Go fossil free – and tell your councillors to do the same

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“This is a dead duck,” say our guests. They are talking about the fossil fuel industry. However, it is obviously not quite dead yet, because as strange as it may sound considering the warnings about how global warming caused by carbon emissions threatens life on the entire planet Earth, the Australian government and banks keep pouring billions into keeping that ‘dying duck’ alive. What’s worse, they are using your money – your rates and savings – to do that.

The Sustainable Hour on 94.7 The Pulse on 23 December 2015 is all about divestment – about why it is both economically sensible and morally recommendable to move your money away from the ‘dying duck’. Our savings are at risk, explains Danielle Anawatti and Natalie Cowdell from Fossil Free Geelong, our guests in the studio.

We listen to a divestment-speech which Bob Welch, former CEO of VIC Super, held at the opening night of the Act on Climate Festival in Geelong on 20 November 2015, and Isaac Astill from 350 Australia is with us on the phone to tell us what the organisation’s divestment campaign is planning in 2016.

In Melbourne, Tony meets with Laura Williams from Flood the System who explains why she believes civil disobedience and disruption is necessary to help speed up the switch to a low carbon world. And The Pulse station manager Leo Renkin gives us a progress report on how close our radio station, 94.7 The Pulse, is now to being 100% powered by the sun.


Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 105:

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


» Subscribe to ‘The Sustainable Hour’ podcast — via iTunes or via your own podcast/RSS software



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“Encourage Greater Geelong Council and Surf Coast Shire to divest their term deposits from the Big Four Banks. Are you comfortable with your rates being used by these banks to fund fossil fuel projects? Other councils have already divested, why not ours?!”

» www.facebook.com/fossilfreegeelong

FossilFreePetition200pxPetitions:
» Geelong Council: tinyurl.com/CogGeelong
» Surf Coast Shire: tinyurl.com/Surfcoast


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“Super Switch is here to help people see whether their superannuation fund is exposed to the fossil fuel industry through its shares in Australian and international companies, and to take action to reduce their super funds’ exposure to the fossil fuel sector.”

» www.superswitch.org.au



 EDITORIAL NOTES: 

2015: Momentum for climate action

By Mik Aidt, 23 December 2015

2015 is coming to an end. Back in February, Paul Gilding – the former CEO of Greenpeace and author of the book ‘The Great Disruption’ – forecast that this year would be the year when the “dam of denial” would break and “the momentum for climate action would become an unstoppable flood.”

So here we are, looking back at a year what went so fast. Was Gilding right?

Well… as with so many things related to climate change, there is both a yes and a no.

Yes: We are certainly seeing strong winds of change. Above the surface most visible was the Paris Agreement where 21 UN conferences finally reached concensus over saying goodbye to fossil fuels. And in the lead-up to that event, we saw an unprecedented number of 140,000 Australians come out in the streets calling for climate action. The momentum for climate action is certainly there. And under the surface, promising innovation, new energy initiatives and a rise in investments are bubbling, adding to the momentum.

But then again, has it become an ‘unstoppable flood’ of climate action?

A big NO if you listen to today’s news from the Australian government which continues to ignore all warnings from the scientific community and continues to allow one coal mine opening and coal terminal expansion after the other, as if Paris hadn’t even happened – or if you open one of the climate-change-denying Australian newspapers, such as the Financial Review, The Australian, the Herald Sun or the Indy, which continue to protect and defend the viewpoints of the fossil fuel industry, just as if the UN Summit in Paris had never happened.

The search for new fossil fuel reserves is allegedly currently costing Australian tax-payers $4 billion every year.

In short, again in 2015 we have seen nature and climate sacrificed over profit, reason sacrificed over ideology. Short-sighted greed over caring responsibly for those who come after us. ‘Climate action’ means more than protesting in the streets and talking about emissions targets for 2030, it means stopping the burning of polluting fossil fuels, and as far as that is concerned, we still have a very long way to go. Still, fossil fuels are everywhere – powering and part of just about everything we do.

