Premier Daniel Andrews: Declare a Climate Emergency for Victoria
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We hereby implore Premier Daniel Andrews to declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency for the State of Victoria.
We affirm that there is a moral imperative to act swiftly to prevent the harm of a changing climate, to the people of Victoria and the many species and ecosystems we share this land with.
Australia is enduring a bushfire disaster emergency clearly linked to climate change and the rise in temperatures due to global heating.(Professor Nerilie Abram, Scientific American, 2020, Australia’s Angry Summer: This Is What Climate Change Looks Like)
We appreciated the gravity of the Premier calling a state of disaster as an administrative response to the bushfires and ensuring community and public safety in the short term.
We watched and saw the apocalyptic photos from Mallacoota, the heroic efforts of our fire fighters, the great forests of East Gippsland burning, and the incineration of our native animals in the inferno. We watched as the valleys and farms in the north east ignited, with firestorms generating their own weather, an occurrence predicted by climate scientists to become even more common in Victoria as greenhouse gas emissions increase.
Between 20 to 100 of our iconic species may even have gone extinct in this event. A report in the Age highlights that threatened species in East Gippsland affected by the Victorian fires possibly facing extinction include: the greater glider, the long-footed potoroo, the brush-tailed rock-wallaby, the spotted-tail quoll, the yellow-bellied glider and the diamond python.
In Melbourne we breathed the smoke of these fires for many days, the PM2.5 particulates that get into our bloodstream, that especially affect those with asthma and respiratory problems, but also pregnant mums and their unborn children. The health impacts of bushfire smoke are both short term and long term
In response we make this call for a climate and ecological emergency to be declared in Victoria to highlight the ongoing need for rapid decarbonisation of our industry and economy and to do so with justice for all affected communities and workers, including the coal mine and power station workers in the La Trobe Valley community, and forestry workers, and for ensuring justice for First Nation Peoples.
We need to capture the economic opportunities and job creation that moving to a low carbon economy can bring. We need to move to a circular economy with high rates of recycling, a zero waste economy. We need to embark on restoring the natural environment including ending native forest logging and preserve carbon stores in carbon dense forests of the Central Highlands and ensure security of Melbourne's water supply.
Australia is increasing coal and gas production right at the time when we need to be reducing extraction. (Production Gap Report 2019) Victoria needs to make the moratorium on onshore gas exploration permanent and prepare a plan for transition and phaseout of coal and gas exploration and extraction as we increase our renewables and energy solutions with batteries, pumped hydro and micro-grids.
Scientists are clear we must stop all new fossil fuel projects, if we are to meet the Paris Agreement targets. "We should leave remaining stocks of fossil fuels in the ground" said 11,000 scientists in November 2019.(Ripple et al 2019)
We know this transition isn't going to be easy, but it needs to be done as a matter of public safety for all Victorians, and citizens of the globe for a safe climate. Declaring a Climate and Ecological Emergency will focus everyone on the need to rapidly transform our state in line with meeting our Paris Agreement targets and provide a safe future for our kids and grandkids and the iconic species and ecosystems that also inhabit Victoria.
As Greta Thunberg has said "Our House is Burning", we need to act in accordance.
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