In Australia, one of the world’s first political parties based on a climate agenda has been founded and is heading for elections there with a bit of a mission on their shoulders. They promise their voters to save the planet. And that is even the name they have chosen for the party: ‘Save the Planet’.
Adrian Whitehead. Photo by Mik Aidt
By Mik Aidt. Published on 14 May 2013. Updated on 1 September 2013.
“Climate change is pretty much like cancer: by the time you are feeling the impacts it has taken hold. However just like many serious cancers we can still treat it if we act fast. The treatment will not be easy, it will require a complete rebuilding of energy, transport and agricultural systems, and drawing down past emissions, but this will give us our best chance of surviving. The good news is that the technology we need is here today. The bad news is even if humans were to disappear today the earth has already passed some tipping points that can only be reversed by deliberate human action, and so the Earth is now on a path to a five degree warming, a disaster for most of the other species on earth. We are here to stop that happening!”
The other day, I met this man who says he is going to save the planet. He gave a speech, a part of which you just read. Now, if you meet a man who tells you he wants to save the world, it usually should make you wary. So did Hitler, and a variety of emperors and madmen through history. But as international climate talks have failed, global carbon emissions from fossil fuels keep rising, and climate change threatens the safety of our children in the future, I am actually beginning to think that our world could use some kind of a ‘Climate-Gandhi’ or a ‘Luther King of our time’ who would rise to the challenge and lead humanity to an emancipation of its fossil fuel dependency. Someone who is not an activist or a scientist, but a politician working from inside the political system.
Enter Adrian Whitehead. A 42-year-old Australian who has set up a ‘Save the Planet’ party as a grass roots, national political party for the Federal 2013 election there.
And don’t laugh, it is not a joke. Australia is on the front lines of climate change because of its geographic location – this big, sunny and dry island near the south pole with 23 million inhabitants.
In the last decade, several European countries have seen land-slide elections with new parties coming to power by carrying forward just one single-stringed agenda: taking a stand on immigration laws. With climate change becoming the most pressing issue of our generation, could taking a strong stand on this particular issue have the potential to cultivate similar political landslides?
Voters at the ‘carbon frontier’ could be ripe. Recent heatwaves, raging bushfires, hurricanes and flooding have been a stark reminder of Australia’s particular vulnerability to extreme weather events. But it is not as simple as that. Climate politics in Australia is a very diverse landscape with very sharp contrasts.
With ‘Save the Planet’ Adrian Whitehead intends to continue to run candidates at all levels of government, and campaign between elections. “And so far things are going well,” he stated: “We have our draft website, three candidates who want to run, and memberships are starting come in. But we need more.”
I am writing to you from a city which has been certified ‘carbon neutral’ as part of its undertaking to become one of the world’s most sustainable cities: Melbourne. At the same time, this is a country which measured per capita is the developed world’s largest carbon polluter – with every citizen responsible for around 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, which is more than four times the world average.
There are now over a million houses with solar panels on the roof in this country. There is a strong environmental movement of numerous NGOs and institutes, activists, campaigners and city council officers all advocating for an energy transition towards renewables. And the government has implemented a carbon tax, which they claim has done wonders in reducing emissions, and which certainly in a global perspective is far more efficient than for instance the European carbon trading system, which the EU parliamentarians recently dealt a deathblow to.
But even so, everyone here except the government seems to think the carbon tax has been pretty useless so far, and mind you, this is the same government which hands out 10 billion Australian dollars every year in subsidies to fossil fuel companies. Currently, there is a petition running against that.
Australia is the globe’s biggest coal exporter, and ‘mega-mine’ plans in Queensland for more extraction are identified as the world’s second biggest ‘carbon bomb’ threatening runaway global warming, wrote two Australian professors in an article recently.
Climate science: ‘crap!’
The election is due on 7 September in Australia, and the opposition leader, Tony Abbott, who recent polls say is likely to take over government, is known as a complete ‘climate denier’ who dismisses climate change science as ‘crap’. He basically believes climate change is a hoax and promises to repeal the carbon tax system as soon as he is in seat. He has also promised to repeal a tax on mining activities.
Australian mainstream media gives full exposure and microphones to the ‘climate sceptics’, the protesters against wind farms and carbon tax, and those who say climate change is a scam. Many Australians actually have the possibility to get electricity powered by 100 percent renewables in their households, but they tend not to choose it because it costs a few cents extra per kilowatt hour.
The Australian private sector appears to give very little consideration to the impacts of climate change. “Climate leaves corporate Australia snoozing,” an article from Climate News Network states it outright. And according to a report from April 2013, Australian companies are allegedly, quote: “paralysed by short-term profit-first thinking”.
So this is Australia. A land of sharp carbon policy contrasts among a people divided by strong opposite opinions. The issue of climate change is likely to become a key issue in the public debate leading up to the federal elections.
Adrian Whitehead speaks at the Sustainability Showcase in Melbourne. Photo by Mik Aidt
“If we want to prevent catastrophic climate change, we have to reverse the warming and cool the planet down. Everything we need to do this is available to us now.”
Adrian Whitehead, Australian environmentalist and political campaigner
Lack of leadership
I met Adrian Whitehead at a so-called ‘Sustainability Showcase’ event in Melbourne on 21 April 2013, which had a high concentration of engaged personalities set on various missions to save the planet.
Adrian Whitehead’s strategy stood out because he wants to use the elections “to educate the public about how serious climate change is,” as he formulated it, and to promote the solutions that he believes actually have a high chance of saving us.