So what then? Where do we start?

One thing we can all do is to move our money and our investments out of banks and super funds which invest in those projects that profit from digging coal and drilling gas and oil up from the ground. To do that is called to divest – to divert investments over from the dirty fossils to green energy project.

The divestment movement has grown rapidly in 2015. It is now said to have moved $3.4 trillion out of fossil fuel investments already – by over 500 institutions: universities, churches, councils.

There are now over 35 universities with some level of divestment commitment. And the Australian universities which are currently considering to make the move, can be confident that ethical investment decisions on fossil fuels have the support of most of the public, as emphasised in The Australia Institute’s 2015 report, ‘Leading by Degrees: Universities and Fossil Fuel Divestment’.

» Read more about divestment on climatesafety.info

» GoFossilFree.org.au: Who’s Divested? Australian Divestment Commitments – Councils & Governments
www.gofossilfree.org.au/whos-divested


The call for rebellion
How else to explain that we have a federal government and in particular a Queensland government which allows expansion of coal mines and coal terminals at a time when they have just seen the entire world say that they should be closing them?
How are we to explain that the government has scrapped the principle that the polluter pays and instead is using tax payers’ money to pay the polluters to meet emissions requirements?

Why would a country like Australia want to risk making the country even more exposed to extreme weather events, flooding, droughts, bush fires? Why would we not care? Why would we want to live in the past? – with an outdated polluting energy system, 3,000 people killed every year from inhaling the toxic air…

Why is a coal and gas lobby – a rich but dying industry that really doesn’t need any help – being heavily subsidised and protected? Why would we want to destry the nature that gives us food on the table? It doesn’t make any common sense!

This calls for rebellion. Indifference is no longer an option. Rebellion might sound drastic, but really, it does. First of all, consumer-style rebellion – which means: winding yourself off the fossil fuel addiction.

There is, among many other global issues, a carbon bell that tolls. Currently it is ringing at the sound of those 40 billion tonnes of carbon we keep spewing into the atmosphere every year – and rising. Not doing anything about this is simply not good enough. If we do not act on climate, act on carbon, act on the environment, then none of those many other tasks we keep ourselves so occupied with, will be making any sense in the longer term.


Questions to City of Greater Geelong Council

On 8 December 2015, Mik Aidt asked the following questions during question time at the Council’s ordinary meeting in City Hall:

“My name is Mik Aidt. I have been co-hosting Geelong’s only community radio show about climate change and sustainability the last two years. We just celebrated the broadcasting of our hour Number 100, and having talked to 300 people in this city who want to see Geelong become a prosperous and sustainable city.

That doesn’t include our mayor, who several times have declined to be a guest in our show. On 94.7 The Pulse.

I am also a father of three small children who are going to deal with whatever climate and whatever mess we hand over to them. And I am a member of the committees of a number of environmental groups in town. But when I ask these questions to you tonight, I am first of all representing my kids.

Question 1:

Firstly I’d like to acknowledge and thank you Council and Future Proofing Geelong for supporting the Act on Climate Festival, which took place on 20-23 November in Geelong.

Surely, Council would be aware that this talk about our climate is NOT going to go away. Our world leaders are currently are discussing climate change and emissions targets in Paris, and that these international negotiations most likely will turn out to be inadequate if we want to avoid messing up this planet’s climate systems. Which is why action to limit carbon emissions at local and municipal level now becomes even more important than ever now.

We are more than 200,000 residents in this city. Many of us pay rates.

My question is concerning how Council manages these funds, once we have paid our rates. Where is that money placed until it is used. Where are those finances invested?

My concern is that they are used to finance new fossil fuel projects – at a time when science really is telling us we need to stop digging up more coal and oil and gas, and switch over to renewable energy sources instead.

I am not sure if the Councillors are aware that at least 15 Australian local councils – including City of Melbourne – have decided to stop risking their ratepayer funds and reserves by removing any exposure they have to fossil fuel projects? Or whether Council is actually aware what exposure City of Greater Geelong’s funds have to fossil fuels?

