Narelle Martin advocates community conversations about climate change

The teapot on her logo speaks volumes about Narelle Martin’s stance on climate change.

The North East resident and environment consultant is as pragmatic as she is passionate about an issue she knows is critical to the future of this region – and the world.

But Ms Martin, who spent two years as a local government climate change mentor for the Victorian State Government, would rather sit down and chat with you about it over a cuppa.

There are no placards, just a practical focus on helping people, particularly in rural communities, adapt to the changes wrought by an altered climate. 

After working in the field for more than 20 years, Ms Martin has found people’s attitudes to climate change vary wildly.

But with the CSIRO’s clear statement that Australia is experiencing an increase in extreme heat events and shifting rainfall patterns, she said people could choose not to engage but there would be consequences.

GREEN FUTURE: North East environment consultant Narelle Martin points to the importance of 'conversations' about climate change planning.

GREEN FUTURE: North East environment consultant Narelle Martin points to the importance of 'conversations' about climate change planning.

Her mission is to “find conversations” that make it clear how decisions made now will affect the future.

Some of that work recently has been in the field of local government, which she describes as “long-time leaders in this space”.

It’s practical initiatives: changing the ratio of road mixes to prevent highways melting; or increasing budgets for cat de-sexing programs as rising temperatures prolong breeding seasons.

Ms Martin returned to Australia in 2007 after a nine-year stint in Canada because she wanted to make a difference closer to home.

She said the North East had a huge responsibility to manage its water systems for a sustainable future and getting the right flow on the Murray Darling Basin Plan was intrinsic to that.

“It’s a complicated area with competing interests but we have a limited quantity of water – let’s put it to good use,” she said.

“If we don’t have a healthy river system we won’t have an agriculture industry.”

When it comes to individual efforts to tackle the issue, Ms Martin’s advice is to think in a 100-feet radius.

“I’m fairly self-contained at home – I’ve got solar panels, grow vegies and I’m waiting for electric vehicle prices to come down to swoop on that,” she said.

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