“By doing this we hope to drag all the major parties to our point of view,” he said, while explaining that he is specifically motivated by what he see as weak policies of the Greens and major environment groups over the last tens years:
“These policies will not save us from a 5°C degree temperature rise. There is a lack of leadership on this issue. We will fill that gap. Obviously, before we can save the planet, we will have to first save Australia – to make Australia into a nation which leads by example in the carbon emissions questions, and then help others along the way as much as we can.”
As the 15th largest carbon emitter in the world, larger than 180 other countries, Adrian is convinced that the outcome of Australia’s internal ‘Carbon Battle’ has the potential to become influential in a global context.
Denial, apathy and activism
When it comes to our reactions to climate change, Australians are not much different from anyone else. We all fit well into one of just three different categories.
Either you don’t want to hear me say one more word about that so-called ‘climate change’, because you are convinced that climate change is a hoax. At least it is not something humans have caused with carbon emissions. So, ‘Save what?’ According to statistics, every third person belongs to that group.
Or – you are aware that climate change is real and happening, but – my God! – what can we do about it? We can only hope for some technological invention to come and save us in the twelfth hour. Energy makes the world go around, and we need more and more of it, so with the amount of money to be made in the fossil fuel industry to stop drilling after oil and digging up the coal is not an option. It is beyond what you and I, or our nation, are able to do anything about, so – what good should it do to even worry about it? This is group is by far the largest.
A growing amount of people in this group are beginning to prepare themselves for the melt-down, the apocalypse. They are learning how to grow vegetables and raise chickens, they move out of town to live in small communities where you don’t need a car. When ‘the shit hits the fan’, as they term it, they want to create resilient and sustainable communities where families can survive from their own locally grown food with solar panels on the roof, ‘off the grid’.
And then there is a third category of optimists and idealists who still keep their hopes high and who will not just give up without a fight. The most dedicated of them have started to use civil disobedience to raise attention to their cases. Like the six Greenpeace activists who recently boarded a fully-loaded coal ship as it left the Great Barrier Reef on the way to South Korea to demand a stop to Australia’s coal exports. Or like biologist, author and mother Sandra Steingraber who along with 11 others blocked business at a gas storage facility near Seneca Lake in the U.S., and was sentenced to 15 days in prison for trespassing.
“I trespassed. It was an act of civil disobedience. Because I have deep respect for the rule of law, which [the gas] company does not, I am willing to go to jail,” she said to the court before her sentencing. The first five days, when she was kept in 24-hour lock-up, she had no access to her children. “But I am convinced the tears of my children now will be less than their tears later – along with the tears of my grandchildren – if we mothers do nothing and allow the oil, coal and gas companies to hurtle us all off the climate cliff,” she wrote in a letter from prison.
“It is time now to play the Save the World Symphony. I don’t know what instrument you hold but you need to play it as best you can and find your place in the score. You don’t have to play solo here, but this is our task now. In the same way that my father at age 18 was shipped off to Italy to fight Hitler’s army. It was the task of his generation to defeat global fascism – and at the time he was sent it looked like an overwhelming job. The Thousand Year Reign. It didn’t look good for our side, but never the less – that was the right thing to do. And my father — even though he suffered his whole life from what we would now call post-traumatic stress disorder — was ever proud of the role he played. And so, at this point in our history, it is the environmental crisis that is the great moral crisis of our age. And in that I don’t want to be a ‘Good German’. I don’t want to be so paralyzed by Well-Informed Facility Syndrome that I don’t look around me and see the signs of harm. I want to be one of the French Resistance. I want to be the people who stand up and say: ‘This is not right. No matter how difficult this is to change, we are going to have to change it’,” said Sandra Steingraber, explaining her role in inspiring others to protect children from environmental toxins and climate change in the one-hour tv programme Moyers & Company on 19 April 2013.
Anti-coal activists in Australia brag of successes: In Newcastle they appear to have managed to stop the expansion of the world’s largest coal port. In Western Australia, they stopped plans to build a gas hub, and companies have been pulling out of coal seam gas operations across New South Wales. The small town of Bulga in the Hunter Valley won a court appeal to block a new coal mine. The Uniting Church of New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory announced they are ‘divesting’, as it is called, from the fossil fuel industry, which means: they are selling their stocks and shares in oil, coal and gas projects as part of a global campaign to ‘go fossil free’.
The Australian Coal Association responded with an article in the newspaper The Australian reminding the readers that the coal economy has a value of 60 billion Australian dollars and provides 181,000 jobs in the country, and that “phasing out coal-mining means turning off the lights, while phasing out coal exports means turning off other people’s lights and economic growth.”
Many of “the others”, however, are busy investing in renewables as an alternative to the Australian coal. And that includes China, which currently burns 46 percent of all the world’s coal.
In particular the country’s neighbours in the Pacific who are at the real ‘front line’ of climate change. The very existence of low-lying island states such as Kiribati is threatened by sea level rising within the next decade, and Australia should be the first country to formally recognise climate change refugees, stated the country’s main refugee advisory body, the Refugee Council of Australia, on 17 April.
Viewers of Australian news channels and readers of the printed press might think the country is awash with climate scepticism, but professor Joseph Reser of Griffith University has conducted a very extensive and detailed surveys, asking 7,500 Australians about their attitudes to climate change, and it showed that the vast majority of Australians accept the science: climate change is happening and humans have a hand in it.
