Upcycling, downshifting and climatically having a go

Guests in the Sustainable Hour no 218 are: Claire Ziegler, a member of Geelong Sustainability, the Repair Cafe in Highton and organiser of a World Environment Day event, and Colin Mockett, who is just back from Shanghai and has a great story to tell about what has happened there in the last year.

Over the phone we talk with Dr Martin Rice, head of The Climate Council, and David Holmgren, permaculture co-founder and author. We also play a clip with Jeremy Rifkin and a song by Baba Brinkman.


Saturday in Geelong


Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 218 on 94.7 The Pulse:

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 LISTENER SERVICE: 

Content of this hour

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






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DOCUMENTARY TV:

A radical new sharing economy

Watch VICE’s new documentary, ‘The Third Industrial Revolution: A Radical New Sharing Economy’

In a digitally-driven society, social and economic theorist Jeremy Rifkin describes the birth of a new economic system that can address climate change and create a more equitable and empathic world.

Jeremy Rifkin lays out a roadmap for the future to grow our economy and save the environment.

1 hour 40 min well worth watching

» The program was aired on SBS Viceland on 6 March 2018. It can be viewed in SBS On Demand

» And on impact.vice.com

Article about it:

» FastCompany – 26 April 2018:
Will The Third Industrial Revolution Create An Economic Boom That Saves The Planet?
“Jeremy Rifkin’s thinking about how to build a clean-energy powered, automation-filled future is inspiring major infrastructure plans in Europe and China. Can his new Vice documentary convince American business leaders to buy in?”



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SBS Insight in Narrabri

SBS Insight:

What happens to a region when coal seam gas comes knocking?

A special edition of SBS Insight travels to Narrabri to hear from those who may be affected by the Narrabri Gas Project and its infrastructure. More than 23,000 submissions were received by the NSW Department of Planning, making this the most protested project in the history of the department.

Gas company Santos has overseen exploration in the area in recent years and says these wells could provide up to 50 per cent of NSW’s gas needs. Last year, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urged the NSW Government to approve the Narrabri Gas Project.

But local opinion about the project is divided. SBS invited some of the key spokespersons in the same room and created a great program where everyone was heard.

» ‘Power Divide’ was aired on SBS on 29 May 2018.

Excerpts of statements by guests in the program:

“We need gas and coal energy to give a consistent research and development into renewable energy which is the ultimate goal to benefit the world. For that to happen we need gas and coal. If we were to just can it right now, it wouldn’t happen.”
~ Jack Campbell, Narrabri

“There is a big difference between canning it and not expanding it. We’ve got enough. Problems associated with this are to great for my family to bear, and to be honest, your family will too. I’m sorry that you don’t see it.”
~ Row Macrae, Coonamble

“I understand the concerns around water. We, all of our team here in Narrabri are locals, they live locally, they have their kids in the school, we absolutely don’t want to destroy what Narrabri has which is wonderful.”
~ David Banks, Santos

“Of course we’re concerned about the water and everybody should be concerned about water and that’s why you monitor it. But uncertainty, the way to manage uncertainty isn’t to do nothing, it’s to do research and science.”
~ Professor Andrew Garnett

“I haven’t seen any problems with Santos or with the gas because I’ve got gas all around me, there’s wells all around me. So if they wanted to put some on my place, I’d be very happy.”
~ Steven Jones

“We’re really excited about the potential opportunities that the project can bring to our area. So it’s really good to see that Santos have also shown great commitment to employing local people and engaging local contractors … Santos and agriculture can co-exist.”
~ Louise Tout

“I’m worried about the impacts to our sites, to our cultural heritage, to my connections. I’m talking about 10, 20,000 generations worth of connections, of responsibility, of ownership … If those places are destroyed, so are those connections.”
~ Steven Booby

“The pipeline, what it has brought to our community is a great sense of unease and a great sense of injustice in that we have been given no opportunity here to have a say in what happens on our land.”
~ Jeremy Borowski

“If the project gets approval, there is absolutely no reason why in this day and age those risks can’t be managed … [but] the concern is that this project could be a Trojan horse for something much larger.”
~ Matt Norrie

» SBS Insight – 29 May 2018:
‘We are fighting for survival and we simply cannot lose’
“When Row, a farmer and mother of five, found out her property was on the proposed route for a coal seam gas (CSG) pipeline she quickly began fighting against it – and she plans to do whatever it takes to keep her town CSG free.”

