacts of climate change. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) synthesis report, a summary of its last three reports, has just been released – for more details see the link at the end of this post.
This week, we are also asked to vote in the 2014 local government elections. The people we elect will consider which major local projects to invest in, which council facilities should be bought, sold or upgraded, how to set and spend our rates, and how to allocate resources to local services. They will be part of the process that determines which new developments are supported or rejected and how many trees to plant. At a time when we are living through the critical decade for climate action, their views and leadership skills will help to shape the future of our community for better or for worse.
Hoping to learn more about the mayoral candidates’ views on climate action, I borrowed an idea from Transition Gawler and asked the four Holdfast Bay mayoral candidates questions on the relevance of climate change to our local council, where the council is currently taking action related to climate change and what actions should be undertaken by Holdfast Bay Council in the next 4 years. Here are the responses which I have received so far. I will include any further replies in future posts.
Holdfast Bay mayoral candidate David Wittner advocates the need to mitigate the effects of climate change by reducing personal carbon emissions and retaining the Renewable Energy Target. While supporting the Resilient South Initiative, he also believes climate change is one issue for local council amongst many other issues, and local government’s capacity to influence the big picture is limited. When asked what actions related to climate change Holdfast Bay Council should be undertaking in the next 4 years, David suggested promoting the need for renewable energy to local clubs and businesses by, for example, offering council subsidies or grants for solar panels. As board member of the Brighton Surf Life Saving club, he has already demonstrated this commitment by supporting the installation of solar panels and a solar hot water system, as well as water saving initiatives. David Wittwer also stressed his commitment to community consultation, via public meetings, on significant local issues and projects.
Ken Rollond, Holdfast Bay’s current mayor and mayoral candidate, is in no doubt that human activity is a major factor causing climate change. He believes excessive consumerism and the drive to increase productivity is at the heart of the problem. Ken explained that, while in office, he fought to stop the building of apartments on the beach in 2003, to slow the steady increase in electricity consumption and the purchase of new vehicles and equipment. He considers the Resilient South Project to be an expensive and ineffective attempt at preventing climate change. Ken hopes the world population will stabilize and our fascination with consumerism will ease. He believes local government’s capacity to influence the big picture is limited and sees climate change as an issue amongst many which local councils deal with.
Our vote matters. Make yours count by informing yourself about the issues that matter to you. The results will determine who will be on council, making decisions that affect your local community. How do you decide who to vote for? To find out more about Holdfast Bay candidates click here . Read what the candidates have to say and do not hesitate to contact them for a chat.
The voting deadline for local council elections is 5pm Friday 7th November. If you’re posting your papers, do so few days before, since they must be received by the Electoral Commission by that deadline.