After four years of declining interest in the issue, the renewed warnings from the World Bank, the International Energy Authority, the IMF, leading investment and consultancy companies, every national science body and every state meteorological authority on the planet, even the Pentagon and the Australian Defence Force, about the dangers of carbon emissions, climate change is increasingly becoming a public concern again. Civilians in thousands are turning into bloggers, lecturers, or campaigners, and a stream of online petitions have started to reach politicians at all levels with messages such as ‘End the Age of Coal’ – ‘Go Fossil Free’ – demanding that the World Bank end its support for all fossil fuel projects – asking the Australian government to stop handing out AUS$ 10 billion a year in subsidies to fossil fuel companies – or asking the American government similar requests.
A coalition of 40 large US companies committed to “stabilizing our planet’s fragile climate” asks you to sign a ‘Climate Declaration’, while Carbonfund.org encourages you to click once every day on their site to generate funds to the fight against global warming. You can endorse ‘The Earth Charter’, a global movement to achieve sustainability. Or sign a ‘Climate Change Letter’ from the People of the Earth to the United Nations’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,
requesting him to act “judiciously and expeditiously to protect the Earth from anthropogenic climate change”.
And I could go on. Clearly, there is something sizzling at the moment among citizens – and voters – in many countries around the world. Adrian Whitehead is not alone in hoping that we can still save the planet.
In America, President Barack Obama and his allies have decided that climate change is a mainline political issue, and the campaign which he launched on 11 April against climate change denial may well help push this momentum forward. And this new mainstreaming of climate politics could quickly lead to a turning point where a broad-scale climate awareness movement begins to escalate, and where a popular uprising from the bottom-up begins to play a role in politics. It has a potential to eventually become a defining factor not only in Australia, but in the coming elections around the world.
Political party programme
Apart from himself, the two other candidates in Save the Planet so far are Dean O’Callaghan, 36, who runs the Good Brew Company, and Philip Sutton, a long time climate emergency campaigner and co-author of the book ‘Climate Code Red’.
“We’ve got good people behind us but we need more. It is a lot of work to run an election campaign and we need lots of help on election day.”
In terms of getting the Australians fired up, according to Adrian Whitehead, it’s just a lot of “boot work”, everything from door knocking, social media, to postering:
“We need to get the message out there. The difference between the Save the Planet campaign and other mainstream climate messaging is that we will be explaining how serious the issue is and what the real solutions are, and for example not pretending that a five percent carbon tax is going to help in any meaningful way. We will also be pitching the full strength climate message to three distinct political tribes: left-green, middle of the road, and right wing. There’s no logical reason why right wingers should deny the climate problem or go for weak policies. We believe our agenda is as appealing to the right as to the left, and that this approach will encourage people to act because they will see that a new, strong political consensus can emerge.”
But… ‘Save the planet’, really! Do you think people are going to take you seriously with a party name like that?
“Listen, we are faced with a simple choice. We either act to prevent catastrophic climate change – or we allow climate change to continue to get worse and worse until the very system we depend on begins to collapse, resulting in social break down, death and war, and an end to most species on earth. If we want to prevent catastrophic climate change, we have to reverse the warming and cool the planet down. Everything we need to do this is available to us now. We can rebuild our national grid and transport systems to run on 100 percent renewable energy, we can draw down atmospheric carbon by planting trees and making biochar [charcoal produced by heating organic material at a high temperature to lock carbon into the soil], we can reduce methane by eating fewer cows and sheep. We need to this as fast as possible, and we are here to make it happen.”
“In health communication you learn that when someone is dying or is very sick with a disease, you need to balance a serious message with a serious solution. If you don’t balance them, people won’t act. So when we say, ‘Climate change is coming, it is going to wreck the world’, you also need to say, ‘…and here is how we can fix the problem.’ The bottom-line is: climate change is going to get worse, and eventually it will click, people will understand what we are talking about, and then we need to have the solutions in place to be able to act quickly. The effort that we can make is about bringing that point forward, when that occurs, while all the people in the fossil fuel industry are interested in is trying to push that date back. That’s the game.”
Save the Planet party needs 550 members by beginning of June 2013 to be entering the elections. On 14 May 2013, they had registered 170 members and 30 supporters.
Save the Planet’s home page is found on: www.voteplanet.net
You’ll also be able to meet them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/voteplanet
“If we fail there will be death and destruction”
Adrian Whitehead, 42, has been campaigning on environmental issues since 1989. He has run campaigns such as Zero Carbon Australia and Target 300, and was co-founder of Beyond Zero Emissions. Adrian Whitehead is now dividing his time between his family, climate campaigning, researching solutions to global warming and working on and teaching permaculture at a property in the Otways.
Asked why he is doing this, Adrian replies:
“I have always been motivated to act in a positive way for the benefit of people and the environment we live in. It is something I decided to do when I was 12. Climate change represents the most serious threat we face. If we fail there will be death and destruction at an unprecedented level. But it is also a great oppertunity to break the cycles of war and poverty that have dominated human history. I truly believe through the threat of climate change something wonderful could arise.”
Adrian Whitehead has run several times for the Greens in the past. He helped establish a couple of Greens branches and served as Victorian Convenor during that time. He has also been a member of the Young Liberals.
“My time in the Greens was both good and bad. Good in the early days to see lots of great people trying to make a better world and bad towards the end because as the Greens became more powerful, the party changed and the people changed too. Things started happening within the party that were decidedly un-Green, ultimately resulting in my leaving. These lessons I will take into the Save the Planet party so we hopefully won’t make the same mistakes.”