Has Council started a process of considering doing the same as these 15 other local councils?
And if not, how can local environmental and climate action groups help Council to make this happen?

Question 2:

Compact of Mayors (www.compactofmayors.org) is the world’s largest cooperative effort among cities to fight climate change. City of Sydney, City of Melbourne, City of Adelaide, City of Perth, Lismore City Council and Byron Shire Council are among the members of Compact of Mayors.
Is Geelong part of this network of over 170 cities?
If not, then why not?
Could a process be started to make a consideration about this?
How can local environmental and climate action groups assist Council to sign Geelong up for this significant initiative?”


Cr John Irvine replied right away that he would like to come and talk in The Sustainable Hour on 04.7 The Pulse.

The immediate response from the Mayor and Councillors was, as recorded in the meeting minutes:

“Cr Richards responded it was an interesting issue for this Council and for Victoria, Australia and the world. Council officers are aware of this issue and as the Environment and Sustainability Portfolio Holder I have had preliminary discussions about the way forward. At this point in time, Cr Richards suggested a report be brought back to Council for consideration.

The Mayor responded that the City of Greater Geelong had not been invited to be a member of Compact of Mayors but would endeavour to investigate.

Cr Richards indicated he has held preliminary talks with the Compact of Mayors and given that many of those people in that space were involved in Paris, communication has been put on hold. Council already comply with Compact of Mayors, however we need to work out costs going forward to be directly involved.

Cr Irvine added no doubt Council is concerned about climate change and global warming, and would be happy to come along and get involved.”

» 8 December Council Meeting MinutesIn PDF-format, 6.8MB



Next meeting Council meeting is on 27 January 2016 at 7:00pm in City Hall, 57 Little Malop Street, Geelong.

» The question was submitted in writing to Council here: www.geelongaustralia.com.au

» 350 Australia has produced a document with information about what various Australian councils have done on this matter:
www.350.org.au (PDF)



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446 cities, representing 390,655,109 people worldwide and 5.39% of the total global population, have committed to the Compact of Mayors. It is one of the most important initiatives the world has seen to create real change and action on climate change.
When 195 countries of the world met at the UN Climate Summit in Paris in December 2015, the leadership of these 446 mayors made a significant difference.

Because the UN meeting failed to deliver a precise plan for how we will be putting an end to the carbon pollution, Compact of Mayors has become even more important. These cities represent half a billion people and a fifth of the global GNP. More cities are joining. Geelong should be among them. When Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth and Lismore can do it – why shouldn’t Geelong be able to?

So, dear Mr Mayor: We ask you to Act on Climate. Your city is doing a lot already. You have Future Proofing Geelong. You have a Greenhouse Gas Strategy on its way. This is the time to show commitment and leadership as a mayor and lift your city with all its bodies, departments and organisations into this important inter-city and international collaboration.

» Learn more about the initiative on www.compactofmayors.org



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Council divestment information night

Many groups are working on local government divestment in Victoria at the moment, or are interested in getting started. To help keep the ball rolling in 2016, 350 Melbourne has organised a council divestment information night on Monday 15 February 2016.

The purpose of the session will be to gather people interested in working on divestment with their local council, share experiences, and facilitate some networking and shared strategy time.

At this point the exact content of the session will be determined depending on who is there. So, if you’re interested and available to come along, please fill out this form as RSVP to assist the organisers to make it the most useful evening it can be.

This event will be held at Little Collins Street in Melbourne CBD from 6pm to 8pm. 

Contact 350 Melbourne if you have any questions, and invite any divestment-minded neighbours (do request that they RSVP though!)



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Divestment movement gaining support

Ben Oquist, The Australia Institute, wrote:

“In October 2014, The Australia Institute presented Australian National University Vice-Chancellor Ian Young a petition featuring 10,000 names of Australians who supported ANU’s decision to divest from seven resources companies on ethical grounds. The Institute helped run two full page open letters from prominent investors and the public defending ANU’s right to divest after the university and Professor Young copped a blasting from the government and the financial press.
 
