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Postcard from Paris – Jess Wingad, President of SECCCA

Published February 4, 2016 | By Janet Armstrong

Jessica Wingad with the Greenpeace Polar Bear in Paris, November 2015
Jessica Wingad with the Greenpeace Polar Bear in Paris, November 2015

 

Mornington Peninsula Shire has taken an ambitious and forward-thinking approach to climate change mitigation through the adoption of a robust and achievable Carbon Neutrality Policy. Shire Mayor, Councillor Graham Pittock and Councillor Hugh Fraser were invited to attend COP21, the Climate Change Conference in Paris as part of our long standing membership with ICLEI – Local Government for Sustainability and I was very pleased to accompany them.

The Conference exceeded my expectations in its scope, extent and energy. COP21 was the first international conference where Local Government had a strong voice and was included in negotiations. Morn Pen Shire was pleased to attend a diverse array of sessions from Governments, community organisations, banks and not for profits, all establishing a foundation for strong policy, investment and practical solutions to climate change.

Outstanding moments from the experience include:

  • Unexpectedly meeting the President of Kiribati when he dropped in on the World Biosphere pavilion where we were hearing how climate change is affecting natural assets and biodiversity. The President spoke to us of the challenges the small island nation faces, given its 800 km2 landmass is spread over 13 million km2 of ocean. He remains optimistic and grounded in a belief that together, we can support those most vulnerable.
  • Attending a presentation by the Nordic states on ocean acidification. A panel of world-leading scientist highlighted the challenges that we all face in terms of meeting the global 1.5 degree target. They noted that many skeptics often reflect that high CO2e- concentration in the atmosphere has occurred before. The scientists reflected that this is true – it was a period referred to as the ‘Great Dying’ during which 95% of ocean species became extinct.
  • Being at the Paris Town Hall when the Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor, along with 400 Mayors from around the world signed the Cities for Climate Change Declaration. The declaration is reflected in the COP21 outcome.

It was inspiring to be involved in a conference that didn’t question climate change, but questioned why we are not doing more.

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