A short video clip of Adrian Whitehead speaking at the seminar in Melbourne on 21 April 2013 can be seen here:
Adrian Whitehead’s bio: www.voteadrian.com/bio.html
Hi friend, thought you might like to know about a new political party I am helping set up called Save the Planet. We are seeking to provide real leadership in the climate emergency, in terms of identifying solutions and strategies needed to avoid a climate catastrophe – focusing on the Federal 2013 election.
Our goal is to create the space where political parties can start implementing the solutions needed to avoid a social and ecological disaster as a result of climate change.
We need your help getting 550 members so we can register as a political party. Please check out our website for more information and to sign up if you can.
Please share this post!”
Philip Sutton. Photo by Luke Taylor
Going for the right wing seats
Philip Sutton, 62, is the manager of Research and Strategy for Transition Initiation, a small non-profit that “develops strategy to spark a full-scale transition to a sustainable economy at emergency speed” – which corresponds well with the political strategy of Save the Planet’s party programme and its single-stringed agenda.
Philip Sutton doesn’t think the climate issue can be tackled effectively through politics-as-usual or even reform-as-usual:
“At the moment we are caught in a trap where community groups and political parties with a high level of public engagement are not prepared to say what needs to happen to restore a safe climate at emergency speed. Some are scared of frightening the public, so they play down the threats. Some don’t want to be vulnerable to criticism for being too ‘out there’. And some can only be strong when they tackle a single issue – as for instance stopping coal exports – but they won’t talk about the need to rebuild the whole economy.
It’s a wonderful liberation to be part of an organisation that can offer full strength leadership and to be expected and encouraged to say what really needs to be done. Nothing more and nothing less. No exaggerations for dramatic effect or ambit claims for tricky political leverage. And no wimpish watering down. Just the straight-from-the-shoulder truth.
I think that the Save the Planet Party can give people a realistic reason for optimism in difficult times. That’s because we are prepared to stand for policies that will avoid at least 90 percent of the terrible impacts of climate change that will occur if we stick with weak and ineffectual policies.”
In a sense, The Save the Planet party has both a narrow and wide political focus, Philip Sutton explained to me:
“Action to solve the climate emergency and to achieve sustainability will effect most of the things we do in society. So in that sense our approach is very broad. But we are deliberately not trying to take on a full spectrum of issues as most other political parties, including the Greens, do. Our prime goal is education and pressure from within the political process – so keeping our core climate emergency message crystal clear is really important. Our role as the Save the Planet Party is ‘education through leadership’, rather than just ‘education through advocacy’.
Early in the piece people might see us as being too narrow to warrant voting for. But those voters who understand how to use the proportional voting systems will realise that they can vote for the Save the Planet Party as number one and then vote two for a broader party that matches their general political preferences.
If the Save the Planet party were to take on a full spectrum of issues, we would inevitably put half the population off on any controversial non-sustainability issue that we touch – so a whole bunch of people will be less likely to want to believe us on our core messages about climate and sustainability.
If we can help to create widespread awareness of the need for emergency climate action, then it is quite possible that we could eventually ramp up votes for Save the Planet candidates to the 10 percent or 20 percent level where the flow on of our voters preferences to other parties could be vital.
The first party to decide to “steal” our climate emergency policy position is likely to be the Greens, but it might still be a couple of years before they do that. And even after the Greens do that, they will have most traction in certain limited demographics – the inner city areas and the areas exposed to sea level rise, flooding or draught.
In the meantime the Save the Planet Party can be building awareness of the need for emergency climate action in the conservative Labor seats and right wing seats, where the Greens are less popular.
If a Laborist and a popular right wing party then “stole” our policy position, we’d be squeezed out of a key role, but if that happened we would have achieved our prime goal anyway – of getting society across the political spectrum to take on climate emergency action and sustainability.”
Philip Sutton’s bio: www.green-innovations.asn.au/ps-bio.htm
Thinking climate into beer, fun and festivals
“I’ve always wanted to make a big difference,” says Dean O’Callaghan – an ideas man in charge of Good Brew Company, founder of the ‘carbon minimised’ festival Fest la Frog, and now also a co-founding member of Save the Planet party.
Dean O’Callaghan, 36, graduated from an RMIT Computer Systems with a Computer Science double degree in 2000, but he became quickly frustrated with the lack of social traction his chosen career afforded him. He quit his job and travelled in Europe teaching English instead.
After six years of creating and teaching lesson plans with social and environmentally progressive content – Nigerian oil disasters to Shell employees, IMF meddling in third world politics to Deutsche Bank – he decided it was time to come home and be a social entrepreneur in his birth town, Melbourne.
Serendipitously, his dad bought a micro brewery shortly before he arrived home. A quick tour of the brewery showed it had too high carbon emissions and too poor market penetration to be sustainable.
A social enterprise, ‘The Good Brew Company’ was born, not just to enhance his dad’s brewery, but with a plethora of deeper objectives: “I wanted to promote Victoria’s struggling microbrewery industry, to educate the public about good, chemical free brews, and most importantly, to enable people to drink beer in the most sustainable manner possible,” explained Dean O’Callaghan: “First of all by placing solar panels on local breweries, and also by eliminating single use packaging from the consumption cycle. We put solar boosted beer into kegs, onto bike and into reusable cups.”
