Make 2015 the year the world finally gets serious about Climate Action

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Welcome to the February 2015 edition of the Climate Action Moreland Newsletter.

Let’s help make 2015 the year that the world finally gets serious about Climate Action

This is an important year. The UN Climate Change Conference in Paris hopes to finally achieve a legally binding universal agreement on climate change. We can all do our bit to ensure that Australia takes up the challenge!

There are lots of activities happening over the next month. (See our calendar.) This is a great time to get involved, get active and get your friends motivated too!

2014 recap

The year 2014 was globally the hottest year on record. (And despite the apparently cooler start to 2015, minimum temperatures in Melbourne are well above average.)
CAM held a great candidates’ forum in November.
Victoria has a new government, and we hope this will bring much stronger action on climate change for Victoria. We are pleased to see that the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target will be kept.
The East-West Link has been defeated. Thanks to the various anti-Tunnel groups, including MCAT (Moreland Community against the East-West Tunnel) for their great work. MCAT will now be focusing on Action on Transport! We now look forward to much more public transport, bicycle paths and pedestrian friendly areas!

Will the federal govt act on climate change?

The latest news is that the federal government may be shifting ground on climate policy, particularly in terms of not scaling back the Renewable Energy Target as much as earlier intended. See also here. We need to keep the pressure on them!

Unfortunately the federal government doesn’t seem to grappling with the huge risks that Australia faces from climate change. Recently Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop attended Washington for a series of meetings on security and terrorism. But recognising climate change as a security threat was just too much for Julie Bishop, evading a journalist’s probing question and replying with some untruthful spin on the Government’s climate change ‘good story’. Read more from John Englart (CAM member) at Nofibs.

Fossil Fuel Divestment

Last year we reported that CAM and 350.org had successfully lobbied Moreland Council to start developing a strategy to divest from fossil fuels. The Council’s Strategy is due to be finalised in June 2015. CAM and 350.org have now released a discussion paper. See report here, and discussion paper PDF here.

Meanwhile, other Councils are taking up this idea too. See this article on the Marrickville Council in inner Sydney.

CAM is now developing a Moreland Community Divestment Charter. It will be for organisations to sign as a pledge not to invest their money in fossil fuels. We are looking at all sorts of organisations – from businesses, community groups, body corporates, school councils and/or any other group of Morelanders that get together.

Do you know an organisation that may be interested? Contact Michael Stanley at michaelfstanley@gmail.com or on 0400 054 134 if you’d like to get involved.

Global Divestment Day is also coming up on Feb 13 and 14.

20150213-Global-divestment-Day-Rob-McCreath

Sustainable Living Festival and Transitional Film Festival

The Sustainable Living Festival will be running until March 1. There are lots of activities that are relevant to climate action. In particular, George Marshall is visiting Australia to talk about climate change communication. See here and here for more details.

The Transition Film Festival is on until March 6. This is “is a visionary festival dedicated to showcasing inspirational documentaries about the social and technological innovations, revolutionary ideas and trail-blazing changemakers that are leading the way to a better world”.

On the Road to Climate Justice and a Paris Climate Agreement

Climate Action Moreland member John Englart, with his teenage daughter, will be travelling to and attending the UNFCCC climate negotiations in Paris from November 30 to December 11 to report directly on the negotiations and keep a specific eye on the negotiating positions and spin from the Australian Government. Watch out for ongoing reports on the process for negotiating a global agreement on climate change throughout this year from John on our website. We need both local and global action if we are to prevent catastrophic climate impacts.

John is a citizen journalist presently writing for Margot Kingston’s nofibs.com.au website who has been blogging on climate issues for over 10 years (takvera.blogspot.com ). John has just published his literature review on Climate Change heatwaves and Melbourne and the associated annotated bibliography.

Food and Climate Change

When we think of reducing our carbon emissions, we usually think about energy production and consumption. But food is also important.

Animal Liberation Victoria is hosting the film Cowspiracy, which tackles the silence around the huge environmental impacts of animal agriculture. This will be held on Tuesday Feb 17 at the Astor. See here and tickets here.

