Australian news, and some related international items

Darebin Council, Victoria leads the way on climate change action

It’s not too late to act on climate change, The Age, Paul Gilding 11 Sept 18,   People engaged in the climate debate are often bewildered by society’s lack of response. How can we ignore such overwhelming evidence of an existential threat to social and economic stability?

………. What is relatively new is that scientists and experts are increasingly acknowledging that nothing less than a massive global mobilisation on a WWII scale is required to address the catastrophic risks posed.
Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and a senior advisor to Pope Francis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Union recently argued that “Climate change is now reaching the end-game, where very soon humanity must choose between taking unprecedented action, or accepting that it has been left too late and bear the consequences.”
All around us examples of what these consequences might be are increasingly tangible. Whether it be wild fires in northern Sweden, refugee crises, extreme ice melt in the Arctic, submerged airports in Japan or severe droughts, people are feeling climate change live……………

Darebin in Melbourne. This local council looked rationally at what the science told them – that we face a crisis and the only logical response is to declare a climate emergency. And so they did. In consultation with their community, they then developed the Darebin Climate Emergency Plan.

Why is this significant? Because this is how systems change. Ideas take hold and spread. Darebin has since been followed in the US with a small but growing list of elected bodies in regions and cities also declaring a climate emergency. First came Montgomery County, Maryland , since joined by Richmond, Berkeley and Los Angeles in California, and Hoboken, New Jersey. This is not emerging spontaneously, but through active organising by groups dedicated to the task like The Climate Mobilisation.

Yes, it’s frustrating that these things take time. Therefore, knowing we can still “win” is key. Towards this end I co-wrote nearly 10 years ago a journal paper, The One Degree War Plan, with Professor Jorgen Randers, showing how achieving 1 degree of warming was surprisingly realistic with a WWII style mobilisation. Recently along the same lines, The Climate Mobilisation developed a “Victory Plan” to show what a WWII style economic mobilisation across the USA could look like.

So on the surface, Darebin Council inviting a group of experts like myself to suburban Melbourne to discuss what a climate emergency means might not seem much. But it is a crucial part of a process whereby we first normalise the idea that we face an existential crisis. Next we will come to accept that the only rational response is a WWII-like economic mobilisation to eliminate global net carbon dioxide emissions within a decade or so.

Find this hard to imagine? It is. But as we learnt from Churchill in 1940, when we shift our thinking to “what is necessary”, what we can achieve is quite extraordinary. Or as Nelson Mandela said: “It always seems impossible, until it’s done.”

Paul Gilding is a Fellow at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.


September 14, 2018 - Posted by | climate change - global warming, Victoria

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