Climate change was the hot topic at the last council meeting on September 11.
In a notice of motion put forward by Councillor Larry Whipper, councillors debated on several points regarding climate change which included a formal declaration of a climate change emergency and that the council gives 'in principle support' to the climate strike by Highlands students.
"I think anybody who lives and breathes these days would have to accept the fact that the climate that we are living in is undergoing considerable change," Cr Whipper said in his opening statement.
"The other thing we are concerned about is the impact on future generations. That's why part of the recommendation asks council to consider 'in principle support' for the student strike.
"I think now is the time to bite the bullet and to acknowledge that our young people are facing some dire consequences."
Councillor Peter Nelson said he agreed 'in principle' with Cr Whipper but felt that all the councillors should have the benefit of a information session.
"World wide 985 jurisdictions in 18 countries have declared a climate emergency, including 45 local governments in Australia," he said.
"I prefer to have a well informed discussion about it before we go in to this.
"I do know some councils have, down the coast, put the climate change emergency forward because they see the sea levels rising.
"I'm just looking for more information before we declare a climate emergency."
Mayor Duncan Gair said he would not support the motion in its current form.
"There is no way I'm going to give 'in principle support' to any young person to go out there and strike," he said.
"I do acknowledge that there is climate change. I'm not a skeptic, and I was totally convinced when I went to Antarctica last year. I don't believe that at this stage we should be declaring a climate change emergency for Wingecarribee."
"We are pulling our weight in relation to what we are doing for the environment and how we are trying to combat it."
"Perhaps, as opposed to calling it an emergency, we should be acknowledging climate change, which I acknowledge, and how, as a council, we can help alleviate the concerns that we have. I think an information session outlining all of that is probably the best in the first instance."
The information session was supported by Councillor Grahame Andrews, who said that he was pleased that such an idea was mentioned.
"An emergency, once you declare it, becomes a reality. In my opinion an emergency is when there is a fire 500 metres from your home and you have to move out. That is an emergency," he said.
"There is no way in the world that I could support [the school strike]. Students under the age of 12 should not be involved in any form of strike or any activity where they become activists at that age. There's plenty of time for that at university.
"I would like to see an information session with all councillors present."
Councillor Ken Halstead also showed support for the climate change motion. He said he felt that an information session was a way to bury the motion.
"If you cannot see now - all of you sitting here now - what is going on world wide with the environment, there is something drastically wrong," he said.
"I'm not going to sit by and be a part of something that takes inaction. This is about getting on board and telling the community here and the wider community that we believe what's going on and there's a problem."
Speaking in support of the climate change motion Councillor Garry Turland said he was happy to man the barbecue at the school strike.
"I have no right to stop these kids from having a voice and if you go to the schools, the students are well educated on climate change," he said.
In support of the information session, Councillor Ian Scandrett said he had a problem giving 'in principal support' for the school strike.
"We are not involved in that demonstration, it's not part of this council," he said.
Cr Whipper in his right of reply to the amended recommendations said that it was "unacceptable" to deny climate change.
"To sit around this table and say yes, yes, yes but no is ridiculous," he said.
"What right have we got to sit around this table and really decide what our young people's future will be.
"My god, if they can't speak up for themselves, who is going to do it for them? Us.
"If we aren't going to do them for us, then we need to stand accused.
"This council is made up of men of the same age, no women, no gender mix, no young people making decisions for the whole community.
"They look to us to make those decisions of responsibility that affects their future.
"How arrogant is it of us to say, no you don't deserve the same opportunities.
"It's alright for us to exploit this planet, to exploit this future. For what? Short term outcomes? Councillors, I cannot believe this, that we would take offence at young people expressing their democratic rights.
"We're sitting up here in a fools paradise and we believe that the whole world is going to burn around us like Nero and his fiddle, while Rome is burning and it's not going to affect us.
"We're going to be right because we as the council said no there's no climate emergency, there's no crisis, we'll be alright.
"I will be there with those young people striking because I believe in their future."
The amended recommendation for an information session on climate change put forward by Councillor Andrews and seconded by Mayor Gair was passed by Councillor Gair, Scandrett, Andrews and Nelson.
Voting against the amendment was Councillor Whipper, Turland and Halstead.
Councillors Graham McLaughlin and Gordon Markwart weren't present at the council meeting.