How we dance with that elephant in the room

This was the week where the word ‘unstoppable’ melting of ice was introduced and sunk in – the fact that the ice at West Antarctica is melting faster than anyone had realised – and it is already around 20 years too late to do anything about this.

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Scientists at the US space agency Nasa say the study of 19 years of satellite data reveals the ominous news that the melting glaciers of West Antarctica have passed the point of no return as the southern hemisphere gets warmer.

Point of no return – unless of course we really would all of sudden begin to understand the seriousness of this planetary emergency and not only stop all burning fossil fuels within a decade, but also extract so much carbon out of the atmosphere that we get the carbon-levels back to where they were in the 1970s. Something which at the moment, when we take a look around, seems like it is not going to happen. Climate action, for some strange reason, has not exactly become a mass movement.

But why is that, actually? Have we already forever lost the possibility to be speaking with a clean conscience when – in the decades to come – we talk with our children about this issue? Wouldn’t we at least like to be able to tell them that we did all we possibly could to try and avoid these dangers of climate change and global warming?

In The Sustainable Hour on 21 May 2014 we talk with the president of Geelong Sustainability Group, Dave Campbell, about these urgent questions which a group of young, local citizens from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition also raised to federal MP Sarah Henderson the day before.

We also talk about two great, local projects – the Greenways Project of planting 60,000 trees, and the Connecting to Country Aboriginal Arts Festival – and about the new ‘Climate Adaptation Manual for Local Government: Embedding Resilience to Climate Change’ which the City of Greater Geelong’s Environment Department have helped shape. More about this below.


• Guest in the studio: Dave Campbell, Geelong Sustainability Group [7:36–23:20]

• Phone interview: Katja Nedoluha, Connecting to Country Aboriginal Arts Festival  [23:27–40:33]

• Pre-recorded interview: Pete Johnston, the Lions Club of Geelong Breakfast [4:23–7:35]


Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 26:

» To open or download this programme in mp3-format, right-click here (Mac: CTRL + click)


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No-Gas – The Final Solution for Bentley Anti-CSG Blockade
Published on youtube.com on 28 April 2014.


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The ‘Greenhouse Mafia’

“People aren’t playing fair, and you’ve got to realise that this is a battle,” says Dave Campbell, president of Geelong Sustainability Group.

“It is time to get serious and to look into the ethical side of things. We want to ensure that the people who come after us will be able to flourish and live a good life. Unfortunately, there are people blocking change and blocking climate action. These are key people who want to hang on to their existing industries. So simply to be pointing to the economic benefits of a transition to clean, renewable energy isn’t enough. We need a combination of saying, ‘There are economic benefits’ and at the same time really to start tackling the ethical side of these questions as well.”

Dave Campbell mentions a book written by Guy Pearse, ‘High and Dry: John Howard, Climate Change and the Selling of Australia’s Future’. Guy Pearse used to be in the Liberal Party, and he had the inside knowledge. He called these key people who want to hang on to their existing industries a ‘Greenhouse Mafia’ – the group of people who stood to profit from status quo – companies which dealt in petroleum or mining, or profited from coal, or used a lot of energy – who were happy to see things go the way they were.

“Even though it sounds incredible to us, Guy Pearse was basically saying that these people were prepared to block serious action against climate change because it suited their business interest. So, we need to come to terms with this: There are some people there who are making unethical decisions to try and continue the status quo, and I honestly don’t understand how they are able to live with themselves and look their children in their eyes.”

» ‘Greenhouse Mafia’ actually has its own Wikipedia entry with some interesting links and information:
www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_Mafia


“ABC exposed this corruption of Australia’s democracy in the Howard era with the 4 Corners program in 2006: ‘The Greenhouse Mafia’:”
www.abc.net.au/4corners


Audio excerpt from this Sustainable Hour

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Pete Johnston: About the Greenways Project
Pete Johnston explains why the Lions Club of Geelong Breakfast is involved with treeplanting and the Greenways Project.

