Grassroots and artists rise to make our planet green again

Guests in the sustainable studio on 15 June 2017 are Geelong Gallery’s director Jason Smith, and ActOnClimate campaign-leader Leigh Ewbank from Friends of the Earth Australia.

We talk over the phone with Cam Walker from Friends of the Earth Melbourne about their vision for a renewables park at Point Henry.

We play the new song ‘Time’ by Danish singer Jens Lysdal, and two short but brilliant climate statements by actors Kiruna Stamell and Arnold Swartzenegger.


Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 173 on 94.7 The Pulse:

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74 million views in just a week, and two million shares on Facebook. That means two million people who agree with The Terminator’s statement: “It’s time to start a grass roots’ revolution to save our planet”.

More about Trump:

» Centre for Climate Safety – 5 June 2017:
Donald Trump’s own goal



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Kiruna on Q&A: “We have to wake up as a species”

Kiruna Stamell’s passionate climate statement starts at 1:30 min

“I want to quote my father … My dad said you can’t take a dump in the living room and not expect it to affect the ambience of the house. Right? And this house is our planet. We haven’t advanced enough to go anywhere else.

We actually need to stop exploiting fossil fuels by 2050. We are not talking about future generations, we are talking about me in my 70s and your children. And do you know what is more expensive? Things like supplementing and subsidising the fossil fuel industry which we do massively, directly and indirectly, compared to renewables. That long game is cost effective.

We need to go down that road otherwise, guys, we are going down along with our neighbours, who are going to want to be seeking asylum here because their islands don’t exist anymore. This is real! We have to wake up as a species, because we are just animals.”
~ Kiruna Stamell in Q&A on ABC

» The New Daily – 6 June 2017:
‘You can’t take a dump in the living room’: Q&A’s climate change debate heats up
“Amid controversial debate around climate change, actor and disability advocate Kiruna Stamell offered Monday night’s Q&A audience a rather odd analogy.”



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 EDITORIAL | OPENING REMARKS: 

Doing what is necessary


By Mik Aidt

“This is London calling…” My grandfather told me how he would climb up on the attic in a secret room and be listening to the resistance movement’s radio, which was broadcasting from London. That’s how they’d pick up instructions on when and where there would be an airplane flying over Denmark in the dark to drop weapons and explosives for the resistance group he was working with.
That was in the 1940s. The resistance movement.
That was “London calling”…

Now, this is Geelong calling, and we are not a resistance movement. We are a protection movement. We simply want to protect the world we now from these mad radicals out there who are playing Russian roulette with our future. Like Trump. And Malcolm Turnbull. Like our two main parties in this country. They are all saying “Burn, baby, burn!” even though they are fully aware that this burning of coal, oil and gas comes at a price.

A price which we are all paying, every time there has been yet another extreme weather event. I’ve had my first “climate change invoice” after a flash flood event. We had one on 21 March 2017. Then again on 9 and 24 April. As Geelong ratepayers we are now to spend over $10 million on improving drainage to cope with the new levels of stormwater run-off. Add to that what each householder and business owners must spend on flash flooding ‘upgrading’ of their properties.

From what I can see in the news, most people are confronted with such bills – all over the planet. Flooding, hurricanes, fires…. everywhere.

And the price our children, and their children, will be paying? We don’t know – but as it looks, they will feel the financial burden even more so, because this is not going to get any better. It is on track to get worse. With all the carbon we have burned, we have already locked our children in to a future of rising sea waters, climate refugees, extinction of species, dead coral reefs, and it could run out of control with carbon loops that will make the situation even worse than that.

Instead of playing Russian Roulette with our children’s future, we should be passing on these bills to the fossil fuel industry, who has harvested huge profits on being allowed to pollute the atmosphere free of charge for more than a century. That is not likely to be happening any time soon, because the industry has hijacked the federal political system.

That is where the resistance movement element – the protection movement – comes in. The grassroots’ revolution.

Notice the applause Kiruna Stamell received in Q&A for her passionate climate statement. Same thing happened a month further back, on 1 May 2017, when Tony Walker asked deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce an important question about the prospect that he could be facing a climate crimes tribunal. The question was that if, in the future, Joyce were to be charged for committing a climate crime, then “what would be his defence?”.

The audience cheered with a loud applause, but minister Joyce found himself unable to reply. He just laughed about the question as if it was the most far-out ridiculous thing to be asking about. Which is is not.

At the moment, Australia is not even close to be doing what is necessary. We are just talking about doing small incremental changes. Like this new Finkel Review which was released on Friday 9 June: “Let’s just keep burning coal…” According to what Australia’s Chief Scientist proposes, coal should still be allowed to make up more than half of our electricity generation by 2030, and then slowly drop to about a quarter of the energy mix by 2050.

35 years from now, we’ll still be burning coal while ecosystems are collapsing around us?

As we can hear it on the decibel levels of the audience’s applauses in Q&A and according to several polls, nine out of ten Australians worry about climate change – they see climate change as a threat. And a majority in this country actually thinks it’s time we begin to act on climate even if this involves significant costs or making considerable changes that impact on our current living standards.

