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The Canberra Times
The Canberra Times
Andrew Brown

'We're acutely aware of the risks': South Coast mayors call for climate action

South Coast mayors and councillors have called for more climate action following the Black Summer fires. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

Mayors and councillors from areas of the South Coast that were ravaged by the Black Summer bushfires have hit out at the federal government for not doing enough to protect communities from extreme weather impacts.

The comments were made in a joint statement issued by members from 17 local councils from NSW and Queensland as part of the Cities Power Partnership.

Among the signatories to the joint statement were Shoalhaven City Council mayor Amanda Findlay, Bega Valley councillor Jo Dodds and Eurobodalla councillor James Thomson.

The joint statement said more action was needed from the federal government on climate change in order to prevent more extreme bushfires and floods from hitting regional areas, which had cost communities millions of dollars in damage.

"We are exhausted by the immediate costs and challenges and we are worried about what's to come," the statement said.

"Extreme weather disasters used to occur every few years. Now, we are facing them every few months.

"We are also left with the task of cleaning up, and paying for, the mess while we continue to deliver the essential services so many rely on."

Other councils among the signatories to the statement include Wollongong, Byron Bay, Parkes, Lismore, and Noosa in Queensland.

"We need more support from the federal government to further reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and invest in clean industries that create regional jobs, unlock business investment and spur technological innovation," the statement said.

"Local governments are embracing this opportunity and are working out new ways to protect our communities and make our regions more resilient and prosperous. But we can't do this alone."

Bega Valley councillor Jo Dodds, who almost lost her home in the 2018 Tathra bushfire, said greater action was needed to reduce the impacts of extreme weather events on local communities.

"We're acutely aware of the risks, and we're very disturbed that there hasn't been a level of urgency about the risk of climate change from the federal government," she said.

"More needs to be done and more urgently."

Despite the most recent summer bringing cooler and milder conditions thanks to La Nina weather patterns, Cr Dodds said it was only a matter of time before the weather patterns that brought about the Black Summer fires returned.

"It was good to rest and restore our energy this summer, but the next hot bushfire season won't be far away and will come back and be in our faces soon."

Shoalhaven mayor Amanda Findlay said the federal government had been missing in action in responding to climate change challenges.

"The federal government doesn't supply enough for councils to combat issues to protect communities from worsening climate change and the ongoing costs," she said.

"What needs to happen is to decarbonise the economy for future people living in Australia to suffer less from the effects of climate change."

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