Councillors from across Melbourne’s south east have called on Government to support their communities to take urgent action to protect them from the impacts of climate change.
Councillor Michael Whelan (pictured), who is the South East Councils Climate Change Alliance chair and Deputy Mayor of Bass Coast Shire Council said that governments and communities must acknowledge the threat of climate change is “right here and right now”.
“The IPCC’s recent Sixth Assessment report presents an absolutely frightening picture of what the future holds for us, for our children and grandchildren and generations to come. The impacts and costs are only going to worsen,” Cr Whelan said.
“With Australia’s land areas having increased in temperatures by 1.40C, communities are already experiencing devastating impacts resulting from these temperature increases. Every municipality in the south east of Melbourne has a story to tell about how increasingly intense heat, bushfire, rainfall, storm surge and drought hurt their communities, particularly the vulnerable.”
He said local government and the communities they represent were at the frontline of dealing with climate change impacts, but says they are the least resourced to address the problems.
“It is past time to get serious on this issue, our beaches are disappearing, the Brighton bathing boxes are being shored up with sandbags, beaches are being replaced by rock walls, valuable buildings are being damaged by storm surge events and bayside drainage is no longer coping with rainfall events.”
“Science says that to have any hope of keeping global temperatures to 1.50C above preindustrial temperatures, we must stop using fossil fuels and rapidly deploy renewable energy and energy efficiency. We need to invest in technologies that remove carbon from the atmosphere. We wait at our peril.”
“Local government needs urgent financial assistance to enable them to invest in infrastructure that will protect communities from climate impacts.”
“All levels of government must work together to accelerate this transition ensuring our economic well-being and making sure vulnerable members of our community are protected.”
The CAG also lamented the “distraction from urgent and effective climate response” that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused.
“The devastating bushfires of 2019/2020 should have been met with shock and awe however have been overshadowed by the more evident, acute threat of COVID-19. We must not lose focus on climate change, a chronic threat, even as we finally forge our way forward into a COVID-normal world.”
“When it comes to human health and well-being, and good governance, our current response to this climate emergency falls woefully short,” Cr Whelan said.