Politicians in Canberra, however, keep speaking for vested interests of the energy industry, not for the people. This sentence is an example of how closely related the federal government is to the coal industry, saying the government which will strike hard against anything that could “damage the future of the coal industry in Australia”:

“Mr Frydenberg conceded that his colleagues were also worried the review’s recommendations would damage the future of the coal industry in Australia.”

» The New Daily – 13 June 2017:
Trouble brews as Coalition MPs take Turnbull to task over Clean Energy Target


The point here is that the future of the coal industry is already severely damaged, and unless we choose to ignore what climate scientists are explaining will happen if we don’t reduce our emissions, the coal industry has no future whatsoever.

So we have a situation where an entire nation of voters wants to get on with stabilising our climate – and a federal parliament of politicians who ignore this because of an influential minority’s vested interest. In a democracy, that’s usually an unstable situation. Leaders in the coal and gas industry may be rich and may have been successful with their controlling the government, but they don’t represent the people. They are far from having a majority, even with their employees included. The coal mining industry employs around 50,000 people, and the coal industry as a whole employs a little over 200,000 people. That is not even one per cent of the population.

Once it stands clear to the majority what is going on, it will only take an election or two to correct the issue. The real problem is that nothing is clear. And with fake, undercover social media campaigns and scare mongering by media personalities, the fossil fuel industry is working hard to make it stay that way. Facts and clarity are covered under a foggy smokescreen of deliberately manufactured confusion in media and politics.

Even climate action campaigners are holding back with truthfully telling the full story of what we need to do, if we really wanted to save the Reef and to save ourselves from the worst of the climate calamity ahead of us.

There are hundreds of petitions circulating, about “saving the reef”, and “stop fracking”, “don’t start drilling for oil in the Bight”, “no new coal”, “Stop Adani’s mega coal mine”, and so on… but here is only one petition that I know of which calls for doing what will be necessary to protect all people, economies, species and ecosystems. And that’s the Climate Emergency Declaration petition.

This petition explains that continuing with climate-damaging policies that put us all in even greater peril is now inexcusable, and it calls on all Australian federal, state, and territory parliaments and all local councils to do declare a climate emergency – which means to “commit to providing maximum protection for all people, economies, species, ecosystems, and civilisations, and to fully restoring a safe climate. Mobilise the required resources and take effective action at the necessary scale and speed, transform the economy to zero emissions and make a fair contribution to drawing down the excess carbon dioxide in the air, and also encourage all other governments around the world to take these same actions.”

Winston Churchill, back in the days of the Second World War, where the British were in some kind of denial about what Hitler was doing and what it could mean… he said: “It is no use saying ‘we are doing our best’. You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.”

In the same spirit, the petitions calls on all levels of government to do what is necessary now.

“Declaring a climate emergency is not just words. We’ve risen to big challenges in the past when an emergency has been declared, with citizens and all sides of politics rising to the occasion and working together for the common good.”

» www.climateemergencydeclaration.org/sign







We have regulations with prices and fines when someone pollutes our water and the land. So why don’t we have that when it comes to polluting our common atmosphere? In a logical world, there is no common sense behind that differentiation: Let’s protect the water and the land, but not the air. The only reason for doing nothing about this, now that we know that it has devastating consequences for our climate and our safety, is that vested interests have managed to hijack immoral politicians to play their game and protect their interests, as far as I can see.

We need to hold polluters and politicians accountable. The Guardian’s Michael Slezak wrote:

“A culture of extreme pragmatism has taken over the climate policy debate in Australia. Second-best policies have become the preferred option, until they’ve been ruled out, and suddenly third-best policies are considered the only feasible option.”
Michael Slezak, Guardian Australia’s environment reporter

» The Guardian – 17 June 2017:
How Australia’s climate policies came to be poisoned by pragmatism
“A history of failure has left Australia with virtually no genuinely independent advice on climate change.” Article by Michael Slezak


We’re presented to third-best policies as if they are the way to go. It was in this context I thought I’d like to ask Dr Alan Finkel about why, while preparing his review, he decided to scrap that simple idea, which everyone can understand how works: putting a price on pollution.

My question was: “Many Australians will remember four years ago, the Coalition won an election on the promise that scapping the carbon tax would give $500 dollars a year back to every family. We didn’t see a 500-dollar reduction on the electricity bill in our household. On the contrary, actually. We are paying more and more every year. As I understand it, at first you were actually suggesting to implement a new kind of carbon tax, and around the world, all experts are agreeing with that: that a carbon fee – making polluters pay and using the revenue to reward those who don’t – is the most efficient way to tackle the problems we have today with climate change and global warming. So why did you take that solution out? Why did you change your mind?”

Instead of explaining to me why he is not suggesting a model that implies that people and businesses will have to pay for polluting our common atmosphere, Finkel used my reference to a preliminary report he had published to talk about that work instead. He explained, though that he preferred to focus only on the ‘carrots’, not the ‘stick’.

I guess it was my own fault. I should have formulated that question differently. I actually had asked four other more ‘edgy’ questions about the urgency of getting things right because of the climate emergency – but as it happened, this carbon tax question turned out to be the one that made it through ABC’s tight screening – and I had to live with that.

