Australia needs an emergency declaration but solutions are there

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As levels of global temperatures, greenhouse gas pollution, the sea and governmental hypocrisy all keep rising, we too must now rise to challenge our failing leaders.

Welcome to an hour’s podcast about climate frontlines, blatant hypocrisy of Environment Minister Greg Hunt embarrassing his country at the UN Climate Agreement signing ceremony in New York, about toxic air pollution in Australia which is getting worse at a time when it should be reduced, and about how the circus of fossil foolishness and greed is now met with with multiple civil disobedience actions at a global ‘Break Free’ event, and a petition-storm which calls for a nonpartisan parliamentarian climate emergency declaration and World War Two-like, society-wide mobilisation to combat the dangers of those rising global temperatures.

Meet Dr James Whelan, Margaret Hender, Ursula Rakova and Wendy Flannery. We also play an excerpt of RT America’s interview with Ezra Silk.



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Content of this hour

Links, excerpts and more information about what we talked about in this Sustainable Hour


ursula-and-wendy-round250The Sustainable Hour on 94.7 The Pulse on 27 April 2016 looks at Papua New Guinea’s climate frontlines, as Ursula Rakova and Wendy Flannery visit Geelong to explain about the disastrous situation for the islanders.

james-whelan-round250Dr James Whelan tells us about Enviroment Justice Australia’s action against the toxic air pollution which our leaders allow to keep rising even though it kills almost nine Australians each day and wrecks our climate.

MargaretHender-round250Margaret Hender tells us about the new ‘petition-storm’ which calls for a nonpartisan parliamentarian climate emergency declaration and a World War Two-like society-wide mobilisation to combat the dangers of rising temperatures and ecological collapse.

ezra-silk-round250We also play an except of RT America’s interview with Ezra Silk, Deputy Director and Head of Organising at the American Climate Mobilization, who explains what a WW2-scale mobilisation could mean.




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Insufficient global climate commitments

The Paris Agreement on Climate is signed. At a big signing ceremony at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday, more than 170 countries showed up to put their signature on the paper.

However, in rogue Australia, that signature has very little value as the government continues to promote, protect and subsidise the fossil fuel industry as if nothing had happened.

This is a government which proudly invests in expanding the country’s coal and gas exports, and which recently opened a multi-million-dollar coal and gas growth centre to help this happen. The industry already gets help from the government to the tune of over six billion dollars a year.

Just like the Republican party in America, bought if not bribed by the fossil industry, several members of the Australian government dispute that “the science is settled” around climate change, and wind turbines are now, once again, being investigated – at a three million dollar commission budget – for imaginary claims, promoted by fossil fuel agents, that they make people sick. Meanwhile, in the real world, 3,000 Australians die prematurely every year from toxic air pollution as the levels have been tripled over the last 10 years, and investments in large-scale renewable energy have come to a halt.

As levels of temperatures, greenhouse gas pollution, the sea, and governmental hypocrisy all keep rising, the procrastination period has to cease: we too must rise to challenge our leaders who are so utterly failing the vow they made when they were sworn it – that they would “well and truly serve the people of Australia”, including our children and the future generations.

Those rising CO2- and temperature graphs tell their own indisputable story of how our elected leaders are failing us, and how they are allowing things to run out of control. Governments around the wold are still failing to grasp the urgency of deeply cutting emissions.

» The Guardian – 23 Apil 2016:
Why the Paris climate change goals may already be slipping beyond reach
“World leaders convened at the UN this week in support of the historic deal, but epic challenges lie ahead if the promises of Paris are going to be put into action”

Dr John Hewson, an economist and former leader of the Liberal Party, calls out the hypocrisy of Greg Hunt and the Australian Government on carbon pollution and renewables, in an article titled ‘Shorten can wedge Turnbull on climate’ published in The Conversation:

“It was all a bit much for me to see Environment Minister Greg Hunt wallowing in the signing of the Paris Agreement on emissions reduction in New York this week. His commitment to its ratification by year end, after opposing the pricing of carbon and attempting to close down the renewables industry, is nothing short of blatant hypocrisy,” Dr Hewson wrote.

You’d think he ought to know. He led the Liberals.

Greg Hunt ignores the fact that the Climate Change Authority (that the government wanted to shut down, and still is committed to abolishing) recommended 2030 targets about double the declared 26-28% target (off a 2005 base) adopted by the government. And even if those modest targets are met, Australia will still remain one of the highest carbon emitters per capita. Currently 17 tonnes per person in this country… as compared to six tonnes per person in Denmark, for instance.

So, it wasn’t all happy smiles in New York. There were protesters in the streets. One group, The Climate Mobilization, was calling for a “Coalition of the Cooling” and a World War Two-scale mobilisation.


