As global leaders met to highlight how the world is falling behind in the race to avert climate disaster, Wollongong councillors elected to take a little more time before setting an emissions target for the city.
On Monday, councillors were due to set a target for the city to be carbon neutral by 2050 and reduce emissions by 2.7 per cent each year in the meantime.
This would have helped to stretch out the city's remaining carbon budget - which will run out in 18 years with no action - and triggered development of an "emissions target reduction plan" in consultation with residents and industry.
However, after a long debate - which included questions from some councillors over whether humans are causing climate change - the majority voted that the target should be "deferred" pending an earlier round of consultation.
Labor councillor David Brown drove the deferral, saying he supported a council emissions target but wanted to ensure residents were supportive.
Wollongong will now miss the deadline for setting an emissions target under its 2017 agreement with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy; it was required to set a "science-derived" target by August/September.
Greens' Mithra Cox voted against the deferral and said she was saddened and disappointed, especially after thousands of residents took to Wollongong's streets last week to demand action over climate change.
She noted emissions targets had been in development for several years, and that the council had signaled its intention to act on greenhouse emissions by declaring a climate emergency last month.
She said it was "absolutely imperative" the council consult with residents and businesses on developing an action plan for how it would achieve the targets, but that "consulting on these targets undermines the whole thing".
"We need to consult on our action plan, how we do this, and which sectors are going to need more time," she said.
"But if we go down the path on consulting on atmospheric physics, then we will get ourselves into a terrible mess."
Wollongong's carbon budget and targets were based on the city's share of global and national budgets set under the Paris Accord.
The council's go-slow comes amid global attention on climate change at the United Nations headquarters this week.
More than 50 global leaders appeared at the New York summit, which was aimed at mobilising governments and businesses over carbon emissions, which hit record highs last year despite decades of warnings.
Also this week, a new report by the World Meteorological Organisation showed that average global temperatures are rising faster than ever.
The five years between 2015 and 2019 are on track to be the hottest five-year period on record.
The report also found that nations will need to triple their climate change efforts to prevent a two degree rise in temperatures by the end of the century and increase them five-fold to avoid a 1.5 degree rise.