Caught in the slipstream Part 1 by Michael Whelan

First published in the Bass Coast Post *

When it comes to climate change, it is easy to be overwhelmed by negativity and despondency. I choose to talk of the productive things we can do to address climate change that will reduce carbon emissions and also have positive impacts on other aspects of our lives.

The transition to the renewable economy will be as revolutionary as the move from horse and cart to the steam engine. But Australia needs to act quickly and decisively to embrace a vital business opportunity or we will be left in the slipstream of other more far-sighted countries. The problem, as we all know, is that we are being held back by obstruction from Canberra and a lack of urgency at other levels of government.

The level of government that is acting most decisively so far is local government. In 2019 Bass Coast Shire Council declared a climate emergency and earlier his year we adopted a climate action plan that identifies actions that individuals, businesses, the agricultural sector and Council can take to achieve net zero emissions by 2030.

Since July 1 all council activities have been powered by 100 per cent renewable power in a landmark deal with 46 other Victorian councils that also cuts the shire’s energy bill.

Part of my work as a Bass Coast councillor involves chairing a group of councillors representing nine councils in Melbourne’s southeast, from Port Phillip to Bass Coast. We make up the councillor advisory group to South East Councils Climate Change Alliance or SECCCA, which is proactive in advocacy and support of climate action projects.

At our meeting last week, the group expressed its concern at the extremely serious and devastating climate events occurring in the Northern Hemisphere. The “heat dome” weather system that settled over much of North America led to the town of Lytton in British Columbia hitting 49.6 degrees, shattering the temperature record by 5 degrees. The system was slow moving and did not cool at night. This was followed by extreme forest fires that swept the western half of the continent. Forest fires have been a feature of the European continent this summer in areas not used to fighting such fires. (to be continued)

* see here. Michael Whelan is a Bass Coast councillor and chair of the councillor advisory group to South East Councils Climate Change Alliance.