One week later, ABC’s business editor Ian Verrender published an article which elaborated on what I was referring to. He wrote:

“Just on three years ago, a jubilant Tony Abbott — having just secured agreement to vanquish the carbon tax, the handbrake on the Australian economy — appeared on national television.

Australian households would be $550 a year better off with the removal of the “toxic” carbon tax, he declared. Gas prices would fall 7 per cent. Electricity prices would drop 9 per cent. Everyone would be a winner, he told 7.30’s Leigh Sales.

“Because the price of power is a component of just about every price in the economy. When the price of power falls, other prices should go down as well,” he said.

Yep, it should. Except when it doesn’t.

Ever since the carbon tax was removed, power prices have only headed one way; upwards. This, at a time when oil prices have halved and coal slumped.”

» ABC News – 19 June 2017:
Why you’re about to pay through the nose for power
“The short answer is that removing the carbon price and the winding back of the Renewable Energy Target was a disaster.”

Just reading the headlines of these two articles in The Guardian and Sydney Morning Herald further illustrates why we have reasons for being concerned over this matter:

» The Guardian – 9 June 2017:
Alan Finkel’s emissions target breaks Australia’s Paris commitments
“Chief scientist’s report flies in the face of previous recommendations on reducing electricity emissions”


» Sydney Morning Herald – 20 June 2017:
Carbon dysfunction drives surging electricity bills
“There are a few immediate causes for the sharp price increases in electricity, but they are bound together by a common thread: utter dysfunction on climate change policy over the past decade.”

Where was the urgency?
The Q&A tv show on energy left me – and also many others, I have learned, from chatting with people who come up to me and say: “I saw you on Q&A Monday night” – with a feeling of dissatisfaction because the urgency of what we are talking about barely came up in the whole hour which had energy and climate change as its topic. Coral reefs were mentioned once, briefly, and that was it. No one got emotional, or sharp like Kiruna, not a single question was referring to the new polls that show how concerned the Australian people really is, or how bad scientists are reporting to us that the situation has become.

Someone mentioned to me that even so, seeing strong questions being asked by community members who want to keep our political decision makers accountable is something that creates hope for thousands of viewers. “If we push forward with too much alarm and urgency in our campaigning in this area, it can make people feel anxious in ways that lead to discouragement,” she said. “A relaxed, positive tone of voice whilst being direct and encouraging is what we should be aiming for when we speak up.” 


Carbon fee – the hot potato
She is right. But I’ll still reserve my right to be upset about what is going on here. From what the emissions graphs show, the so-called “carbon tax” that the Australian government implemented, actually did its job: it reduced emissions in the energy industry. Scrapping it, however, didn’t give families the promised reduction on their electricity bills. It was all a political stunt, and since then putting a price on carbon has been a taboo in Australian politics. Wasn’t that a shame, then? – an effective world-leading CO2-reduction method lost, all because of Abbott’s flawed election slogan that turned out to be an outright lie.

The only ones who benefitted from it, of course, were the big polluters who have since continued to pollute freely, which probably also was the intended goal with this stunt from Abbott’s side.

I don’t understand – or rather: don’t accept – why it should be a taboo in Australian politics, and I don’t believe the claim that a carbon fee, if set up in the proper way, not just as a trading scheme and not against people’s will but because they understand that we need to do what is necessary to reduce emissions, I don’t see why a carbon fee wouldn’t be driving the transition we need to see.

For instance, when petrol and electricity become more expensive, we – the consumers – become more conscious about how and how much of it we consume. When governments make sugar or tobacco more expensive, people in general tend to buy less of it.



www.theclimatesolution.com – put a price on it!


The problem when we don’t understand something
Most of what was said in that Q&A-hour on 12 June 2017 was about Finkel’s new Clean Energy Target and what it means. Everyone in the panel talked about his 212-page report as something that needed further reflection and time for studying, almost as if it needed translation into something that normal people would be able to understand.

It made me think of why the Bible written in Latin in the old days – and specifically was not allowed to be translated to the language that people could understand. There was an obvious reasoning behind that rule, which had to do with maintaining power and control.

In a democracy, however, it often works the opposite way around: things that people generally don’t understand are easily voted down. The only reason Tony Abbott was able to get away with his “Carbon Tax” lie, was that people didn’t understand – or couldn’t be bothered to find out – what the underlying reasoning for the system was. Abbott’s opponent, Kevin Rudd, didn’t have the knowledge or the educational skills to explain it, or for some reason just couldn’t be bothered to.

If it can’t be explained in a way that people understand it, it is simply not good enough. Then it’s back to the drawing board and try again.
In the climate policy-making space we need systems based on some simple and plain logic that an average person is able to understand.

Do the principles of Finkel’s Clean Energy Target live up to that criteria? How many ordinary Australians have a clue what a CET is and how it works?



The Dutch Have Solutions to Rising Seas – A fascinating insight into forward-looking, innovative approaches to climate change being implemented in Rotterdam, and in the Netherlands more generally.

There could be no greater contrast to the myopic, self-serving, irresponsible charade played out this week in our Federal parliament over Finkel, climate and energy policy.