Whilst pushing the envelope on the holistic sustainability of beer, Deano – as his friends and colleagues call him – noticed the horrendous environmental impact of music and arts festivals. But he was soon to realise that the big breweries don’t like sharing bar space at their festivals, and organisers of events like Big Day Out, Meredith and Pyramid Rock Festival showed no interest in improving their carbon footprint. So, instead Deano initiated a new ‘carbon minimised’ festival: Fest la Frog.
Fest la Frog. Photo from the festival’s Facebook page
Australia’s greenest music and arts festival, now in its third year, has its big shebang during the first two weeks of every year, including four days of free permaculture, transition and well-being workshops. Two solar powered stages on a beach 90 minutes by public transport from Melbourne, a mobile bar, no single-use packaging, all the food is biodynamic, grown on site on an organic farm.
When Deano was asked to join the team at Save the Planet, he jumped at the chance.
“I see great things coming for us. At the very least, we will do for the Greens what Pauline Hanson did for both the Labor and liberal parties. It is about raising awareness for the greatest threat to humanity, ever! Or at least since the equivalent of a cosmic butterfly could have flung our planet an extra couple of million kilometres closer or further away from the sun as our solar system was formed,” he says.
Fest la Frog: www.festlafrog.com
Good Brew Company: www.goodbrew.com.au
Mik Aidt is a freelance journalist and an independent sustainability blogger, editor of climatesafety.info and culturefutures.org, and a contributor to sustainablefutures.info
If you’re looking for information to guide your conversations and your vote, there are a stack of fantastic organisations and resources out there, including:
- WWF’s Election Scorecard on how the parties rate on Reef protection and climate change
- Care2’s overview of the challenges Australia faces going into the election
- The Climate Institute’s Pollute-o-Meter which ranks the major parties’ policy responses to climate change
- The Australian Youth Climate Coalition’s analysis of how the parties stack up
- Solar Citizen’s solar scorecard which shows where your MP or candidate stands on renewable energy
- Vote Climate’s summary of where the major party’s stand on climate
- This article by Professor Ian Lowe on the urgent environmental issues that should be at the forefront of our minds as we head to the polls
CLIMATE EMERGENCY PETITION
Save the Planet Political Party writes: “Please consider signing and passing on this link to a petition to Australia’s political and community leaders calling for the creation of emergency plans for the restoration of a safe climate.
It’s time that our leaders took the climate emergency seriously. Some have fallen asleep at the wheel and others are actively blocking effective action. The tiny handful who know that much more is needed need more support and encouragement. We have already entered the era of dangerous climate change and are heading towards the era of catastrophic breakdown.
But even at this late stage, it is still possible to restore a safe climate (with pre-industrial temperatures). We can still avoid over 90% of the anticipated impacts — but only if emergency speed action is taken to create a zero emissions economy and to take the excess CO2 out of the air.
For too long, too many people have been promoting low and slow emissions reduction targets as if this could do the job. It’s time to get real. To push our leaders out of their rut. To provide leadership ourselves.”
| Sign the petition: thepetitionsite.com
UPDATE 21 JUNE 2013
On 21 June 2013, Adrian, Phillip, Deano wrote this e-mail message to the members and friends of Save the Planet:
We got really close to getting the needed 500 members to register as a party for the coming Federal election — 385 members by last Friday and over 100 friends (supporters).
Thanks for all the sign-up comments and support — they were great.
The practical effect of missing the deadline are that:
• Save the Planet candidates won’t be able to have the party name against their names on the ballot papers for the 2013 Federal election but they can stand as ‘independents’.
On the positive side
• we have a very solid base of members and friends to drive our campaigning;
• we will reach the needed 500 members within a month or so and will be able to register for all subsequent federal elections.
Given that we missed the registration deadline, it’s now on to plan B.
We are legally entitled to campaign as an unregistered party, so in the next couple of weeks we’ll start ramping up our Save the Planet campaigning in the community.
Save the Planet’s work has three main purposes:
• to provide leadership in the climate emergency
• to educate the public
• to provide political and economic leverage to accelerate our move to a safe climate.
Our first strategy for doing this is to initiate the development of climate emergency plans aimed, in the first instance, at local councils and communities as we door knock and reach out to our electorates.
We’ll be in touch with details about how to be involved shortly.
Other things we have on the go are organising our first run of T-shirts through Etiko a fairtrade and sustainable good manufacturer. Members and friends will be ask to pre order a T-shirt to help us increase the size of the run and reduce costs.
Candidates and members are heading to two events outside of Victoria in the next few weeks, the Climate Summit in Sydney, and the Students of Sustainability conference in Launceston to network and promote the campaign and party.
We also have two more prospective candidates looking to run in Victoria — more welcome.
We are continuing to developing a range of election campaign support materials which you can access here — www.voteplanet.net/resources.html
You will also notice we have updated the images on the website.
By the way, if you were on the verge of sending an email to your friends asking them to join Save the Planet, please do as we still need more members. http://www.voteplanet.net/join–donate.html
Thanks for all your help to date.
UPDATE 11 NOVEMBER 2013
On 11 November 2013, Adrian Whitehead wrote this e-mail message to the members and friends of Save the Planet party:
Dear Members and Friends,
Save the Planet team has taken a short break since the Federal election but are now getting back onto the critical task of communicating the climate emergency message.
It was a great first election campaign with 6 candidates running, supported by a great group of enthusiastic volunteers. Lots of lessons were learnt and we are looking to be in a much more effective force at the next election.
