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Environment Southland has today voted against declaring a climate emergency.
Councillor Robert Guyton put forward the motion at a full council meeting to declare a climate emergency. It was seconded by Cr Lyndal Ludlow.
An amendment was then put forward by councillor Maurice Rodway which was discarded as all but two councillors, Cr Rodway and Rowly Currie, voted against it, and debate reverted again to the original motion.
Debate on the motion focussed heavily on the word "emergency", with several councillors voicing their concern over using the word.
Chairman Nicol Horrell said declaring a climate emergency would be a "symbolic but empty gesture" and, "we can't afford to devalue the word emergency."
Others were concerned the word would prompt panic - to which Cr Guyton replied that of all councils that have so far declared an emergency there were "no reports of panic."
Councillor Ludlow made the point that had the discussion taken place five years ago, the issue would be about debating whether or not climate change existed at all.
She said there was no denying there was an urgency to deal with the issue and said she was "willing to overlook the semantics of the word emergency".
When the motion was put to council to vote on, only councillors Rodway, Currie, Guyton and Ludlow supported it.
However, a second motion put forward by Cr Eric Roy stated council would "commit to applying best practice and best science to it's responsibilities and accords urgency to developing an action plan."
This was then voted on - the results being all but two councillors voting in favour of it.
Councillors Guyton and Currie abstained from voting.