The Act on Climate collective and community members took the case for climate action to the Victorian Parliament on World Environment Day 2018—presenting the government, opposition, and the Greens with a community statement calling for leadership.
The statement calls for party leaders—Premier Daniel Andrews, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, and Samantha Ratnam (Greens)—to consider the community's views and provide a response.
A few weeks earlier, on April 22, over fifty community members participated in a discussion about climate impacts, brainstormed positive solutions to the issue, and formed unanimous agreement on the need for Victorian political parties to take urgent action.
The ‘crowd-sourced’ ideas formed the basis of the statement which was handed over to Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio; Minister and member for Albert Park, Martin Foley; Greens MP for Melbourne, Ellen Sandell; as well as Liberal party shadows for energy and environment, David Southwick and Nick Wakeling.
The supporters who joined us to handover the statement shared powerful testimony about their concerns regarding climate impacts with the Parliamentarians.
"We're already seeing dangerous impacts of climate change right here in Victoria," acknowledged Greens MP Ellen Sandell. "I don't want to see these impacts get even more devastating - with stronger and more frequent bushfires, storms and drought on the horizon if we don't act immediately."
Ellen Sandell was critical of the Labor government’s recent decision to open up the Victorian coastline to offshore gas and extend the licenses of two of Victoria’s polluting coal power plants.
The Greens MP used the occaision to spruik the party’s Renew Australia plan to transition to 100 percent renewable energy.
"We have a plan to tackle climate change and create jobs while doing it, especially in communities like the Latrobe Valley who have been reliant on coal for so long," said Sandell.
"We can have a just transition to a renewable energy future, if only governments had the courage to make it happen."
Labor government ministers Lily D'Ambrosio and Martin Foley were visibly moved on hearing the community concerns about climate change—particularly the testimony of disability carer Kate Wattchow.
Minister D’Ambrosio said Labor would have more to say about its response to climate change in coming months. Hopefully that includes support for science-based Emissions Reduction Targets and Victoria's first Climate Budget.
Lastly, our final handover was to Liberal party shadow ministers in the Queen’s Hall. Southwick and Wakeling were particularly interested to find out that failure to account for climate change risk leaves Victoria exposed to credit rating downgrades.
It’s clear to us that burning oil, gas, and coal is accelerating climate change and already causing great damage. Scientists report alarming melting of the polar icecaps, unprecedented bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, and a bushfire season that’s starting earlier and lasting longer.
The Federal Coalition government's 'do-nothing' approach to climate change leaves communities exposed to impacts. It means greater leadership is needed from states and territories such as Victoria.
With a state election on the horizon, community members expect all political parties to release their plans to tackle climate change well before polling day.
Act on Climate will be following up with the MPs who received the community statement. We'll publish each response in full and evaluate the response in terms of its potential to rein in emissions and protect the community from climate impacts.