It seems Moreland Council is playing games with being serious about a long term climate action strategy. In this years budget they set aside $525,000 for a carbon management strategy which is to be highly commended. Yet at an early hurdle at the Council meeting on 9th July, Councillors chose to transfer $100,000 out of this budget to footpath maintenance following another decision to transfer money from footpath to upgrade lighting in Brunswick.
This is a very retrograde step and is very poor timing given the Federal Government abolition of the carbon price mechanism and continuing attacks on the clean energy framework and Renewable Energy Target. We expect Moreland Council, which is known for it’s positive positions with regard to achieving carbon neutrality, climate change and sustainability issues, to maintain the current budget measures for carbon management, which has a substantial long term health and environmental benefit to the residents and ratepayers of Moreland. The Carbon Management Strategy budget funds renewable energy and emissions reduction technologies and capital infrastructure (i.e. solar panels for council buildings etc.).
The Councillors who argued in favour of these motions, say that upgrading to energy efficient LED lighting in Brunswick is a win-win scenario. While it does have some energy efficiency and carbon reduction benefit, it is not a win-win. It comes at the expense of budgeted and planned long term carbon reduction and mitigation action. Long term mitigation action is essential for reducing adaptation measures (and reducing costs) in the future. It is a short term gain at the expense of long term action. Climate action is one area where we need to think and act strategically for the long term.
This last minute major amendment to Council’s budget was supported unanimously by the ALP Councillors. (Those who voted for the budget cut- Crs Teti, Tapinos, Hopper, Gillies and Yildiz. Those against; Crs L Thompson, R Thompson, Davidson, Bolton, Ratnam). Just to highlight the inconsistency, at the very same meeting Council voted unanimously to investigate action to combat the urban heat island effect. This is important given Moreland has a high social vulnerability to the health impacts of heatwaves and hotspells.
The following attached statement on behalf of Climate Action Moreland was endorsed at our meeting, and also endorsed at the meeting of Sustainable Fawkner, for consideration of Council. In this statement:
- We requested that Moreland Council reconsider their funding decision in the light of our statement.
- We think the decision to maintain funding for footpaths highlights another important issue: the need to use low carbon and cool pavement technologies for road and footpath surfaces. We urge Council to implement a strategic review of the Road Management Plan for consideration and incorporation of low carbon and cool pavement technologies for road and footpath surfaces as part of strategies to mitigate the urban heat island effect in Moreland.
What can you do?
Write or email the Mayor and your councillors objecting to this last minute change to the budget.
Come along on 7th August to our Empowering Moreland – Community Climate Action Forum to discuss further actions we can take together.
Climate Action Moreland will be taking this further.
Statement on Moreland Council Transfer of funding from Carbon Management Strategy to Footpath maintenance
By Climate Action Moreland 21 July 2014
Endorsed by Sustainable Fawkner
At Moreland Council’s meeting on Wednesday 9th July 2014 Council passed a motion that $100,000 would be taken out of the $525,000 current environment budget for the carbon management strategy (CMS) and used for footpath maintenance. This decision was made to offset a previous decision to take money out of footpaths to upgrade lighting in Brunswick.
Firstly, we ask Council to reverse this decision and to find money for footpath maintenance from other areas. We think this is a retrograde step for money specifically allocated to reduce Council’s carbon emissions and climate footprint.
We note the decision to transfer this money raises a much larger issue. We think Council should be implementing best practice climate adaptation and carbon management strategies in all areas of service delivery, including the Road Management Plan and footpath replacement.
We also note Council voted unanimously at the same meeting to investigate action to combat the urban heat island effect.
Secondly, we therefore urge Council to implement a strategic review of the Road Management Plan for incorporation of current low carbon and cool pavement materials and technology and develop best use guidelines for immediate use of these in the municipality as part of mitigating the urban heat island effect.
We think there is sufficient evidence available from trials elsewhere for Moreland to be able to act on this, rather than do a trial of its own.
Background on Cool Pavements for moderating the Urban Heat Island Effect
We think it is an opportune time to assess the use of pavement surfacing materials and encourage use of materials with lower embedded carbon for pavement surfacing. One recent example is the use of TonerPave asphalt by certain Melbourne Councils manufactured from recycled toner cartridges and asphalt.(Bailey 2014 June 20 – Leader Newspapers)
There is also a need for pavement surfaces to utilize ‘cool pavements’ materials and technology, as one of a suite of tools for reducing the urban heat island effect.
