IN the lead up to last week’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow Mornington Peninsula Shire and other members of the South East Councils Climate Change Alliance called on the federal government to “commit to an ambitious 2030 emissions reduction target underpinned by a clear plan to achieve the target”.
The council welcomed the federal government’s commitment to a 2050 emissions reduction target but said the need for a 2030 emissions reduction target, aligned with the other developed countries’ commitments, was more pressing.
“It is essential Australia makes an equitable contribution to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels,” the councils said. “A stable climate must be a primary priority for all levels of government.”
Cr Kerri McCafferty said communities across the south east and around the world were experiencing the “devastating impacts of global warming and these impacts will worsen if the increase in emissions was not halted”.
“Mornington Peninsula Shire Council has declared a climate emergency,” she said. “An ambitious 2030 emissions reduction target and a clear plan that drives a rapid decarbonisation of Australia’s economy are urgently needed.
“We need to deploy renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as driving investment in zero emissions transport and carbon sequestration.”
“Australia’s response to global emissions reduction efforts needs to be clear and decisive. [Our] commitments must reflect the scale and scope of the challenge – an existential threat to our human civilisation and the biodiversity of the planet.”
The councils heard that an “ambitious” 2030 emissions reduction target and an economic transition plan would “send a clear signal” to businesses and the community to embrace economic opportunities and wellbeing outcomes presented by decarbonisation.
Councils of the south east are said to be setting ambitious emissions reduction targets and working to support their communities to transition to net zero emissions. As a member of SECCCA, the shire is also part of regional efforts to decarbonise.
The mayor Cr Despi O’Connor said municipalities were “at the front line of responding to climate change impacts”.
“We have seen this through the major role we have played in responding to the bushfires and floods over the past two years,” she said.
“On the peninsula, we must manage the impact of coastal erosion along our coastline, as well as storm damage, flash flooding, bushfire risk and the impact of extreme weather – all exacerbated by climate change.”
Cr O’Connor said the shire was “strongly committed” to climate change action and was recently certified as carbon neutral as an organisation.
“We have also adopted a climate emergency plan, which includes helping the peninsula to transition to net zero emissions by 2040, with interim targets including a 65 per cent reduction in community emissions by 2030,” she said.
“We call on the federal government to set strong emissions targets for 2030 backed up with legislation, policy, programs and financial investment.
“Accelerated climate change action this decade is critical if we are to keep a safe, liveable climate for future generations.”