Unfortunately we were not able to get the needed 500 registered voters to become members in time to register as a party. This was the low point for the election campaign with a seeming reluctance by people interested in the issue of climate change to support a dedicated climate focused political party; something that other interest groups such as the motoring enthusiasts, sports enthusiasts, the climate sceptics, and numerous Christian groups don’t seem to have.
On the upside, despite a falling national vote, the Greens were able to hang on to the seat of Melbourne with Adam Bandt and an incredibly well resourced campaign winning the seat without Liberal preferences. The Greens, no longer in a power sharing arrangement with Labor, were immediately on the front foot on climate change, using the recent NSW fires to link climate change to the threat of future catastrophic fires, creating a significant media stir, wrong footing the Federal Climate Minister, and moving the mainstream environment movement to take up the call.
On a more sombre note, as this newsletter is being written the most powerful typhoon ever recorded, Super Typhoon Haiyan, has just passed the Philippines and is a bout to hit Vietnam, yet the world and Australia is still dragging its feet on acknowledging the threat of climate change and taking meaningful action.
Save the Planet – National Campaign Manager
FED Election 2013 – How We Went
At the Last Federal Election we ran 6 candidates, all in the State of Victoria.
Our candidates received primary votes ranging from 0.22% to 2.25%. In the seat of Wills well known local identity, Dean O’Callaghan, got our highest vote supported by the number one billing on the ticket.
In the seat of Melbourne, were Frazer Kirkman competed for the climate vote in a large field of candidates and against an incredibly well resourced campaign by Adam Bandt, he got 0.22% of the primary vote.
Two of our most well organised campaigns were run by our Bendigo and Kooyong teams with Dan Abikhair getting 0.59% of the primary vote in Bendigo and Tiffany Harrison getting 1.67% in Kooyong.
Dan’s team put on quite a professional campaign including a range of videos. You can see his videos here njfoon.wix.com/bushyforbendigo#!video/c65q but if you want to see his “Vote Beard” go straight to youtube.
Philip Sutton in Darebin received 0.81% in the seat of Batman while Adrian Whitehead received 0.75%, which was a reasonable result given we did not hand out any how to vote cards on the day in Corrangamite.
Our best result for any booth was in the Corrangatmite at the Queenscliff booth, where Adrian Whitehead got 4.94% of the vote. The reason for the result here was that Adrian was given the opportunity to speak a well attended community forum in Point Lonsdale. Each minor party candidate was given a significant amount of time to make their case allowing Adrian to present a strong case of voting for action on climate change.
Feedback from the Batman Greens scrutineers suggests that Save the Planet attracted its vote from a diverse range voters based on the preference flow from people who put us number one, suggesting we are appealing to people right across the political spectrum,
Where to now….
Given this was out first run at election there almost a limitless list of improvements that could be made, however here are some of the important ones we are looking to improve upon.
1. Registration as a political party
We failed to get the numbers to register as a political party prior to the Federal election. This places a huge burden on each candidate and their team with each candidate gathering more than 150 signatures in order to register. We will continue to increase our number of members and register as a Federal party as soon as have a solid list to submit.
2. More candidate in more states
We will look to run senate candidates in all states and as many lower house candidates as we can resource.
3. More intensive campaigns
We will seek to build the intensity of our campaign to improve our vote and get the climate emergency message out.
4. More booths filled
Critical to increasing our first preference vote is having more booths covered on election day. This usually means as a minimum two people per booth for the full day. There literally thousands of booths to cover so we need every bit of help we can get on election day.
We can always do with your help.
The core goal of Save the planet is to bring forward the date where Australia and ultimately the world begins to implement the suite of climate emergency solutions and one of the ways we are going to achieve this is by getting the message out there about the climate emergency we face and the solutions we can implement.
We are in a race against time, vested interests opposing solutions to climate change and the general unwillingness of our community to face the more difficult issue that confronts our society. Any help you can offer with our campaign to Save the Planet will be most appreciated.
Please consider keeping November the 29th free to help at the next Victorian State Election on election day, or come to one of meeting and get involved.
I you are wanting to get involved please remember we are a completely volunteer run organisation run by people balancing work, family and business commitments so you may need to help us help you get involved.
100% renewables – what’s new? – Beyond Zero Emissions
Three key researchers in the field will explore recent advances in modelling of 100% renewable energy scenarios for Australia
Since the ZCA Stationary Energy Plan was launched in 2010, two new studies have come out examining the feasibility of 100% renewable energy in Australia, both confirming that it is technically feasible and economically broadly comparable to business-as-usual in cost. One of these studies came from an academic team at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), while the other was completed by the organisation in charge of keeping the lights on for 90% of Australia’s electricity market, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), with input from CSIRO and some of Australia’s leading energy consultancy firms.
Dr Jenny Riesz is a postgraduate research associate with the Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets (CEEM) at the University of New South Wales. Jenny’s research examines high penetration renewable power systems, with a particular focus on the design and operation of electricity markets. Much of her recent work has been expanding on the UNSW and AEMO 100% renewable analyses to understand the cost implications and market changes required. [jenny.riesz.com.au]
Tim Forcey is an engineer with extensive experience spanning several decades in the energy sector. Recently he was involved in the AEMO 100% renewable study managing the consultant teams undertaking the most detailed mapping yet of Australia’s renewable energy resources. He currently works with the Melbourne Energy Institute.
