Knox Climate Action Now
The City of Knox has a long history of active environmental groups with strong credentials and outcomes. These groups (listed below) were invited by Knox City Council's Biodiversity Team to meet with a facilitator in February 2019 to get to know each other better and work together to come up with inspiration and ideas to help strengthen each group individually and together.
Nearing the end of the session, we voted on which ideas we thought were most important to work together on and overwhelmingly the group voted that climate change is the most significant issue needing out attention.
Groups: Knox Environment Society, First Friends of Dandenong Creek, Friends of Blind Creek Billabong, Friends of Koolunga Native Reserve, Friends of Old Joes Creek, Friends of the Glenfern Green Wedge, Friends of Lake Knox Sanctuary and the Knox Community Gardens Society Inc. along with some passionate individuals.
Knox Climate Action Now - KnoxCAN
Over the next months, representatives from each group met regularly to discuss our aims, objectives and plans. We looked at the history of climate action on a local level and met with representatives from other Climate Action groups and soon Knox Climate Action Now was born.
1. Petition Knox City Council to declare a climate emergency and to enact a climate emergency action plan.
2. Speak out against the destructive impact of climate change on our human communities and natural ecosystems.
3. Promote education and empowerment of the local Knox community to take action to restore a safe environment.
Time to Take Action
In early August 2019, we launched the petition and teams of volunteers hit the streets door knocking, holding stalls in shopping centers, markets and festivals and held weekly protests on the steps of the Civic Centre.
We chose to do a physical petition to create a bigger impact, we know we could have collected more signatures with a online petition but we wanted to show that we were willing to work hard for this and there can be no disputing where the signatures had come from (the council would only accept signatures from Knox residents).
In less than two months we had gathered over 1700 signatures.
On Monday the 28th of October, approximately 120 concerned residents gathered at the Council Chambers where Councillor Mortimore presented the petition and the amended motion below to the Council meeting. After some discussion, Knox Councilors voted unanimously to "demand swift, decisive action to address climate change within the City of Knox". (See KCC Media release here). This was cause for great celebration, but the fight was not over yet...
Not the end of the story...
But Knox Council already declared a climate emergency didn't they?
Well no, they did not! Knox Councilors voted unanimously to "demand swift, decisive action to address climate change within the City of Knox". Which is great! Well, on a local scale anyway. But climate change is bigger than just Knox. Without a worldwide response, nothing will change and without Knox on the list of declared areas, we don't get counted and are not contributing to the push to make climate change the worlds priority.
Here are some stats for you: (as of 29/09/2021)
There are 34 councils in Victoria which have declared a Climate Emergency. That is 43% of all Vic councils.
On a national level, there are 106 declared councils out of a possible 537. That is only 19%.
The only State or Territory as a whole to declare a State of Emergency is the ACT.
Victoria has the highest percentage of declared councils.
Why is a declaration so important on a local level? International politics and our federal governments aren't acting in meaningful ways. Councils can lobby upwards, communicate to neighbours and educate community & build resilience.
Local Councils lobby the State Government. The State Government lobby's the Federal Government. The Federal Government lobby's the world.
Climate Emergency Declared!
Following Knox Council's motion to "demand swift, decisive action to address climate change within the City of Knox". KCC proceeded to write an evidence-based Climate Response Plan which was made available for community input. In response to clear community feedback and on the heels of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, Knox's Climate Response Plan 2021-2031 shifted the goalposts for community net-zero emissions 10 years forward to 2040.
From the officer's report: "Research and experience shows that climate change will exacerbate existing socio-economic issues, disproportionately impacting those most vulnerable in the community, widening the social inequality gap, and disrupting jobs and employment patterns". Coupled with the pandemic, any level of certainty or predictability for individuals, particularly business owners and many workers, is hugely compromised - a key reason why recognising the precariousness of our future is of high priority for Councillors even in a pandemic.
With all of this in mind, Councillor Jude Dwight looked to strengthen Council's position for advocacy and action by simultaneously formalising Knox's position in recognising the Climate Emergency and on September 27th, 2021, moved a motion for Knox City Council to declare a Climate Emergency in Knox which was supported by 7 of our 9 Councillors.
Knox City Council Media Release
Knox can now proudly say
We have a detailed and strong Climate Response Plan to support us into the future.
We have now joined the ranks of governments and organisations across the globe recognising a Climate Emergency.
Our voices our counted and will strengthen Knox's position to petition the state government for improved climate action. Victoria has the highest percentage of declared council areas and Knox's declaration is another step towards a whole state declaration.
Recommended watch list:
Climate Change: The Facts by David Attenborough
Causes and Effects of Climate Change by National Geographic
Climate Change 101 with Bill Nye by National Geographic
Climate Change by The Weekly