Deputy Premier and Emergency Services Minister James Merlino has told a parliamentary inquiry that climate change is putting an increasing strain on Victoria's emergency services such as firefighting.
"Climate change is real and it's having an impact on our emergency services," Mr Merlino said.
In statements to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee, the Minister noted that Victoria's bushfire season is starting earlier, lasting longer, and becoming more intense from climate change. These factors are making it challenging to manage the aviation fleet of large tankers that are also used in the northern hemisphere.
Friends of the Earth commend the Deputy Premier for his frank comments about the real impacts of climate change.
"It's refreshing to hear Deputy Premier James Merlino's honest comments about the impacts of climate change," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth's Act on Climate coordinator.
"Mr Merlino's comments underscore the need for urgent action to tackle climate change."
Environment group Friends of the Earth says big ticket items to tackle climate change and protect Victoria’s environment are the “missing piece of the puzzle” in budget 2018/19—a disappointing one for the environment.
The Andrews government’s allocation towards climate change and environment is down from last year’s budget--from $798 million in budget 2017/18 to $266 million this budget cycle.
"With climate change impacts becoming more and more obvious, it’s disappointing to see the Andrews government’s 2018 budget fail to deliver big ticket items for climate change and environmental protection," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth spokesperson.
“The community is looking to the Labor government to have vision when it comes to our environment—such as by establishing the Great Forest National Park and championing the rollout of renewable energy.”
Friends of the Earth say the downward trajectory of environment-related expenditure is a sign the budget process is failing to account for climate change:
"While the government in planning ahead when it comes to education, health, and infrastructure, it’s failing to plan ahead for the great challenge of our time—climate change,” said Leigh Ewbank.
Over fifty community members from the City of Port Phillip and surrounds gathered in St Kilda on Sunday April 22, to celebrate Earth Day, break the radio silence on climate change, and call for politicians to act.
The event--organised by community environment group Friends of the Earth and supported by the Port Phillip Ecocentre--drew a strong crowd of locals who spent the day developing an Earth Day Statement calling on Victorian politicians to act on climate change.
"Climate change impacts have never been more apparent, yet there's radio silence from state and federal politicians," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth's climate change spokesperson.
The Bureau of Meteorology have raised the alarm over the record-breaking heatwave in April; we've seen bushfires threatening southwest Sydney; and marine scientists have told us that climate change is threatening the Great Barrier Reef with ecological collapse.
"The community who joined us have sent a message to Victorian politicians ahead of the election: It's time to see your plans for tackling climate change," added Leigh Ewbank.
The Central Goldfields town of Tarnagulla has been announced as the first recipient of the Victorian government's Climate Change Innovation Partnerships grant scheme.
Under the name of the Tarnagulla Alternative Energy Group, community members have received a $50,000 grant to help protect the community from the impacts of climate change.
The grant will fund a detailed investigation into local climate impacts, such as extreme weather, and resiliency measures.
"The study will give us a very clear picture of how climate change impacts people as a community and as individuals," said Linda Kennedy, Tarnagulla resident and initiator of the grant application.
"I would like to walk away from the project with a strongly connected and resilient community and a firm plan of future actions for our town."
The Federal government’s purchase of Victoria’s share of the iconic Snowy Hydro Scheme will deliver a $2 billion windfall for the state.
Friends of the Earth say the rare windfall could fund Victoria’s first climate-focused state budget.
“With the need to tackle climate change becoming more urgent, the state government must ramp up investment in measures to rein in emissions and protect communities from climate impacts,” said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth spokesperson.
“The Andrews government could use the $2 billion windfall from selling Victoria’s share of the iconic scheme to prepare our state for the 21st Century challenge of climate change.”
The Snowy Hydro Scheme is regarded as a visionary, nation-building project that had a lasting impact on Victoria. Will the windfall be used to invest in similarly visionary project? The state government has the money, does it have the political will?
The Federal Coalition government’s failure to act on climate change is well known. Recently released data shows national emissions are increasing and that Australia will fail to meet emissions cuts it pledged under the Paris Agreement.
Regressive political forces at the national level have seen states and territories step up and lead on climate change. But they’ll have to make the most of existing initiatives to maintain the momentum and prevent the worst climate impacts from occurring.
The Andrews government strengthened the Victorian Climate Change Act in 2017 after winning the support of The Greens and crossbenchers. The Act legislates a target of zero net emissions by 2050 and requires governments to set interim Emissions Reduction Targets every five years.
This year, the Andrews government committed to set Victoria's first two Emissions Reduction Targets for 2025 and 2030. An independent panel has been assembled to advise the government on targets to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Strong targets are essential to action on climate change and will set the trajectory for how quickly our state reins in emissions.
At Act on Climate we understand that policy processes can be complicated. It can be difficult to figure out how we can take part in these processes. Because of this, we have put together this FAQ to explain the process.
Climate change will significantly alter the life and culture of human societies. Australia is no exception.
When we consider climate change on the global level we begin to see overall trends, but it is easy to lose sight of the local detail. For example, we know that, globally, 2016 was the hottest year on record but we must ask what this means for local communities and landscapes.
It is clear that these global changes will play out locally.
In central and northern Victoria, it is important that we understand how climate change will impact on our future, so we can plan for it. As a trend, annual rainfall has significantly decreased in the region and the average temperature since 1950 has already increased by between 1 and 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Based on projections provided by the State of Victoria, it is clear that the Loddon and Mallee regions will be a hotter and drier place than they have already become. These changes will involve significant challenges for people living in the north of the state.