Patrick Hearps was one of the lead authors of the ZCA Stationary Energy Plan, and with both the Melbourne Energy Institute and Beyond Zero Emissions has examined the findings of all three 100% renewable energy studies, and the policy settings required to accelerate uptake of renewables.
Time: 6:30 – 8pm Monday 11 November 2013 *
Fritz Loewe Theatre (entry via level 2)
University of Melbourne
Cnr Elgin & Swanston Streets, Carlton
*Note: Event has been delayed 1 week due to Melbourne Cup day
Entry: Gold coin donation
Victorian Election Campaign Getting under way!
Save the Planet has commenced its Victorian Election campaign with the announcement of Dean O’Callaghan as our candidate for Brunswick.
Other candidates are preparing to run in several other upper and lower house seats.
Our first campaign meeting for the Northern Melbourne campaign, including the seat of Brunswick is being held at CERES on the Dec 3, from 6.30 to 8.30pm in the Multicultural Classroom
New Meeting Venue
Save the Planet has booked a the Multicultural Classroom at CERES environmental park in Brunswick East to now host most of meetings.
Meetings of Save the planet are now listed on our new “How to get Involved Page” on our website.
Emergency Plan Campaign Underway in Darebin
The Save the Planet is joining forces with Research and Strategy for Transition Initiation Inc. (RSTI) to develop Climate Emergency Plans for local government areas. The Climate Emergency Plan is a plan to workout what would needed to achieve a climate emergency footing in the Council of Darebin and how we would create the needed to support to achieve this. The second part of the process is actually implementing the plan, both in terms of building the support base and implementing actual physical and systematic solutions identified.
Our first public meeting on the Darebin plan is on November the 19th from 6.30pm to 8.30pm at CERES in the Multicultural Classroom.
At this meeting we will be working though the highest level of the plan and introducing the key concepts for new members and interested people.
See our campaigns page for more information.
NEW Monthly Social Meetings
At our NEW monthly Social Meeting key teams within Save the Planet report back in an informal setting follow by a relaxed social catch up. Great opportunity for new members to hear what is happening and to find out how you might be involved.
125 Smith Street Fitzroy
National Day of Climate Action
Help send a message to our politicians that we need more action on climate change. Save the Planet will be at the Melbourne rally with a stall, signs and handing out leaflets in the crowd. If you want to support Save the Planet at other rallies please get in contact.
MELBOURNE – Treasury Place, 11am
SYDNEY – Prince Alfred Park, 11am
CANBERRA – Garema Place, 11am
BRISBANE – Queens Park, 10am
PERTH – Russell Square, 11am
ADELAIDE – Elder Park, 11am
HOBART – Parliament Gardens 12pm
DARWIN – Rapid Creek Footbridge, 8:30am
Plus hundreds of regional events
For details go to the below link .
Up Coming Meetings and Events
Nov 12 – Save the Planet – Action Meeting
Help Save the Planet prepare for the National Day of Action on Climate and catch up on our campaigns for new and current members.
Location – CERES Multicultural Meeting Room
Time – 6.30 to 8.30 pm
Nov 17 – Public Event – National Day of Climate Action
Nov 19 – Save the Planet – Darebin Climate Emergency Plan Meeting #1
Location – CERES Multicultural Meeting Room
Time – 6.30 to 8.30 pm
Nov 21 – Save the Planet – Social Meeting @ Grumpy’s Green
Location – Grumpy’s Green 125 Smith Street Fitzroy, VIC
Time – 6.00 to 7.00+ pm
Nov 26 – Save the Planet – Darebin Climate Emergency Plan Meeting #2
Location – CERES Multicultural Meeting Room
Time – 6.30 to 8.30 pm
Dec 3 – Save the Planet – Northern Metropolitan Region Election Campaign Meeting #1
At this meeting we will starting our Victorian election campaign. The meeting we start with an overview of what’s involved in the campaign, and then focusing on concrete tasks to be achieved over the next month.
Location – CERES Multicultural Meeting Room
Time – 6.30 to 8.30 pm
Dec 19 – Save the Planet – Christmas Party @ Grumpy’s Green
Come and celebrate a great first year of Save the Planet.
Location – Grumpy’s Green 125 Smith Street Fitzroy, VIC
Time – 6.00 to 7.00+ pm
We have a new page listing upcoming meetings and events.
Party to protect communities from coal seam gas mining
Australia also has a new political party forming specifically to stop Coal Seam Gas mining, CSG, and all other invasive unconventional gas drilling in the country. The party is called Stop CSG. While they’re very unlikely to win a seat they will make sure to hold the major political parties to account during the election campaign. The party writes on its home page:
“Coal Seam Gas mining, including the dangerous practice of fracking, is spreading rapidly across the Australian landscape. Unconventional gas mining is the ultimate in short term thinking: short term jobs and money will have an enormous cost on our communities and agricultural industries.
Multinational Coal Seam Gas mining companies move in on communities with little regard for the precious places that provide our homes and livelihoods and irreplaceable resources like clean water and fertile land. Fracturing of coal seams can damage aquifers and pollute groundwater with chemicals known to cause cancer, leukaemia and hormone disruption. The long term effects are unknown.
At present, farmers and other landholders have limited rights to negotiate with coal seam gas companies. State and Federal Governments of all political persuasions are failing on this issue. Regulation of the CSG industry is inadequate and poorly enforced. Time after time there have been incidents resulting in release of toxic substances into water, property values plummeting and fracturing of communities.
