Last Thursday night a very sucessful community forum was held with approx 120 people packing into the town hall theaterette to hear a distinguished panel of speakers.
Organised by Climate Change our Future (CCOF) - a local community action group, this was a very informative meeting although I did feel somewhat disppointed that only two councillors were in attendance - Still I came away feeling positive that there is strong community support in Glen Eira to make real progress on this issue
Professor David Karoly, an eminent Melbourne scientist who has worked with the United Nations Inter-Country Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) spoke first. He provided an update on the latest research and data since the latest IPCC report was released in 2007- The scale of change of many indicaters such as the loss of Artic summer sea ice, glacial losses worldwide, increased volatilty in our weather patterns and the unprecendented reduction in rainfall across SE Australia were happenning at a much a faster rate than was predicted even a few years ago.
These changes are tracking at a ' worst case scenerio'. We are indeed in a climate emergency and need on all levels to reduce greenhouse emissions as quickly as possible and move to a 'beyond zero emissions' economy and society.
The second speaker was Mr. Andrew Lucas from the transition towns movement. TT seeks to address the impacts of climate change and peak oil through local community based solutions. He spoke of his experiences in the Bell area of Geelong where a TT is in the process of being created and what was being done there including -programs run by the community to produce more locally grown food, bulk buying of solar panels and the sourcing of local products that dont have a large embedded carbon cost. Overall the strategy seemed to be aimed at making local communities more resiliant and better able to cope with a changing environment. There are almost 200 TTs worldwide after initially starting in the UK.
Finally Deputy Mayor Steven Tang spoke well of the initiatives that GE has taken over the past few years and what can be aimed for and achieved in the near future.
The Environment Sustainability Strategy (ESS) adopted in 2007 was instrumental in providing a framework that GE could further help prevent and reduce the impacts of climate change.
Steps taken including the increase of council usage of Greenpower, the rolling fwd of energy efficiency measures for key sites and the ongoing tree-planting programs were spoken of.
Future areas that Steven highlighted where GE can move forward including the downsizing of std garbage bins to 120lt that would improve our current poor diversion(recycling) rate and the formulation of GEs Carbon Neutral policy. He encouraged all those interested to become more involved by contacting councillors and attending consulation forums.