[Download audiofile]

City of Greater Geelong National Tree Planting Day is on Sunday 27 July 2014.
» Project set-up seeking volunteer groups to join:  geelongcity.vic.gov.au

TheGreenwayProject_Geelong

» City of Greater Geelong:
The Greenway project

» Geelong Advertiser, page 5, on 20 May 2014:
Pathway to a greener Geelong



“Time to take climate change talk seriously”

“As I drive into work past the various farming properties around Geelong you can’t help but pay attention to what is happening and wonder how these changes are effecting our farmers and what changes are coming and how well we are prepared to deal with these climactic extremes. (…)
I would imagine that around the big corporation’s boardrooms across Australia and the world there will be growing discussion about risk management, threats to revenue and growth and asset protection as the growing rate of data and evidence regarding climate change starts to be confronted. For Governments questions are far more serious around the sustainability of farming systems, food production and the mitigation works and strategies which will be needed to be put into place to deal with rising sea levels and ongoing permanent shifts in weather patterns. If the sea rises as predicted the future movements of tens of millions of climate refugees will make our current boat people situation look like an afternoon tea party.”

Michael Martinez, chief executive officer of Diversitat, in Geelong Advertiser on 22 May 2014:  ‘Time to take climate change talk seriously’



Topics we also talked about in The Sustainable Hour

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Australian Youth Climate Coalition

On 20 May 2014, representatives from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition together with GSG; ATA; surf coast councillors and City to Surf Solar Plus presented their open letter to MP Sarah Henderson:

Dear Sarah Henderson,
As voters and community groups in your electorate, we are writing to ask you to commit to taking the ambitious actions outlined in the Safe Climate Roadmap.

Australians are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, with communities facing more extreme heatwaves, rainfall, fire weather and droughts. The past 12 months have been Australia’s hottest, breaking over 123 weather records and sparking the earliest ever start to the bushfire season.

If we don’t take strong action now, the science is clear: our destabilising climate will have a huge and irreversible impact on Australia’s prosperity, health, wellbeing, and environment.

But climate change is not just a threat, it’s also an opportunity. Australia is one of the biggest polluters and exporters of coal and gas in the world but as one of the sunniest and windiest countries, we can transition to 100% renewable energy in just 10 years if we put our minds to it.

This is why Australians overwhelmingly support ambitious action on climate change, and why we’ve put together the Safe Climate Roadmap a plan to protect our climate for this generation and future generations. We are asking you to
commit to policies which will:

● Reduce our carbon pollution in line with the science
● Transition our energy to 100% renewables within 10 years
● Move Australia beyond coal and gas

Across the country, Australians are already working in their communities to secure a safe climate future. Farmers are protecting their land from coal and gas projects, more than one million Australians have solar panels, churches are
moving their savings out of fossil fuel investments, and firefighters are calling for emergency climate action.

As signatories to this letter, we are pledging to join this movement and make the Safe Climate Roadmap a reality. We hope you will do the same.

Signed,



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The Victorian government believes in coal

The Victorian government are so unwilling to see what the rest of Victoria saw after the fire in Hazelwood – that coal is dirty and dangerous – that they have now thrown $50 million at new coal projects for the Latrobe Valley.

“For the last four years the government has ignored their own State of the Environment report, ignored the impacts of burning brown coal and most recently turned their backs on all the benefits of energy efficiency, this week cutting Victoria’s Energy Efficiency Target and 2,000 jobs in the process,” wrote Mark Wakeham, acting CEO of Environment Victoria.

Sydney Morning Herald – 16 May 2014:
$50m for brown coal projects
Two new brown coal projects, backed with $50 million from the state and federal governments, are set to be unveiled in the Latrobe Valley. The grants come just days after the federal government axed the Australia Renewable Energy Agency and cut money for carbon capture and storage development in the federal budget.


Friends of the Earth – 16 May 2014:
Friends of the Earth slams $90m subsidy for Advanced Lignite Demonstration Project
Friends of the Earth today condemned the state and federal governments’ decision to allocate a $90 million subsidy towards the Advanced Lignite Demonstration Project. By Cam Walker

Environment Victoria – 16 May 2014:
Napthine and Abbott Governments maintain quarry vision and put coal before communities
The State and Federal Government’s decision to hand over $50 million of public money to speculative private coal projects in the Latrobe Valley has been condemned by Environment Victoria as dangerously irresponsible.

Business Spectator – 21 May 2014:
Napthine protects utilities from the demand doldrums
The Victorian Government has announced that it intends to abolish the Victorian Energy Saver Incentive Scheme, also known as the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target, or VEET. The scheme will run for one more year with its target slashed from 5.4 million tonnes of CO2 abatement this year to 2 million next year.

“Incredible to what extent the Liberal party throw capitalist economic principles out the window when they choose. If anyone has any illusions that decisions are made for any other reason than lining the pockets of the corporate rich ‘mates-club’ and not the efficient/productive functioning of the capitalist economy, it’s probably time for a re-think.”
Trent Hawkins




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Climate Adaptation Manual

climateadoptionmanua_cov250The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government has published a manual to councils about how they can address climate change risks. It is mean to assist Australian councils with climate risk assessment and planning activities, and it highlights the City of Greater Geelong’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.