A recent academic paper examined the energy density and nutrition of food in relation to their carbon footprint. The researchers identified that grains and seeds had the lowest greenhouse gas emissions, were energy dense but with a relatively low nutrient content. Animal products such as meat and dairy were more nutrient dense but had a higher greenhouse gas emission rate. See also this paper on Ruminants, climate change and climate policy (PDF), or this open access paper on The importance of reduced meat and dairy consumption for meeting stringent climate change targets.

Many people have become vegetarian or vegan as a way of reducing their personal carbon emissions. How society as a whole is to reduce its carbon emissions from food as well as ensuring good nutrition for all is something that will require much research, debate and education. For an interesting discussion, see here.

20140120-Ripple2014-methane-sources-ruminant-numbers

Within Moreland, Open Table runs free community lunches and dinners aimed at reducing food waste. Food insecurity is also a concern for some Moreland residents. Organisations such as Fawkner Community House are trying to address this. Growing food locally will also become increasingly important in a warming world. We are pleased to see that the Council in neighbouring Darebin has developed an Urban Food Production Strategy (PDF).

Anstey Village
Do you live near Anstey Station? Local residents are forming a group to tackle local issues including sustainability. For more info see their facebook page.

Climate Action Moreland meeting: Monday February 23, 2015 from 6.30pm.

Venue: The Dining Room, Edinburgh Castle Hotel, 681 Sydney Rd (cnr Albion), Brunswick. More information: Andrea 0424 508 535

Keep in touch with CAM

Keep in touch here at our website or climateactionmoreland@gmail.com
Find us on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/groups/climateactionmoreland/
Follow us on Twitter at @camoreland.
Or call Andrea at 0424 508 535

February 13, 2015 at 11:34 pm Leave a comment

Community Discussion paper released on Council Divestment from Fossil Fuels

20150213-Global-divestment-Day-Rob-McCreath
In conjunction with City of Moreland Council proceeding with a divestment process, Climate Action Moreland and 350.org have also written a joint discussion paper. We hope this provides useful independent information for council officers and Councillors to consider in moving the divestment process forward.

The summary of the paper states:

This report presents research undertaken since October last year by 350.org and Climate Action Moreland after the City of Moreland’s historic decision to commit to divesting from fossil fuels.
The major discussion points covered include:

  • Moreland’s action is in line with progressive local governments around Australia and the world.
  • For implementing fossil fuel divestment the publicly available research of the Market Forces organisation is sufficiently robust – and does not impose significant risks on the council – when used for the purpose of determining whether a financial institution finances fossil fuel developments.
  • There is significant existing opportunity to shift council’s term deposit investments under current risk management guidelines to have a much greater proportion of invested funds held by institutions that do not invest in fossil fuels.
  • Moreland council’s current investment policies for term deposits vary from other Victorian councils. As part of developing a fossil fuel divestment strategy they should be examined and justified to ensure they are not unnecessarily blocking fossil fuel divestment.

Download and read the discussion paper: City of Moreland Fossil Fuel Divestment Discussion Paper: 20150212 City of Moreland Divestment Discussion Paper

Many members of the Moreland community are proud that Moreland Council is one of the first municipal councils in Australia to start this divestment process and it accords well with the strong progessive leadership shown tackling greenhouse emissions with the launch of the Zero Carbon Moreland plan, increasing heatwave response, and mitigating urban heat island increased temperatures through increasing the urban tree canopy and other policies.

