Push for climate emergency declaration

By Jed Lanyon

Environmental groups in the Yarra Ranges are pushing for council to declare a climate emergency.

The Hills and the Yarra Valley Community for Climate Action are new groups concerned with the impacts of climate change and are aiming to make a positive contribution starting at a local level.

Member of the Hills Community for Climate Action Ciaran McCormack said that he wants to see Yarra Ranges Council and Melbourne City Council follow the lead of City of Sydney, who recently declared a climate emergency on 24 June.

“The explosion in community activity is because since the federal election, communities are concerned that the federal government is going to sit on its hands for another three years, in terms of energy and climate,” McCormack said.

“It’s a powerful piece of symbolism acknowledging that climate change is urgent and needs to be addressed immediately.

“It would commit council to things like setting an ambitious net zero emissions target, ideally by 2030 for its own operations.

“It would send an emphatic message to our community and local businesses that climate change is a top priority and it (council) wants to work with the community to address it.”

McCormack said that since the City of Darebin declared a climate emergency in 2016, the movement has gone global with 594 jurisdictions in 13 countries following suit.

Last week Yarra Ranges Council passed a motion to create a report to evaluate their Adapting to a Changing Climate and Energy Future plan.

“We acknowledge that council has had this and other useful initiatives over the last few years but this motion didn’t go nearly far enough,” McCormack said

“Last week’s council motion stated it wants ‘a range of actions council could take…in partnership with the community’, Hills Community for Climate Action would be happy to partner with council on this as would similar groups like Yarra Valley Community for Climate Action.”

Speaking at the 25 June council meeting, Mayor Tony Stevenson said that council was on track to meet emissions targets for 2020.

“We’ve been so busy saving energy and reducing emission levels that we haven’t actually got back to reporting,” Mr Stevenson said.

“We’re almost there, so it is time to think about recapping what we’ve achieved and to have council staff be briefing us on what more can be achieved.”

“I look forward to seeing what comes from that report.”

Yarra Valley Community for Climate Action created a survey to hear community ideas on the issue.

To take part in the survey, visit: https://bit.ly/2XcrpQT

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