Albury and Wodonga councillors will be asked where they stand on "declaring a climate emergency" ahead of a public forum due to be held on the Border later in the year.
The event, scheduled for August 15 at The Cube, Wodonga, will replicate a session held at the National Climate Emergency Summit at Melbourne in February, 2020.
The one-hour Wake Up Call presentation featured local and state leaders who have "turbo charged" actions on climate change including Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and Cr Trent McCarthy from Melbourne's Darebin Council, which became the first in the world to declare a climate emergency in 2016.
Albury and Wodonga councils have yet to follow the lead of Indigo Shire, which officially declared a "climate emergency" in July, 2019.
Now a group of Border residents, who attended the Melbourne summit, have returned with a renewed resolve to agitate for stronger initiatives locally.
Community activist Annette Baker said she tagged along to the Melbourne summit feeling like a "bit of a fraud" as she sat alongside well-informed participants and presenters including the likes of Peter Garrett and Kerry O'Brien.
But it was after hearing about the experiences of other local governments and the initiatives they had taken since "declaring" that Ms Baker felt empowered to act.
"We decided to come back to Albury and do something similar here to get the ball rolling," she said.
Cr Trent McCarthy has already accepted an invitation to be part of the Border forum with organisers awaiting confirmation from other presenters including Cr Moore and Indi MP Helen Haines.
Ms Baker had anticipated the forum would be the perfect precursor to NSW and Victoria local government elections, with the aim to press councillors to reveal their stance on declaring a climate emergency.
However, on Tuesday it was announced NSW council elections will be postponed until September 2021 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic while at this stage Victoria is still scheduled for October this year.
Ms Baker said if the ongoing coronavirus pandemic thwarted the staging of the physical event, a concerted media and awareness campaign would be waged in the lead-up to rescheduled council elections.
'We need to change how we live'
Trent McCarthy will always remember the day Darebin Council made history by becoming the first local government in the world to declare a climate emergency.
That's because December 5, 2016 was his daughter's 7th birthday.
The Melbourne Greens councillor, who has been in local government since 2008, had made a promise he would step up his game - not just with words but action.
In February 2020, he joined Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, ACT minister Shane Rattenbury and Glen Innes Severn Council mayor Carol Sparks to present a Wake Up Call session at Melbourne's National Climate Emergency Summit.
The presentation, which outlined the "turbo-charged" actions of local and state leaders to act on climate change, has become the catalyst for a similar forum on the Border in August.
Cr McCarthy has accepted an invitation to support the event and said he was well aware many people lived in communities "where you want your governments to lead".
Cr Moore, who helped lead Sydney to declare a climate emergency in June 2019, told the Melbourne summit "it's our responsibility to move faster" on climate change.
"We are a global laggard and that's shameful because we are one of the wealthiest nations on earth with access to some of the best renewable resources and some of the world's most innovative thinkers," she said.
Cr Moore, also invited to the Border forum, slammed the government's emissions target as "pathetic".
"We are the driest continent on earth and we are on the front line of global warming ... we can and must do more," she said.
In sharing Darebin's journey during the past three years, Cr McCarthy said the council had to look beyond just "making the declaration" but "sustaining a program of action required to meet the emergency we face".
That has included installing solar for 4000 households in a four-year period and doubling renewable energy.
"That's been so important for pensioner and low-income households - for people who often have a fear of rising energy bills (and who) become vulnerable," he said.
"For us that's been one of the most profound things: turning people who may not have been engaged in the climate debate at all .. to become part of the action in their own homes and on their own rooftops."
Cr McCarthy said the responsibility was on government to supply maximum protection for its citizens.
"We can't accept the rhetoric from the Prime Minister that we will adapt," he said.
"We won't grow gills or the ability to withstand fire events - we need to change how we live and respond to climate emergency at a local and global level."