Declaring a climate emergency actually achieves nothing.
There are, however, other actions which could make a difference.
The South Gippsland Action Group is concerned that such a declaration will likely lead to higher costs for local government with little benefit to residents. The South Gippsland Shire Council already employs a sustainability officer and they have been making steady progress on installing solar panels on various Council building assets.
Council could consider moving to an electric car fleet but that would probably necessitate the construction of some charging stations – these come at a cost of around $10,000 for a basic facility and to support a council car fleet we would need several such facilities.
Whilst climate warriors say these cars can be powered by green energy, the problem is these cars take say a 70kWhr charge, enough to power seven houses for a day, and it will most likely come from fossil-fuel powered energy suppliers.
SGAG has looked at the possibility of a small hydrogen producing plant in the shire – sustainable green power. However, technology has not developed enough yet to migrate the shire’s construction fleet to hydrogen power.
We are concerned that council will use this call to climate arms to load the administration with more staff without actually achieving meaningful sustainability improvements.
Our group members have considered further green energy moves which would actually achieve a positive change. We have looked at a number of locations where small-scale pumped storage hydro facilities could be installed. It is possible a small hydro plant in the Tarwin River, near Meeniyan, which could generate reliable power 24/7 and provide power for a number of local houses. In addition, coastal areas could benefit from tidal power opportunities which could generate power for some 10,000 houses.
If climate warriors were prepared to find people keen enough to put their money into these projects, then we could actually achieve something more than just words and press clippings. Such financial support would assist Council and decision makers to overcome hurdles in project formulation. Until there is something more positive from the petitioners, then we see no need for the council to take this populist line of declaring a climate emergency.
Lindsay Love, secretary, South Gippsland Action Group.