Doomed Planet

Roads, Rates, Rubbish and Climate Ratbaggery

To date, 108 of 537 Australian local government councils have declared “climate emergencies”. This initiative involves saving the planet, as distinct from attending to councils’ tradition role of concerning themselves primarily with the three Rs of local government: roads, rates and rubbish. A green activist site, Climate Emergency Declaration and Mobilisation In Action (CEDAMIA) tracks all these councils on a spreadsheet. Globally, there the group boasts 2000-plus councils.

The Port Macquarie-Hastings City Council’s “Climate Emergency” declaration of March 2021 is listed at CEDAMIA’s site but the sad compilers have put a delete-line through it with the note, “rescinded 16 February 2022.”

The rescinding was, like the 1914 deed of Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo, a shot heard around the world. Or anyway, enjoyed on sceptic blogs in both hemispheres. I hope it will inspire other councillors to push back against the Greens who have used their dark arts (“How Green Zealots Take Over Councils”) to marshall council assets to stoke their own socialist ambitions.

Some conservatives see these “emergencies” as harmless, albeit expensive, tomfoolery.[1] But the underlying agenda from CEDAMIA is acutely political, namely

Significance of a Climate Emergency Declaration

Declaring a climate emergency and acting on it is a top-level ask …. If we win this ask and it is implemented properly, then this would stop new coal, oil, and gas projects, and existing ones would be phased out. Dirty power stations would be closed down as part of an orderly transition to 100% renewable energy. Energy efficiency would thrive, forests would be regenerated, habitats would be protected, air pollution health effects would vanish, public transport, cycling and EV’s would flourish, and even the Great Barrier Reef might stand a chance of regenerating.

This manifesto for dancing unicorns is backed by a plethora of activist groups that include Bill McKibben’s sinister 350.org, currently sacking scores of staff because of past budget mismanagement. In a briefing during the late-2021 election campaign in Port Macquarie, Mayor Peta Pinson described the her town’s “emergency” declaration as straight out of one councillor’s Extinction Rebellion playbook.

The detailed agenda for Australian councils after they declare their local Emergency! is recommended by the nefarious Council Action in the Climate Emergency set up by hard-line activists Bryony Edwards and Adrian Whitehead, who also claim to have founded Beyond Zero Emissions and Save the Planet. The Edwards/Whitehead formula involves “emergency” actions by council post-declaration including

♦ Climate to be No 1 priority after core council functions

♦ Training of all staff in the climate-catastrophe hypothesis from chief executive down, including training in lobbying higher levels of government.

♦ Climate propaganda to feature as lead issue in “all general council communications, including the homepage of the website and any community newsletters”.

♦ Leverage councillor support to a 60-70% “super majority” preparatory to mobilising the community for political pressure for net-negative emissions by 2030

♦ A whole-of-council review to push climate, “including reviewing council’s fund management and procurement policies”

♦ Identify and commit “all available discretionary funds that can be directed to the climate emergency response.”

Getting back to Port Macquarie, Cr Sharon Griffiths is a third-termer and 30-year small business owner. She sponsored the rescission motion and is (incredibly) quoted by the ABC, saying, “I actually don’t believe that climate change is as big as an issue as people think it is really.” She has teamed with Mayor Pinson, a self-styled “community warrior” who became the town’s first female mayor in 2017. Pinson runs the newly-elected “Team Pinson” ginger group of five on the nine-member council. She’s been on holidays and sadly incommunicado.

Phoned by Quadrant, Griffiths seemed impressed to discover her global fame. She said there hasn’t been much hostile feedback about the rescission because Emergency! supporters had their say when the Council Agenda was published. “Those people always present the same climate story and information, with nothing substantial underneath,” she says. “We’re a conservative area and we don’t like waste of council resources [on climate activity].” She’s hostile to council pursuing climate concerns about “what might be”, rather than urgent practical matters. In particular, the council should be making good on tens of millions of dollars in damage from the 2021 floods, she says. (Our interview was just before the latest floods). The ABC quoted Mayor Pinson on the so-called Emergency!: “Yes, we note that we’ve had these natural disasters but the world has had natural disasters. They’ve had it over the history of man and these things unfortunately do happen.”

She’s also quoted in SA’s Port Lincoln Times (paywalled), “We have tested community sentiment on this issue and read the room. There are pockets of people actively involved in shaking the tree, but they’re shaking the wrong tree. We need to get back to what our community expects of us.”

