Peninsula’s ‘climate emergency’

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THE Mornington Peninsula may this week be declared to be facing a “climate emergency”.

If adopted by Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors, the measure will see them develop an action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lessen the effects of climate change.

The decision follows the release over the weekend of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report which said that without massive changes to food production, cutting emissions from transport and industry would not be enough to avoid dangerous climate change.

Cr Hugh Fraser says there is “widespread support” among councillors and among peninsula residents for declaration of a climate emergency.

“It gives fresh momentum to council’s 2014 resolved commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2021 and to carry that commitment by example and education to the wider peninsula community,” he said.

Two motions councillors were being asked to support at Tuesday night’s meeting give CEO John Baker six months to draw up a climate emergency action plan and for the shire to lobby state and federal governments to legislate to “drive emergency action to reduce greenhouse gases and meet the lower target of the Paris Agreement (keep global warming below 1.5 degrees)”.

Cr Fraser told The News that the Rye tip was the shire’s largest single contributor to greenhouse gases and declaring a climate emergency would give “fresh momentum to finding clean alternatives in waste disposal”.

He said the state government held the key to “environmentally friendly waste alternatives to landfill” and should spend some of the $400 million collected in a waste tax from municipalities.

Victorian councils to have already declared a climate emergency Darebin, Yarra, Moreland, Ballarat, Maribyrnong, Brimbank and the City of Melbourne.

Interstate councils facing similar coastal erosion problems as the peninsula which have also declared a climate emergency are Byron, Fremantle, Newcastle, Hobart, Kingborough and Noosa.

Steps already being undertaken by Mornington Peninsula to reduce greenhouse gases include the use of electric vehicles by some senior officers and the mayor, Cr David Gill.

Last month the shire committed to ending the use of single use plastics wherever possible on the peninsula (“Bid to end single use of plastics” The News 31/7/19).

Under its carbon neutral policy, the shire has also installed solar panels and LED street lights.

It is also a signatory to the global Covenant of Mayors which saw civic leaders throughout the world pledging to cut greenhouse emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change. As a member of the Cities Power Partnership the shire has also said it will “address renewable energy, sustainable transport and behaviour change initiatives”.

First published in the Mornington News – 13 August 2019

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