We think climate issues are important for the state election on November 29th for the citizens of Moreland. Here are the meet the candidate forums so far organised in Moreland covering the electorates of Brunswick, Pascoe Vale and Broadmeadows.
Attend them to meet the candidates, Don’t be shy, ask questions.
With the Federal Government effectively in denial on climate change, being shunned at the United Nations for our pitifully weak targets, and supporting expansion of coal exports. The Baillieu/Napthine State Government has also been backtracking on climate mitigation by: restricting wind farms, closing energy efficiency programs, reducing the solar feed-in tarriff to 8c per Kilowatt hour, allocating more brown coal licences, only a temporary ban on fracking and CSG to June 2015, building an $8 billion East West Link tollroad we described as climate madness, and no current State target to reduce carbon emissions.
The Liberals repealed the 20 per cent by 2020 target the Brumby Government set in 2012. Surveys have repeatedly found citizens of Victoria want action on climate change.
Our local Moreland Council are leading in tackling climate change by achieving carbon neutrality in 2012 and setting a community emissions reduction target of 22 per cent by 2020, setting in place a process to divest from fossil fuels, establishing heatwave strategy and urban planning, tree planting and trialing cool pavement technologies to combat the urban heat island effect.
A forum has already occurred at Coburg Farmers Market discussing agriculture and food security issues, but also including the impact of climate change on agriculture and food security. Labor and Liberal candidates chose to be unavailable or attend other events – a poor sign when food production and distribution and climate change are so important to discuss. See our report: Fair Food Forum at Coburg Farmers Market discusses agriculture and food security
We should demand equal climate action leadership from our state government representatives, Please attend. Listen. Ask Questions. Join the discussion.
Tuesday 11 Nov:
Fawkner Candidates Forum for seat of Broadmeadows. 6.15pm-8pm at John Fawkner Secondary College, 51 Jukes Rd, Fawkner
Broadmeadows candidates (so far):
Frank McGuire (Labor)
Jaime de LOMA-OSORIO (Greens)
Mohamed Hassan (Voice for the West)
RSVP to the event on eventbrite
Friday 14 Nov:
Brunswick Candidates Forum. Brunswick Uniting Church. 7.30pm.
Brunswick Candidates (so far):
Jane Garrett (Labor)
Tim Read (Greens)
Dean O’Callaghan (Independant – Save the Planet)
Stella Kariofyllidis (People Power – No Smart Meters)
Giuseppe Vellotti (Liberal)
As well as taking the lead with fossil fuel divestment, the other important climate change related item at Moreland Council meeting on 8 October 2014 was a tabling of a report on heatwave strategies including the feasability of council heatwave refuges. The report was initiated as a result of a resolution moved by Cr Bolton at the Council meeting in February 2014 (See my report: Moreland Council calls for greater heatwave emergency planning for Victoria).
Council Officers employed an outside consultant to prepare a discussion paper: Potential Risks and benefits of Different Responses to Heatwaves. The discussion paper was then used to write up a report with recommendations to Council.
The Victorian heat alert system and Victorian Heatwave Framework were developed following the 2009 extreme heatwave that saw 374 excess deaths attributed to the heat event. Initial money was also provided for Victorian Councils to develop their own heatwave response plans but there has been no subsequent funding to update or evaluate those plans. The State Government does provide a tool to help council officers review plans, but that is the extent of continuing State Government support.
Community registers located at police stations have also been funded to provide a support service to older, disabled or socially isolated and vulnerable people so that volunteers can ring them during heatwave events to check on their welfare.
The discussion paper emphasises that “a heatwave is not considered an emergency event under Victoria’s current emergency management framework and emergency provisions are not activated when a heat health alert is issued.”
This is a major failing of the current emergency framework on heatwave response in Victoria and has been highlighted in the latest Auditor General report. (See Victorian Auditor General: Heatwave Management: Reducing the Risk to Public Health tabled in Parliament 14 October 2014)
The discussion paper also identified that although most councils have now prepared a heatwave plan there is no central repository of these plans for comparative purposes. A literature search by Darebin City Council conducted in early 2014 on local government heatwave strategies found that there was little evaluation of strategies occurring, “Assessments of the feasibility, effectiveness and cost of different strategies could not be found, presumably because no evaluations have been undertaken to date.”