Ezra Silk

Ezra Silk, Deputy Director and Head of Organising at the American organisation The Climate Mobilization, explained in an interviewed in The Green Report on RT America what they mean when they talk about a World War Two-scale mobilisation:

Interview with Ezra Silk

► Ezra Silk was interviewed in The Green Report on RT America on 20 April 2016. (Start: 30:11. Ezra Silk enters at 32:00)

» Mobilizers Denounce Climate Agreement as “Historic” Failure at United Nations Signing Ceremony

“The only thing that can save us from a global climate catastrophe is World War Two-style mobilisation,” says The Climate Mobilization. So does American presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and his statements were supported by Australian Ian Dunlop, former chairman of the Australian Coal Association, as we heard in The Sustainable Hour last week. “Climate change is so much more than a crisis of enviromentalism. It is an existential crisis,” Ian Dunlop told us.



Climate injustice: Islanders have to relocate

Ursula Rakova experience the existential crisis at close hand. Ursula faces a climate emergency right now: her entire community at Carteret Islands is currently relocating because of the impacts of climate change. Listen to Anthony Gleeson’s interview with Ursula Rakova and Wendy Flannery:

In April 2016, Ursula Rakova set out to open a dialogue about what moves Australians and about what Australia’s response should be now. Her Australian Climate Justice Speaking Tour brought her to Geelong on 15 April, where Anthony Gleeson met her and Wendy Flannery from Friends of the Earth Brisbane for a talk about their quest as they try to make Australians more aware of the consequences of the country’s heavy carbon footprint.



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Harmful particle emissions trebled in the last 10 years

Air pollution kills more than 3,000 people prematurely each year in Australia. Most of these deaths are attributable to particle pollution, Dr James Whelan from Enviroment Justice Australia told us:

Australia’s open cut coal mines are responsible for 47% of all coarse particle (PM10) emissions nationally – a total of 435,000 tonnes in 2013-14. These harmful particle emissions have doubled in the last five years and trebled in the last 10, according to the National Pollutant Inventory. In coal mining regions, coal is responsible for up to 90% of all particle pollution.

Pollution from the coal industry includes coarse (PM10) and fine (PM2.5) particle pollution from coal blasting, mining, loading, transportation, uncovered coal wagons. Coal-fired power stations are significant sources of fine particles.

The coal ports of of Newcastle, Brisbane and Mackay have massive uncovered stockpiles in urban areas. The pollution from these sources is entirely be preventable by covering the stockpiles and the coal trains that service them.

» www.cleanairaction.net.au

Together, Australia’s twelve dirtiest coal-fired power plants spew out 117 million tonnes of CO2 and hit us for an estimated $6.45 billion in effective subsidies every year. Victoria alone is looking at $2.9 billion a year in effective subsidies for four of the dirtiest power plants in Australia – an extraordinary $504 per person in the state.
They make more annual emissions than 45 million cars and 151 entire countries. They also do $6.45 billion in damage every year.


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Climate emergency declaration petitionstorm

Margaret Hender from CORENA lives in Adelaide. She is part of a group which started a petition to the Australian parliament, urging politicians to declare a climate emergency and take action accordingly. The petition later morphed into a petitionSTORM and is currently in the process of calling for climate groups and conservation organisations to join the initiative by making their own climate emergency petitions.

The petitions currently have been signed by over 1,200 people. As you will hear in the interview, the aim is to exceed 100,000.

Listen to the interview with Margaret Hender:

Climate emergency mobilisation blog:

 

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» Sign the petition


Civil disobedience to stop the export of pollution

BreakFree youtube trailer “Free at last”

Published on youtube.com on 16 March 2016

This May, thousands of people will come together around the world for bold actions to keep fossil fuels in the ground. In Australia, hundreds of people from all walks of life will take a stand at the world’s largest coal port of Newcastle to stop the export of pollution.

“Our actions will speak louder than politician’s words as we send a message to leaders everywhere that it’s time for real action to keep fossil fuels in the ground,” the organisers write.

» More information on www.australia.breakfree2016.org



In the “dark shadow of what’s happened in the Great Barrier Reef,” prominent American climate activist Bill McKibben has urged Australians to join in plans to shut down the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle this May.

“There is a fight underway, and it is the great fight of our time,” says Bill McKibben. “The arc of the physical universe is short, and it bends towards heat. If we don’t win soon, we do not win. So that’s why the urgency is so deep. That’s why people are doing things that no-one should have to do.”

» New Matilda – 24 April 2016:
Sketching The Fight: Bill McKibben On How To Save The Planet



Avaaz wrote:

“Last year’s Paris Climate Agreement was a historic moment, setting our world on track for a 100% clean energy future — and our community helped to make it happen! But for the dream of Paris to become a reality, we need to take our efforts to the next level.