Australia has different challenges from the Netherlands, but the climate risks are equal if not greater, particularly in Northern Australia
Our “public servants” refuse to even discuss the seriousness of the challenge we face, doing everything they can to make it worse with their ludicrous support for the opening up of Adani and other new coal mines in the Galilee Basin and elsewhere.

In the process they add to the problems faced by the Netherlands and billions of other people around the world. Not to mention the disastrous implications for our own community, notably the north Queenslanders so beloved by Messrs Joyce, Canavan & Christensen.
For this dereliction of duty they will be held responsible”

Ian Dunlop, former coal executive


“As Turnbull said in 2010, by 2050 “all or almost all” of our electricity would need to come from sources that had zero, or near zero, emissions. There is no “technology neutral” policy that will get you to that point. What you need are policies that clearly discriminate, yet nobody is brave enough to say it.”
~ Graham Readfearn

» The Guardian – 21 June 2017:
Ten years ago Turnbull called out Peter Garrett on climate. What went wrong?
“After a decade of policy backflips and uncertainty, we are now being sold ‘technology neutral’ energy policy. But we need it to be discriminatory – and favour clean power.” By Graham Readfearn












Questions that didn’t make it
I had submitted these two other questions to chief scientist Alan Finkel:

Question 1 to Alan Finkel:
According to a poll done by Lowy Institute, nine out of ten Australians say they know that we are in a climate emergency, and that they are prepared to change their lifestyles and do what it is necessary to act on this.
To continue to burn coal is not to be doing what is necessary. Everyone knows that. The only ones who are in denial about it, are the coal industry, and the politicians. What I don’t understand is how a scientist like you, Alan Finkel, can be recommending that we continue to burn coal for decades to come. Surely you are fully aware about what is happening to our planet at the moment. Isn’t that something we need to respond to?

Question 2 to Alan Finkel:
9 out of 10 Australians understand that we are in a climate emergency. That’s what Lowy Institute tells us. That is a unified nation talking there – across all the political barriers. We basically all know we have to stop polluting the air.
So to think that we can just continue to burn coal as if climate change wasn’t happening… its like we think it is okay to be playing Russian roulette with our own children – with something as fundamental and important as their safety and survival.
Alan Finkel, please explain to me, in the light of a climate emergency, how can you justify this plan of yours, when you KNOW there is a risk involved? How can you justify burning more coal?
(The modelling in your report suggests coal would still make up more than half of electricity generation by 2030, and then slowly drop to about a quarter of the energy mix by 2050.)


…and two to environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg:

Question 1 to Josh Frydenberg:
Josh Frydenberg, have you thought through what that means for a party that wants coal to continue at a time when coal is becoming more and more unpopular?
The only ones who like coal nowadays are the people in the coal industry, and you, politicians.
But when it is unpopular, and we live in a democracy, it means one of two things:
Either you and your coal-supporting colleagues will be out of business as a government after the next election.
OR: it means people and businesses will simply make that shift on their own – they will start using less and less electricity, they will find their own ways of reducing their carbon footprint. They will do what is necessary.
So either way, you are betting on the wrong horse.
My question is: when the Australian people clearly don’t want any new coal mines or new coal-fired power stations, they want energy solutions that are safe – why aren’t you listening? Aren’t you afraid coal will become a major election loser?

Question 2 to Josh Frydenberg:
The program is called Q&A – “question and answer”. I like the “Qs” but we don’t always get the “A”.
A couple of weeks ago, deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce was asked an important question, which he just laughed about and didn’t even reply.
It was about the prospect that he could be facing a climate crimes tribunal. The question was that if, in the future, he was to be charged for committing a “climate crime”, then what would be his defence?
I’d like to ask Josh Frydenberg the question again – and it would be good to actually get an answer. You can’t just laugh about, as if it’s just too far out. It is not!
How can you justify using public money on subsidising climate-wrecking fossil fuels with billions of dollars, continuing to pollute our atmosphere with burning coal, and even to be helping Adani with starting the world’s largest coal mine, when you know the consequences – when you KNOW that our carbon emissions are putting us all in peril, and even more so the future generations?


“We are now living the global warming tipping points we feared 25 years ago. Methane is literally exploding out of the northern tundra as the ground warms. Soils everywhere are becoming a carbon source rather than a carbon sink. Zero emissions was needed 20 years ago, not 35 years from now as Labor suggests or 85 years from now as the coalition suggests.

My questions is, how will Josh Frydenberg and Mark Butler justify their hopelessly irresponsible climate stances to their own children 20 years from now?”
Bryony Edwards, who also attended the Q&A-session on 12 June 2017


“The fact that we still have politicians holding up lumps of coal in our national parliament as some sort of testament to the fossil’s future is breathtaking in its stupidity, and indeed its complete failure to recognise some very simple basic economics. This suggests stupidity on the part of our elected officials, simple economic illiteracy, or just sponsored obfuscation.”
Tim Buckley, industry analyst

» The Guardian – 16 June 2017:
Our energy policy: stupidity, economic illiteracy, or sponsored obfuscation?
“The scale and pace of change in energy markets globally is staggering. So why isn’t Australia catching up with the rest of the world?” Article by Tim Buckley


» Bloomberg – 15 June 2017:
Solar Power Will Kill Coal Faster Than You Think
“Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s outlook shows renewables will be cheaper almost everywhere in just a few years.”