The nine points recommended by council officers in their report were adopted in full, but it was also identified by Councillors that these were not enough. An amendment was proposed with an additional point (Point 9) that the State Government be urged to activate emergency planning measures when the temperature reaches dangerous threshold levels, and that other councils also be encouraged to lobby the state government on activation of emergency planning measures for heatwaves and extreme heat events.
Councillor Sue Bolton said in a statement after the Council meeting:
“This is important because no state government has treated extreme heat as an emergency, deserving of emergency measures such as the setting up of heat refuges. The services say that there is no demand for heat refuges, and yet, people came to the Coburg Library to sleep in the daytime during the heatwave early this year because the couldn’t get any sleep in their hot houses.
There must be an acknowledgment of extreme heat on especially vulnerable people but also on all working class people, especially anyone on a low income. There are only so many times that you can go to the pub to cool down before you run out of money.
The state government’s emergency strategy regards shopping centres as cool places. But homeless people and other people who shopping centre management and security take a dislike to are routinely excluded from shopping centres. There still need to be heat refuges established.
The decision of Moreland council re heatwave strategies last night was a step towards recognising that climate change is already happening and the poorest people will suffer the most, regardless of whether or not they recognise climate change as a fact.”
The full motion passed at the Council meeting is below:
Cr Bolton moved, Cr Ratnam seconded that -
Council resolve to:
- 1. Continue all strategies and actions contained in Moreland’s Heatwave Plan and carefully monitor their effectiveness.
- 2. Investigate the introduction of the ‘Know Your Neighbour’ campaign as a means to build community resilience to heatwaves and other emergencies.
- 3. Approve an over expenditure of $10,000 to the Aged, Disability and Emergency Relief unit’s 2014-2015 budget to action the unbudgeted ‘Know Your Neighbour’ campaign if it proceeds.
- 4. Promote key community facilities as cool venues for respite from the heat during normal operating hours.
- 5. Ensure access to drinking water at key community facilities during heatwave periods.
- 6. Develop a Drinking Fountain Strategy to ensure adequate access to free water in the public domain.
- 7. Complete the trial assessment of the capacity of HACC clients to cope with heatwaves and develop further strategies to support this group, if needed.
- 8. Engage the community sector and business in planning for future heatwaves.
- 9. Advocate to the State Government to activate emergency planning measures when the temperature reaches the heat health temperature threshold for three days in a row (heat health temperature is when the average of the daily maximum and overnight minimum temperature exceeds the trigger of 30 degrees). In addition, to encourage other local councils to advocate to the state government to activate emergency planning measures when the temperature reaches the heat health temperature threshold for three days in a row in their localities.
- 10. Review the efficacy of all strategies following the 2015 summer and consider avenues for further action or review and report to Council.
Motion was Carried
The heatwave strategy is important for community climate adaptation. Council is well aware that much of the municipality has been assessed as having a high social vulnerability to extreme heat events.
A recent study by Loughnan et al (2013) assessed environmental, demographic and health characteristics producing a heat vulnerability index, then mapped the heat vulnerability of Melbourne and other Australian cities down to the postcode level. All of Moreland’s suburbs show up as high on the vulnerability index.
Moreland Council is also undertaking action to reduce the impact of the urban heat island effect that is amplified by climate change (Dan Li and Elie Bou-Zeid (2013)), primarily through planting trees to increase Moreland’s tree canopy to provide shade and increase evapotranspiration in urban areas.
In fact at the same meeting Cr Kavanagh moved a motion for Council to apply to the Federal Government, under the 20 Million Trees by 2020 Program, for funding for Council’s tree planting to re-establish green corridors and urban forests.
I have since heard that Moreland Council is also starting to investigate use of cool pavement technologies in a street trial to change the albedo (surface reflectivity) and/or porosity of pavemenents and road surfaces. Climate Action Moreland raised using cool pavement technologies in July: See Moreland Council cuts funding to Carbon Management Strategy
Auditor General finds critical deficiences in heatwave emergency response
The Moreland motion also sought to highlight the large deficiencies in State level emergency management of heat events. Co-ordination of heatwave emergency response has been neglected at the state level with poor governance. Even though over 500 people have died due to heat related events in the last 5 years, our politicians have failed to take the actions necessary to protect and keep safe the citizens of Victoria.