City of Greater Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons is quoted by the publishers as saying that “Geelong has identified and will continue to assess exposures to climate change impacts such as an increase in heat waves and many kilometres of coastline that may be impacted by sea level rise.”


Media release from City of Greater Geelong on 14 May 2014:

Geelong Council features in National Climate Manual

The City of Greater Geelong’s Environment Department have helped shape the latest Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government’s Climate Adaptation Manual.

The Climate Adaptation Manual for Local Government: Embedding Resilience to Climate Change was released today in NSW.

City of Greater Geelong Councillor Andy Richards who holds the portfolio for Environment said he was proud the manual highlights three Geelong case studies.

“The City of Greater Geelong have lead the way in climate change initiatives and being featured in this manual means other Councils around Australia will learn from our City’s effective strategies,” said Cr Richards.

“This provides another way for us to get the climate change message out to the public. It’s all about creating awareness and educating people.”

The three case studies from the City of Greater Geelong featured in the Climate Adaptation Manual for Local Government include the following:

1. The Development and Implementation of the City of Greater Geelong’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy

2. Development of Sustainable Communities Infrastructure Development Guidelines to assist development in Geelong consider and respond to climate impacts.

3. The Development of a Climate Change Adaptation Toolkit for Local Government Planning and Service Delivery.

All local governments in Australia are encouraged to follow the manual as a guide. You can download the manual via the links below.

 

 

In Focus: Local Resilience to Climate Change

The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government writes about the new resource that “the manual highlights leading case studies and practical resources from Australian municipalities and overseas, and includes a step-by-step framework for effectively embedding climate risk into council operations. The resource will be useful for council staff involved in climate risk assessment and planning such as asset managers, strategic planners, and corporate and community services staff.

The ACELG Research Partnership Scheme project was undertaken with local councils from all Australian states:

City of Canada Bay (NSW), City of Randwick (NSW), Pittwater Council (NSW), City of Greater Geelong (VIC), City of Port Phillip (VIC), City of Melbourne (VIC), City of Townsville (QLD), City of Onkaparinga (SA), City of Clarence (Tas) and City of Greater Geraldton (WA).

In launching the resource the City of Canada Bay Mayor, Angelo Tsirekas said his council recognised the challenges and impacts of climate change on Australia:

“Our commitment to the environment starts at the top with innovative strategies, developing partnerships and working together with key stakeholders to realise this vision,” Mayor Tsirekas said.

“I am confident the manual will become a practical tool for other local governments to make practical and important changes to protect their environments and communities.”

ACELG Director, Associate Professor Roberta Ryan, welcomed the project:

“This resource addresses a gap about translating existing research about climate change into practical guidance for the benefit of all councils locally. A concerted local capacity is vital to respond to and lead communities about adapting to climate change.”

A workshop hosted by the City of Canada Bay (CCBC) after the launch allowed a number of local government professionals to experiment in applying a number of ‘how to’ steps from the manual to their local council circumstances. Staff of CCBC also outlined the approach taken in enabling change and increasing climate resilience in its local government area.

 

Downloads (PDF):

» Climate Adaptation Manual for Local Government: Embedding Resilience to Climate Change – Volume 1, Report

» Climate Adaptation Manual for Local Government: Embedding Resilience to Climate Change – Volume 2, Case Studies

» Media Release



“Timely” publication

ACELG writes: “The development of the Climate Adaption Manual is timely. Findings from the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report called Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability suggest efforts by the Australian public sector in building capacity to respond have been strong yet there are differences in methods and a ‘weakness’ in translating goals into specific policies. The IPCC report also suggests that the absence of a consistent information base and guidelines that ‘clarify governing principles and liabilities’ is a challenge for some Australian councils.
» Read more

The ACELG Manual aims to remedy some of these challenges, acknowledging that local circumstances and internal organisational resources will vary greatly in ensuring a council is both adaptable and resilient when it comes to climate change issues.

To effectively use the resource it is recommended that councils follow a four-step review framework to decide where and how to further embed adaptation measures across council operations.

This process would begin by reviewing their initial climate adaptation activities, that is, identifying organisational strengths and weaknesses, together with successes and difficulties encountered in addressing climate risk to date.”


