Businesses call for bolder action on climate change

climate-action

The Future Super team at the 2019 climate strike. Source: supplied.

South Australians for Climate Action is calling for the next government to act faster and comprehensively for the sake of the state: “We want to make visible the growing level of support for bold action that’s out there.”

South Australians for Climate Action is seeking a commitment from all political parties and candidates at the March election in South Australia to ramp up their response to climate change.

The non-partisan group began to form last September, brought together by “a shared, intense concern” about the impacts of climate change on the community, economy and environment. They are also concerned about the loss of biodiversity from extreme events like the Kangaroo Island bushfires.

So far, more than ninety businesses and organisations and sixty prominent individuals have signed a statement addressed to politicians. Among them are well known and respected academics, public servants and businesses in agriculture, manufacturing, energy, wine and food, marketing, education, health, housing, social welfare, law and the arts.

These signatories were alert to the opportunities and risks of a warming climate but have wanted more resolute action by government as they’ve become increasingly alarmed by its devastating impacts.

Professor Sue Richardson, a Flinders University economist and spokesperson for the group, said it was targeting politicians from all parties to act after the election.

“We’ve written an Open Letter based on the Statement that is directed to the next South Australian parliament,” she said. “We want them to embark on an ambitious but achievable program of action and to harvest the advantages offered by the development of a clean energy, carbon-neutral future.”

“Whoever South Australians choose — we want those new legislators to be emboldened.”

South Australians for Climate Action acknowledges the state’s record of bipartisan leadership on climate and energy policy, but calls for more urgency in innovating for climate resiliency and carbon-neutrality.

They say the state is in an “extinction crisis through accelerated loss of native flora and fauna”, which is impacting ecosystems that are critical for human health and food production.

The group has outlined twenty priorities for action for the next government, falling under the key areas of clean energy, smart land use, protection of biodiversity and greenhouse gas neutrality of business and agriculture.

Many of these priorities align with and support the government’s aspirations as the ‘Growth State’ in areas from energy and mining, to food, wine and agribusiness.

One example of this is the call to incentivise land management practices that build healthy soils, sequester greenhouse gases, increase on-farm biomass and encourage revegetation for productivity and biodiversity.

Rob Malone owns Anacotilla Springs, a 52-hectare ecological and farming rejuvenation project on the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Along with running a small herd of cattle, he has been using regenerative agriculture principles to restore the land and repopulate the banks of the Anacotilla River with river red gums.

Malone is concerned by recent changes in legislation and access to government support.

He said many incentives for regenerative land management practices, including those Anacotilla Springs had accessed, were no longer available.

“There’s that saving of pennies in different areas,” he said.

“[Government] seem to be forgetting about some of these projects that are on the ground and need to continue long-term. Nothing is short-term.”

Malone also cited electric farm vehicles as an area that needed incentives – one that would help the State reach its goal of reduced emissions.

Similarly, he said regeneration of vacant land for greater biodiversity would benefit all South Australians.

Professor Richardson said South Australians for Climate Action cut across the generations, with signatories including Council on the Ageing and more than a dozen Catholic schools.

“[COTA] are saying they’re getting a lot of pressure from their members to speak up more loudly.”

James Gill, director of Students at Sacred Heart College, said it was the first time the school had signed a statement of this kind.

“Our student leadership teams are involved in a number of outreach and advocacy projects around sustainability, ecology and environmental awareness, and the [open letter] is deeply representative of their work in these areas.

“These students are keen to speak … about why climate action is important and why they support [its] signing.”

South Australians for Climate Action is asking voters in the state election to discuss the group’s open letter with their local candidates and MP and to urge them to make climate action a priority for the next government.

Individuals and businesses can also add their name to the list of signatories — read the full statement on the website here.

This article was authorised by Paul Willey on behalf of South Australians for Climate Action, 47 West St, Torrensville SA 5031. It was originally published by The Lead South Australia.

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