The Victorian Auditor General makes it clear there has been an abrogation of responsibility and strategic oversight when it comes to heatwaves and extreme heat events.
This quote from the Auditor General’s report highlights this lack of oversight:
The Heatwave Plan for Victoria is not a state-level plan. While Victoria has a State Tsunami Emergency Plan and a State Earthquake Emergency Plan, there is no equivalent state-level plan for heatwaves, despite the recognised significant risk heatwaves present to the state and to the community.
There were many critical gaps identified including: lack of clear governance arrangements with roles and responsibilities; variable quality of planning and preparedness; public health messages and warnings not always being well targeted; activation of heatwave plans was not well understood by agencies and applied inconsistently.
Heatwaves also increase fireweather conditions, with the result that agencies respond to the bushfire emergency neglecting the potentially greater health impact of heat-related stress and mortality. “There was no statewide, strategic view of the combined impact of the different emergencies.” said the Auditor General, in response to the Victoria Police who took issue with the report being critical of the different levels of response and co-ordination to bushfires and heatwave impacts.
Read more on the Auditor General’s report by David Reid: New report on heatwave management in Victoria
Watch the Victorian Auditor General’s video summary that accompanied it’s report to parliament: Heatwave Management: Reducing the Risk to Public Health.
Government failing in duty of ensuring a safe climate
The Baillieu and Napthine Liberal National Government has been disengaging from climate action over it’s full period through a number of measures including: constraining wind farm development, abolishing energy efficiency, reducing solar feed-in tariff, eliminating state emission reduction targets, failing to set in place programs to upgrade housing energy efficiency – all of which have actually increased the problem and placed citizens at greater risk in future from extreme heat events as they increase in frequency and intensity with climate change.
A peer reviewed historical assessment of the impact of heatwaves was published in June 2014 (Coates, L. et al (2014) which noted that since 1844 there is a lower bound estimate of 5332 heat associated deaths in Australia, about 55% of total deaths from natural hazards and by far eclipsing any other single hazard including bushfire.
The risk factors of heat related mortality are well known with the Coates study articulating “The most important socio-economic and physiological risk factors identified are age; pre-existing medical conditions; chronic mental disorders; medications; alcohol/narcotics; social isolation; low-economic status; homelessness and strenuous outdoor physical activities.”
The conclusion of this study, along with the Victorian Auditor General’s Report into heatwave management, raises a chilling reminder that our State and Federal Governments are failing in their duty of ensuring a safe climate and protecting citizens, especially the most vulnerable in our community.
“During the 2009 extreme heat event, Haynes et al. (2010a) observed that South Australian emergency, social and health services were unprepared and had to develop a response as the event unfolded. Victorian plans were still under development when the event struck: their response was also ad hoc. Most planning currently relies on reducing risks through information and education to influence and change public behaviour, and emergency response when an event unfolds. However, while public education and emergency management is important, long term risk reduction must also consider urban planning, building design, community development and social equity (Bi et al., 2011, Haynes et al., 2010a and PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2011). The dangers from extreme heat within Australia remain neglected, and fundamental changes will not take place until extreme heat is given the priority it deserves as Australia’s number one natural hazard killer.”
Coates, L., Katharine Haynesa, James O’Briena, John McAneneya, Felipe Dimer de Oliveiraa, (2014) Exploring 167 years of vulnerability: An examination of extreme heat events in Australia 1844–2010. Environmental Science and Policy. Volume 42, October 2014, Pages 33–44 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1462901114000999
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, (abstract), Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 201, May 2013, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JAMC-D-13-02.1
Loughnan, ME, 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
Moreland Council report: DSD44/14 HEATWAVE STRATEGIES (D14/275828) prepared by Director Social Development, Aged, Disability and Emergency Relief, tabled as part of Moreland Council Agenda for meeting on 8 October 2014
Victorian Auditor General’s Office (2014) Heatwave Management: Reducing the Risk to Public Health. Report tabled in State Parliament 14 October 2014
Originally posted on Confluence:
The Victorian Auditor General’s Office has released a report on heatwave management. The report examines the emergency management arrangements during the 2009 and 2014 heatwaves and recommends improvements in emergency management arrangements.
There were 374 excess deaths during the January 2009 heatwave. While there were 167 excess deaths during the January 2014 heatwave. Following the 2009 heatwave the Department of Health developed a heatwave framework to reduce the impact of extreme heat on public health. The lower number of deaths in the 2014 heatwave cannot be clearly attributed to the implementation of this framework. However, it is likely that the framework and collective efforts of all government agencies contributed to the reduced public health impact in 2014.