Global Divestment Day 13-14 February

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On Saturday 14 February Melburnians are invited to attend a global divestment day event. Details: Our intrepid reporter John Englart reported the debate live via twitter:
Melbourne
14 Feb – 11:00 AM
Star Lawns, Alexandra Gardens, behind the boat-sheds
A colourful, family friendly celebration of the Australian divestment movement. Come dressed in orange to be part of a GIANT human sign spelling the word ‘divest’. The sign will form part of the phrase ‘fossil fuels=history, renewables= future DIVEST’, being put together by different cities all round the world.Hear from speakers involved in divesting their religious organisations, local councils, health bodies and universities. Chat to local campaigners about divestment happenings in Melbourne whilst nibbling on delicious orange treats. Cap off the day by joining other divestors to move your money out of the Big 4.
Details: http://gofossilfree.org/australia-gdd/

February 13, 2015 at 1:39 am 1 comment

Process of fossil fuel divestment continues for Moreland Council

Climate Action Moreland member Bronwyn Plarre taking action during a Divestment Day

Climate Action Moreland member Bronwyn Plarre taking action during a Divestment Day

On Wednesday evening (11 February 2015) Moreland Council received a report prepared by Council officers providing analysis of fossil fuel divestment and options for Council to proceed.

The Report and recommendations were a result of an in principle decision by Council on divestment at the October 2014 meeting, the culmination of a year long grassroots campaign by Climate Action Moreland and 350.org Australia.

Councillor Bolton moved an amendment to include both positive and negative filters and for a draft of the policy to be issued for community consultation. The Amendment was defeated.

The recommendations were then put to the meeting and overwhelmingly passed.

The motion read:

Council resolves to:

  1. Note that Council has no direct investments in companies that invest in fossil fuel projects, which is a key point of difference with the other organisations that have recently committed to a divestment strategy.
  2. Adopt a positive screening approach for Council’s investment with financial institutions:
    1. Actively invest with fossil free financial institutions within the Moreland City Council Investment Policy parameters;
    2. Advocate for fossil free financial institutions to improve their credit rating and financial rate of return;
    3. Work with large banks to improve their CSR and fossil free performance.
  3. Develop a Fossil Fuel Divestment Strategy based on the positive screening approach by June 2015 that will include the following:
    1. A summary of Council’s investments, financial services arrangements and loans.
    2. Strategies, actions, parameters and timelines of the best options to move Council’s investments to financial institutions that do not finance fossil fuel projects.
    3. A framework to maintain ongoing reporting and review of council’s banking to minimise indirect financing of fossil fuel projects and maintain public confidence that council is keeping its commitments.

You can read the full report as extracted from Moreland Council agenda for 11 February 2015: 20150211-DCS715-Fossil-Fuel-Divestment-options report and recommendation.

Our intrepid reporter John Englart reported the debate live via twitter:

February 13, 2015 at 1:33 am 1 comment

Cool January saw a 1.6 degrees above average minimum temperature

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Don’t be fooled by the cool January we have experienced, temperatures are warming up. Melbourne experienced it’s coldest January in 10 years despite the initial couple of extreme heat days at the start of the month. Although Melbourne’s average maximum temperature of 25.9 degrees was the same as the long term average, the average minimum temperature was 1.6 degrees higher than the long term average.

In previous years the average maximum temperature for Melbourne was 28.6 degrees in 2014, 27.3 in 2013 and 27.4 in 2012. The January average minimum temperature was 15.9 degrees, the lowest since 2005, and above the long-term average of 14.3 degrees.

The start of January saw two Heat Health alerts issued by the Chief Health Officer: one for 2nd January and again on the 7th January. Read more about Victorian Heat Health alert system which is triggered when the daily average temperature is predicted to meet or exceed the threshold temperature for that region. For Melbourne it is 30 degrees.

January also saw extensive periods of cloud cover that brought double the January average of rain to some parts of the state. While the rain is welcome, it also increases plant growth which can dry out and become fuel for bushfires.

High temperatures and heatwave conditions are forecast to hit much of Australia and Victoria in the next week. Temperatures in the low and mid 30s and perhaps into the 40s for northern and western districts, are forecast over the weekend and early next week. This will provide good conditions for drying out all that extra plant growth making it more susceptible to burning.

“‘If you get two weeks of really hot weather, that will just burn off,” Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said, “It’s dependent on the temperatures. If we have moderate winds every day, that will dry the landscape.” reported the Age.

Some of Victoria’s worst bushfires have occurred in early February during extreme heat after previous extensive drying of the landscape.

