Code Red for Humanity!
This is the dire warning issued by António Guterres, United Nations Secretary General, following release of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sixth assessment report.
The report, released on 9 August 2021, is the starkest warning yet of the urgent need for climate action.
It surmises that major climate changes are inevitable and irreversible. Global heating to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels by the early 2030s seems unavoidable under all scenarios.
We are already in a global climate emergency with extreme weather events from heatwaves, droughts, storms, and cyclones resulting in unprecedented wildfires, flooding, coastal erosion, mass coral bleaching and death, which in turn have caused devastating impacts to human health and safety, economic and social well-being and leading to collapsing ecosystems.
The report indicates that we must cut our greenhouse gas emissions by at least 65% this decade and reach net zero emissions within 15 years if we are to avoid a climate catastrophe that will impact most other species of plants and animals on Earth, as well as our own species.
What can you do?
It's easy to feel crushed by the unbearable realities laid out in the IPCC report and powerless to do anything meaningful in response.
However, to lose hope, and despair for the future is to give up on all that we love and hold dear, particularly here on the Sunshine Coast - a very special part of the world.
There is still so much worth fighting for and saving. Action is the antidote to despair!
You can find strength by connecting with others like you in the community, and join local actions that can collectively contribute to the changes necessary to give the next generation a future that they can look forward to.
For example, the year-long campaign to have the Sunshine Coast Council declare a climate emergency and take stronger and more urgent action, has achieved an important outcome. The Council unanimously passed a motion, put forward by Cr David law, at a general council meeting on 10 November 2021. Council now recognises that we are in a climate emergency that requires urgent and sustained effort to achieve net zero emissions. The council CEO must provide an interim report on progress on the Zero-net Emissions Plan and Regional Climate Action Roadmap with recommendations for council's consideration by 31 March 2022.
Key to the campaign success was community support. Individuals were encouraged to contact their local councillor in support of the declaration and describe how the impacts of climate change were already affecting their lives.
The Urgent Climate Action Network Sunshine Coast (UCANSC) is driving the climate emergency campaign. The network includes Sunshine Coast Environment Council (SCEC), Sunshine Coast Climate Action Now (SCCAN), and the Sunshine Coast branches of: Extinction Rebellion (XRSC), Stop Adani, Australian Parents 4 Climate Action (AP4CA), Transition Towns, Solar Citizens, Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland (WPSQ-SCHB), Maleny Climate Action Now, Currimundi Catchment Care Group, Hinterland Bush Links, with new organisations joining all the time.
Climate Emergency Declaration
The Sunshine Coast Council has an important role in providing leadership to build resilience to climate change and support projects that reduce emissions.
The Council accepts that climate change is a serious issue and has implemented a number of policies and actions to address this over the last 10 years. However, these don't go far enough and fast enough to prevent the community being overwhelmed by catastrophic impacts to our natural, built and socio-economic environments, particularly in light of the findings of IPCC's sixth report and the outcome of the global UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) during early November 2021 in Glasgow.
Council's target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2041 is clearly inadequate,
Council played an important part in the successful bid for the 2032 Olympic Games.
An important element of the successful bid was a commitment to make this the first "climate positive" summer Olympics. A "climate positive" Olympics goes further than reducing emissions and offsetting those that are unavoidable (carbon neutral). It would seek to absorb or remove more emissions than it produces to become "carbon negative" - a synonym for "climate positive".
This presents a perfect opportunity for Council to align itself with this goal by advancing its target of net zero emissions from 2041 to 2030. As many of the games' events will be held at venues on the Sunshine Coast, the area will attract significant national and international attention. Council's climate action achievements will undoubtedly be spotlighted.
Having achieved the first part of the campaign, with Council declaring a climate emergency, the strategy is to work to get Council emissions down quickly by setting a new target of net zero by 2030. Council emissions have actually increased by 8.7% from the baseline year of 2017-18!
During the next few months UCANSC will be building a broader base across the community, including concerned residents, organisations and businesses to encourage Council to achieve this target, recognising that we all have a role in reducing our emissions.
In the longer term, we will be continuing to press all levels of government to take stronger and more urgent action.
If you would like to be part of campaign and advocate for strong climate action, please contact UCANSC at firstname.lastname@example.org or Fergus FitzGerald on 0458 880 572.