A reading of the current City of Moreland Road Management Plan (2013) contains no reference to favouring materials with lower embedded carbon. This appears to be a missed opportunity. Portland cement and asphalt are highly carbon intensive but can be replaced with less carbon intensive products or mixed with waste byproduct and recycled materials to reduce their carbon content, as well as the potential to increase reflectance and/or permeability.
The Climate Action Moreland feedback submission to Moreland’s Draft Community Climate Action Plan earlier this year specifically detailed the importance of cool pavements as part of a strategy for mitigating the urban heat island effect, along with incorporating other tools including water sensitive urban design, increase of tree canopy to provide shade to buildings and pavements, widespread changing of surface albedo of roof surfaces of buildings (cool roofs):
“We believe that this strategy needs to include the contribution of surfaces (roads, footpaths and other paved surfaces and roofs) to the urban heat island effect. We suggest that Moreland adopt best practice “cool” paving technologies (such as the use of permeable materials and white roofs) in all work it undertakes, and advocates these technologies to residents and businesses.” (Climate Action Moreland feedback submission 27 May 2014)
Modelling summer temperatures in Melbourne has shown that the urban heat island effect can add several degrees of warming to local suburban temperatures depending upon the surface albedo of the built environment, amount of vegetation canopy and open water and wetlands. Increased housing density also resulted in increased intensity of night time UHI (Coutts, Beringer and Tapper 2008).
It is not a simple addition of a heatwave increase in temperature added to the urban heat island temperature: heatwaves exacerbate and amplify the Urban Heat Island Effect so that the impact is magnified. This poses major risks for heat related illness and mortality. (Li and Bou-Zeid 2013)
Mapping of demographic, environmental and health data by Loughnan et al (2013) shows that much of Moreland has a high social vulnerability to the urban heat island effect during extreme hotspells and heatwaves.
Professor Nigel Tapper at a recent seminar (25 June 2014) at Moreland Civic Centre organised by Northern Alliance for Greenhouse Action (NAGA) stated that moderating the temperatures of the built environment on extreme heat days by even a small amount may result in health crisis threshold levels being avoided with a substantial reduction in heat stress related ambulance call-outs and heat related deaths. Reducing the urban heat island effect even partially would be a major environmental and health benefit for the citizens of Moreland. (Tapper 2014 – Slideshow presentation PDF)
We note a cool pavements trial project in Chippendale, done by the City of Sydney Council, found that streets covered 24 per cent of the land surface area of the suburb. Temperature measurement of two streets, one partially shaded by buildings and a tree canopy and one exposed to full sunlight found there was a 2 degree difference in temperature, both day and night.(Samuels et al 2010) The City of Sydney is currently trialling pale coloured road surfaces. (Australian Government 2013, City of Sydney 2014). Sustainability campaigner Michael Mobbs said in an interview for ABC Lateline in 2014, “It reduces the temperatures by two to four degrees on a hot day. During heatwaves, you’re going to find that there’ll be maybe six to eight degrees difference. At the moment, it’s about 10 to 15 per cent more expensive, but as it becomes more common, the price will drop down.” (Alberici 2014) Watch the Lateline segment below:
In October 2012 California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill mandating the California Department of Transportation to develop a standard specification for cool pavements.(Chen 2012) The California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) is currently developing a specification for “cool pavements” to reduce the urban heat island effect. (Caltrans 2013 PDF)
Further case studies from the United States are contained in the US Environmental Protection Agency (2012) chapter on Cool Pavements from ‘EPA’s Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies’ which provides a comparison of methods and materials to use in different pavement use scenarios for increasing pavement permeability and/or albedo.
We know that funding choice priorities for Council are always difficult to balance. We reiterate that money for footpath maintenance should not be transferred from the the carbon management strategy budget, even if it does offset a previous decision to take money from footpaths to fund energy efficient public lighting.
Combating impacts of climate change, rising temperatures and the urban heat island effect needs to be managed holistically by the Council. While specific mitigation measures need to be adequately funded as per the Carbon Management Strategy, it is equally important that all of Council’s services are managed with a view to carbon neutrality and strategies for climate mitigation and adaptation.