For many of us, that next level is direct action — participating in bold and strategic demonstrations that may involve risking arrest. From Gandhi to American civil rights to the anti-apartheid movement, we’ve seen how non-violent direct action can give citizens the power and legitimacy to create change.

So in just a few weeks, thousands of people across 6 continents and 13 countries are coming together to ‘break free’ from fossil fuels. Australia’s Break Free action is being organised by the awesome 350. On the weekend of 7-8 May, hundreds of Aussies will stand together and shut down the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle!

Every country in the world has now agreed to begin coordinated climate action and the fossil fuel industry has lost its social license to operate, slipping into financial turmoil. There’s never been a better moment to break free from dirty power and build a cleaner, safer future for our children and grandchildren.

As people across the globe come together to shut down their countries’ most dangerous fossil fuel projects, hundreds of Aussies will do the same in Newcastle on May 7th-8th. For decades, Australia has allowed dirty coal to flood out of Newcastle, damaging surrounding communities and exporting pollution to the rest of the world. If our leaders are serious about making good on their commitments in Paris, then it starts with Newcastle.

Together, we can show our Government that if they won’t do what it takes to break Australia free from fossil fuels, then everyday people will.

Already this year, global temperatures have continued to soar to terrifying and record-breaking levels. But the success of the Paris Summit shows that change is possible. And it starts with us.

With hope and determination,
Nic, Iain, Emily and the whole Avaaz team”



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Labor’s Climate Change Action Plan

was launched this Wednesday. It has six key elements:

• Leading Renewable Energy Economy
• Cleaner Power Generation
• Build Jobs & Industry
• Cut Pollution
• Capture Carbon on the Land
• Increased Energy Efficiency

The plan includes a pollution reduction target of 45% by 2030, based on 2005 levels. The Paris Climate Agreement included a goal to limit warming to 1.5°C to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Analysis shows that to achieve this goal, we’ll need to set a pollution reduction target of at least 65% by 2030. In other words, there’s still a lot more to be done.

Elements of the Labor party’s policy include:

• A commitment to net zero pollution by 2050 and a pollution reduction target of 45% by 2030 (below 2005 levels)
• 5 year reviews of their pollution reduction targets
• A phase out of Australia’s coal fired-power stations to make way for renewable energy, as well as support for community led renewable development
• A doubling of energy productivity by 2030, and
• A “climate trigger” to allow the Commonwealth to stop broad-scale land clearing

» www.laborsclimatechangeactionplan.org.au



labors-climate-policy_350analysis

Coal and gas pollution to continue

“Today’s announcement is a promising sign from the ALP that they have a real plan for climate action but we need the major parties to take full responsibility for our coal and gas pollution if we are to have any hope of tackling the tragic climate impacts unfolding around us,” said Isaac Astill from 350.org Australia.

“Under this plan, monstrous new fossil fuel projects will still get the green light – projects like Adani’s reef-wrecking and climate-cooking Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin and BP’s disastrous oil drilling in our precious Great Australian Bight.

» Read 350’s statement on Labor’s new climate policy here


“Trench warfare” over climate policy

In an op-ed in RenewEconomy, Doctors for the Environment Australia’s Hon Secretary David Shearman likens Labor’s announcement and the Coalition’s response to a “resumption of World War I style trench warfare”:

“The release of Labor’s climate policy has led immediately to a resumption of World War I style trench warfare. The opening salvo, the pre-prepared advertisements and admonishments, was blasted off within hours, to be followed by tunnelling under the Labor trenches, minefields and more misery for both major Parties and for the population they are elected to serve. The misery is the suffering from current and future ill health which could be prevented if progress could be made in a bilateral, constructive manner.

Labor’s policy has significant health implications because health is closely linked to energy policy and it is in this light that Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) makes comment. Our profession is reminded that WHO regards climate change as the biggest health threat of the present century.”
David Shearman, Doctors for the Environment Australia

» RenewEconomy – 28 April 2016:
Climate policy becomes trench warfare, once again


Here is a recap of expert analysis and reaction from Doctors for the Environment Australia and others:

» Croakey – 27 April 2016:
On Labor’s Climate Action Plan: expert analysis and reaction







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Poll: Most Australians want more climate action this election

An Essential opinion poll published on 15 March shows that 57 per cent of voting aged people think Australia is not doing enough to address climate change. This is up 4 per cent since the last survey in August 2015. Just 21 per cent (down 3 per cent) think Australia is doing enough. Younger people aged 18-34 (66 per cent) and university educated (64 per cent) think Australia is not doing enough.

Even 38 per cent of Liberal voters think Australia is not doing enough, 2 per cent more than those saying that enough is being done.