Since then, and over the course of 2015, the global fossil fuel divestment movement is growing so quickly that Australia’s universities are at risk of being left behind. This year has seen divestment announcements from Oxford, Edinburgh and MIT could soon follow. There are now over 35 universities with some level of divestment commitment.

Australian universities can be confident that ethical investment decisions on fossil fuels have the support of most of the public, as The Australia Institute emphasised in their 2015 report, ‘Leading by Degrees’.

The report begins by outlining the fast growing campus divestment movement, globally and in Australia, and explores the debate about the ‘moral university’ and fossil fuels. It then explores the first national poll to assess public attitudes towards universities’ ethics and investments, conducted following the national controversy around the ANU divestment decision.

The survey data show broad support for universities investing ethically, and for the idea that universities should avoid fossil fuel investments. The data suggest university divestment decisions would attract more support than criticism from the public and alumni.”



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 LISTENER SERVICE 

Quotes, excerpts and links

…in relation to the 105th Sustainable Hour


The economics of climate change

Speech by Bob Welch

Bob Welch
Bob Welch


Click on player above to listen to the speech – or  download the mp3 file

Bob Welsh held this speech at the opening of the Act on Climate festival in Geelong on 20 November 2015.

Bob Welch is executive director of Sustainability Advisers and the former CEO of VIC Super. He was the founding chairperson of the Investor Group on Climate Change Australia and New Zealand and is a world renowned pioneer in fostering the development of low-carbon investment strategies.

» Listen to more speeches from the Act on Climate festival opening night





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Isaac Astill

Interview with Isaac Astill from 350 Australia




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Laura Williams (at the very right)

Interview with Laura Williams from Flood the System



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The Sustainable Hour in the holidays

December-January 2016

30 December 2015:  
Title: The Sustainable Hour no 84 – 5 August 2015
Guests: Peter Martin, Shaun Monson

Rewriting ‘The Australian Dream’ with a shift of consciousness. Today we explore whether that journey to a more sustainable world which many of us would like to see our governments set out on, really must begin somewhere else: somewhere inside ourselves. Rev Peter Martin leads the way. We also talk with Shaun Monson, the director of the new film ‘Unity’ which premiers world-wide on 12 August.

» More info on www.climatesafety.info/thesustainablehour84

6 January 2016:  
Title: The Sustainable Hour no 102 – 3 December 2015

Interview with Rob Gell about rising temperatures. Speeches by Lisa Neville, Minister for Climate, professor David Karoly, University of Melbourne, and a short excerpt from a speech by American President Barack Obama in Paris.

» More info on www.climatesafety.info/thesustainablehour102


13 January 2015:
Title: The Sustainable Hour no 96 – 28 October 2015
Guest: Philip Sutton

In The Sustainable Hour on 94.7 The Pulse on 28 October 2015, we talk with author Philip Sutton who calls not only for a complete decarbonisation, but for a draw-down of carbon from the atmosphere in order to restore the balance of greenhouse gases in the air to what it looked like in pre-industrial time.

» More info on www.climatesafety.info/thesustainablehour96


20 January 2015:
Title: The Sustainable Hour no 94 – 14 October 2015
Guests: Peter Yacono, Andrew Laird, Alan Roberts

Inspired by the recent Volkswagen and Exxon scandals, we look at local examples of deception, manipulation and lies from the ‘fossil mafia’ which takes or have taken place in Victoria.

» More info on www.climatesafety.info/thesustainablehour94



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 YES 2 RENEWABLES: 

Governmental doublespeak

‎The UN Climate Summit in Paris barely concluded and already Malcolm Turnbull’s government has taken Orwellian doublespeak to a new level by asserting that coal “is not incompatible” with renewable energy:

» The Age – 21 December 2015:
Coal not incompatible with increased renewables: Frydenberg

Yes2Renewables wrote: “There is just the small problem that the world needs to decarbonise urgently if we are to preserve a livable environment. The best hope of sensible renewable energy policy is for progressive States and Territories to fill the Federal leadership vacuum. An ambitious ‪#‎VRET‬ will help us do this.