Alberici, E. (Presenter), & O’Neill, M (Reporter). (2014, June 2) Cities need adapt to deadly heatwaves: Lateline, Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s4017438.htm
Australian Goverenment (2013) Australian State of the Cities 2013 report Chapter 4 on Sustainability http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure/pab/soac/
Bailey, M. (Reporter) (2014, June 20) Nillumbik and other councils use TonerPave asphalt, made by Downer EDI Limited, Close the Loop, to resurface roads. Diamond Valley Leader. Retrieved from http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/north/nillumbik-and-other-councils-use-tonerpave-asphalt-made-by-downer-edi-limited-close-the-loop-to-resurface-roads/story-fnglenug-1226960209546
California Department of Transportation (2013) Caltrans Activities to Address Climate Change – Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Adapting to Impacts. http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tpp/offices/orip/climate_change/documents/Caltrans_ClimateChangeRprt-Final_April_2013.pdf
Chen, A. (2012) Cool Pavements Bill Signed Into Law. Berkeley Lab Heat Island Group http://eetd.lbl.gov/news/article/24746/cool-pavements-bill-signed-into-law
City of Moreland (2013) Road Management Plan. http://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/parking-roads-and-transport/roads-and-footpaths/road-reconstruction.html
City of Moreland (undated – 1999?) Hitting the road running – Moreland road asset management strategy. http://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/mccwr/publications/policies-strategies-plans/moreland-road-asset-management-strategy.pdf
City of Sydney (2014). Urban Heat Island Effect. Measuring the effect in Sydney. Retrieved http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/vision/towards-2030/sustainability/carbon-reduction/urban-heat-island2
Coutts, A.M., Jason Beringer, Nigel J. Tapper, 2008: Investigating the climatic impact of urban planning strategies through the use of regional climate modelling: a case study for Melbourne, Australia. International Journal of Climatology. DOI: 10.1002/joc.1680
Levine, K. (2011) Cool Pavements Research and Technology, Institute of Transportation Studies Library at UC Berkeley
Li, D. and Elie Bou-Zeid (2013) Synergistic Interactions between Urban Heat Islands and Heat Waves: the Impact in Cities is Larger than the Sum of its Parts, Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 201, May 2013, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JAMC-D-13-02.1
Loughnan, M.E., Tapper, NJ, Phan, T, Lynch, K, McInnes, JA (2013), A spatial vulnerability analysis of urban populations during extreme heat events in Australian capital cities, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast, 128 pp. http://www.nccarf.edu.au/publications/spatial-vulnerability-urban-extreme-heat-events
Samuels, R., Tony McCormick and Brett Pollard (2010) Micro-Urban-Climatic Thermal Emissions: in a Medium-Density Residential Precinct, University of New South Wales. City Futures Research Centre, ISBN: 9781740440387 http://www.be.unsw.edu.au/sustainability-and-climate-change-adaptation/projects/thermal-impact-designed-environment-urban-heat
Tapper, N. (2014) Tackling Urban Heat. Professor Nigel Tapper’s presentation at the City of Moreland (25 June 2014) on urban heat island effects. NAGA website PDF http://www.naga.org.au/online-library/doc_download/349-tackling-urban-heat.html
United States Environment Protection Agency (2012) Cool Pavements Chapter from ‘EPA’s Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies‘ http://www.epa.gov/heatisland/mitigation/pavements.htm
Local communities are leading the way in showing government how to take meaningful steps to address climate change. We see that in over 1.2 million households across Australia that have installed solar PV, and the many more who have installed solar hot water systems, or who have found ways to implement energy efficiency. Help to continue to drive the changes we need from a grassroots level:
When: 7pm Thursday 7 August 2014
Where: Coburg Concert Hall at the Coburg Town Hall, 90 Bell St, Coburg
RSVP: Join our event page on Facebook to give us some idea of numbers attending
Master of Ceremonies for the night will be Rod Quantock. Speakers from Climate Action Moreland and 350.org Further details still to be confirmed.
Bring your own ideas, bring your enthusiasm and bring a friend!