Four-step process for utilising the ACELG Climate Adaptation Manual to embed climate risk into a council business

A number of case studies relevant to this this process are provided, such as embedding processes, lessons learnt, and tools. One of many examples covered in the Manual is from the City of Greater Geelong.

“The City of Greater Geelong’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy has provided a clear statement of intent and framework for our organisation to address climate change risks,” said City of Greater Geelong Mayor, Darryn Lyons.

“Geelong has identified and will continue to assess exposures to climate change impacts such as an increase in heat waves and many kilometres of coastline that may be impacted by sea level rise.

“Key to the success of the Strategy has been the involvement of all areas of Council from the fellow Councillors Executive Management Team, corporate planning, to managers of our many Council assets and community services.”

ACELG and the project partners welcome feedback about this new resource and encourage local governments across the country to consider its use.”



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Two years of inaction has cost the world $8 trillion

While some councils – such as the City of Greater Geelong, as can be read in the section above – now are busy preparing themselves for the consequences of climate change, little is being done to actually tackle the source of the problem: our collective carbon emissions. When it comes to this, the last two years of inaction is now reported to have cost the world US$8 trillion, writes New Scientist.

The longer we wait to take action on climate change, the more it costs. The World Bank says damage and weather-related losses around the world have increased from an annual average of $50 billion in the 1980s to nearly $200 billion every year over the last decade. And the price societies and citizens are paying for the political inaction will only keep rising now, every year.

Add to this that the International Energy Agency recently reported that “We can save $115 trillion in fuel costs by 2050 if we move away from dirty energy.”

The International Energy Agency estimates it would cost the world $44 trillion to end our fossil fuel addiction by 2050 and switch to clean energy. So the net savings of $71 trillion still makes it worthwhile to switch over to climate-friendly energy source, in particular if we would like to reduce the dangers of a runaway climate catastrophe.

What is important to understand is that plummeting prices for solar panels and wind turbines mean that the barriers for an energy revolution of this sort are not financial or technological — they are political. They are the result of fossil fuel industries and outdated utility companies desperately fighting against the forced obsolescence of their assets.


» Grist – 13 May 2014:
End fossil fuel burning, save $71 trillion — and preserve civilization as we know it
High gas prices got you down? Your problems are a tiny fraction of those faced by our whole fossil fuel–addicted global society. A new report from the International Energy Agency considers the cost of remaining hooked on antiquated, polluting, and climate-changing energy sources. Article by John Upton


» Business Spectator – 15 May 2015:
74% generation – Germany’s record renewables day
Electricity prices again dipped into the negative during Sunday’s record while Germany’s first quarter renewables generation rose from about 24% to 27% of the market.


» Reuters – 20 May 2015:
Dell introduces new packaging, takes greenhouse gases out of the air and builds PCs reusing plastic from recycled electronics

“No Security Without Energy Security”
16 former admirals and generals, America’s former military leaders, conclude in the study ‘National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change’ that the impact of climate change is being felt faster than expected and compared the challenge of climate change to facing the Soviet nuclear threat in the Cold War and to terrorism in recent years.

» See on  www.military.com

Climate News Network – 15 May 2014:
Climate worries insurers and military



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Survey: The Divestment movement is showing good results

The divestment movement across the world is a triumph: The number of investment managers offering fossil-free portfolios to clients increased by over 50% in the past year, demonstrating a growing interest in divestment among investors.

Investment managers are increasingly offering fossil-free portfolios to their clients, a new survey finds. The survey was completed by 587 investment professionals. 36% indicated that they now offered investors the option to explicitly exclude the fossil fuel industry from their investments – up from 22% in 2013. The findings show a growing trend of investors turning away from oil, coal and gas.

» www.sriconference.com (PDF)

Stanford Student Movement Inspires University’s $18.7 Billion Divestment From Coal
» www.ecowatch.com



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The power of blockading: Bentley in NSW

A victory at the protest campsite established by citizens against a Bentley gas drilling proposal: Energy Minister Anthony Roberts has suspended Metgasco’s drilling permit on a farm at Bentley in Northern NSW.

The cancellation is in regard to insufficient community consultation and helped defuse a major police operation organised for early next week to remove thousands of protesters from the front of Robert and Peter Graham’s farm.

Official figures showed that 87 per cent of locals opposed the mine.

NSW Greens mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said Thursday’s announcement is a huge win for the Lismore community.

» See on:  www.dailytelegraph.com.au



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Over 24 sustainable hours of listening online

You can listen to all of the radio shows in full length as well as in selected excerpts. Use the links below. You will also find links to more information about the topics and sites that have been mentioned during the hour.

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