Councillors from across Melbourne’s south east have called on the Australian Government to commit to an ambitious 2030 emissions reduction target, underpinned by a clear plan to achieve the target, in the lead up to the COP26 meeting in Glasgow.
Mornington Peninsula Shire Councillor, Kerri McCafferty – a member of the South East Councils Climate Change Alliance (SECCCA) – said local communities across the south east were right now experiencing the devastating impacts of global warming and these impacts would worsen if the increase in emissions was not halted.
“The Mornington Peninsula Shire Council has declared a climate emergency,” Cr McCafferty 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,” she said.
“Australia’s response to global emissions reduction efforts needs to be clear and decisive. Australia’s commitments must reflect the scale and scope of the challenge – an existential threat to our human civilisation and the biodiversity of the planet.”
An ambitious 2030 emissions reduction target and an economic transition plan will also send a clear signal to local businesses and the community to embrace the economic opportunities and wellbeing outcomes presented by decarbonisation, Cr McCafferty said.
She said councils of the south east were setting ambitious emissions reduction targets for their own councils and working to support their communities to transition to net zero emissions.
As a member of SECCCA, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council is also part of regional efforts to decarbonise.
“Local governments are at the front line of responding to climate change impacts,” said Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor, Despi O’Connor.
“We have seen this through the major role we have played in responding to the bushfires and floods over the past two years. Even far from the fires, the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council supported evacuees from the Mallacoota fires in the summer of 2019,” 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.
“Our Council is strongly committed to climate change action, which includes recently being 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% reduction in community emissions by 2030.
“We are not alone. Local governments across Australia are taking action. The 2021 Australian Local Government Climate Review this year shows 87% of the 84 local governments surveyed have, or intend to have, corporate emissions targets while 40% have, or intend to have, a community emissions target.”
“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,” Mayor O’Connor said.