Here in Moreland we are actually pretty effective with climate education events and in forums to discuss climate policies such as the forum prior to the Federal Election September 2013.
On the Federal level Carbon pricing has now been abolished. Much of the supportive framework for addressing climate mitigation such as funding clean energy and the Renewable Energy Target is under sustained attack by an ideologically driven Federal government that pays the faintest acknowledgement of climate science while running a wrecking ball through scientific research programs and climate science education. The evening is a chance to discuss climate change policy in the context of the upcoming State election on November 14.
Climate Action Moreland and 350.org have also been working together on a divestment campaign this year. The meeting will be an opportunity to officially launch the campaign for the City of Moreland to move ratepayer money away from banks which lend to fossil fuel projects – something all Moreland residents can get behind.
Moreland Council has also just approved funding for LED lighting upgrade and closed circuit TV security system for Brunswick taking this money out of footpaths, then transferred $100,000 from the $525,000 Carbon Management Strategy budget to maintain the footpath maintenance budget. We think this is a retrograde step that demeans and degrades the importance of Council’s long term policies and funding for carbon neutrality and climate mitigation.
Resources to download and print:
Leaflet for printing: 20140807-CAM-leaflets
An event presented by Climate Action Moreland and 350.org Melbourne
What you’ve helped achieve so far
- Moreland Council received 498 signatures at the April Council Meeting asking for divestment of Moreland’s finances from Fossil Fuels
- At the May Council Meeting Moreland councilors approved a motion to audit council investments (term deposits mostly) to help give visibility to how ratepayer’s money is financing dirty energy projects
- At their June meeting the council modified the awarding of their financial services contract to state that if the Commonwealth bank had not divested from Fossil Fuels by the end of their initial three year term, they would not be eligible for any extensions the contract offers. The contract would be automatically re-tendered to allow banks who don’t invest in fossil fuels a shot. To our knowledge, this is the first time an Australian local council has put a bank on notice that their fossil fuel financing is putting their continuing business relationship on the line.
- Tonight at the July Council meeting we presented another 332 signatures to council to let them know that while we welcome their engagement on the issue there’s still a way to go.
What we’ve got planned ahead
- The big event we have planned for August is a Community Climate Action Forum – where Climate Action Moreland and 350.org will be talking about ways that people can get involved in the grassroots efforts going on everywhere to help do things to combat climate change now. One topic you can be assured will be covered is the effort to get council to divest from fossil fuels. Details are below.
- We’ll keep engaging with council to figure out the logistics of cleaning up their finances – we want to help council build a plan that lets them move all their money out of dirty energy investments.
- We’ll keep getting out and engaging the community to get more people to sign up to cleaning up Moreland’s finances
Community Climate Action Forum
Where: Coburg Concert Hall, 90 Bell St, Coburg
350.org Moreland Campaign Volunteer
It is a crucial time for Australia’s climate policy framework as Australia’s carbon price framework turns 2 years old. The Abbott Government is hell bent on ‘axing the tax’ – Australia’s fixed carbon price which was due to morph into a fully fledged Emissions Trading Scheme in 2015 with links to the European and Californian schemes.
But the Liberal National Party Government elected September 2013 lead by Prime Minister Tony Abbott has sort to go far beyond their slogan of ‘axe the tax’ to destroy any related policy initiatives. This includes abolition of the Climate Commission already accomplished, the Climate Change Authority and clean energy programs such as the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and the Howard Government initiated Renewable Energy Target.
After two years of effective operation of the carbon tax a number of electors took the opportunity to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of carbon pricing and current climate laws with their elected representatives. The Australian Conservation Foundation events were small scale and informal, sometimes with the representative present and sometimes just with office staff or held outside the electoral office. Within the span of 2 days over 2,000 people also sent an e-card to their local MP as part of the event.
Electoral Offices visited included: John Madigan (Victorian DLP Senator), Nick Xenophon (South Australian Independent Senator), Andrew Wilke (Tasmanian Independent MP for Denison), Adam Bandt (Victorian Greens MP for Melbourne), Bill Shorten (Victorian Labor MP for Maribyrnong and leader of the Opposition), Sussan Ley (New South Wales Liberal MP for Farrer), Cathy McGowan (Victoria Independent MP for Indi), Kelvin Thomson (Victoria Labor MP for Wills), Warren Snowden (Northern Territory Labor MP for Lingiari), Nigel Scullion (Northern Territory Country Liberal Party Senator and Minister for Indigenous Affairs), and Lisa Singh (Tasmanian Labor Senator). (see ACF Facebook: Happy 2nd Birthday Climate Laws!)
