As a fifth-generation dairy farmer, my family has weathered many changes over the years. Climate change is certainly creating a challenge. The dairy industry has always been an important part of life on the New South Wales south coast. The effect that drought and rising temperatures are already having on our agricultural industry is just one of the reasons that, as mayor of Kiama, I am acting on climate change.
While the federal government approaches climate change in its own way, we can also do something on a local level now.
Kiama Council recently made the decision to join the Climate Council program, Cities Power Partnership, and tackle our pollution levels head on, and we’re bringing our community with us.
One of the most important, and rewarding, aspects of local government is the connection with our community. We live and work amongst our residents and hear their concerns first-hand.
That is why we are recognising the change in climate and hope to show our residents the benefits that can be gained by adopting methods such as solar energy and waste reduction.
Our OK Organics program, which recently won a NSW Local Government Environment Award, collects urban households’ organic waste and transforms it into compost which is then offered back to residents free of charge for use on their gardens.
We are also working with neighbouring councils in Wollongong and Shellharbour on the Illawarra Biodiversity and Local Food Strategy for Climate Change. This will look at solutions to secure our local food and the natural environment for the long term.
The important theme is that all this is a joint effort. Local governments and communities are standing together to find practical solutions to climate change − and we will continue to do so for our future.
Mark Honey is mayor of Kiama Municipal Council.
This article first appeared in the Harden Express on 19 November 2017