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.
Welcome to the February 2014 edition of the Climate Action Moreland Newsletter.
A lot has been happening for climate activists since the Abbott Government came to power in September 2013. We urgently need to get climate change back on the political agenda, and build public support for Australia to take strong action on climate change.
Now more that ever, we need all concerned residents to work together to build this support. Climate Action Moreland (CAM) has several events organised. We hope you can join us.
CAM Planning Session: How should Climate Action Moreland work in 2014 to address the climate change emergency?
Monday Feb 17, 2014, 6.30 – 8.30 pm.
Join CAM to review 2013 and consider how we can best work in 2014. The Edy Castle offers generous dining options before 6 pm.
Venue: The Dining Room, Edinburgh Castle Hotel, 681 Sydney Rd (crn Albion), Brunswick
More information: Mark 0432 030 211 SallyRose 0431 445 930
Sydney Rd Street Party: Sunday March 2, 2014, 12 noon to 6pm
CAM is having a stall. Come and join us to help spread the word about climate change. Our stall will be south of Glenlyon Road on the east side. If you can help out for an hour or so, please let us know. Contact SallyRose 0431 445 930 or Michael 0400 054 134
Consultation with Moreland City Council on Community Climate Action Plan: Wed 12 March 2014, 6.30-8.00pm
Moreland City Council is developing a plan to map out Moreland’s strategy for climate action to transition towards zero net greenhouse gas emissions across the community by 2020. This consultation gives CAM members an opportunity to share their ideas with the Council.
Venue TBA. Please contact Mark 0432 030 211 or SallyRose 0431 445 930 or check out our Facebook page.
You can also do the Moreland Council’s survey on climate action before Feb 28.
There are many more activities for climate activists
Sustainable Living Festival: Big Weekend, February 14-16, 2014
Federation Square. There will be lots of stalls and talks related to climate change. For more info see SLF website
Moreland Community against the East-West Tunnel (MCAT): Rally on Sunday March 30, 2014 from 1pm.
Corner of Wilson St and Sydney Rd Brunswick (opp Barkly Sq)
CAM is working with a range of other community members to campaign against the proposed East-West Link and in support of better public transport. Moreland City Council is also supporting this campaign.
Fast, frequent and accessible public transport – powered with renewable energy, of course – is a vital part of addressing climate change. The anti-tunnel campaign has galvanised much of Melbourne. This is a great opportunity for climate activists to promote public transport as a local climate solution. MCAT meet on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at 6:30pm at Temple Park Senior Citizens Centre, Hodgson St, Brunswick, and are running community stalls around Moreland to collect signatures and build support. For more info see the MCAT facebook page or contact Sue on 0413 377 978, Michael 0417 354 169,or Riki 0400 877 819
March in March Melbourne, Sunday March 16, 2014 from 12 noon
Starting at State Library of Victoria
The March in March is planned as a peaceful, non-partisan citizen’s march to protest against the current government’s policy decisions that are against the common good of our nation. People will be marching in support of a range of issues. The federal government is axing a range of climate change policies. This is a great opportunity for climate activists to spread the word: we need to build public support for strong climate action!
For more info see the March in March facebook page
Meeting of Grassroots Climate Campaigners
Climate campaigners including members of CAM met on February 2 to discuss building collaboration among climate groups and related campaigns. 47 people braved Melbourne’s searing heat to attend. Next two meetings are scheduled for Sunday 2 March 1-5pm and Sunday 6 April 1-5pm. For more information contact Jane at ozemail.com.au
Fossil Free Campaign – Divest from fossil fuels
Go Fossil Free Australia is part of a global campaign aimed at moving public institutions’ and individuals’ money out of fossil fuels and into clean energy. The campaign is targeting super funds, banks, educational and religious institutions and government. It is asking institutions and individuals to ensure that they do not put their money in banks and other financial institutions that invest in fossil fuels. Have you suggestions about local institutions that can be encouraged to divest from fossil fuel? For more info go to their website or contact Michael on 0400 054 134.