» ThinkProgress – 15 June 2017:
Forget coal, solar will soon be cheaper than natural gas power
“Renewables to capture three-fourths of the $10 trillion the world will invest in new generation through 2040.”





 LISTENER SERVICE: 

Content of this hour

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





About the Act on Climate Vic campaign

Friends of the Earth Australia’s community-powered ‘Act on Climate’ campaign for action on climate change was launched in January this year. The group has been building up momentum at a break-neck pace. They brought together a new collective, established a support network, and helped get the Victorian Climate Change Act through the upper house.

Despite alarming melting of the polar icecaps and unprecedented bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, federal Treasurer Scott Morrison didn’t even mention climate change in his 2017 Budget address. Ignoring the problem leaves communities exposed to climate impacts.

In contrast, Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas noted in his budget speech that “climate change is a genuine threat.” It is. And it’s why FoE’s new Act on Climate collective has launched a campaign for the Andrews government to deliver Victoria’s first ever climate budget.

Over the last few weeks the Act on Climate team has put the climate budget on the agenda with an opinion article in Renew Economy and engaging key government MPs. A team on volunteers distributed hundreds of pamphlets at the Victorian Labor party’s state conference in May, where they discussed the idea with Guardian columnist Van Badham.

This highly visible political work is underpinned by work in community. An info night on 13 May 2017 was attended by thirty climate-concerened citizens. And they have been connecting with friends out in the Central Goldfields, Loddon, Buloke, Pyrenees, Northern Grampians, and Ararat area for months.

Will you support Act on Climate’s vital work by chipping in to our start up fund? There’s still a few weeks before the end of financial year so you can still make a tax deductible donation to support our community work.

Both one-off and ongoing monthly donations will help keep the Act on Climate coordinator role going. This means there’s someone on deck to keep the community collective together, convene weekly meetings, run skills share sessions, and undertake crucial on-the-ground work in regional Victoria.

Your support can help make our vision of a climate budget for Victoria a reality.

Leigh Ewbank is Friends of the Earth Australia’s Act on Climate (Vic) coordinator

» More on Facebook:
#ActOnClimateVic
#ClimateImpactsVic
#VicClimateSolutions

» More on Twitter:
#ActOnClimateVic
#ClimateImpactsVic
#VicClimateSolutions



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Vision for a renewable energy park at Point Henry

On air phone interview with Cam Walker in The Sustainable Hour no 173 about his group’s vision for the industrial aluminium smelter site at Point Henry in Geelong, a plan of turning the old smelter site into a renewable energy park

“We’ve been working on this for the past year and while we do not as yet have approval for the proposal from state government, following our involvement in the consultation process, the idea of a renewable energy park is now included in draft government documents that relate to the future of the site.

If we do secure formal government support, it will be an enormous project – we’re looking at a project featuring four-six 3MW towers – but we are working in a consortium with a wind developer and a local solar installer business in Geelong. After working behind the scenes for more than a year, we’re at the point where we wanted to let everyone know what we’re doing.”

Friends of the Earth Melbourne has worked with WestWind Energy, Green Earth Electrical, Manage Carbon, universities, trade unions, traditional owners and local businesses using electricity in the area.

The Point Henry aluminium smelter was located on a peninsula near Geelong and operated for many decades prior to its closure in 2014. Since then, both Alcoa, who operated the smelter, and the state government have been considering what to do with the site. It is a sprawling and heavily contaminated industrial site, situated on land of cultural significance, plus conservation areas and other industries.

The smelter used a lot of electricity, which was transmitted by a high voltage connection to the grid, which could be utilised if power was generated on site. A wind and solar energy park could be combined with a range of other uses including eco tourism, explains Cam Walker in the interview.

» Read more on www.melbournefoe.org.au



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Victorian offshore wind farm plans to power 1.2 million homes

Plans for an Australian-first offshore wind farm off Victoria’s south-east coast, which could provide almost a fifth of the state’s energy, have won cautious government support.

Key points:
• Wind farm could provide 18 per cent of Victoria’s energy and power 1.2 million homes
• Project still needs government approval
• Federal, state ministers have given early support

Offshore Energy has been working with the Federal Government on a feasibility study for the 250-turbine proposal, and will present details of the plan to a Victorian Government-led energy roundtable in Churchill today.

The wind farm — which would be built 10–25 kilometres offshore in waters near Port Albert — would spread over 570 square kilometres in Commonwealth waters, and could provide 18 per cent of the state’s energy.

» ABC News – 2 June 2017:
Offshore wind farm proposed for waters off Victoria’s Gippsland



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GEELONG GALLERY:

Luminous climate change art piece

‘Luminous relic’: Time-lapse moving images of Geelong industrial complex – painted into a collapsing ice shelf.

“A sense of intimate connection between industry, carbon emissions, the end of the fossil fuel era, and a lurid dawn heralding freak winds and, far across the ocean, a collapsing ice shelf, underlie the artistic response from each artist.”

