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.
Local MP and Andrews government Minister, Martin Foley, attended the event to support the community's efforts to raise awareness about climate change.
Another special guest speaker, Port Phillip Baykeeper Neil Blake OAM, said the event reminded the community about the local impacts of climate change:
"Sea levels have risen in Australia at an average rate of 2.1 mm/year over the past half century. As much of City of Port Phillip is one to three metres above current sea level significant areas will be seriously affected within the next 20 years," warned Mr Blake.
"To minimise the environmental and economic impacts we need drastic cuts to carbon emissions now."
One St Kilda resident who attended the event, Eva, wants to see local politicians make climate change a priority:
"It's about time politicians stop taking the community for a ride and start addressing climate change."
Friends of the Earth are making the case for Victorian political parties to commit to strong policies to tackle climate change in the lead up to the November state election:
"The Labor government has shown leadership on climate change by banning fracking, setting ambitious Renewable Energy Targets, and strengthening state climate change laws," said Leigh Ewbank.
"It's time to build on the momentum by committing to Victoria's first climate budget that invests in measures that rein in emissions and protect the community from climate impacts."
"Policies to tackle climate change is something all political parties can support."
Friends of the Earth's Act on Climate campaign will be tracking the climate change policies of all political parties in the lead up to the November poll.
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Join us for Friends of the Earth's 2018 election campaign launch at the Fitzroy Town Hall on May 24. You're hear our plans for putting climate change on the agenda and ways to get involved. Click here for the Facebook event page.