A PETITION with more than 2000 signatures calling on South Gippsland Shire Council for urgent action on climate change will be presented to the municipality’s administration panel at its ordinary meeting on Wednesday October 28, 2020.
Prepared and circulated by Prom Area Climate Action, the petition asks the shire to “acknowledge that dangerous climate change is happening now and is accelerating.”
The signatories also “demand action at a pace far beyond business and politics as usual” on the climate change issue.
The petition’s prayer asks the shire to “take a leadership role within the South Gippsland community for urgent action on climate change” and to “require all reports to council to include a section on climate implications, both for council’s own operations and for the broader South Gippsland community.”
As well, the petition wants the shire to “declare a climate emergency along with more than 990 governments which have already done so around the world.”
Prom Area Climate Action’s lead petitioner Veronique Haider, supported by member Tony Walker, spoke about the petition during a virtual public presentation to the shire’s administration panel and senior staff held on Wednesday October 21, 2020.
“I am speaking as a mother of one child and out of concern for all children,” Ms Haider said.
“I am also a health care professional with a master’s degree in nursing, and, describing the Earth as if it was a patient, I would say it is displaying serious symptoms that need urgent treatment,” she said.
“We’re calling on South Gippsland Shire Council to join the local councils representing eight million people around the world, including Bass Coast Shire and the Cities of Melbourne and Sydney, to declare a climate emergency.
“The local impacts of climate change can already be felt, and both the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) have reported increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfall, especially in agricultural areas,” Ms Haider said.
“There has been a 25 per cent decline in the amount of rain recorded at Foster, and more than 130 years’ worth of records show that the area is now receiving 30 millimetres less per annum than it once did.
“The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has declared a climate emergency, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) says climate change is the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century,” she said.
“However [world-leading weekly medical journal] The Lancet states that climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.
“In Gippsland during the past year we have seen increased anxiety in people because of bushfires and flooding, and contaminated drinking water due to increased temperatures,” Ms Haider said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a serious effect on mental health this year however climate change has already had the same effect.
“Climate change is a perfect storm for local government areas (LGAs) and councils need to act on behalf of their communities,” she said.
“All LGAs including this shire have a duty of care to local people.”
Ms Haider and Mr Walker’s presentation ended with a quotation from renowned natural historian and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough who said “How could I look my grandchildren in the eye and say I knew what was happening to the world and yet did nothing?”
Shire panel chair Julie Eisenbise thanked the Prom Area Climate Action representatives and said the council would advise their organisation of any decisions made on the issue.