Mornington Peninsula Shire Council declares climate emergency

Published on 15 August 2019

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15 August 2019

Mornington Peninsula Shire Council last night officially declared a climate emergency.

The decision was met with resounding support from the public gallery, which was packed to the brim with community members. 

A climate emergency is a call for immediate and urgent action to reverse global warming.

The decision was unanimous with all Councillors delivering passionate and personal support for the need to address climate change today.

Council joins 840 local governments across 18 countries that have made the declaration, which recognises the significant damage climate change is causing to our economy, society and environment and that urgent action is required to reverse current trends.

The motion also called for the Australian State and Federal Governments to follow suit and declare a climate emergency supported with legislated programs.

The Shire will now develop a community supported Action Plan outlining clear targets, outcomes, estimated budgets and timeframes for the Peninsula.

Shire Mayor David Gill said Council was calling on the nation to join the fight for our planet.

“We’ll do everything we can to address and mitigate climate change at a local level but it’s going to take action from the State and Federal Government to make a real difference. 

“This is a time to put political preferences aside and unite for the sake of our environment and the future of our next generation”, concluded Cr Gill.

The Shire is a signatory to the global Covenant of Mayors, the world’s largest coalition of city leaders addressing climate change by pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, track progress and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Nepean Ward Cr Hugh Fraser who raised a notice of motion at the 13 August Council meeting, said as a coastal Council, the Peninsula is subject to higher risk of extreme storm events, sea level rise and coastal erosion as a result of climate change.

“I am very pleased to support this timely motion moved by Cr Hearn – our youngest councillor. As French President Francois Hollande remarked at the height of the 2015 Paris COP21 World Environment Conference - It is for the youth that we are holding COP21”.

“This Climate Change Emergency resolution will give fresh momentum to Council’s resolved commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2021.

“Together with local government here and internationally, it will carry that commitment by example and education to the wider community and nation states”, concluded Cr Fraser.

In 2015 CSIRO predicted the following climate impacts for the Greater Melbourne region:

  • Increased temperatures
  • More frequent and intense downpours
  • Rising sea level
  • Warmer and more acidic seas
  • More hot days and warm spells
  • Less rainfall in winter and spring
  • Harsher fire weather and longer fire seasons and increased frequency and height of extreme sea levels (source: greater Melbourne climate change predictions 2015).

Briars Ward Cr Sam Hearn who moved the motion and said “it’s time to stop thinking about climate change and start taking urgent, significant action.

“The crux of all this is that we cannot continue to take more, have more, consume more, discard more.

“Council has a long and proud history of approaching climate and environment issues based on the very real impacts they are having and will have on our local people and places.

“We’ve been proactive in introducing several Policies, Strategies and Action Plans already in place to directly address climate change mitigation and adaptation and we’re backing these up with stronger steps forward”, concluded Cr Hearn. 

Council’s current climate change focused Policies, Strategies and Action Plans include:

  • Carbon Neutral Policy – Reduction in emissions through Solar PV installation, LED streetlights and energy efficient buildings towards achieving Carbon Neutral accreditation in Council operations by 2021
  • Climate Change Community Engagement Strategy – Developing resources and actions to engage community to reduce emissions and build resilience
  • Embedding ESD principles – Preparing an ESD Policy to be introduced into the Planning Scheme and preparing an internal ESD Policy for Council buildings and civil works.

View these and other Council policies online at: mornpen.vic.gov.au/policies

Find out more about what the Shire is doing to tackle climate change and discover what you can do to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change online at: mornpen.vic.gov.au/climatechange

Additional Councillor quotes from the 13 August meeting:

“Everyone will have a view on this subject, but we need to follow the science, thank you to our wonderful community for sharing your views with us and coming along to show your support, we have heard you, we’ve seen your passion and believe me we are listening”, Watson Ward Cr Julie Morris.

 “Governments, Businesses and individuals are all accountable. We need to accept the urgency, roll up our sleeves, join forces and just start healing the planet”, Briars Ward Cr Bev Colomb.

 “With the release of the World Economic Forum Global Risks Report, the way we look at Climate Change risk, mitigation and adaptation and its monetisation in the world economy, is changing.

“This highlights the urgent need to look at Climate Change Risk as a topic we all need to understand and consider from a financial and liability perspective, in particular during this time of recognising climate change and global impacts that threaten sovereign risk.

“Now is the time to empower sustainable practices and outcomes that have a beneficial impact on the environment and our planet”, Seawinds Ward Cr Antonella Celi.

 “Since becoming a Councillor I have made it my responsibility to become as informed as possible on Climate Change, the risks it poses and to bring this knowledge into the organisation and community.

“While this is a very positive step by Council, following-on from others and hopefully encouraging more to follow, it is what we actually do now do that is vital.

“Local action is where it needs to happen; Local Government is vital to ensure this occurs with the support of other levels of Government.

“According to the IPCC, we have two years to get our policies and strategies in place - we have a further ten years to action these in full”, Seawinds Ward Cr Simon Brooks.

 “I would like to take a different and intergovernmental tack from the excellent remarks by Cr Hearn and place the work that we are undertaking this evening in Council and in the Shire into its international context and community of local governments.

“With our 2016 resolved policy shift to a measurable commitment to carbon neutrality over five years by 2021 – fundamentally shifting the way we as a Shire think about the use of carbon, driving sensible practical projects in the Shire and in the community – we are not dropping our waste into septics and landfills, rolling out $5m self-funding LED street lighting, aligning our waste contracts with other councils, facilitating closure of our methane generating Rye landfill and gathering ideas from others to lead, learn, and engage with the other cities and regions of the World”, Nepean Ward Cr Hugh Fraser.

“We are robbing future generations - it is they who will pay for our apathy and fear-based politics”

“This isn’t a call to greater anxiety. It is a call for courage and leadership. There are opportunities for us to discover better, more collaborative and more harmonious ways to live together on the journey to a sustainable way of life.

“However, we can’t do it alone. We need all government that is by the people to be for the people and the planet - and have the courage to make the tough decisions like decoupling itself from the narrow interests of coal and oil corporations.

“We are starting this at local government level, I believe, because we are the most connected to real places, we are the most grounded in reality”, Briars Ward Cr Sam Hearn.

"I’m really proud of all the work that has been done to at last get to this declaration. It is finally official recognition of what many have been concerned about for many years. As many supporters tonight noted “there is no planet B “ so I say lets get on with saving the one we have", Cerberus Ward Cr Kate Roper.

Read speeches from the meeting in full here(PDF, 268KB).