A local push to get south-west councils to declare a climate emergency appears to have fallen on deaf ears, with all councils and elected members of parliament refusing to make the formal declaration.
A petition titled Climate Emergency Declaration South West has been circulating across the region, so far garnering 250 signatures online and scores more in print.
"Here in Australia the Darebin Council in Melbourne became the first council in the world to recognise the climate emergency in 2016," the petition reads.
"Since then, more than 30 leading local governments have declared a climate emergency.
"We are calling on our local councils to listen and prioritise climate action. We request you declare a climate emergency by the end of 2019."
We are calling on our local councils to listen and prioritise climate action.
But Warrnambool City, Moyne Shire, Corangamite Shire and Glenelg Shire councils said the issue was on their radar, but not a pressing one.
A Warrnambool City Council spokesman said an emergency was not something council had formally debated.
"We have strong commitments in our Green Warrnambool Plan around becoming a zero-emissions operation as a council by 2026 and working with the community to become a zero-carbon emissions municipality by 2040," he said.
"It is worth noting that other cities and countries that have made this declaration have goals which are similar to or more modest than those which Warrnambool has already set.
"For example New York and Sydney are aiming for zero emissions by 2050."
He said whether the council would attend the strike was a question for each councillor to answer as an individual.
Moyne Shire Council said it would continue to advocate to federal and state government, but does not consider it an emergency.
"Council believes climate change is a significant issue that all levels of government must address," Mayor Mick Wolfe said.
"We will continue to advocate on climate change matters, with a key priority the management of rising sea levels.
"Local young people, through the Moyne Shire Youth Council, have expressed concerns about climate change and we look forward to hearing more from our youth councillors and continuing these discussions."
Corangamite Shire Council said it did not have a formal position on climate change and would not attend the strike as a government body.
"Councillors may choose to attend the strike as individuals," a spokesman said.
Glenelg Shire Council said it would not attend the September 20 strike or participate in a strike of its own.
"At this point in time the Glenelg Shire Council will not be declaring a climate emergency," a spokeswoman said.
"No GSC councillors will be attending the Warrnambool/Moyne/Corangamite strike on September 20.
"Council recognises that further action is required to protect our national ecosystem from the threat of climate change. We welcome the passion of the community in engaging and educating on this important topic and inciting robust and meaningful discussion at a local level.
"However rather than declaring a climate emergency, we will be focusing our time and resources advocating for state and national leadership on effective policies and decisions that will help to combat climate change."
All three of the south-west's Liberal Party MPs said no to declaring a climate emergency.
South West Coast MP Roma Britnell said she would not declare an emergency, nor would she be able to attend the strike this week.
"My position on climate change is on the record and I regularly speak about needing to develop practical solutions to address the impacts humans are having on the planet," she said.
"The Victorian Liberal Nationals are focused on developing real actions that make a real difference to climate change and will continue to hold the Andrews Labor Government to account while it fails to appropriately deal with the ongoing recycling crisis which is causing untold damage to the environment.
"I have long standing appointments and commitments on September 20, so I will be at work, meeting with constituents and stakeholders and doing what the taxpayer expects me to do in this role."
Wannon MP Dan Tehan opposes students attending the strike.
"While protesters will miss a third day of school this year, student results for Years 7 and 9 NAPLAN writing tests are below the 2011 test benchmark," he said.
"Students should be active citizens but their education shouldn't suffer as a result.
"Politics should be kept out of the classroom. The true test of the protesters' commitment would be how many turned up for a protest held on a Saturday afternoon."
He said the government was taking meaningful action to reduce global emissions, citing its $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Package.
"We are also working closely with scientists to monitor, understand and plan for climate change and to identify ways that we can make our environment more resilient in the face of global climate challenges," he said.
"On Friday I will be at work doing my job representing the people of Wannon."
Western Victoria MP Beverley McArthur said the movement was "phoney".
"These strikes are based upon the faulty premise of a supposed 'climate emergency'," Ms McArthur said.
School children should stay in school and not be encouraged to skip class to protest a phony climate emergency.Beverley McArthur
"I will certainly not be attending any strike and don't believe the education of our children or business should be impacted by school children or workers being encouraged to attend this strike.
"I am happy for people to protest but it should be done on public holidays or weekends or why not on the recently legislated Friday before the Grand Final."
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