Mayor Carol Sparks declares support for Glen Innes Severn council climate emergency declaration at students' strike

STRIKE ACTION: Mayor Carol Sparks will sponsor the petition calling on the Glen Innes Severn Council to declare a climate emergency she said yesterday. Pictures: Andrew Messenger.
STRIKE ACTION: Mayor Carol Sparks will sponsor the petition calling on the Glen Innes Severn Council to declare a climate emergency she said yesterday. Pictures: Andrew Messenger.

Mayor Carol Sparks will sponsor a petition calling on the Glen Innes Severn Council to declare a climate emergency, declaring her support at yesterday's climate strike rally.

Several dozen students, parents and teachers struck on Friday, part of an international movement of millions of young people around the world. In Australia, marches in Hobart, Sydney and Melbourne drew crowds of hundreds of thousands to demand more action to reduce carbon emissions.

A group of Glen Innes students asked the crowd to sign a petition calling on the council to "declare a climate emergency and commit to a more sustainable future for our community."

Mayor Sparks had already signed it by the time she talked to the Examiner shortly after the rally ended on Friday afternoon.

She said many residents of Glen Innes are scared about the effects of climate change, one of which is worsening bushfires.

"I think they're scared about not having any water, I think they're scared about the fires and I think they're scared about the oncoming summer and the effects of the heat and the wind and what it's going to do to us all," she said.

"Thirty years ago I came here because of climate change, because we thought that one or two degrees of warming would have a positive effect on the New England. And instead I've now found out it's a negative effect; it's dried out the trees, it's dried out the land and it's dried up the water.

"We are in a climate emergency!"

Students Bethany Coulter and Callista Sheridan spoke at the rally, with Ms Sheridan introducing the petition they had developed.

"We're given you the chance to scream at the top of your lungs that something is really, really wrong," she said.

"We cannot ignore that the drought and fires are getting worse or that every summer for the last couple of years has become the hottest summer on record.

"The last time Co2 increased this quickly it wiped out the dinosaurs.

"We don't want to be told that we're doing a good job or that we're inspirations, we want to be told that the politicians are just as scared as we are."

Around 300,000 Australian students took yesterday afternoon off school three days before the United Nations Climate Change Summit in New York. They called called on governments around the country to commit to:

  • Develop no new coal, oil or gas projects
  • 100 per cent renewable energy generation and exports by 2030
  • Funding for a just transition and job creation for all fossil fuel industry workers and communities

Some 2500 businesses said they were participating in the strike either by closing or by allowing employees to walk off the job. And the NSW Teacher's Federation declared its formal support.

Teacher's Federation organiser and former Greens candidate Mercurius Goldstein spoke at the Glen Innes rally.

"Situation normal cannot continue - and that is the struggle that you are embarked on, make no mistake about it, and the stakes are high," he said.

"Going home and going back to situation normal is not going to get us anywhere. We have to stay out and we have to stay mad until this struggle is over."

Some 1200 councils representing 262 million voters across the world have declared a climate emergency. Fifty local governments in Australia have made a declaration, including the Sydney city council, plus the ACT government. The UK, which has a conservative parliamentary majority, voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency, the first in the world to do so.

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