"We are in a state of climate emergency."

Darebin City Council is the first council in Australia to lead the climate emergency discussion, having declared a climate emergency in the local Darebin community. With a commitment to enabling community change and action via new environmental initiatives and partnerships, including with EFFA, we speak with Mayor, Councillor Kim Le Cerf, about the big - and small - steps we can take towards addressing the issues at hand. Read on for more, and see times below for three films screening at Palace Westgarth Cinema thanks to the Council’s new partnership with EFFA.

What prompted Darebin City Council to partner with EFFA?

Council is always looking to partner with like-minded organisations. By partnering with others we can create the large-scale change/social movement we need to address the serious environment issues we face.

What prompted the Council to declare a ‘climate emergency’, and what actions are being taken to address this?

Council recognises that we are in a state of climate emergency. Unless we restore a safe climate at emergency speed, there will be dramatic and negative impacts on our community and around the world.

We see this as a problem for all levels of government and we’re proud to be the first council in Australia to lead the climate emergency discussion.

We are already experiencing more intense and frequent heatwaves, heavy rainfall and flooding, the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, extreme fire weather and more frequent bushfires.

Our new Climate Emergency Plan includes actions to:

  • double solar in Darebin over the next five years

  • establish the Climate Emergency Darebin committee

  • support homes and businesses to be more energy efficient

  • call on other levels of government to join us in responding to the climate emergency

  • review all Council programs and policies to ensure alignment with our Climate Emergency commitment.

What is the Darebin Nature Trust and why is it an important thing for the community?

The Trust will develop initiatives to help the city adapt to the climate emergency. It will focus on strategic land acquisition and the preservation and enhancement of biodiversity and remnant bushlands to prevent the extinction of local flora and fauna.

How do you work with the Indigenous community on environmental initiatives and what can we learn from this community with regards to environmental protection?

We work alongside our Indigenous community by engaging our broader community in conversation and activities about the importance of valuing, conserving and protecting natural heritage. For example, our own natural heritage film which is being shown at the Environmental Film Festival speaks to the overlap between environmental values and Aboriginal cultural values. The film showcases some of Darebin’s most significant and beautiful natural heritage areas and demonstrates the commitment of many in our community to valuing, protecting and conserving these areas.

What are some simple steps citizens can take towards reducing their own environmental impacts?

There are many across a range of areas like energy, water, waste and transport. Reducing home energy use through things like installing insulation and draught proofing/installing solar PV if possible; reducing water use at home by either installing a water tank and making use of greywater; leaving the car at home and taking public transport; and walking or riding a bicycle especially for short trips.

What role do you think Councils like Darebin should take towards environmental stewardship, sustainability and protection for the community?

Council recognises that together with our community, other Councils and like-minded partners, we must take action to influence other levels of government, industries and organisations that have the greatest power to take urgent and appropriate action to respond to the climate emergency. Our environmental policies and plans have been developed to reflect this commitment.

Which films are you looking forward to at EFFA?

Of course the three films that Darebin is hosting - Living the Change, Stella Polaris Ulloriarsuaq, and Bird of Prey because they all speak to issues which are important priorities of Council.

EFFA will screen three films at Palace Westgarth Cinema with the support of Darebin City Council in 2018 - Living the Change: Inspiring Stories for a Sustainable Future (6.45pm, Wednesday 17 October); Stella Polaris Ulloriarsuaq (6.45pm, Thursday 18 October); and Bird of Prey (6.30pm, Friday 19 October). Book tickets via the Palace Westgarth Cinema website, and join the conversation!