The report still identified key shortcomings in the response to heatwaves. “There needs to be greater clarity around…
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Climate Action Moreland members ventured to the Coburg Farmers Market on Saturday to shop, to chat with other Moreland residents about climate change, collect signatures on the Monster climate petition, and listen to candidates for the State Election in November 2014 speak at the Fair Food Forum.
Food security and agriculture are important subjects which we should all be aware of and asking our political representatives about.
Fair Food Week – 10 to 19 October – is organised by Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA). Michael Croft, AFSA President, described the occasion as “Fair Food Week encourages the general community to embrace local food production, purchase and consumption.”
All candidates for the seats of Brunswick and Pascoe Vale who had so far committed to stand were invited to speak, however the Liberal candidate for Brunswick cancelled the night before, Jane Garrett, Labor MP for Brunswick refused to attend, and Lizzie Blandthorn, Labor candidate for Pascoe Vale although originally agreeing to come then reneged and instead handed out red balloons and launched the Batman market near the Batman railway station.
But the forum went ahead with the Greens candidates Liam Farelly and Tim Read, Dean O’Callaghan from Save the Planet and Sean Brocklehurst from Socialist Alliance.
I am really astounded that both major parties refused to send anyone along to this forum. Food and agriculture is so important in our lives, and yet both the Liberal and Labor parties could not bother to provide some-one to represent their party and policies in this area. Climate change is already affecting agriculture from long and intense droughts, changes to rainfall patterns, more extreme weather events, and of course rising temperatures affecting crop yield and milk production.
Tonight the City of Moreland has become the first council in Victoria to rule out direct investments in fossil fuels and the first council in Australia to start developing a strategy to move investments away from financial institutions that fund fossil fuel developments.
It follows recent announcements from Industry superannuation funds HESTA and Local Government Super, statements from ANU and Sydney universities restricting coal investments, and decision by the Uniting Church in Australia and the Perth Anglican diocese to divest from high carbon fossil fuel and mining investments.
Local residents from Climate Action Moreland and 350.org were thrilled with the result at the council meeting, that Moreland Council is an Australian leader in climate action. This follows the launch of Moreland’s Zero Carbon Evolution program last Saturday to reduce community emissions by 22 per cent by 2020.
Over 1000 residents had signed a petition for the City of Moreland to make this decision to divest. The campaign also entailed a public meeting that attracted over 100 people on a cold and wet winter night, and outreach to residents and all councillors for this result to occurr.
Council motion on Fossil Fuel Divestment
Councillor Item – Proposed by Crs Samantha Ratnam, Lenka Thompson and Sue Bolton
In moving the motion Cr Thompson outlined the following, according to the minutes of the meeting:
Cr L Thompson advised Council that as part of its work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reflect its values in all areas it works in, the City of Moreland will seek to ensure that it is not investing money in ways that may directly or indirectly contribute to climate change. The City of Moreland commits to divest itself from the Fossil Fuel industry.
As well as avoiding direct investment in the fossil fuel industry, Moreland also recognises the role of many banks in financing new Fossil-fuel projects in Australia. For this reason the City of Moreland will work to change its banking practices to both minimise indirect investment in fossil fuels, and (where consistent with prudent financial management), direct other banking activities to institutions that do not fund fossil fuel investments.
Background: As part of its work to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions and reflect its values in all areas it works in, the City of Moreland will seek to ensure that it is not investing money in ways that may directly or indirectly contribute to Climate change. The City of Moreland commits to divest itself from the Fossil Fuel industry. As well as avoiding direct investment in the fossil fuel industry, Moreland also recognises the role of many banks in financing new Fossil-fuel projects in Australia. For this reason the City of Moreland will work to change its banking practices to both minimise indirect investment in fossil fuels, and (where consistent with prudent financial management) direct other banking activities to institutions that do not fund fossil fuel investments.
It is resolved that the City of Moreland:
1) Commits to not directly invest in any company for whom the extraction, production, refining, or distribution of fossil fuels forms a core part of their business strategy, nor in any company whose principal business involves providing infrastructure or services to companies previously mentioned.
