Build a better, safer future for all
Held from November 20th to 23rd in Geelong, Victoria the Act on Climate Festival sought to "empower people with ways they can act on climate change".
The community organisation behind the festival- Geelong Sustainability Group- aspires to "inform, inspire and connect communities". The group has the vision that region "supports healthy communities, a strong local economy, biodiversity and sustainable ecological systems".
The Act on Climate Opening Night and Keynote Address certainly drew from the aims and vision of Geelong Sustainability Group. The night was a thought provoking presentation/ discussion on the realities of climate change. First to speak were relevant community leaders.
The current Victorian Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water- Hon Lisa Neville began proceedings by telling the room that Victoria can and must continue to "grow economically while reducing emissions". Saying "we are ready to embrace a more sustainable community". The Minister highlighted the fact that reducing carbon emissions is extremely important to the state government of Victoria. Neville made clear that the 2015 independent review of the Climate Change Act 2010 would restore Victoria's status as a leader and model for other governments in tackling climate change. For more on the review visit http://delwp.vic.gov.au/environment-and-wildlife/climate-change
Councillor Andy Richards from the City of Greater Geelong urged the crowd to support him in making Geelong a more sustainable community. Cr Richards asked for louder community voice to aid his local government portfolio of Environment and Sustainability. "Climate change is real and responding to it is something we all need to do".
Dan Cowdell the President of Geelong Sustainability passionately pleaded two simple solutions to climate change- "stop burning fossil fuels", and "encourage individuals to act". He said a false misconception is that climate change "feels like it is a problem for someone else".
An impressive line up of industry professionals then had their say on the issues surrounding climate change. Atmospheric Science Professor David Karoly highlighted the facts surrounding global warming. Pointing out that we as a community cannot continue to emit carbon at the current rate. He said we must "de-carbonise our economy".
Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, Climate Manager at Australian Conservation Foundation touched on the need for communities (such as Geelong) to have strategies in place which successfully transform local economy from industry based to smart and sustainable.
Bob Welsh Executive Director Sustainability Advisers drew from his economic experience to tell the crowd that tackling global warming will be of huge cost to the Australian economy. He went on to add, we must be prepared to pay that price and commit to reducing carbon emissions now, otherwise the future cost to the community will be astronomical.
Adam Majcher Engagement Manager at Climate Works said Australia can achieve a carbon neutral economy by 2050 using technology we already have in place, as well as technology that is currently being developed. Majcher identified the Climate Works 2050 Pathways program. A website which reports Australia can achieve zero net emissions while with still having strong economic growth. For more on 2050 Pathways visit http://www.2050pathways.net.au/
Perhaps the strongest, simplest message came from 14 year-old student Jack Nyhof. To conclude the night a panel style discussion allowed for multiple questions and statements. One question put to the panel was, "What is the best measure our community can take against climate change?". Jack simply answered "Education".
For more on the Act on Climate Festival go to http://www.actonclimatefestival.org/
For more information on Geelong Sustainability Group go to http://www.geelongsustainability.org.au/