Moyne, the south-western Victorian shire council that shot to national prominence when it turned down drought aid and asked for it to be redirected to Moira Shire, has declared a climate emergency.
And while the vote was split 4-3, at least one of the dissenting council members, Daniel Meade, agrees more needs to be done to help farmers deal with the new climate.
The motion to declare a climate emergency, Cr Meade explained, comprised four elements, committing the council to:
- Declare a climate emergency and take immediate action
- Acknowledge that climate variability in the shire in the future will bring more extreme events
- Take direct action in the Moyne Shire, reviewing policies that might have an impact such as installing solar and reducing waste while investigating state and federal funding that could help farmers adapt to changing seasons, while increasing grants for tree planting
- Write to the state and federal governments to get them to declare climate emergency and take immediate action.
While objecting to the declaration of a "climate emergency", Cr Meade was in full support of points two and three.
"I put the argument that we should try and focus on direct action in the Moyne Shire to help residents and farmers adapt to our changing seasons and put all their efforts into that," he said.
"Anyway the original motion was passed and although I personally didn't support the climate emergency, that's democracy and I accept the decision."
Cr Moyne is also a dairy farmer who milks a herd of 320 cows and said the impact of a changing climate on farmers was clear.
"Certainly a lot of farmers I talk to acknowledge the seasons are a lot different now than what they used to be 20, 30 or 50 years ago," he said.
"They're shorter, they end sooner and they start later.
"I think it's important to say that, whilst we're having a good season now, who knows what next year is going to bring?
"We need to do what we can to be ready for our changing seasons and we're trying to be proactive in that area for, in particular, our local farmers.
"I'd like to see a significant increase in the tree grants.
"That is something that we hope to take action on within the next 12 months for sure.
"Obviously shelter belts have proven to be beneficial on farms, but also they help with carbon, etc, so I think it's a win win for our farmers but also help adapt to our changing seasons."
Moyne is one of several Australian councils to declare a climate emergency.