Mitigating climate change and improving our urban sustainability must be a priority for all levels of government. This evening, the Eastern Region Climate Network, comprising of individuals and groups within Knox, Maroondah, Whitehorse and the Yarra Ranges, organised the Eastern Region Climate Forum, to discuss climate change and the need for action.
The Forum was held in Ringwood and included presentations from Dr. David Spratt the author of Climate Code Red: the case for emergency action and Matthew Wright from Beyond Zero Emissions. Tim Forcey, a member of the Sandringham Climate Action Group served as MC for the evening.
The importance of climate change has been recognised by levels of our political system, with the Governor of Victoria Professor David de Kretser acknowleding that ‘There is no doubt in my mind that this is the greatest problem confronting mankind at this time…a state of emergency.’
Dr. Spratt spoke about the growing evidence that conclusively demonstrates that action of climate change is required now to prevent the melting of Arctic ice caps and the Himalayan glaciers, which provides 40% of Asia’s fresh water supplies. On a per capita basis, Australia is currently one of the world’s largest sources of greenhouse emissions reinforcing the need for leadership.
While Australia is now a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, it included a unique Australian clause, which allowed the reduction of land clearing to be factored into the emissions target. In reality Australia’s emissions are actually 8% above the 1990 Kyoto targets.
Matthew Wright discussed solutions to mitigating climate change with research finding that 25% of actions that would reduce emissions would in fact be cost positive. This would be due to increasing efficiencies, such as harnessing solar and wind power, as well as reducing dependence on oil, through improving public transport. The savings produced by these initiatives would then provide a funding source for further greenhouse reductions.
Local government clearly has a role in reducing greenhouse emissions to ensure environmental, social and economic sustainability. As an example, many of the actions within council’s energy fund will become cost positive within three years. This not only reduces greenhouse emissions but will also provide a saving for ratepayers.
Given the importance of climate change it was disappointing that there so few candidates at the forum. In the Mullum Ward, only Jo-anne Taylor, Peter Feeney, Adam Pepper and myself attended the entire evening. One does need to question the sincerity and genuineness of candidates who fail to attend a forum on such an important issue.
I am committed to reducing council’s greenhouse emissions and achieving a carbon neutral target. I am also in favour of interim targets to measure council’s progress towards this goal and to ensure that council is actually reducing emissions, rather than merely offsetting and shifting the burden.
All levels of government need to act in regard to climate change and we need a council that is committed to making a difference to our sustainability.