Interview with gallery director Jason Smith in The Sustainable Hour no 173 about ‘Luminous relic’ – a major collaborative painting and moving image work by Mandy Martin and Alexander Boynes, with a score by Tristen Parr. Based on fieldwork around industrial Geelong, this urgent politically charged work examines the ongoing and cumulative effects of industry on landscapes, fragile ecosystems and human conditions.

The exhibition is on until 9 July 2017.

» Read more on www.geelonggallery.org.au

» Exhibition catalogue (PDF, 18 pages)


Related:

» Center for Climate Safety – 27 April 2017:
Refinery’s social license up for public discussion

» Center for Climate Safety – 21 April 2017:
Guy Abrahams: Harnessing the power of the arts for change

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Jens Lysdal: ‘Time’

“A thought-provoking poetic song about climate change and our obligations toward our children.”

The Danish songwriter Jens Lysdal focuses on climate change in his new song and animated video ‘Time’. The video was created by the Portuguese artist Sónia Nisa and the Danish-Brazilian animator Peter Lopes.

In a press release Lysdal elaborates on his position as a musician with a message:

“To me it is completely unthinkable that as a singer and musician in 2017, I should not be including the issue of climate change in my work. If artists believe that they have a function other than pure entertainment and that it’s not a job like any other to pay the bills, then these years should lead to self-reflection among those whose music only revolves around personal and daily issues. It is a little bit as if the Titanic musicians were promoting and promoting their latest album while the ship went down.”

Jens Lysdal’s music is CO2 neutral. On 12 January 2014 he made a vow to carbon-offset all transportation connected to his musical activities, and becoming a “non-polluting artist” he started “spreading the consciousness about our individual responsibility for the state of the planet. Making artists a platform for behavioural change, by using their visibility and frontrunner and rolemodel-potentials.” 

» Read more on www.lysdal.com/CO2-neutral-music

» Buy and download the song ($1)

» Jens Lysdal’s Facebook page:
www.facebook.com/jenslysdalmusic

» Jens Lysdal’s home page:
www.lysdal.com


More info in Danish language here:

» Bands of Tomorrow – 5 June 2017:
Jens Lysdal sætter fokus på klimaforandringerne i ny single

» Gaffa – 5 June 2017:
Jens Lysdal klar med flot miljøvideo om børns fremtid


More on the topic of musicians and climate change here:

» Centre for Climate Safety:
Concerned musicians communicate climate problems





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Climate emergency motion passed in association of municipalities

On 12 May 2017, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), the legislated peak body for 79 local governments in Victoria, passed a climate emergency motion, with 77 per cent of voting municipalities in support.

Darebin Councillor Susan Rennie put forward the motion:


Motion 56.   Climate Change

Submitting Council: Darebin City Council
Motion:

That the MAV recognise that:

(a) we are in a state of climate emergency that requires urgent action by all levels of government, including local councils

(b) human induced climate change stands in the first rank of threats to humans, civilisation and other species

(c) it is still possible to restore a safe climate and prevent most of the anticipated long-term climate impacts – but only if societies across the world adopt an emergency mode of action that can enable the restructuring of the physical economy at the necessary scale and speed;

(d) the MAV has a particular role in assisting local governments in this regard.





“Climate change is an international, national and local concern and Victorian councils want and expect the Australian Government to develop policy settings that will ensure Australia can reach zero net emissions before 2050. (…) We call on the Government to develop policy that is informed by credible science and to become a leader in climate change policy.”

“There is an urgent need for the Government to show strong leadership, to trust in science, and to support regulatory settings that foster innovation and investment in clean energy. A steady, evidence-based approach that has bipartisan support is essential.”
MAV submission to Government to Review of Climate Change Policies, May 2017

» www.mav.asn.au

What did your council vote?

Find out!

The vote was by secret ballot. Contact the MAV representative on your council and arrange a meeting to talk about the motion and ask them which way they voted. A great conversation starter.

» The list of representatives for each Victorian Council can be found at www.mav.asn.au


More about this topic:

» Centre for Climate Safety – 11 April 2017:
Thought leadership: How local councils crunch the climate stalemate


College presents declaration of climate emergency with 18k strong petition

A cadre of politicians and engineers have submitted a petition of 18,000 signatures to the Australian Government calling for on the Australian Parliament to declare a climate emergency.

» Read more on www.engineersaustralia.org.au



Mammal extinction in Australia
The clock is ticking for some of Australia’s most unique wildlife and habitats, writes the Nature Conservancy Australia: Australia’s rate of modern mammal extinction is greater than any other continent on Earth. Overwhelming threats are devastating Australia’s unique wildlife, habitats, and natural resources. Climate change, invasive species, unsustainable development, overfishing, and pollution are just some of the challenges faced by our natural environment, and its inhabitants, every day.

» www.natureaustralia.org.au



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“Society is becoming more aware of the implications of climate change and will DEMAND change!”
~ Allan Begg



Significant new Australian polls:

Broadening of public concern

New Lowy and Global Challenges Forum polls on climate change show a majority Australians understand what is happening with our climate and are ready to get involved, “even if it requires making considerable changes that impact on our current living standards”.