Addressing climate change impacts in Moreland
It is clear that the climate is already changing, and Australia is getting hotter. Even if we stopped emitting carbon now, we are likely to experience increased warming. The recent heat waves gave us a taste of what future summers may be like.
Local government can play a strong role in protecting people from some of the immediate impacts of climate change. Some ideas are providing respite centres during heat waves, and reducing the urban heat island effect. Suburbs that have lots of paved areas and little vegetation can be several degrees hotter than suburbs with lots of trees.
CAM would like to collect ideas on what Moreland City Council can do to protect local residents from some of the impacts of climate change. We will be starting this discussion on the Climate Action Moreland website. Please join us and send your ideas. Or Click here to send us your ideas in an email
Following the recent heat wave, CAM members approached a Moreland Councillor about the Council providing relief centres for vulnerable people during heat waves. As a result, the Council passed a motion to investigate use of local buildings to be used as heat refuges next summer. For more details, see our Facebookpage.
Keep in touch with CAM
Keep in touch at http://climateactionmoreland.org/ or climateactionmoreland at gmail.com or Find us on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/groups/climateactionmoreland/ Follow us on Twitter at @camoreland. Or call SallyRose at 0431 445 930
The Premier Denis Napthine warned Victorians that 100,000 premises may lose power during the extreme heatwave due to demand on the state’s electricity grid. Thank you Premier, for your incompetence at managing electricity generation in Victoria.
Climate scientists have been warning of the increased frequency and intensity of heatwaves, with a long term trend of increasing temperatures and 2013 being our hottest year on record. (See this 2009 study by Alexander and Arblaster – Assessing trends in observed and modelled climate extremes over Australia in relation to future projections (PDF))
Much of the electricity system is about managing peak demand through ensuring adequate generating capacity in the network. Victoria’s continued reliance on aging brown coal fired generators with impediments to diversification through renewables has let down the electors and residents of Victoria, badly. We are now seeing the results of poor climate and energy policy at the state level.
Currently 13 billion tonnes of brown coal is being considered for allocation by the Napthine Liberal National Party state Government, despite the impact of this in carbon emissions on climate change and increasing temperatures and extreme weather. As well as the allocation of coal licences, $90 million of Federal and State subsidies are also up for grab. Does subsidising brown coal make sense when we should rapidly be transitioning to renewables?
Climate Action Moreland members attended this rally. More information from Environment Victoria No Coal Exports webpage.
Wills Federal MP Kelvin Thomson spoke out strongly against the Coalition’s Carbon Price Repeal Bills on Monday 18 November 2013, while the Federal Government lead by Prime Minister Tony Abbott was trashing Australia’s international reputation at CHOGM and at United Nations Climate talks in Warsaw.
Thomson was elected by citizens of Wills with a strong mandate on carbon pricing and to take strong action on climate change. Watch his speech in parliament below:
Since the election Kelvin Thomson has published two climate change related statements. The first, on the debate within the ALP on whether to fight against the repeal of the Carbon Price (September 19, 2013) and associated clean energy package.
The second statement, Wild Weather But Climate Action Grinds to a Halt (October 18, 2013) was input into the discussion around extreme weather and climate change raised by Adam Bandt’s tweet in relation to the unusually early and intense Sydney Bushfires in the Blue Mountains in October.
I had the priviledge of interviewing Kelvin Thomson at his electorate office in Coburg prior to the September 7 election as part of my citizen journalism coverage of the seat of Wills. Find below the verbatim transcript of the part of my interview dealing with climate change and related questions.
John Englart: You are obviously very concerned about climate change, so I have a couple of questions about that. So you actually do personal things? You have a solar hot water system? solar panels?
Kelvin Thomson: I had all the solar panels and all that stuff installed in my house, and then I moved house towards the end of last year. I’ve got to retrieve that…I have got plenty of rainwater tanks installed in the new house, I’m going well on that front, but there are a couple of things I have to put in place. Lack of time as much as anything proves to be a barrier but I do belive in those things. I do believe that solar panels are environmentally the right thing to do and are good for households over time. I am a strong supporter of that, and I’ve managed to get away without things like clothes dryers, dishwashers for most of my adult life and I think that we do have an individual responsibility to try to reduce or to contain and manage our carbon emissions. It is no good telling the rest of the world to cut your carbon emissions when we are not doing that ourselves.