It was a gentle reminder that people overwhelmingly supported action on climate change according to the Votecompass survey at last years election, and continue to support carbon pricing and clean energy according to several recent surveys and opinion polls.
I first met and interviewed my local MP, Kelvin Thomson during the election campaign last year who has proven to be a strong supporter of carbon pricing and climate action. On a cold and blustery Thursday morning Thomson welcomed us into his office where we presented a birthday cake and had a brief opportunity to discuss the importance of carbon pricing and the clean energy mechanisms and their current status in the Senate, followed by a photo opportunity.
Carbon pricing repeal before the Senate
The legislation to abolish the carbon tax, the Climate Change Authority and Clean Energy Finance Corporation have all passed the Government controlled House of Representatives and are now before the Senate. The senate was established under the constitution as the State’s House, but has overwhelmingly operated under traditional party lines. No party has majority control in the 76 member house.
The Coalition has 33 members, Labor has 25, with the crossbench being made up of the Greens 10, Palmer United Party 3, and 1 each from the Motoring Enthusiasts Party, LDP, DLP and Independent.
The Government needs at least 6 votes from the crossbench to pass legislation. Here is where the Government needs to refine their negotiation skills on climate policy, in fact for any of their legislative agenda. Ricky Muir has formed a voting block with the Palmer United Party making their 4 votes crucial for legislative changes. The Palmer United Party campaigned against the carbon price at the election, but most of the party policies were more populist and conservative centrist. Clive Palmer’s inconvenient truth moment on climate change with Al Gore was an opportunity for creating political space for his new party with a policy that throws bones in all directions.
It now seems that Motoring Enthusiasts Party Senator Ricky Muir, a former timber worker, is championing continued funding for ARENA which the Government announced in the budget it has decided to try and wind up.
Carbon Price has been effective reducing electricity emissions by 11 per cent
While the Senate deliberates and negotiates on elements of the climate change framework, Pitt and Sherry released the latest CEDEX report on key greenhouse gas emission trends in Australia for the electricity sector. Even in the first 6 months the signs were there that the carbon price was having the required impact.
The total fall in demand over the two years since June 2012 has been 4.6%, or 8.7 TWh in absolute terms, while the total fall in emissions has been 10.4%, or 18 Mt CO2‐e in absolute terms. Changes in electricity have always been of great importance to the outlook for Australia’s emissions. Until 2008 electricity generation was the largest driver of growth in Australia’s emissions. Since then it has been the largest source of emissions reduction, almost completely offsetting increases from other emission source categories.
Hydro power has been the big winner since the carbon price was enacted, with Tasmania benefiting most. But with abolition of the carbon tax Hydro Tasmania has already announced more than 100 jobs are threatened due directly to repeal of the carbon tax.
Electricity generation from gas turbines has been stable over the last two years but is predicted to fall as generators roll over into new contracts with higher gas prices. Output from wind and other renewables has been steadily increasing, boosted by the Renewable Energy Target and investments made by ARENA and CEFC.
Wind generation has increased steadily since June 2012, with each month’s annual output higher than the month before, driven by the continuing steady commissioning of new windfarms under the LRET program. Total wind generation in the year to June 2014 was 8.43 TWh. As has been reported elsewhere, the last week in June was a very big one for wind generation, as strong winds blew almost continuously across all four south eastern states from Monday until the following Sunday morning. Peak 30 minute trading interval generation occurred, perhaps fittingly, at 9 pm on the Wednesday evening, a few hours after the Clive Palmer/Al Gore press conference, and was 17% higher than the highest 30 minute peak recorded prior to June. Over the six full days, Monday to Saturday, wind generation supplied on average 14.5% of all generation in the four states, and 10.7% for the whole NEM, including Queensland. The highest 30 minute share was 21% at 5 am on 27 June. Proportions of generation were very much higher than this for the whole six days in South Australia. The greatest significance of these figures is probably the demonstration that the NEM is sufficiently robust to be able to accommodate such large shares of wind generation, with no effect on the supply of electricity to consumers.
