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Byron Shire
May 18, 2021

Climate change splits council

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Tweed Shire Council appears to be split along factional lines when it comes to the issue of climate change and how to deal with it locally.

Three moves at the last council meeting to raise awareness on climate change in the community and prioritise policies and actions on it, including allocating $100,000 funding, were approved but with a narrow 4-3 vote.

The three pro-development bloc councillors Warren Polglase, Phil Youngblutt and Carolyn Byrne consistently opposed the moves by Crs Katie Milne and Gary Bagnall, with two of them casting doubt on the science of climate change and community support for it.

Even the acting general manager, Troy Green, got involved during debate on a move for council to publish articles from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Mr Green argued that council’s weekly newsletter the Tweed Link should not be the vehicle for such articles, citing chapter and verse editorial policy on what can or cannot be included in the publication.

He said it was important the newsletter ‘maintained integrity’ and was a ‘reliable news source for the community’ to allow it to make ‘informed decisions’.

Mr Green said if such articles were to be considered, ‘they need to be paid advertisers’, which drew a bemused reaction from some in the public gallery.

Mayor Barry Longland then suggested watering down the original motion to publish the articles on its website instead.

But Cr Byrne suggested the ‘wonderful services’ of the shire libraries should be the place for people to find out about climate change, because including such information on the website would be a ‘duplication’ and ‘require staff to put it in’.

‘Not researched’

Cr Youngblutt said he agreed with Mr Green and Cr Byrne ‘because this is controversial’ and ‘probably 50/50 believe climate change was created by Co2’ and the causes were ‘not researched’.

Mr Green said regularly researching articles for inclusion would take staff time and would be difficult for officers who did not have a ‘scientific background’, but that including links to other sites was ‘achievable’.

Cr Bagnall said the local government association in South Australia had spent $740,000 on a project to look at how councils could adapt to climate change and identify likely impacts on councils’ infrastructure.

He said it would be of great interest to ratepayers to have regular information on what impacts and costs climate change would have.

Cr Polglase said he was concerned about resources ‘used to promote federal government policy’ and that council should stick to ‘roads rates and rubbish’.

He said ‘many in the community don’t agree with it’ and want the money spent elsewhere.

Cr Longland said it was ‘important for us to demonstrate that we do regard it as a serious moral issue in the community’ and the resources required would not be ‘terribly onerous’.

Cr Milne said council needed to raise awareness of the issue and take a leading role in educating the community on it.

She welcomed approval of the motion to allocate $100,000 toward a climate change fund in the 2013-14 budget to implement actions relating to council’s sustainability officer and for any savings recouped, such as energy efficiencies, to be reinvested into the fund.

The other motions were: for council to prioritise climate change as an urgent and high priority in all relevant areas of council policy and operations, and bring forward policy options to implement this approach to a future workshop; and that council publishes links on its web site to articles from the IPCC and other credible government agencies.


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  1. The people who have opinions not supported by the science are not climate change deniers they are scientific luddites who have always been around.
    Examples through the millenia have included flat earthers.. earth centralists etc..
    A lot of these deluded persons also seem to believe in the big god theory for which no proof exists…. faith based science is oxymoronic.. sweeping the science under the carpet is just plain moronic..

  2. Perhaps councillors Polglase, Youngblutt and Byrne could answer the following questions?

    Are you aware that over 97% of climate scientists globally, the CSIRO, the Australian Academy of Science and every major national science academy in the industrialised world (whose membership includes climate scientists) agree that the planet is warming, that the observed climate change is mostly human caused, and that if we continue with business as usual, harsh impacts and irreversible changes to the climate system will occur?

    Do you accept that climate change is occurring? If not, what specific scientific sources and references do you rely on to justify rejecting the scientific consensus?

    Do you accept that the human population is making a substantial contribution to climate change via our greenhouse gas emissions? If not, what specific scientific sources and references do you rely on to justify going against the scientific consensus?

    Is it your position that Australia and the rest of the world need to urgently adopt policies to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in line with scientific recommendations? If not, what specific scientific sources and references do you rely on to justify rejecting the scientific consensus?

    Are you aware that the impacts of climate change in terms of increased risks to human health and climate change related deaths is already being measured by medical and public health professionals worldwide?

    Do you accept that anyone who argues that we continue with business as usual and emit greenhouse gases beyond levels that the consensus of climate scientists says is dangerous for humanity (and the ecological system on which humans depend) should bear the burden of proof to show that this is safe?

    Do you accept that, in light of the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence and the long-standing consensus of climate scientists, politicians have a responsibility to immediately implement strategies to prevent dangerous climate change?

    Given that climate scientists have been advising the urgent reduction of greenhouse gases for decades, do you accept that politicians who fail to implement policies to prevent dangerous climate change should be held responsible for harm that results from this inaction?


  3. It amazes me that supposedly intelligent people, in positions of power, choose not to believe in science. At least it seems – change is slowing coming! better late than never…

  4. Since the evidence for Global warming is internationally accepted as being scientifically valid, on what basis do you reject their findings? If you persist with this standpoint then will you be willing to reimburse the locality for damage caused by your intransigence on this matter from your own pockets? Is this extraordinary attitude something to do with a new development somewhere that only these three councillors know about or is a strange political fetish??

  5. I live in a flood sensitive area and I’d appreciate my council being informed about the current issues regarding climate change. I would also appreciate them keeping me informed of their plans to mitigate for rising sea levels and other anticipated effects. It genuinely horrifies me that we have three people in our council who are so backward. Evidently not all dinosaurs died in the last extinction.

  6. Interestingly enough Ravendra Pachauri, head of IPCC, who just toured Australia, said that there has been no warming for 17 years. See http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nothing-off-limits-in-climate-debate/story-e6frg6n6-1226583112134

    He also welcomed debate. It would be nice if there was a debate because in fact 32,000 scientists, 9,000 of whom have Ph.Ds, signed a petition saying they disagreed with the ‘science.’ That’s far more than the 2,000 scientists at the IPCC. See http://www.petitionproject.org/

    Science is not about believing blindly but by questioning. Some of us could benefit by opening our minds and looking at what the other side have to say instead of railing at them.

    • Phaedra
      Have a look at the following link that may cast some light on your claim that “more scientists disagree with climate change than agree”.
      That is simply not true. It is also important to note that many of the “scientists” you refer to are working and trained in fields other than climate science (ie geology). Whereas, they may be “scientists” and have Ph.D’s, this does not necessarily make them experts in the field. I have a B. App. Sc. and a Master’s degree, but I don’t claim to be an expert in every facet of science.

  7. I can see why our Tweed Coast koalas are on the verge of extinction with Polglase’s comment “let’s just stick to road rates and rubbish”. I wonder if Polglase has ever given thought to our future generations who will probably never see a koala in the wild in the future on the Tweed Coast. I wonder…

  8. So, Cr Youngblutt and the Acting GM believe that climate change is “controversial” and that “probably 50/50 believe climate change was created by Co2” and the causes were “not researched”.
    I refer the learned gentlemen to the following website
    which I suspect may allay some of their reluctance to accept the facts, and suggest that the TweedLink may actually publish a list of relevant websites and allow readers to make up their own minds. In the interest of fairness, and for some light comic relief that could even post some of Christopher Monckton’s “theories”.


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