John: China and the US have indicated this year that they are increasing their actions to limit their emissions. Do you think Australia should be considering lifting our targets from 5% on 2000 levels by 2020. I think there was a leaked report of the Climate Change Authority was considering lifting the target to 15 per cent.
Kelvin Thomson: We have said that we will look at more ambitious targets, subject to what other countries are doing and that will have to be an ongoing consideration. I think at the moment the key thing is that we do get our emissions trending down because the regrettable realty is we’ve been talking about action on climate change for a very long time. But each year those emissions have been going up. That is the thing that has to change. We have got to get the emissions coming down and once we get the trajectory coming down it seems to me yes we can do better.
I have advocated ambitious climate change targets. I advocated an 80 percent reduction target in a report prepared by the Parliamentary Treaties committee which I chaired.
John: By 2050?
Kelvin Thomson: …No…. I need to go and check this John. 60 per cent by 2050 and I think the treaties committee was 80 per cent by 2050. It’s either 2050 or 2060? But the idea of having an ambitious climate change target I think is important. We are moving towards renewable energy at 20 per cent by 2020 target. That is proving to be very useful in my view. It is something that is driving a lot of the solar panels and wind turbines, geothermal projects and so on. And that is another reason I believe the Government is entitled to be re-elected, because if you get the Liberal Party in they will be working away undermining the renewable energy target.
John: Like the State Government with wind farm laws?
Kelvin Thomson: Exactly. The state government position on wind farms is outrageous. To give anybody a power of veto on any windfarm that they live within 2 kilometres of. You try matching that against residents in this area having a 2 kilometre veto over something like the East-West tunnel or the Brunswick terminal station upgrade or something like that. It is farcical and fanciful that the state government should endeavour to ringbark wind energy in the way that they have done.
But the 20 per cent by 2020 target is a good strong target and people in the renewable energy industry say to me that it has given them a lot of confidence to invest and to put serious money into renewable energy.
John: We have touched upon the refugee issue but with climate change, there is a World Bank report out recently that a lot of South East Asia, South Asia are going to be affected by rising sea levels. It is likely there are going to be movements of people. We are seeing some boat people now, but I think that in 20 to 30 years time it could be a lot more people, because there is going to be a lot of flooding of low lying areas.
Kelvin Thomson: It is a point I have mentioned myself in speeches gone by, John. It is one thing to think about a place like Tuvalu or Kiribas which maybe has 10,000 people, but that is one order of magnitude, but in Bangladesh my recollection is that 100 million people living in low lying areas, that is potentially subject to inundation. You cannot imagine Australia, you cannot imagine any other country in the world being able to deal with what can be termed climate refugees like that!
It seems to me that we have to… it is one of many reasons why we have to be serious in our response to climate change and be determined to reduce the level of carbon emissions in the world and have serious climate change targets. Otherwise, there is the risk of quite catastrophic outcomes. Tens of millions of people finding their homes uninhabitable, that is a catastrophic outcome.
John: I think our aid budget the Labor Party is aiming to get it up to 0.7 per cent of GDP? It is still not there yet. Do you think it needs to be raised?
Kelvin Thomson: We are quite some way from 0.7. The Labor Party has committed to get to 0.5 per cent by 2017/18. It is presently at 0.37 per cent. It is a $5.7 billion budget, and this year it is gong up by $500 million, and it will go up by $500 million basically each year to get it to the 2017-18 target.
We would all like to see the aid budget increased and I think the 0.7 target, the United Nations target is the right target, it is an appropriate target. But obviously we are in tight fiscal times and you can’t just do these things in the way you would like to. Australia increasing our budget by $500 million on a $5 billion budget is inceasing by 10 per cent, and it’s worth being aware the other OECD countries are on average reducing their budget by 4 per cent. So we are goung up by 10 and others have gone down 4, and I know that in the United Nations Australia is held in high regard in that we are increasing our budget and others are not.
