Help with putting pressure on Councils to ACT

In February this year our Council declared a climate emergency after 3 motions attempts and a Climate Action march on the hottest day in January.

Since then an environmental working group was formed to advise council, and they have had discussions with council management about next steps. Nothing, however, has really come of it and it’s now almost September. In the recent budgetary proposal for the next 12 months there was hardly any mention of tactics for reducing emissions and the environment levy has not really changed. A Climate Emergency Levy has been suggested but declined.

Our councillors are all aging white men and are universally hated by locals. The election has been postponed to Sept next year due to Covid.

I’m looking for ideas on how to put pressure on council to get things moving when all their meetings now are on zoom and it would be impossible to do disruptive sit-ins without getting booted out of meetings.

Also looking for suggestions on what we should be demanding now - A citizen’s assembly perhaps?

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Hi Anthea,
The situation sounds so frustrating for you. It’s interesting that council have decided to postpone elections when other councils are going ahead despite the pandemic situation.

My local shire (Mornington Peninsula Shire Council) declared a climate emergency last year, then rapidly compiled a draft Climate Emergency Plan that was publicly exhibited in May this year and formally adopted at the last council meeting - so we are incredibly lucky. Our local XR group analysed the draft and wrote a formal submission to council, and we are now in the process of analysing and comparing the draft to the plan to assess for discrepancies. We now have concerns about the roll out of the plan as we have 6 councillors stepping down this upcoming election and we need to replace them with intelligent people who will commit to seeing this plan through. (Wish us luck!)

Some resources that we have found helpful through this process are for info on Citizens Assemblies. When we approached council suggesting they use a citizens jury or assembly, they asked for more info. They were open to discussing it, but wanted us to come up with the framework. eg. What will our ‘question’ be?
You really need one specific question for it to be successful, a yes or no question.
In your situation - If you can get council to agree to a citizens assembly (unlikely, as the process is expensive and they all are carrying on about how COVID has affected their budgets) I would suggest something like ‘Should we develop and implement Climate Emergency Plan this year in response to our declaration of Climate Emergency’ Something really clear and easy for them to commit to. It’s not much but it gets the ball rolling and it sounds like you are going to have a bit of a fight while those old codgers are still in decision making positions.

Another fantastic resource is - contact these guys and get their support. - Adrian is great!

Personally, I would be emailing every councillor and demanding they justify their reasoning for delaying the election - other councils are capable and it’s simply not good enough. You could start an email campaign to advocate for a plan - I have found things like MP Engagement sessions with Climate for Change is a great way of getting lots of people to email on a particular issue.

I hope this has been of some help - if you wanna email me with any questions, my email is … GOOD LUCK x

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