Apolitical Ballarat leaders are calling on the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to agree to immediate bipartisan action on climate change.
Leaders of BREAZE, Committee for Ballarat, the Catholic Diocease of Ballarat, Sovereign Hill, Alstom, Ballarat Uniting Church and the Indigenous community have signed an open letter to the government and opposition.
"We the undersigned call on the Morrison Coalition government to endorse the Declaration of Climate Emergency and to take action to cut greenhouse gases immediately, to meet our Paris COP21 commitments, and to set a pathway of future interim targets leading to zero emissions by 2050," the letter states.
"Australia is the world's 14th highest emitter of greenhouse gases and third biggest exporter of coal. We also have highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the OECD.
"We cannot expect other countries to reduce emissions if we are not doing so ourselves. Climate change is with us now, and as a responsible member of the international community we must act immediately, before it is too late."
BREAZE president Mary Debrett told The Courier bipartisanship on climate change was considered normal in many other countries and this approach was a 'no brainer'.
While we are all struggling to cope with the pandemic, we really need to multi task and keep working on what we need to do to address climate change.Mary Debrett, BREAZE president
"The whole notion of bipartisanship seems common sense to many of us when there is a global crisis like this, which is very much like the pandemic in a sense," she said.
"It is a public interest matter. Divisions and ideologies really shouldn't come into play. We should all be doing what it takes."
Ms Debrett said Ballarat was well placed to be a leader in taking steps to address climate change, as Ballarat council endorsed the declaration of a climate emergency in 2018, solar uptake had been strong and the city was surrounded by wind farms.
"We are wanting to shift the context in which climate change is discussed so people see it as a life issue and not as a political issue," she said.
"COVID-19 has kind of eclipsed discussion of climate change at the moment. We at BREAZE understand that, it is a life and death matter. But in many ways climate change is also life and death.
"If we can cut emissions significantly there will be a considerable health benefit immediately as well as an environmental benefit."
Ms Debrett referred to recent reports of modelling by Australian scientists that estimated we could reach seven degrees of global warming by the end of the century.
"Three degrees makes an unlivable planet, so the situation is very dire," she said.
"While we are all struggling to cope with the pandemic, we really need to multi task and keep working on what we need to do to address climate change.
"We can't put it on the back-burner and do it when the pandemic is over. We really need to be doing both things at the same time.
"That is another reason why bipartisanship is very important, because it is all about how public money is spent."
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