This is a critical issue for Australia’s future. Across the country an alliance of farmers and landholders, affected communities, health workers, environmentalists, families and people concerned about food and water quality from across rural, regional and metropolitan areas are joining together to demand protection from Coal Seam Gas mining.
So far, Governments have failed to protect landholders and our communities – so the Stop CSG party has been founded to stand up for our rights.”
Report by National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility – April 2013:
‘Climate change adaptation in the boardroom’ (PDF)
“Official Australia seems to be stuck in a bizarre state of denial, the kind where you acknowledge that you have a problem, but not that you need to do anything about it.”
“Individual changes alone won’t make the maths work. It demands structural shifts on a massive scale. The global coal, oil and gas industry, even before it opens new mines and drills new wells, already has more than five times as much carbon in its reserves as we can burn: equivalent to 2,795 gigatons of CO2 against the 500 gigatons even the most conservative governments would allow. We’re already deep in a hole, and the first rule of holes is that when you’re in one, you stop digging.”
“The only possible way to even hope to persuade the Indonesians and the Kazakhs not to pursue their own [coal] mega-projects is to show some restraint in the rich parts of the world, unleash entrepreneurs on a drive for renewables instead, and use the shift as a tool of aggressive diplomacy.”
• The Monthly – June 2013, No. 90:
How Australian coal is causing global damage
By Bill McKibben
• National Geographic – 24 May 2013:
Is Australia the Face of Climate Change to Come?
Extreme weather Down Under may foreshadow events on a global scale. By Matt Siegel
• ABC – 13 May 2013:
Preventing a carbon bubble crash
Investment in fossil fuel companies is becoming increasingly unpopular for environment-minded citizens and astute investors alike. By Simon Copland, ABC Environment
• Sydney Morning Herald – 10 May 2013:
Liberal Party discontent grows
Tony Abbott is facing growing discontent among his colleagues about his $3.2 billion Direct Action plan to combat climate change, a policy once described by Malcolm Turnbull as rubbish. By Jonathan Swan
• ABC Radio, RN Drive – 29 April 2013:
Is Australia betting on a carbon bubble about to burst? (audio file)
A new report is arguing that Australia’s coal reserves will become worthless if global governments fulfil their promises to limit carbon emissions. The Climate Institute and the Carbon Tracker Initiative warn that billions of dollars of taxpayer, superannuation and shareholder funds could be wasted in assets linked to unburnable carbon.
• The Guardian – 28 April 2013:
Carbon bubble makes Australia’s coal industry ripe ‘for financial implosion’
Much of the nation’s coal reserves will be worthless if world’s governments fulfil pledge to cap emissions, warns report. Article by Damian Carrington
• Moyers & Company – 19 April 2013:
Interview with Sandra Steingraber (video)
“It is time now to play the Save the World Symphony. I don’t know what instrument you hold but you need to play it as best you can and find your place in the score. You don’t have to play solo here, but this is our task now.”
• The Conversation – 18 April 2011:
Making hard decisions: it’s time to prepare for climate change
Change is happening, but who’s responsible for getting us ready? Article by professor Rod Keenan and professor Darryn McEvoy
• Treya Hooben’s Pinterest board ‘Save the world’:
Clictivism and campagins
• ‘The Earth Charter’: www.earthcharterinaction.org
• ‘End the Age of Coal’: www.greenpeace.org.au/action
• Support Carbonfund.org: www.care2.com/click-to-donate/global-warming
• Sign letter to Ban Ki-moon: www.yourclimatechange.org
• Letter to Wold Bank end support for fossil fuel:
• Australian petition ‘Paid to Pollute’: www.paidtopollute.org.au
• US petition ‘We are the clean 99%’: www.signon.org/sign/we-are-the-clean-99
The Critical Decade: Global Action Building on Climate Change
The Australian Climate Commission’s report ‘The Critical Decade: Global Action Building on Climate Change’ presents an overview of progress in international action on climate change since August 2012. The report also considers progress in Australia, as it is one of the 20 countries contributing most of the world’s emissions. They write:
“Australia is a major player and is important in shaping the global response to climate change.
• Australia is one of the most vulnerable developed countries to climate change and is already experiencing the impacts of more frequent and severe extreme weather. For instance, during the most recent Australian summer more than 123 heat, flood and rainfall records were broken. Australia’s global influence in averting these risks will depend on how effectively we implement policy solutions at home.
• Australia is the 15th largest emitter, larger than 180 other countries. This means that Australia has a responsibility to play its part and that Australian actions have a global influence.
• There have been significant developments in Australia, including:
◦ Greenhouse gas emissions have declined. Greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation in the period from June to December 2012 were the lowest since 2001-02.
◦ Australia’s renewable energy capacity almost doubled from 2001 to 2012. This year a significant milestone of one million households having installed solar photovoltaic panels was reached.”
Download the full report
Download the Key Findings from the report
Download the Images from the report
“Renewable energy is surging globally with solar PV capacity increasing 42 percent and wind 21 percent in just one year. With so much global momentum this is clearly the beginning of the clean energy era.”
Australian Professor Tim Flannery, the Climate Commission
The Solar Scorecard
Solar energy is on the agenda this election year. The community organisation 100% Renewable has developed a ‘Solar Scorecard’ so you can see where your local MP stands on renewable energy and how they compare on a number of key criteria. “Use it to help make sure that no matter who wins the election on September 14th, renewable energy wins as well,” the encourage Australians.