2) Affirms its decision to limit the current financial services contract to three years and deny any automatic renewals to the present provider (the Commonwealth Bank) if it has not divested from Fossil Fuels at the expiry of the initial three year term.
3) That council receives a report by 28 February 2015 on:
a) fossil fuel divestment options
b) analysis on fossil fuel free investments available to council
c) Options and implications of divestment from fossil fuel
4) That the information generated in the report in point 3 (and pending consideration of the options and implications report by Councillors) be used to develop a fossil fuel divestment strategy by June 2015 that will include the following:
a) A summary of Council’s investments, financial services arrangements and loans
b) Strategies, actions and timelines of the best options to move council’s investments to financial institutions that do not finance fossil fuel projects
c) 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.
The motion was Carried 6/3
A Division was called and this is how our Councillors voted:
Cr Lenka Thompson
Cr Lita Gillies
Cr Sam Ratnam
Cr Helen Davidson
Cr Oscar Yildiz
Cr Sue Bolton
Cr John Kavanagh
Cr Rob Thompson
Deputy Mayor Meghan Hopper
Absent for vote:
Mayor Lambros Tapinos
Cr Michael Teti
Cr Sue Bolton explained the decision on Facebook the next day:
Last night’s council meeting took another step towards divesting from fossil fuel. There will be another two votes by council (February and June) before we can say that Moreland council has really divested from fossil fuel. Last night’s vote took us another step towards this goal. Six councillors voted in favour (myself, Lenka Thompson, Sam Ratnam, Lita Gillies, Helen Davidson and Oscar Yildiz). Three councillors voted against divestment (Meghan Hopper, John Kavanagh, Rob Thompson).
At the Coburg Carnivale, the Zero Carbon Evolution strategy plan was launched by Moreland Council Mayor Cr Lambros Tapinos, Wills Federal MP Kelvin Thomson and Brunswick State MP Jane Garrett. The strategy aims for community greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced by 22 per cent by 2020.
Cr Lambros Tapinos formally launched the plan saying:
“Zero Carbon evolution is a practical plan for how the Moreland Community can reduce our carbon emissions by 22 per cent by the year 2020. It was developed in a partnership between Council and Moreland Energy Foundation. If we can achieve the ambitious goals set out in this strategy the Moreland community will well and truly be on track to become a zero carbon city and do our fair share to respond to the challenges of climate change.
“Council has a proud history of action on climate change and has achieved carbon neutral status for our own corporate operations. We have done this since 2012. The Moreland Energy Foundation has over 13 years of experience at working with the Moreland Community to reduce carbon emissions. Zero Carbon Evolution signals a new era in community action on climate change in Moreland. Council and MEFL working in partnership are committed to work to support and assist the community in reducing their carbon footprint.
“I encourage each and every one of you to consider what you can do to play a part in creating a zero carbon city here in Moreland. Maybe it is putting solar panels on your roof, insulating your home or choosing to replace some short car trips with either walking or cycling, but we can all do our bit.”
Watch the speech of Cr Lambros Tapinos:
Also speaking after Cr Tapinos was Federal MP for Wills Kelvin Thomson who brought some international dimension to the subject saying the real significance at the UN Climate summit wasn’t the absence of the Prime Minister but the negotiations and statements from US President Barack Obama and the high level Chinese delegation on climate action.
The Moreland Transport Forum was held on Monday, just a few hours after Premier Denis Napthine signed the East West Link contracts. A few of us from Climate Action Moreland attended handing out our leaflet on East West Link being Climate Madness, and a climate postcard.
Andrea Bunting from our group submitted the following question to be asked at the forum. It was the most highly rated question.
With climate change, we are facing a hotter, carbon-constrained world. Currently during heatwaves we can experience power failures for public transport, unbearable heat in trams and trains, and buckling of train tracks. Dark roads also amplify the urban heat island effect; hence temperatures in our urban areas are much hotter, leading to increased deaths and illness. What will you to do (a) reduce dependency on fossil fuel usage in transport; (b) ensure that all transport infrastructure can deal with heat waves; and (c) reduce urban heat island effect from dark roads?
The question was asked slightly differently in person at the forum to all three candidates – sitting member for Brunswick Jane Garrett MP, Greens candidate for Brunswick Tim Read, and Liberal Party no 2 on the ticket for Northern metro region (Upper house) Gladys Liu.