54 per cent of Australian adults – up from 36 per cent since 2012 – say ‘global warming is a serious and pressing problem [and] we should begin taking steps now even if this involves significant costs’.

According to Lowy’s poll, 57 per cent of Australians think climate change is a critical risk for the country over the next ten years. A massive 87 per cent of respondents see it as a threat.






Similar results were highlighted in a survey done by the Global Challenges Forum, which found that eight out of ten Australians – 81 per cent of the 1,000 Australian participants in the poll – agree with the proposition: “Do you think we should try to prevent climate catastrophes, which might not occur for several decades or centuries, even if it requires making considerable changes that impact on our current living standards?”

“Australians overwhelmingly want governments to favour renewable energy over fossil fuels even if it costs more, and concerns about climate change are strengthening, a new Lowy Institute poll finds. The survey of 1,202 adults during the first three weeks of March found 81 per cent of respondents wanted policymakers to focus on clean energy sources such as wind and solar, even if it costs more to ensure grid reliability.

» Brisbane Times – 7 June 2017:
Australians want focus on renewables not coal, Lowy poll finds

These are significant findings in a #StopAdani and #ClimateEmergency context. The Victorian Labor government has clearly understood which way the public wind blows – whereas federal politicians and Queensland politicians have locked themselves into mysteriously close ties with a polluting and losing industry.

In the US, a new poll reported a majority of Americans saying that climate change is “extremely or very important” to them.

“Climate may finally be clearing the ‘salience hurdle’ used as a shield by reluctant politicians,” commented Charles Komanoff from the Carbon Tax Center.


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“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should start backing people instead of polluters.”


“Why support Paris and do nothing to curb emissions, Josh Frydenberg? We need clean energy not dressed up coal.



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About the Finkel Review

A “blueprint for Australia’s national electricity market” – known as the Finkel Review – was handed down on 9 June 2017. So what should we think about it? Here are some of the comments it has received.

“The Finkel Report has little if anything to do with the real issues around climate change, it is all about satisfying the Coalition party room.”
~ Mungo MacCallum, Independent Australia


“The data published in The Audit paints a picture of an electricity sector operating without regard for climate policy.”
~ Dr Hugh Saddler, author of the National Energy Emissions Audit


» The Huffington Post – 15 June 2017:
Why The Finkel Review Sells Australia’s Climate Future Short
“The harm done in the last 10 years cannot be undone. The next steps could not be more important.” By Dr Graeme McLeay, anaesthetist and member of Doctors for the Environment Australia


» Friends of the Earth Australia – 9 June 2017:
Coalition’s Finkel fail: Energy review fails on science and ignores health impacts on community
“Dr Alan Finkel, Australia’s chief scientist and founder of Cosmos magazine, has failed to account for the latest science on climate change and health impacts from coal.”

“The Finkel Review ignores the carbon price demand by scientists and climate economists and cogently articulated by science-trained Pope Francis that the environmental and human cost of pollution must be “fully borne” by the polluters;  it advocates a disastrous and exceptionalist long-term use of dirty fossil fuels by Australia; and it incorrectly advises a coal to gas transition, despite the reality that, depending on the degree of systemic gas leakage, gas-fired power can be dirtier greenhouse-gas-wise than coal-fired power.”
~ Dr Gideon Polya

» Countercurrents – 17 June 2017:
Australia’s Finkel Review Ignores 25 Key Climate Emergency Realities and Advocates Long Term Gas & Coal Use



» Climate Action Moreland – 14 June 2017:
The Finkel Review: Not Just a CET – It’s Actually About Keeping the Lights on
Andrea Bunting wrote: “Interested in what the Finkel Review is actually about, instead of the media hype? Media reporting on the Finkel Review has focused mainly on the Clean Energy Target. Climate folk have focused on what it means for renewable energy and coal. But the Finkel Review was primarily about trying to fix a dysfunctional National Electricity Market – in particular keeping the lights on and electricity affordable as we transition away from fossil fuels to renewables. This article deals with the whole review. There are many great recommendations, including the need to develop an overall energy plan for Australia.”

Energy emissions audit
The first edition of the National Energy Emissions Audit, written by respected energy analyst and ANU Honorary Associate Professor Dr Hugh Saddler for The Australia Institute, finds that Australia’s total energy emissions have increased, the Audit has identified serious omissions in the Finkel review. It ignores the state renewable energy targets adopted by the Victorian and Queensland governments and it does not address the issue of how the electricity sector should contribute to Australia’s overall emissions reduction task, when experts agree the sector should be doing the heavy lifting. 

» Download The National Energy Emissions Audit (PDF)


10 basic electricity facts

Climate Councillor and Energy Expert Andrew Stock wrote:
“After spending 40 years working in the energy sector I know that a comprehensive national plan could not be more important or urgent.

In the wake of blackouts in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, debates have reached fever pitch about the future of Australia’s energy. This prompted the COAG Energy Council (Australia’s federal and state energy ministers) to establish the Finkel Review to respond to concerns about Australia’s energy security.

