The glasshouse effect

FREMANTLE is leading the pack once again, with Fremantle Dockers supporters and the national netball team all wanting to scrap sponsorship from the fossil fuel industry. 

At the latest FPOL committee councillor Adin Lang successfully put up a motion that Fremantle should investigate a ban on advertising and sponsorship of companies involved in coal, oil and gas.

But should the council be making sure its own nest is in order before having a go at the oil barons?

Is Fremantle pro-active enough about climate change and is the city well prepared to deal with rising sea levels?

Why isn’t there a commitment from council to replace its petrol fleet with electric vehicles? 

Why aren’t solar power and rainwater tanks compulsory in all new developments?

Could Fremantle introduce car-free Sundays?

Those measures would have a far more tangible impact on the environment than banning advertising and sponsorship from the fossil fuel industry – that will not make one iota of a difference in stopping global warming.

I also wonder if the council should stop accepting state government grants, given how much of its revenue is derived from royalties courtesy of those companies.

Let’s Talk Freo

I attended a Climate Future workshop at the city recently as part of Let’s Talk Freo, a precursor to reviewing the city’s Strategic Community Plan: “The overarching document that sets out the vision, outcomes and objectives for the community for the next 10 years.” 

Many questions were asked and many ideas and suggestions put forward by the participants, which included Aboriginal elders, Notre Dame Uni students, sustainability professor Peter Newman, architect Gemma Hohnen, Fremantle Ports communications guru Neil Stanbury, CoF councillors and officers, and others.

Large parts of the West End will be flooded in the future, unless something is done about protecting our coast better, so what can our Council do about it, or will it be like Port Beach where the state government pays for the catch-up maintenance?

The Town of East Fremantle is again spending a lot of money on trying to prevent flooding of popular Riverside Drive, and Fremantle keeps topping up sand at Port Beach, knowing that is not a long-term solution for the coastal erosion.

Catastrophic flooding has been happening in the eastern states, and it would be naïve to believe Western Australia will be spared from that. In some parts of the east coast, insurance companies are no longer willing to insure development close to the ocean. 

So why is there a masterplan for the Fishing Boat Harbour, with substantial residential, commercial and tourism development, when the water level in the harbour already reaches the boardwalk during extreme high tides?

Should we even consider developing Rous Head, North and Victoria Quay, once Fremantle Port has moved to Kwinana, when ocean levels will rise significantly? Would that be responsible city planning and governance? How can Fremantle prepare for severe flooding, that will probably affect power supply to homes and businesses? 

What happens if the power is off for very lengthy periods, and computers and mobile phones are no longer working, and we can’t connect to the authorities and the community? 

How will we get food when supermarkets and shops are forced to close because of power outages?

Planning

How will we be able to give support to our neighbours and the wider community? Should local councils start planning for that now and engage with the community, so that we can collaborate and all take ownership of the problems that will occur?

One question that came up at the workshop I attended was whether we had learned from Covid to be more attuned to helping each other, or should Fremantle council start creating local community volunteer support groups that can be activated during disasters?

Should architects, developers and our governments reconsider how and where we build, with flooding in mind? Will parts of Fremantle and WA become off limit for development, due to the risk of flooding?

We have witnessed how slow support arrived after bushfires and floods over east, so what can Fremantle do to be prepared well? Where for example are the sandbagging stations in Fremantle, in case of severe flooding? 

Let’s talk, Freo, and let’s try to make a real difference!

Roel Loopers
freoview.wordpress.com

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