If you think we need much less dirty coal and much more clean renewable energy in Victoria, then please sign the Petition for Ambition




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 GOOD NEWS: 

Tesla powerwall launches in Australia

The much-hyped battery storage unit is now available in Australia.

Get the lowdown on battery storage in the Climate Council’s battery storage report.




» Read more good news:
Tonnes of good news about climate action





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1miionwomen-frontp560

1 MILLION WOMEN:

Here is what you can do now

Start your Low Carbon Life
Living a low-carbon life is an essential piece in solving the climate crisis. Just start your Low Carbon Life here and you are on your way. You won’t believe how easy it is to cut a tonne of pollution and more. And it’s FREE to participate.

» See popular daily activities for reducing your carbon emissions.

» You’ll get your own dashboard and can track how much carbon you’re saving.

» Create a Carbon Challenge account



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Share-worthy news

Provided by Divest-Invest

» Good Magazine: How Fossil Fuel Divestment Can Rewrite the Climate Narrative
This is a race against time to bend the money, politics, and leadership of our global institutions from 3.5°C, where they currently point, to 1.5°C, where they need to be.

» EcoWatch: Fossil Fuel Divestment Commitments Break New Record
The fossil fuel divestment campaign has broken a new record at COP21: More than 500 institutions representing more than $3.4 trillion in assets have made some form of divestment commitment according to 350.org and Divest Invest, two organizations coordinating the growing movement.

» Project Syndicate: The Sustainability Revolution in Finance
Investors are starting to understand that paying attention to climate risk is an integral part of a sound investment strategy that seeks to minimize risk and help to promote financial stability.

» Linkedin: What the Paris Agreement Means for Investors
Investors have major roles to play in reducing emissions as well as developing better ways to enter the Beyond Carbon era. COP21 laid the foundation that enables investor power to flourish.

» Reuters: Institutional investors can be game changers on climate – Swedish fund
Momentum among institutional investors to divest from carbon-intensive companies is picking up, making them potential game changers in curbing emissions, the head of a Swedish state pension fund said.

» Triple Pundit: Josh Fox: Fracked Gas Won’t Achieve Paris Climate Goals, But Empowering Communities Could
The United States is undergoing a massive energy transition that isn’t receiving enough attention, and it could render the Paris climate agreement meaningless. We’re swapping one climate-damaging fuel, coal, for another that is actually worse: fracked gas.


Divest-Invest Individual Voices

Quotes by Divest-Invest Individual Pledge signatories:

“I have refrained from investing in recent years because it was so hard to tell what I was actually investing in.  I didn’t want to just do it for the money.  I wanted to be sure that my investments were ethically sound as well.  Now I feel part of a community that is mindful, forward focused and committed to making change using the only language most people understand – the language of money.”
~ Ronda Loredo


“Burning fossil fuels is a very old and antique practice and one that’s extremely devastating to the planet. It’s become clear that these ancient technologies are extreme pollutants, outdated and need to be replaced with new and clean technologies. There are many brilliant minds out there waiting to be heard and it’s time that we started listening… We owe it to the planet our children and generations to come.”
~ Patrick Drive




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» icon_small-arrow_RIGHT Various tips and advice about what we all can do


icon_small-arrow_RIGHT Our podcasts and posts about divestment

Streaming live

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» The Sustainable Hour is streamed live on the Internet every Wednesday from 11am to 12pm (Melbourne time):
www.947thepulse.com – click on ‘Listen Live’

Podcast archive

Hours and hours of sustainable podcasts

Listen to all of The Sustainable Hour radio shows in full length and in selected excerpts:

» Archive on climatesafety.info – with photo and direct link to podcast audio file

» Archive on climatesafety.info – with longer descriptions

» Archive on cpod.org – with even longer descriptions

» Archive on itunes.apple.com – mobile phone friendly



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