How dare they: climate protesters hit out at Wollongong Council - Illawarra Greens

How dare they: climate protesters hit out at Wollongong Council

Others protesting outside Wollongong City Council's premises on Thursday were angry at the "gall" of the council to take such action weeks after declaring a climate emergency and just days after thousands of people hit the streets of Wollongong demanding climate justice.

Chanting "listen in Mr Brown, keep that carbon in the ground", most of the protesters' frustration was aimed at Labor councillor David Brown.

It was Cr Brown who drove the deferral at Monday night's council meeting, saying he supported a council emissions target but wanted to ensure residents were supportive. Wollongong will now miss the deadline for setting an emissions target under its 2017 agreement with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy; it was required to set a "science-derived" target by August/September.

This has angered many in the community, including activists from the Youth Environment Alliance (YEA) and climate strike organiser Martin Cubby.

Read the report by Agron Latifi in The Illawarra Mercury, 26 September 2019.

How dare they: climate protesters hit out at Wollongong Council

Leo Park, 9, Youth Environmental Alliance member Ben Gava and Meg Park, 4 with others outside Wollongong City Council's premises, protesting the council's decision to delay climate action. Picture: Anna Warr
Leo Park, 9, Youth Environmental Alliance member Ben Gava and Meg Park, 4 with others outside Wollongong City Council's premises, protesting the council's decision to delay climate action. Picture: Anna Warr

Others protesting outside Wollongong City Council's premises on Thursday were angry at the "gall" of the council to take such action weeks after declaring a climate emergency and just days after thousands of people hit the streets of Wollongong demanding climate justice.

Chanting "listen in Mr Brown, keep that carbon in the ground", most of the protesters' frustration was aimed at Labor councillor David Brown.

It was Cr Brown who drove the deferral at Monday night's council meeting, saying he supported a council emissions target but wanted to ensure residents were supportive.

Wollongong will now miss the deadline for setting an emissions target under its 2017 agreement with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy; it was required to set a "science-derived" target by August/September.

This has angered many in the community, including activists from the Youth Environment Alliance (YEA) and climate strike organiser Martin Cubby. "What do we got to do," he asked.

Martin Cubby speaking at a rally opposing Wollongong City Council's decision to delay action on emissions reduction. Picture: Anna Warr

Martin Cubby speaking at a rally opposing Wollongong City Council's decision to delay action on emissions reduction. Picture: Anna Warr

"There were 3000 to 4000 people on the streets last Friday, one of the biggest rallies this town has ever seen to be honest.....unfortunately there is going to have to be more of them.

"There was a feeling last Friday from a number of people that while there was deep frustrations and anger with our national and global leadership and our state leadership on this, at least our local council in recent months had recognised and declared a climate emergency.

"They had clearly endorsed action through their words on this but when it comes to actually taking action to implementing a report that staff had recommended is adopted and targets which should be adopted according to the science, they squib.

"It's really, really unfortunate that they haven't heard yet what the community is demanding and what is necessary for our community and for the planet.

"How dare they."

YEA member Ben Gava was equally "appalled".

"It's a baffling decision, to forgo setting an emissions reduction target in favour of further community consultations, when just last Friday thousands of community members, school children and adults alike, marched through the streets of Wollongong in order to demand climate action now," Gava said.

"It seems too many of our councilors still refuse to hear that message. History will harshly judge those that stall on climate action - the children of today, as well as those of tomorrow, will not forgive them."

Leo Park, 9 from Thirroul Public School missed school on Thursday to attend the rally and present a letter urging the council to act on climate change "now".

Greens councillor Cath Blakey happily accepted the letter and said she would present it to the next council meeting.

ACTION: Leo Park, 9, of Thirroul Public School presenting his letter about climate change action to Wollongong councillor Cath Blakey. Picture: Anna Warr

ACTION: Leo Park, 9, of Thirroul Public School presenting his letter about climate change action to Wollongong councillor Cath Blakey. Picture: Anna Warr

"We have definitely seen leadership from the community on this and a demand for action and it is a real shame that we have not seen that sort of leadership been reflected by council," Cr Blakey said.

"I'm incredibly frustrated and actually shocked....some councillors who voted against the emergency voted for supporting the targets."

Cr Blakey said council now needed to focus on actions it has been doing with food recycling, LED street lights and with installing more solar panels on its libraries.

"But more importantly we need to concentrate on Lake Illawarra which is a natural carbon sink," she said.

"We have seen a draft strategy which says there is $37 million of action needed there and all of that is unfunded at the moment.

"We really need to see that council actually funds some of its strategic plans that are actually practical in reducing emissions."

Protesters on Thursday also indicated they would rally from 5pm at the council's next meeting on Monday, October 28.

On October 7 members of Extinction Rebellion will start their spring into rebellion campaign.

We elect these people to represent us but when it comes to an emergency they are nowhere to be seen. It is disgusting.

Extinction Rebellion member Toby Thompson

Wollongong member Toby Thompson said the group known for its direct action and mass arrest tactics, would cause havoc on October 7.

Extinction Rebellion member Toby Thompson protesting outside Wollongong City Council. Picture: Anna Warr

Extinction Rebellion member Toby Thompson protesting outside Wollongong City Council. Picture: Anna Warr

"We will support activists who are really angry and furious at the governing bodies, especially Wollongong City Council," he said.

"Saying it is an emergency and then postponing this emissions reduction target to next year is absolutely bonkers.

"We elect these people to represent us but when it comes to an emergency they are nowhere to be seen. It is disgusting."