Council declares climate emergency

Port Phillip Council has joined the growing movement calling for urgent action to address climate change.

A motion passed at last night’s Council meeting declares climate change poses a serious risk to Australians – including those living in Port Phillip – and should be treated as an emergency.

It commits Council to advocating to state and federal governments to “declare a climate emergency and take action to drastically reduce warming emissions in Australia and across the world”.

Port Phillip Council will also incorporate the declaration in all of its relevant strategies and policies and consider the impact of climate change when planning and decision making.

Mayor Dick Gross, a university lecturer on climate change, likened the current debate to when the harm caused by smoking was not universally acknowledged in the 1950s, despite a raft of scientific correlations.

“The evidence shows climate change is real, it’s here, it’s happened. No country – or council – can escape the potentially disastrous cascading impacts of climate change which must be addressed now,” Cr Gross said. “This is a local, and global emergency, and everyone must do their bit to preserve the liveability of our planet.”

Councillor Tim Baxter, who brought the motion to Council, said the effects of climate change were already being experienced in Port Phillip.

“Increased flooding in Elwood and Port Melbourne, beach erosion, urban heat island effect at public housing high-rises … these aren’t isolated incidents. It’s Council’s job to take care of our community and climate change is a big threat to their health and well-being and environment,” Cr Baxter said.

“I know that we’re just one Council. I’d certainly prefer to see our federal and state parliaments declare an emergency. But there are many moments where we are required to step up and show leadership – and this is one of them.

“In standing up for our community, we are joining hundreds of other cities in acknowledging the real facts of this emergency and acting with what power we have to address it.”

Cr Gross said Council’s long-standing efforts in its own backyard already included:

  • Partnering with other large organisations to facilitate the construction of an 80mW wind farm near Ararat that delivers all of Council’s electricity through a power purchase agreement

  • Installing solar panels on Council buildings including 409kW of roof top solar with another 200kW about to come on line at South Melbourne Market.

  • Supporting the community’s efforts to reduce waste water and energy use through initiatives including targeted programs for apartment dwellers

  • Planting 1325 trees in 2018/19 and facilitating community planting days in which 21,067 Indigenous plants were placed along the foreshore.

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