I have had the good fortune to spend time at the UN and experience the goodwill that exists towards Australia and one of the things that drives that good will is that we are upping our aid effort.
Kelvin Thomson provided thorough answers (PDF) to questions on climnate change put to all candidates by Climate Action Moreland before the Federal Election.
During the election campaign three public forums were held and climate change was raised as an issue at all three. The first public forum was organised by Climate Action Moreland focussed on climate change. The second was on food security and agriculture at Coburg Farmers Market. The third forum was organised by Brunswick Uniting Church.
Three very different forums in which Thomson spoke strongly on the Labor Government’s carbon pricing and clean energy package. The Liberal candidate was absent from all three forums. The Greens candidate, Tim Read actually outpolled the Liberals after preferences making the Wills two party preferred vote between the ALP and Greens, a very select group of Federal electorates.
As has been shown this past week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has trashed our international reputation by rejecting the Commonwealth climate change risk fund at the CHOGM meeting in Sri Lanka.
Our reputation for constructive contributions to international negotiations at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is also in tatters.
Australia has won not one, but four Fossil of the Day awards, which are conferred each day by civil society NGOs at the climate negotiations.
The first rebuke came for Australia not putting forward any new finance commitments at the Warsaw negotiations. The second and third awards were for repeal of carbon pricing and abandoning neighbors on loss and damage.
The fourth award was given for a statement that obligations for new, predictable and reliable finance from developed countries are “not realistic” and “not acceptable.” This statement undermines one of the cornerstones of the UNFCCC: That developed countries due to their historic emissions have an obligation and commitment to provide funding for developing countries for climate mitigation and adaptation.
As Australian civil society observer Mim DiNapoli wrote from COP19 climate talks in Warsaw, “This isn’t just bad press. The refusal to step up to the plate will be remembered by countries around the world. Our absence of leadership, coupled with our unwillingness to listen to the struggles of the outside world, will continue to create holes in the fabric of progress in halting climate change.”
Climate Action Moreland member
Moreland Energy Foundation in conjunction with Moreland City Council are organising the forum.
It provides an opportunity to catch up with the many groups and individuals across the municipality working on sustainability issues from many different perspectives.
The event will also provide an opportunity for ideas and input into the creation of the Moreland Community Climate Action Plan being developed by Moreland Council.
An introductory session will use a 2 minute market process, allowing every person an opportunity in turn to speak uninterrupted and explain what they or their organisation are doing regarding environmental or sustainability activities, or areas they are interested in working in.
When: 9.45am to 1.00pm Saturday 30 November
Where: Coburg Town Hall – Concert Hall, 90 Bell St, Coburg (Entry at the back via Urquhart St)
Booking: Attendance is free but RSVP at MEFL website is required for Catering purposes
Lunch: Lunch Food provided free after the forum.
Moreland Council has achieved carbon neutrality this year, through programs of energy efficiency, installing solar PV on council buildings, cogeneration facilities at Leisure Centres, purchase of 100% greenpower and purchasing accredited offsets for the remainder. Council needs to continue finding ways to improve energy efficiency and to reduce emissions, and therefore reduce offset credits needing to be purchased.
The next step is to aim for the municipality to become carbon neutral. That involves you and me, our friends and neighbors taking action in our homes, local businesses and transport choices.
Moreland Energy Foundation held their AGM at the Coburg Court House on 29 October. Keynote speaker was Professor Lesley Hughes from the Climate Council who gave an outline of the work of the Climate Commission and the new Climate Council. It provides a serious challenge for all of us to make the changes needed in this the Critical Decade. Watch her presentation below:
The last forum was held in February 2012. It brought together 68 people representing 33 community groups or businesses. Two new groups actually formed out of the Greening Moreland Forum: ‘Walk on Moreland’ and ‘Friends of the Upfield Bike Path’. H
So come along and share your enthusiasm and inspiration with others! If you have leaflets or other information about your group, bring them along to share.
Some members of Climate Action Moreland will be attending. Come up and say hi!