Councillor Mithra Cox said while Council's ability to intervene in the housing market was limited the scheme had not yet had a significant impact on housing affordability.
"It's an absolute drop in the ocean," she said. "A couple of housing units is really not going to touch the sides, but when you think about how much it costs to buy a house, it's difficult to stretch that money to a lot of people."
Ms Cox said without significant government interventions, which were out of reach of local governments, this would continue to be the case.
"Massively increasing the amount of social housing in the system is one of the key things that would improve housing affordability," she said. "That said, it's outside of council's remit to do that."
Renewable energy sources like wind farms were "the quickest and easiest ways" to reduce emissions linked to electricity use, Wollongong councillor Mithra Cox said.
The Greens councillor was speaking on the decision to adopt a plan for Wollongong City Council to address the issue of climate change through to the end of the decade. The Climate Change Mitigation Plan 2023-30 followed on from the 2020-22 plan and sets a target of zero emissions for council operations by 2030 and net zero emissions for the city by 2050.
Cr Cox said those targets were dependent on the decarbonisation of the electricity grid. "It's the quickest and easiest way to make fast reductions but this is dependent on state and federal targets being met to reduce emissions from electricity."
"Then that is largely dependent on large-scale renewable being built for which there is a proposal for an offshore wind zone here in Wollongong. I'm really proud of the position and leadership council has shown in supporting that and I hope we're able to continue to advocate for that because without those sort of projects happening we've got no chance of meeting the big reductions in electricity decarbonisation."
Cr Cox also spoke of the problems around transportation emissions and, as the move to electric vehicles continued, that more charging options needed to be included in both residential spaces and council car parks.
"It's not going to be enough to have one or two in car parks, especially in multi-unit apartments where parking might be underground."
"It's really, really important that the electricity infrastructure is put in at the time those apartments are being built and that they are delivered to every single parking space, otherwise those car parks will be there for 100 years and won't have the infrastructure in place."
"Similarly our own parking stations, as we upgrade them, will need an electricity connection to every parking space."
The Greens Mithra Cox said climate change was a mammoth task to solve and needed fast action, involving many forms of renewable energy if future generations were to have a livable planet.
"It's going to require a major economic and industrial transformation within our lifetimes and ideally within the next decade," she said.
"But the alternative does not bear thinking about. The sea level rise predictions for Wollongong, if we remain on the current emissions trajectory that we're currently on is three metres by 2100. My kids will still be alive."
She also took aim at the behaviour of people at the Thirroul forum saying she would not engage with people who "heckle an Aboriginal elder... shouts over the top of anyone with a different opinion, or sends fake information mocked up in Microsoft paint and claim it as evidence".
"If you don't care about the impacts of climate change on my generation and the generations to come, then don't expect me to engage on a deep level," she said.
Greens Councillors Mithra Cox and Cath Blakey joined local environmental groups to support the designation of an Illawarra offshore wind power area.
The council had an important role to play in reducing community emissions, Cr Mithra Cox said, through empowering people rather than telling them what to do.
"There is a really big role for council in ensuring that we can have all-electric homes, making sure that the electricity connections that they have in the kitchens are good enough that they have induction stoves," Cr Cox said.
"It's also ensuring that new buildings, particularly apartments, have electricity in the car parks in basements should people want to switch to electric vehicles.
"When you build an apartment, it's going to be there for the next 50, 70 or 80 years. The decisions we're going to be making are going to be with us for a long time."
Cr Cox also noted that the Whyte's Gully tip was the biggest source of the council emissions and that she didn't feel they could capture 100 per cent of them by 2030.
Wollongong Greens councillor Mithra Cox said it was "one of the silliest ideas I have ever heard".
"Why on earth would we want a toxic, expensive and risky nuclear reactor on Lake Illawarra or at Fitzroy Falls when we have the most abundant, cheap and safe renewable energy resources of anywhere in the world?" Cr Cox said.
"Look at Chernobyl, at Fukushima, as Zaporizhzia - when nuclear reactors have accidents, they are catastrophic."
"Solar power is the cheapest form of electricity in human history, and wind power is fast catching up."
"And they come without the huge environmental and safety risks of uranium mining and storage or radioactive waste - something which has not been solved anywhere in the world."
Wollongong City Council has just adopted its new Housing Strategy, which specified that residential developments of more than 20 dwellings must have at least 3 per cent of floor space dedicated to affordable rental housing in 2026, increasing by 1 per cent annually to hit 10 per cent by 2033.
Cr Mithra Cox moved an amendment, supported by fellow Greens Cr Cath Blakey, to increase the eventual minimum to 30 per cent. She said a higher target would buffer against significant loss of affordable rentals when these properties moved back to private ownership. But the remaining councillors voted against it and the amendment was not passed.
Cr Blakey later said the target as passed was a "sad joke".
"Although I like a miniature railway myself - I think they're great fun, I take my kids to the one at Stuart Park."
"This site however is near the national park, it's zoned C3 environmental management and that is a zoning that was only reasonably recently decided by this council. The entire site is a bushfire hazard and would require significant land clearing for protection to enable any use of that site."
Mithra Cox, Greens councillor on Wollongong Council.
Wollongong City Councillor Mithra Cox is calling for council to update its emissions target in line with that of the federal government.
The council has had the net zero by 2050 target for years but Cr Cox believes the council does not hold all policy levers to achieve it.
Cr Cox said when the council adopted the 2050 target, it was a net zero target for 2050 for the whole city with no set midway mark they had to meet to show their progress.
"Since then the government has announced an ambitious interim target on the way to 2050, which is a 43 per cent emissions cut by 2030," she said.
The councillor said the move by the federal government while ambitious, is logical and significant given that it'll ensure that the country's on the right track. "It makes sense for all three levels of government to harmonise and be on the same track to net zero emissions."
Cr Cox believes it will be easier for a country as a whole to be moving at the same pace. "Our community has told us how deeply they care about they environment especially after already feeling the severe impacts of climate change in the form of floods and bushfires," she said. Cr Cox believes the community is sensing the urgency of the situation and urging the government to act quickly. The council, Cr Cox said, is looking to work with other levels of government to achieve the target. "The steelworks is the biggest carbon emitter in Wollongong but we don't have the jurisdiction to change that so all levels of government need to work together to do what's good for the environment," she said. There is also a 80 per cent renewable energy target to be achieved by 2030.
"If we are involved in supporting that target and having all of our electricity use switched to renewables in that time, that would get us a really significant way to achieving that target, even though Council itself is not able to do it alone," she said.
Cr Cox said it is not just the government that needs to work as a whole but the community and businesses.
Wollongong Councillor Mithra Cox said the commercial decision by South32 to walk away from the expansion project was a wake up call for carbon-reliant industries in the Illawarra. "It really underlines the need for us in Australia, and specifically in Wollongong, to have a really good transition plan, because if we don't, this is what it looks like," she said.
"It means new industries and new job opportunities going elsewhere, rather than that transition being an integral part of our community, and those jobs staying here."