Illawarra Greens. Social justice, environmental sustainability, peace and non-violence and grassroots democracy.

Wollongong City Council planning for ‘catastrophic’ 3-4 degrees of global warming

Tuesday 12 October

Wollongong City Council is planning for three to four degrees of global warming, according to a Climate Adaptation Plan to be considered by Council on 18 October.

“Planning for three to four degrees of global warming is extremely alarming, but unfortunately, this is the trajectory that we are currently on, even if all nations meet their commitments under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement,” Greens Councillor Mithra Cox said.

“Climate Scientists are sounding the alarm bells louder than ever. The sixth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released earlier this year - which spells out what the world would look like if we allow it to reach three degrees of warming, and it isn’t pretty.

“For Wollongong, this means suburbs like Primbee, Wollongong CBD, East Corrimal and Thirroul will be heavily impacted by sea level rise and coastal erosion. If we continue on this trajectory where we reach three degrees warmer, we will have to hold some very difficult conversations with citizens as homes and Council’s infrastructure, such as parks, reserves, footpaths, roads, and other services, will be increasingly threatened in the coming decades.

“We cannot build a sea wall along the entire Australian coastline. A managed retreat is the most sensible response, but this will be extremely difficult when the reality of what that means begins to hit home.

“It means that the conditions we experienced in the black summer bushfires of 2019-2020 will become our experience of a normal summer and the 1998 floods that devastated Wollongong - we saw cars floating down creeks, fridges floating out of houses and countless homes inundated - will become an annual event rather than one-in-100 year events.

“It also means that food security will be under threat, and large groups of people across Australia will be displaced as areas become too hot for people to live.

“I’m not sure I am ready for that world, and I would rather that we change the climate trajectory now so that we are able to keep global warming to more manageable levels. The IPCC report strongly recommends limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees celsius.

“It is still possible to change the catastrophic trajectory that we are on. But we have to act now. This will mean drastically ramping up our efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions in the next decade.

“As a Greens Councillor I will work to ensure council encourages a hydrogen hub and offshore wind developments. I would also like to see council collaborating with the state government and unions to ensure we have local jobs in these new industries. I would also like to see Wollongong expand the development of sustainable building products so that we can become an export hub for industries which will have zero carbon emissions.

“I have faith, that humans are amazing innovators. If we managed to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 in 12 months and Wollongong built a mass vaccine hub in just 39 days, we can transform our economy to zero emissions. But we will only achieve this if we treat it with the urgency and priority of an emergency,” Cr Cox said.

“There is a great future here for us, but we have to take the initiatives now and seize the opportunities of a transition to clean energy and manufacturing in the city.”

Wollongong City Council’s proposed Climate Adaptation plan is on p.424 of the business paper to be considered at the 18 October 2021 meeting:

More information: Cr Mithra Cox 0424 351 844