A new network of Australian local governments that have declared a climate emergency has written to Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, urging him to act on climate change as part of the nation’s recovering from coronavirus.
Climate Emergency Australia has noted that local governments directly face the worst impacts of climate change such as coastal inundation threatening beachfront properties, the growing intensity of bushfires, supporting agricultural communities hit hard by drought and building back after increasingly intense storm events. It says the pandemic recovery represents a unique opportunity to address the threats of climate change.
The letter notes that:
Without greater support, Australian local governments will be unable to effectively respond in the future to increasingly dangerous bushfires, prolonged droughts and potentially catastrophic coastal events. Without timely investment the reinstatement of essential infrastructure is likely to increasingly fall on higher levels of government as local governments find themselves unable to cope with the repeated impost on their capital budgets.
Climate Emergency Australia has identified six Federal Government actions to re-set Australian climate policy in a manner that would collaborate with local governments and their communities, including:
- Increased support for renewable energy and storage, including establishing a national emissions reduction target to reach zero-emissions at a pace commensurate with the latest science.
- Funding support to address the impacts of climate risks for both councils and their communities.
- Investment in active and sustainable transport.
- Greening of cities and towns to reduce carbon emissions and urban heat island impacts.
- Enhanced energy efficiency measures throughout the commercial and residential sectors.
- Integrating circular economy principles to close the loop on resource use.
Merri-bek City Council is a founding member of Climate Emergency Australia was established in June. The climate emergency movement started in Australia with the City of Darebin, the first council in the world to declare a climate emergency. It has since spread to 96 local governments across Australia and over a thousand local jurisdictions internationally. Australia’s climate emergency councils represent more than 9.9 million people and are working to implement a rapid shift to a more resilient, zero-carbon society.
The letter is the latest from concerned peak bodies and organisations calling for a green-led recovery from the pandemic, including:
- Australian Industry Group
- Business Council of Australia
- National Farmers Federation
- Climate Council
- Beyond Zero Emissions
- Australian Council of Social Services
- Australian Council of Trade Unions
- Doctors for the Environment
- Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative
The letter concludes:
Australia will continue to suffer the consequences of the climate emergency without action. The recovery from this pandemic provides the perfect opportunity for joint action. It must not be missed.