Total power generation in the last year is down to black coal 50.7%, brown coal 22.3%, gas 12.7%, hydro 9.6% and wind 4.7%. This is the lowest shares of both black and brown coal, and the highest shares of wind sincce reporting began in 2006 according to the CEDEX report.
Arguments have been put forward that carbon pricing caused large rises to electricity bills, but most of the price increases have been due to electricity generators and transmission businesses gold-plating the network by building unnecessary poles and wires and other infrastructure based upon poor predictions and modelling of ever increasing electricity demand. The local example is the proposal to upgrade the Brunswick Terminal Station that has been actively campaigned against in Melbourne’s inner north.
A Four Corners investigation by Stephen Long – Power to the People – broadcast on Monday 7th July 2014 also highlighted the growing transition to renewable energy. The traditional electricity generators are fighting this transition through opposition to clean energy and to reduce the effectiveness of the Renewable Energy Target to entrench their outdated business and electricity generation and distribution model.
Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt argues that carbon pricing should be repealed as it is ineffective, yet it has helped reduce electricity sector emissions by 18 million tonnes (or 11%) in just 2 years advises Professor Mike Sandiford, a Director of the Melbourne Energy Institute at the University of Melbourne.
This all comes as Lord Deben, who served in Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet and definitely on the conservative side of UK politics, soundly criticized Australia for repealing carbon pricing accusing Tony Abbott’s government of ‘recklessly endangering’ the future on climate.
So happy 2nd birthday carbon pricing. You may have inspired emissions trading schemes in China, but it seems under the toxic entrenched interest and ideologically driven politics in the Coalition you may not live to see your third anniversary.
John Englart Climate Action Moreland member
- Pitt and Sherry Cedex report – CEDEX® Electricity Update July 2014 (PDF)
- Australian Conservation Foundation Facebook Album – Happy 2nd Birthday Climate Laws!
Our climate is heating up
Australia’s climate is getting hotter and more extreme. Big bushfires and Melbourne’s scorching January heatwave are disturbing glimpses of our future unless we make a sharp change of direction.
Over the last 30 years, Melbourne heatwaves have occurred 17 days earlier, have become 1.5 degrees hotter, and the maximum temperature of the hottest day is 2 degrees higher, compared to 1950-1980. Extreme, over- 40 degree heatwaves in 2009 and 2014 resulted in 500 additional deaths from heat stress and related conditions. Melbourne will become less and less liveable as escalating global warming takes us to a new climate that humans have never before experienced, with tremendous pressure on water supplies and food security.
Make the ‘big switch’ to renewable energy
We need a ‘big switch’ away from fossil fuels to a clean, renewable energy future. Fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – must be kept in the ground. But building the East-West Tunnel is like building a new coal-fired power station, and a huge step in the wrong direction. We do not need this immensely costly ($8-$15 billion) and destructive road. Melbourne needs a big program to renew and expand our public transport infrastructure: a comprehensive network of trains, trams and buses, all running on emissions-free renewable energy.
We can do it! People power can stop the tunnel
Denis Napthine and the corporate interests behind him are determined to build the tunnel. Labor says it is against the project, but its ‘opposition’ is not worth very much while it says it will not break the contracts if they are signed before the election. Labor should step up, or face a backlash.
Most Melbournians oppose the tunnel. We need a big grassroots campaign to make the political cost of proceeding unacceptable. Stopping the tunnel is a vital part of the fight for a climate-safe future.
Get involved in Climate Action Moreland
Climate Action Moreland is affiliated to the Moreland Campaign Against the East-West Tunnel (MCAT) and is involved in a range of other activities to build support for serious climate action. Find out more about Climate Action Moreland and get involved.
Great seeing so many people on the streets of Melbourne and in other cities and towns around Australia discussing and raising important issues including Climate Change. We were there at the Melbourne March with our banner.
Conditions were ideal with cool cloudy morning before the sun came out to warm things up and bring tens of thousands of people onto Sydney Road in Brunswick.
East- West Tunnel = Climate Madness
Climate Action Moreland was one of a host of community groups present, which included the Moreland Community Against the Tunnel (MCAT on Facebook) .