Keep cool, keep hydrated, and keep safe over hot periods. This applies especially to children, the elderly, and those with existing medical or psychiatric conditions. During business hours Moreland Council Libraries and public offices can be used for respite from the heat.

While summer maximum temperatures have been slowly increasing in Melbourne, the long term from 1910 trend shows a much greater increase in minimum temperatures. January’s mild temperatures reflected this trend. These two graphs show data gathered from Melbourne BOM regional office:

Summer Max temperature trend for Melbourne. Source: BOM

Summer Maximum temperature trend for Melbourne. Source: BOM

Summer Minimum temperature trend for Melbourne. Source: BOM

Summer Minimum temperature trend for Melbourne. Source: BOM

February 5, 2015 at 1:28 pm 4 comments

Heatwaves and Victoria’s Heat Health Alert warning system

20150103--BOM-Max-temp-2Jan2015
As January maximum temperatures spike into the high 30s and low 40s (degrees Celsius) and minimum overnight temperatures approach 30 degrees, we have had our first Heat Health alert issued by the Victorian Department of Health for 2015.

On Friday 2 January 2015 heatwave conditions enveloped much of southeast Australia with temperatures reaching 43.3C in Adelaide and 38.7C in Melbourne.

Overnight temperatures on Friday night (2 January) hovered about 30 degrees in Melbourne and 24.5C in Adelaide. These minimum temperatures are more than enough to disrupt sleep adding to heat stress and associated heat-related health emergencies. (see Grunstein, Too Hot to Sleep? Here’s why, The Conversation, 8 January 2013).

Although Melbourne was predicted to exceed 40C on Saturday (3 January) the temperature only reached 37.7C at 3.30pm. That afternoon a storm front brought some rain and relief, a cool change plunging the mercury just before 6pm.
(more…)

January 4, 2015 at 5:01 pm 1 comment

Labor to keep Energy Efficiency program with a review to strengthen it

energy-efficiency
The new Victorian Government has moved quickly to ensure the continuance of the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target  (VEET) scheme that the previous Liberal Government were preparing to abolish.

Increasing energy efficiency provides a double saving of reducing green house gas emissions and energy costs. It is one of the main methods the International Energy Agency suggests as necessary for tackling carbon emissions, already making a substantial contribution to mitigation efforts, even in Australia.

Energy and Resources Minister Lily D’Ambrosio announced on 19 December 2014 that the Victorian Government will retain the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) scheme which will save 2000 jobs.

“Energy efficiency is one of the best ways for homes and businesses to reduce bills and greenhouse gas emissions.” said Lily d’Ambrosio.
(more…)

December 24, 2014 at 2:02 am 1 comment

Congratulations to Victorian Labor, now the climate action work starts

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Climate Action Moreland congratulates the election of the Daniel Andrews led Labor Government in Victoria and are hopeful for strong progress on climate mitigation and adaptation programs at the State level with this new Government.

We also congratulate Labor MPs Jane Garrett (Brunswick), Lizzie Blandthorn (Pascoe Vale) and Frank McGuire (Broadmeadows) on being elected to the Legislative Assembly to represent the citizens of Moreland.

Our congratulations also to our MPs elected to the Legislative Council for Northern Metro region:

  • Jenny Mikakos and Nazih Elasmar (Labor)
  • Craig Ondarchie (Liberal)
  • Greg Barber (Greens)
  • Fiona Pattern (Australian Sex Party)

Our thanks to all the candidates who attended our climate forum for the election to explain their party policies and personal views on taking effective action in tackling climate change. These public forums are important avenues for direct community debate.

As an active community group we endeavour to have robust discussion and debate on climate action with all our representatives from every level of government: from Local Councillors, State MPs, to our Federal MPs and Senators.

We look forward to working and engaging positively with ALL our elected State Government representatives over the next 4 years to bring about substantive action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change.

In particular, as residents of Moreland this means the impact of increasing temperatures and heatwave events and increase in intensity of storm events.

December 22, 2014 at 1:48 am 1 comment

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