AN “ambitious” climate emergency plan has been adopted by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council one year after declaring a “climate emergency”.
The Ensuring Our Future: Our Climate Emergency Response plan aims to guide the peninsula towards having no carbon emissions by 2040 through seven “summits” and 21 “action steps”.
However, the shire says the outcome “can only be achieved by the community and the shire working together”.
A 10-year program includes targets around leadership and governance, climate advocacy, zero carbon energy, resilient and adaptive community, sustainable transport and travel, sustainable land use and environmental restoration, circular economy and zero waste.
The shire says it was the 34th council in Australia to declare a climate emergency – there are now 96 – while its plan is one of the first six developed and adopted by an Australian municipality.
The mayor Cr Sam Hearn likened the seven “summits” to a “map to guide us away from the dangerous emergency situation and the kinds of impacts that should still be stark in our mind from last summer”.
“The shire is ready to lead by example and show the way,” he said.
“In August 2019, the shire declared a climate emergency. Since 2016, we’ve had a five-year plan for the shire’s operations to become carbon neutral, which we’re on track to achieve by 2021.
“The need to act to stop climate change and create a better future story is more urgent than ever.”
The shire says it is “focused” on achieving the targets of the plan and has accelerated some projects based on the climate emergency declaration. This has resulted in environmentally sustainable design being included in the planning scheme, it says.
Three recycled water projects are supporting agricultural growth and drought proof the peninsula.
The Beyond Zero Waste Strategy was also adopted on 25 August 2020.
As part of the plan the shire’s economic stimulus projects are being aligned to climate emergency objectives, including tree-lined footpaths.
“Along the way, we have encountered a stark reminder that we are all connected and our current and future wellbeing is collective,” Cr Hearn said.
“This year, the coronavirus pandemic brought home the fragility of our current systems and the vulnerability we have to existential threats. It has also revealed the value of local connectivity, [and] the immense power we have when we do act with a united purpose and move toward self-sustaining community.
“Let’s turn that awareness into opportunity. We can each make climate-friendly choices to rebuild the economy, revitalise our community and restore nature.
“The climate emergency plan looks ahead 20 years to a world in which the Mornington Peninsula community has transitioned to net zero-emissions. We know there is steep terrain ahead.”