Climate Action Moreland had a leaflet connecting the dots between building the East-West tunnel and climate change. We were active in giving out leaflets for the Sunday March 30 rally against the East West tunnel.
Climate action is a State government election issue
Also on our radar was the importance of ensuring climate action is an issue in the November 2014 Victorian State election. We had postcards addressed to Jane Garrett, the local Labor member for Brunswick, the Premier Denis Napthine, and Greens upper house member for Northern Metropolitan Greg Barber. The postcards urged all parties to take climate action seriously. We need action at Federal, State and local Government, as well as action by you and I as individuals, and businesses both small and large.
The Climate Change Authority released it’s report last week arguing that the conditions have been met for Australia to lift it’s target to 19 per cent emissions reduction on 2000 levels by 2020. But with the Abbott Government slating this Authority for closure if it can get legislation through the senate, it is doubtful whether we will see a substantive increase in emissions reduction target with the present Federal Government led by Tony Abbott.
Coal mine fire poisoning Morwell. Time to close Hazelwood?
Much can be achieved at the municipal and state levels which arguably are more important for planning, development, conservation and land management issues as they affect climate mitigation. The Morwell coalmine fire has demonstrated the health risks associated with coal mines and coal fired electricity. But we have a State Government that has forbidden wind farm development across most of the state, including within 5 kilometres of any town. Which would you rather live close to, a coal mine next to town like Morwell or a wind farm? Perhaps it is time to close down the GDF Suez owned Hazelwood coalmine and coal fired power station for good and build some non-polluting wind farms instead. Read more on this by Ketan Joshi: The cost of coal puts renewable myths in perspective.
After almost a month of battling the toxic fire which has poisoned the air over Morwell, Victoria Chief Health Officer has advised that vulnerable people should move out of the area in a health warning on 28 February (ABC news – Morwell mine fire: Premier Denis Napthine backs Victorian health officer’s decision on warning). But Environment Victoria CEO Mark Wakeham said that Premier Napthine had dodged the main question about whether the state government had done all it could to minimise the risk of coal mine fires.
The Premier and Health Department officials are playing with peoples’ lives and future health. According to Associate Professor Adrian Barnett, a Principal Research Fellow at the Queensland University of Technology, commented via the Australian Science media Centre:
“Coal smoke is very dangerous to health; we know this from some of the earliest epidemiological studies in this field on the London coal smoke smog of 1952 that killed around 12,000 people. This high number of deaths comes from a relatively low individual risk (around a 10 per cent increase in mortality during the London smog episode) applied to a large city population. So the more people who are exposed in Morwell, the greater the overall health problem will be. We would also expect emergency hospital admissions to rise, especially for respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. Those at greatest risk are children, the elderly and those with pre-existing chronic disease. Pregnant women would also be advised to keep away from the smoke. Staying indoors or wearing masks does not offer complete protection from some of the smoke particles, which can be tiny and easily penetrate inside homes. If I lived in the area I would move my family away until the fire was out.”
Urging Moreland Council to Go Fossil Free and divest
The City of Moreland Council is pro-actively working at increasing energy efficiency, reducing waste and reducing carbon footprint. But there is still much that can be and needs to be done at the local Government level, including progress on planting an urban forest to help counter the urban heat island amplification of heatwaves and reduce Moreland’s high social vulnerability to excessive temperatures.
The Council also utilises the facilities of the Commonwealth Bank which has invested, along with other major Australian banks, in the Abbott Point coal port infrastructure. Abbott Point will increase the export capacity of coal from new coal mines in the Galilee basin in Queensland and increase shipping through the Great Barrier Reef adding extra pressure on an already fragile reef ecosystem which many tourism operators depend upon. Climate Action Moreland have a petition to urge Moreland Council to divest banking with the Commonwealth Bank, and indeed any bank with major interests in fossil fuels. Market Forces have investigated which banking and financial institutions have investments in fossil fuels and which take a more ethical stance. It’s time for Moreland Council to commit to going Fossil Free.
Images of our stall at Sydney Road Street Party
Thankyou to all our old supporters who came up to us and asked what we are doing and reconnected and the new people who added their names to our mailing list. See below a few photos from our stall on the day taken by John Englart.