 

EVEN the federal government has no power to declare a “climate emergency”. So why,Cr Griffiths wondered, are local councils buying into it? “[Taking] budgets away from core infrastructure to address something that we have no control over — I just can’t adopt that…” In election material she explains, “Our priorities for the next term include delivering key infrastructure such as roads, water and sewer upgrades, footpaths and walkways, tidying up our parks, gardens and road corridors and laying the planning foundations for future generations.”

The city (pop 85,000) is a Nationals stronghold and said to be something of a mixed and changing bag, with greenish inner-city types moving from the cities for their sea changes alongside locals who are upholders of Aussie culture, history and flag.

Councillors were bombarded for years with “emergency” demands such as this petition from change.org :

We have been given 12 years [update: now only eight years] to drastically reduce emissions, lest our world warm to the point where humans face an existential threat. [“Existential” literally means “life or death”]

I am calling on my local council to respect the will of the people and embrace climate action. We request that you declare a climate emergency.

One of the 3900 resident signatories added, “I am signing this because it is literally do or die. For the sake of our children.”  Other activists in the area include “Climate Leader” graduates of Al Gore’s Climate Reality brainwashing classes. The local activists’ shtick could be summed up in this anti-Adani tract put out by gadfly Harry Creamer, a retired middle-manager in the National Parks and Wildlife Service. As President of the Hastings branch of Climate Change Australia, he wrote (emphasis added): 

We are facing a climate emergency which threatens the future of human civilisation. The critical time to act is now [2017]. A society-wide mobilisation is required on a scale and speed of the Second World War. We did it then and we can do it now. A rapid transition away from coal, oil and gas to 100% renewable energy is needed…

I had a friendly chat with Creamer after hosing down his suspicion that Quadrant is part of Murdoch’s right-wing stable. He let slip astounding information, namely that Port Macquarie is not the global first council but the second to cancel its emergency declaration. The pace-setter was Wagga Wagga (pop. 56,000). To our readers in Paraguay and other far-flung locales, it’s a farming/transport centre 460km south-west of Sydney. Here’s what went on there.

ON July 8, 2019, Wagga Wagga Council meeting began with this prayer:

Almighty God,
Help protect our Mayor, elected Councillors and staff. Help Councillors to govern with justice, integrity, and respect for equality, to preserve rights and liberties, to be guided by wisdom when making decisions and settling priorities, and not least of all to preserve harmony. Amen.

Two conservative councillors were cases of “apology, unable to attend”, while the Almighty, if present in the chamber, remained schtum. This created an opportunity for a Labor councillor and three pals to ambush the meeting with their climate-emergency motion. They voted down 4-3 an amendment by Cr Paul Funnell to defer the emergency vote to July 22, when all councillors could be present. The council then resolved 4-3

that climate change poses a serious risk to the people of Wagga Wagga and it should be treated as a national emergency.

With typical green/Left disregard for personal freedoms, the four also demanded that council staff be re-educated on climate alarmism and council resources be diverted to re-educate ratepayers into the new “climate emergency mode.”

Disharmony from the debate included Funnell dubbing parents who dragged their kids to green-religion climate rallies as child abusers, and a challenge to the alarmist ex-journo mayor Greg Conkey OAM to try doing the 900km round trip to Sydney in an electric car. (He succeeded). Godless signage soon went up around town castigating the Labor-led four as ‘sell-outs’. For the July 22 meeting, ranks swelled from seven to nine with the return of Crs Tim Koschel and Rod Kendall, and in short order Cr Paul Funnell had the “Emergency!” scotched 5/4.

It was all quite a stir in a conservative city which regularly votes in the federal National’s Michael McCormack (Riverina), a 2018-21 Deputy Prime Minister with a disdain for the climate narrative.

Melbourne retired geoscientist Geoff Sherrington has downloaded for us temperature data both Port Macquarie (114 years) and Wagga Wagga (144 years), which you can see here, along with the century-plus rainfall trends. It’s perfectly obvious that neither district is getting anything out of the ordinary from weather’s perpetual ups and downs, notwithstanding the long cycles of droughts and floods. Anyone blathering about climate emergencies there needs to consult the graphs – showing about a 1degC rise in a century with no obvious acceleration.

Climate “emergencies” concocted under CEDAMIA’s tutelage are just one way councils are being got at. Tim Flannery’s Climate Council has mobilised 165 gullible councils (including Port Macquarie and Wagga Wagga). They seemingly endorse “a thriving, zero emissions future” under the aegis of Cities Power Partnerships (its blurb doesn’t even say “net zero”). Flannery and his Climate  Council deliver nonsense to local governments casting every adverse weather event, sea surge and bushfire as “climate-fuelled” and preaching that the way to create nice weather is to abandon coal, oil and gas.[2]

A major money and time waster of councils is membership of Bonn-based ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability), claiming 2500 members in 125 countries. It has 30 Australian councils, ranging from Cairns to Mandurah WA, and supposedly including all capital cities. Members are supposed to do “sustainability” in all their activities and agitate against fossil fuels. Significant council members are Newcastle, Hobart, Adelaide, Wollongong, West Torrens, Wyndham, Melville and Mornington.