The essential poll survey on March 15 also showed that 63 per cent of voting age people believe that there is fairly conclusive evidence that climate change is happening and caused by human activity. This is up 7 per cent since the previous survey in November 2015. There is a long term increase in this concern as shown in my graph of the data below. Those aged under 35 are likely agree with human caused climate change by a 70 per cent to 18 per cent split. Voters aged 55 and older are much more evenly divided on the issue with a 48 per cent to 46 per cent split.

» Read more on www.climateactionmoreland.org



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AYCC calls Labor’s climate policy “a significant step forward”

Australian Youth Climate Coalition wrote:

The race to the top for action on climate change this election is on! This morning the Labor Party announced its ‘Climate Change Action Plan’ in a significant step forward that puts the pressure on Malcolm Turnbull to tell us what he will do to transition Australia to 100% renewable power.

So, here’s the rundown of Labor’s new policy and how it stacks up with what we need:

Renewable energy ✔️
The Labor Party will power Australia with 50% renewable electricity by 2030 and they’ll do it with things like a $206 million funding round for solar thermal and community power agencies to support the uptake of community-owned renewable energy. This is a significant step forward, and Malcolm Turnbull still hasn’t told us what goal he will set for renewable energy. The AYCC wants 100% renewables by 2030 so we need to keep the pressure on to get both parties to step up what they’re going to do.

The commitment to a funding round for solar thermal creates a huge opportunity for the Port Augusta community to go solar thermal, something we’ve worked alongside the community for for the last five years. It’s time to make it happen!

Replacing our polluting coal and gas stations ✔️
Australia’s power stations are old and polluting – we need them to be replaced but we need to do it in a way that supports workers and communities to transition. The Labor Party have announced they will hold an inquiry into closing Australia’s coal stations and support communities with a just transition. It’s critical this happens and that Australia gets a plan to close our polluting power stations with renewable energy, we’re still waiting to hear what the Turnbull Government will do.

Keeping polluting fuels in the ground and stopping fossil fuel handouts
Neither the Labor Party nor the Government have committed to stopping all new fossil fuel projects but today the Labor Party took an important first step in ruling out any taxpayer funding for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine. These announcements today have come because of people like you, together we can keep the fossil fuels in the ground by keeping up the pressure for the next few months.

Reducing climate pollution across Australia
The Labor Party have announced they would reduce Australia’s climate pollution by 45% on 2005 levels by 2030. This is a clear step forward from the Government’s target, nearly doubling it, but it does not go far enough to doing Australia’s fair share to limit warming to 1.5 degrees to prevent the worst impacts of global warming.



 APPENDIX: 

In other news

Our notes of the week – news stories and coming events which we also had hoped to mention in this Sustainable Hour


Australia’s clouded future

“Oil major Total last week announced it was creating a new division focusing on renewables and “electricity” rather than transport fuels, with a goal to be one of world’s top three solar producers.

Saudi Arabia has repeated its focus on looking at a world beyond fossil fuels. The collapse in the oil price is estimated to cost Gulf states $500 billion in lost revenue in 2016, leaving them with bludgets barely capabe of affording the massive subsidies paid to fossil fuels.

And US defence major Lockheed Martin has announced its intention to go into the battery storage industry – this, as the French and India governments confirmed their pact to encourage $1 trillion in new investment in the solar industry under the International Solar Agreement first unveiled in Paris.

These examples barely scratch the surface of what’s going on around the world. It leaves the Australian economy, which continues to focus on commodities and to prostrate itself at the feet of the fossil fuel industry, with a clouded future.

The government, you would hope, is smart enough to see what is coming. It just doesn’t have the fortitude to share that view with the public, or tell the hard right ideologues to stop kidding themselves.”

» Read more on www.reneweconomy.com.au



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extinction-banner

Support the play ‘Extinction’ – a GPAC fundraiser

Production of new Australian work is rare, especially outside capital cities. Legendary plays are only created through sustained investment in the arts. Today we need YOU to play a role.

After 35 years of being the stage for great shows, GPAC is stepping out into the spotlight to secure the future of great new Australian work.

We’re working with Red Stitch Actors Theatre to produce ‘Extinction’, written by Hannie Rayson and directed by Nadia Tass. After launching in Geelong in July, our production will travel to Canberra and then to the Arts Centre Melbourne, reaching significant audiences and becoming an important conversation catalyst.

We’ve had to find $200,000 to make this happen. Support has come from environmental partners, corporate sponsors and generous individuals. We’re almost there, but we need your support to get us over the line.

If you care about Australian work and supporting theatre development, then please donate. Your gift of $20 or $30 will help us produce this world class production and continue our commitment to new Australian theatre. Oh, and you’ll be part of history!

» Visit www.gpac.org.au/weneedyou to find out more and make a donation.



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Solar and Storage Magazine

Read more about solutions in the Solar and Storage Magazine – its authumn 2016 issue is out:

» issuu.com/solarcouncil



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https://twitter.com/ReclaimAnglesea/status/726575209789022209








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