This is a big moment for Australia to decide on the future of our energy security. So we’ve created a handy guide to help you navigate the Finkel review.

It’s absolutely crucial that the Finkel Review’s recommendations are consistent with limiting global temperature rise to well below 2°C. Its proposed policies must incentivise a rapid scale up of renewable energy and storage, which can deliver secure, cost competitive electricity supply for all Australians into the future.

Understanding the electricity market in Australia can be confusing. That’s why we’ve created this short fact sheet to help you navigate the energy debate.”

» See the fact sheet on www.climatecouncil.org.au

» Australian Government – 9 June 2017:
Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market

» Download the Finkel Review: Blueprint for the future (PDF, 212 pages)

» More documents


» The New Daily – 11 June 2017:
Finkel review: Josh Frydenberg faces balancing act on energy policy

» The New Daily – 12 June 2017:
Fog of war thickens after Abbott’s climate comments





 ADDITIONALLY: 

In other news

From our notes of this week: news stories and events we didn’t have time to mention but which we think you should know about


Premiere in August

Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’. In theatres 24 August 2017. #BeInconvenient



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“We are now witnessing early warning signs of major methane release. If it gets out of control, there will be nothing humans can do to prevent the planet overheating quite rapidly.”

» Phys.org – 17 April 2017:
Early warnings of an out-of-control climate
“Global warming is edging perilously close to out-of-control, according to a growing number of scientific reports from round the planet, a leading science writer has warned.”


» Washington Post – 3 October 2016:
How the Earth will pay us back for our carbon emissions with … more carbon emissions
“The really scary thing about climate change is not that humans will fail to get their emissions under control. The really scary thing is that at some point, the Earth will take over and start adding even more emissions on its own.”



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“Renewable energy capacity in 2016 rose 17% to 921GW, excluding hydropower, and rose 8.7% to 2,017GW when including hydropower. At the end of 2016, more than 24% of global electricity was produced by renewables, dominated by hydropower and with wind contributing 4.0% and solar 1.5%.”

» The Guardian – 6 June 2017:
‘Spectacular’ drop in renewable energy costs leads to record global boost
“Falling solar and wind prices have led to new power deals across the world despite investment in renewables falling.”


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“In December 2016, the World Economic Forum reported that as the cost of producing wind turbines has fallen by more than 30% in the last three years, the cost of electricity from wind power has fallen to $50 per megawatt hour on average worldwide, without subsidies. That’s half the cost of coal.”

» BBC – 6 June 2017:
The massive farms harnessing an invisible force



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“Zero emissions several decades from now is a furphy. We are already amidst the tipping points.”
~ Save The Planet



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How to get effective long-range climate policies in a democracy with a three-year election cycle?

“The creation of a multi-party committee or independent body responsible for policy on climate change could be achieved by election of a party whose platform promotes such a plan, or perhaps by referendum. Either strategy might achieve significant support since most people want the government to tackle climate change but nobody wishes to be treated unfairly.”

» New Internationalist – 28 August 2015:
Half-baked and out of time
“How do we escape our evolutionary shortcomings to avoid climate catastrophe? asks Helen Camakaris.”



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“I’ve written a net page in which I argue that dishonestly opposing renewable energy and supporting the fossil fuel industry is the greatest crime in the history of humanity. I’d be interested in constructive criticism.”
~ David K Clarke

» The Ramblings of a Bush Philosopher – 12 February 2017:
Greatest crime in the history of humanity



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Terrorism and coal

Terrorist attacks have killed an annual average of about 20,000 people world-wide over the last ten years. In Australia, a total of three people were killed by terrorists in the 20 years to October 2016.

According to the World Health Organization around seven million people die each year due to air pollution, much of it due to the burning of fossil fuels, especially coal.

The Australian government has rightly said that terrorism must be taken very seriously.

Australia exports more coal annually than any other country, in fact it exports more than twice as much coal as the next country, Indonesia. Considering that air pollution from the burning of coal kills something like a hundred times as many people world-wide as does terrorism, it would be reasonable to suppose that our government would be doing all in its power to save lives by replacing coal with renewable energy as quickly as possible.

Are they? No, they want to mine even more of this killer commodity; they don’t give a damn how many people it kills (or the damage it is doing to the climate and the oceans), there is money in it.

I wonder, if there was a hundredth as much money to be made from terrorism as there is from coal, would our government be supporting terrorism?
~ David K Clarke










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Acknowledgement

We at The Sustainable Hour would like to pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land on which we are broadcasting, the Wathaurong People, and pay our respect to their elders, past, present and future.

The traditional owners lived in harmony with the environment and with the climate for hundreds of generations. It is not clear – yet – that as European settlers we have demonstrated that we can live in harmony for hundreds of generations, but it is clear that we can learn from the indigenous, traditional owners of this land.

When we talk about the future, it means extending our respect to those children not yet born, the generations of the future – remembering the old saying that…



The decisions currently being made around Australia to ignore climate change are being made by those who won’t be around by the time the worst effects hit home. How utterly disgusting, disrespectful and unfair is that?




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“Participation – that’s what’s gonna save the human race.”
Pete Seeger, American singer




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