A typical ICLEI publication is “Daring Cities 2020” – cities that are supposed to take “exceptional climate mitigation measures” oozing equity and inclusivity as they divest from fossil fuels and run on “100% renewable energy” as part of their Emergency! virtue signalling.

I emailed nine prominent ICLEI councils to ask how much ratepayers’ money they spent on their ICLEI subscription. I needed to remind some of their transparency policies. It all became a can of worms. Cairns Regional Council says its annual dues to ICLEI are $3,340 (ex GST). Newcastle City provided the subscription formula (which I knew already) but not the amount. Darebin (Vic) sought more time. Sydney City sent me a snowstorm of about 60 annual reports, none with the requested information (I gave up looking after half a dozen). Perth said the ICLEI website was in error – Perth had ceased membership of ICLEI years ago, and is now a member instead of the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors, a national group advocating to the feds about climate change and other stuff. Perth has the good sense to not be a member of Tim Flannery’s Cities Power Parnership.

The other councils ignored my requests, namely Melbourne, Mackay, Byron and Adelaide. To be completely fair, Melbourne City Council at least sent me a satisfaction feedback form, so I “strongly disagreed” that “the City of Melbourne made it easy for me to get the help or information I needed”, adding “I would be critical of City of Melbourne without being asked.”

Local government climate lobbies continue metastising. Forty-five Australasian councils have joined the Global Covenant of Mayors, with Hobart’s Anna Reynolds on the global board of the 11,000-member group.[3] [4] This Covenant to save the planet through emissions reductions is co-chaired by ex-New York mayor Michael Bloomberg (2002-13), whose net worth is about $A80 billion. His private jets from 2016-20 emitted at least 10,000 tonnes of CO2 as he shuttled among his palatial residences in New York, London, Bermuda, Florida and the Vail ski resorts in Colorado.

As part of a global back-slapping exercise, last year the green/Left Lisbon-based Gulbenkian Foundation awarded the Mayors Covenant a million Euro prize ($A1.55m) for planet-saving. This followed Gulbenkian’s award of a million Euros to disturbed teen Greta Thunberg in 2020. (To give Greta her due, she passed on the money to her climate causes).[5]

These climate catastropharians have loads of rat-cunning. Unable to swing federal parliament, they’ve focused on city councils where their Greens are easy to elect. Then they push their Emergency! claptrap into the community using ratepayer resources. Hooray for Port Macquarie and Wagga Wagga as outposts of sanity in Terra Australis.

Tony Thomas’ 2021 essay collection “Foot Soldier in the Culture Wars” ($29.95) is available from publisher Connor Court

 

[1] Commenter on Wattsupwiththat: “Our local council in outer Melbourne is buying electric cars for council tasks. They cost twice as much as an ICE [petrol/diesel] vehicle of the same size. There is no way this is prudent use of rates.”

[2]From heatwaves that killed hundreds to wildfires across North America, Europe and even Siberia, the deadly consequences of climate change, driven by the burning of coal, oil, and gas, are upon us,” said Will Steffen, Climate Council spokesperson and Emeritus Professor, Australian National University. 

“We have only a decade to deeply and rapidly cut emissions, and avoid even more catastrophic climate change that is incompatible with well-functioning human societies,” said Professor Steffen. 

[3] Hobart’s CO2 emissions are about 20,000 tonnes a year, compared with China’s 11,000,000,000 tonnes

[4] I notice Port Moresby is among these 45 do-gooder cities. Maybe they should prioritise law and order there rather than CO2 emissions.

[5] On the Gulbenkian selection committee for the Euro awards are two stalwarts of the Potsdam Institute , namely its fanatical founder Hans Joachim Shellnhuber (also climate ghost-writer to the Pope) and director Johan Rockstrom. Bad climate advice from the Potsdam crowd has contributed to Germany’s current embarrassing dependence on Russian oil and gas.

12 comments
  • DougD

    “As part of a global back-slapping exercise, last year the green/Left Lisbon-based Gulbenkian Foundation awarded the Mayors Covenant a million Euro prize ($A1.55m) for planet-saving.” Conscience money? Calouste Gulbenkian – Mr 5% – I think started the Foundation with the fortune he made from Middle East oil. He owned 5% of Royal Dutch Shell.

