MOUNT Alexander residents have urged their local council to declare a climate emergency, during a marathon forum in Castlemaine.
An 11-hour climate change forum was extended after the number of approved applicants to present exceeded 40.
The forum came in response to a petition by the Mount Alexander Climate Emergency Team, which called on the council to declare a climate emergency.
More than 1850 people have signed the electronic document, according to MACET.
The petition also sought to establish targets of 100 per cent renewable energy for council operations by 2025 and net zero carbon emissions for the community by 2030.
MACET told those at yesterday's forum declaring a climate emergency would galvanise people's energies toward actions that built hope.
"It can clarify our priorities and provide a spur to creative thinking about ways to manage our livelihoods and shape our future," the team said.
"It can help us re-evaluate our connection and our relationship to the planet, to the value of First Nations knowledge, and our own role in our local and global community."
MACET said declaring a climate emergency would unite the community and draw out the altruism and generosity of spirit that emerged when people faced a collective crisis.
A total of 76 Australian councils, cities and towns have declared a climate emergency. Hepburn Shire Council is the closest municipality to Bendigo to do so, thus far.
MACET member Ilka White said the Mount Alexander Shire Council already had climate plans in place. The team saw a need for more urgent and decisive action.
"I'm not sure they were prepared for the response," she said.
Mount Alexander mayor Christine Henderson said the section of the community that was concerned about climate change had spoken loudly and clearly.
"The overwhelming message is that they want us to declare a climate emergency," Cr Henderson said.
More importantly, she said the presenters wanted the council to act on climate change.
She said an address by a locally-based CSIRO researcher was among the forum's most powerful and sobering moments.
The forum went for about 12 hours.
Each presenter was allotted five minutes of speaking time, plus five minutes of question time.
The forum attracted a diverse array of residents, from cyclists to farmers to special interest groups.
Cr Henderson said the presentation styles varied, too.
"Some people spoke of the big picture, some people spoke philosophically, others much more pragmatically," she said.
Presenters were asked to provide councillors with an insight into what they thought local government could be doing within its operations to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change.
They were also asked to consider what community could be doing, and how the shire council could better work with the community to address the issues.
MACET chose to focus on what declaring a climate emergency would mean to the community.
"The community is waiting for direction from council," the team's presenter said.
"We know our shire has a culturally and economically rich population with a strong appetite to contribute.
"We are starting from a very strong place. We will need all this strength.
"We are acting out of concern for both global and local impacts of the climate emergency, including... the capacity of our own region to sustain food production."
The Mount Alexander Shire Council has a Climate Change Action Plan, which expires next year.
Part of that plan is making council operations carbon neutral by 2025.
Recent climate-inspired initiatives include LED street lighting and installing rooftop solar energy systems on council-owned buildings.
In the lead-up to the forum, the shire council said its greatest opportunities to address climate change in Macedon Ranges would be achieved in partnership with its community.
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