Climate emergency: What are the western NSW councils doing?


Councils around NSW have been weighing up whether to declare a "climate emergency" in their local government area.

Although 19 NSW councils have declared the emergency, none in the Central West and Western region of NSW has made the leap.

Some mayors in the region believe there are more productive ways to help climate change than making the declaration.

At the time of publishing, 45 Australian local councils had joined governments around the world in declaring the emergency.

This declaration indicates the council acknowledges climate change and is working towards a more sustainable way of operating.

In Australia, climateemergencydeclaration.org said the local governments can play a critical role in achieving a nation-wide climate emergency response.

When Australian Community Media reached out to the councils around the Central West and Western region, none had committed to declaring a climate emergency.

In Dubbo, Mayor Ben Shields said the council is serious about making changes that benefit the environment and allow Dubbo Regional Council to be more sustainable.

"I believe [more sustainable] policies and commitments are the most effective way of bringing positive change rather than token gestures such as declaring a climate emergency," Cr Shields said.

"We are investing in proposals such as the conversion of our street lights to LED technology that use substantially less electricity than the old technologies. This is a measure that will save our community money but also reduces our energy usage.

"We are also committed to increasing the number of gross pollutant traps that will be rolled out across the city."

Orange City Council mayor Reg Kidd said the council is making changes for a more sustainable future without making the declaration.

Cr Kidd said the emergency declaration "makes you feel good but you're not actually doing anything about [climate change]".

"We are actually doing things to reduce our carbon footprint and always looking at ways towards a sustainable future," he said.

"Our record and policies stack up against any LGA and personally I have been sustainably focused for many decades."

In Bathurst, the council has discussed declaring a climate emergency and requested a report for a future meeting. A spokesperson said more details will be available when this report has been tabled.

A Mid-Western Council spokesperson said they do not have any formal policies on climate change.

"Council continues to consider opportunities for alternative energy and sustainable technologies as part of the capital works program to reduce its ecological footprint," they said.

Australian Community Media also reached out to Lithgow, Parkes, Forbes, Cowra, Hilltops and Bogan Shire councils. They did not respond before this article went to print.