  • Elizabeth Beare

    “This manifesto for dancing unicorns”
    lol, Tony, you never fail to nail it perfectly.
    The serious point of course is, as you outline so well, that this greenism pervades our local institutions and shifts them right off their proper course, which is local maintenance, development and services..

  • rod.stuart

    Of late there has been lots of yacking about “misinformation and disinformation”, yet the myth pervades the zeitgeist that “emissions” have some effect on the weather.
    And all the while, there is not a hint of evidence that such is the case, and loads of evidence to the contrary.
    Who are the spreaders of malinformation but the Left?

  • Ian MacKenzie

    I recall a bunch of councils declaring themselves “nuclear free” back in the 1980s. Some things never change, including that councils generally comprise a combination of those genuinely concerned for their towns and those with a bee in their bonnet. Whenever the latter have a majority, we can expect declarations of moral righteousness on the latest leftwing cause de jour. It is a reminder perhaps that while the term “virtue signaling” is of recent origin, the vanity underlying it is as old as mankind.
    Port Macquarie is a delightful town and well worth a visit – beautiful beaches and terrific seafood restaurants. A considerable proportion of the inhabitants are retirees, attracted by a fantastic climate and excellent medical facilities, which explains the town being referred to by some of the local medical staff as God’s Waiting Room. It might also explain a council which is focused on residents rather than global fantasies.

  • Biggles

    Though I am foolish enough to pin my hopes on falling global temperatures, (due to the current Grand Solar Minimum), to stop the global warming nonsense, I fear that, even if three feet of snow fell in Collins Street in mid summer, that would not cause the global-warmists to change their ridiculous, unscientific stance.

  • Daffy

    I note that ‘green’ councils refrain from doing the practical every day job of making public transport more attractive. Now that would be good; cuts down on the energy used by cars, (electric or not) in favour of the more efficient public transport. So do we see a proliferation of weather proof bus shelters springing up? No. At least, not in the Parish of Concord, my traditional lands. So I call out councils for sham posturing. If they were serious, they would be practical. They aren’t, so they aren’t.

  • lbloveday

    I attended a rural Council meeting where my development application was heard and a man was there to hear his application for permission to aerial crop dust his farm (he was the pilot as well as the farmer).
    .
    His application was denied seemingly because the most vocal Councillor “was in Vietnam and saw the effects of Agent Orange”. Mind-numbing stuff.
    .
    We both won our appeals in the Environment and Development Court as self-represented litigants.

  • ianl

    As counterpoint to these activist Councils (my own local is one such), the demand for high quality thermal coal, benchmarked from the Hunter Valley as 6000 kcal/kg, and high quality coking coal, benchmarked from the central Bowen Basin, has pushed prices to a height I cannot comprehend as rational. I’ve been a geoscientist in the industry worldwide for about 50 years (and yes, may or perhaps should retire soon) and I have never seen prices anywhere near this scale. This is as of February 28 last.

    Do climate activists appreciate the irony, I wonder. Seems doubtful.

  • Lawrie Ayres

    The biggest problem is the apathy of the voters who ultimately are responsible for putting these green clowns in positions of power. We also know that the ALP will always side with the Greens no matter how ridiculous the proposition including councils declaring themselves nuclear free. I do hope these councils ban the use of nuclear medicine within their boundaries to prevent being called hypocrites. Maybe only renewable energy should be supplied to councils saving the world which could be done just by turning off the power on windless nights. I feel sure there would be many more rescission motions and new councilors. .

  • Stephen

    Just about all of these idiots conform to Winston Churchills definition of a fanatic, “A person who wont change their mind and wont change the subjection”.

  • Delphi

    Reading Ian Mackenzie’s comment reminded me of that wonderful cartoon (probably in the Bulletin?) that showed a flattened city following a nuclear attack, with a skeleton lying in the smoking ruins next to a sign proclaiming it to be a “nuclear-free zone”, shaking its bony fist at the bombers streaming overhead and shouting,”can’t you bastards read?!

  • agrinton

    I often wonder why Council staff can’t see the ugliness and unkempt demeanour of the streetscape, but then when I get the next email survey, I remember that council is staffed by people sitting at their desks (or in their bedrooms) writing strategic statements based on surveys in search of squeaky wheels. They are so obsessed with their endless pretty master plans that they never contemplate on why none of the past fifty years’ plans were ever completed or the results maintained. Funny that the surveys never find that we need fewer survey analysts in offices and more road workers and gardeners on the ground.

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