» SBS Insight – 29 May 2018:
How can science help in the divisive coal seam gas debate?
“Tensions run high when it comes to land, water and coal seam gas (CSG). But the CSIRO says they can help communities make informed decisions on the social and environmental impacts of CSG.”


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70 Australian councils join Climate Council program

Parallel to the Community Action for the Climate Emergency climate emergency program, the Australian Climate Council runs a ‘Cities Power Partnership’ program aimed at eventually including every local government in the country.

70 councils have signed up to the ‘Cities Power Partnership’ so far, representing around five million local residents, and more are coming. Recently seven Queensland councils joined the program, which originally kicked off with 35 Australian councils on board.

Councils which decide to join the program have around six months to produce at least five pledges to work towards. Things like setting city-level renewable energy targets, powering all council operations from renewable energy, for instance by installing solar panels on council facilities, and providing fast-charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Yearly progress reports are required, and smaller councils are linked with larger, more experienced councils for support.

Climate councillor and ecology professor Lesley Hughes told SBS Radio that “It’s a global problem but, really, the solutions are local, because it’s at the local level, of course, where emissions are made. And it’s been calculated that about 70 per cent of the emissions reduction necessary to meet the Paris targets will come from, or can come from, cities and towns. So cities and towns are really the key to moving towards a de-carbonised economy.”
    
Noosa Shire Council has completed a full audit of all of its actions, activities and facilities. They now have a five-year action plan to implement all sorts of things to do with zero emissions.

“That goes from the micro, which is changing over from exterior power tools to electric power tools, right through to the macro, which is putting in very large solar-panel systems on facilities like our aquatic centre. But, also, we’re seeking behaviour change on the part of councils, council staff,” Noosa’s mayor Tony Wellington told Andrea Nierhoff from SBS.

Darebin City Council, Moreland City Council, Mornington Peninsula Shire and City of Greater Dandenong have signed up. Neither Geelong Council, Surf Coast Shire or any other council in the Geelong region have signed up yet.

» See which councils have signed up



» Home page: www.citiespowerpartnership.org.au

» YouTube video about the program

» Climate Council’s home page: www.climatecouncil.org.au



Councils respond to the climate emergency




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Excerpt from Geelong Sustainability’s submission to Council

On 29 May 2018, Geelong Sustainability provided an outstandingly sharp six-page submission to City of Greater Geelong’s Council Plan and budget planning process. It points out the inadequacy when it comes to funding the good aspirations: How is Council to demonstrate leadership on addressing climate change if there is no funding for it?

Geelong Sustainability makes a strong call for more effective environmental leadership in the municipality.

An excerpt:

“5. Climate safety: OPL principle – Zero carbon
For Geelong Sustainability this issue is of critical importance. We believe allocating funds to purchase carbon offsets to meet greenhouse targets is a lost opportunity.

We were present in the chamber in April 2017 to congratulate the Administrators when they adopted the Zero Carbon Emissions Strategy and set the 50% emissions reduction target for Council operations by 2020. Knowing that emissions from Council’s operations only contribute 0.5% of Geelong’s total emissions, we continue to be concerned that the strategy falls short of what’s actually required.

It is important to remember that in 2015, leaders from 20 of the world’s largest economies called climate change “one of the greatest challenges of our time”, and when the rest of world’s governments got together in Paris, they all agreed. Just this month, a federal Senate Inquiry Committee delivered an evidence-based answer as to whether climate change presents Australians with an existential security risk or not. Their answer was again very clear – it does: “The committee notes the consensus from the evidence that climate change is exacerbating threats and risks to Australia’s national security. These include sea level rise, bushfires, droughts, extreme rainfall events, and higher-intensity cyclones.” (Chapter 6, ‘Conclusions and recommendations’, on page 99 in the Senate inquiry report ‘Implications of climate change for Australia’s national security’)

What this means is that both the physical, economical and mental well-being of Geelong’s rate payers is at stake here. Climate change is not just another bullet point on the budget’s long list of items that Council seeks to address. This is an unprecedented challenge for our community to tackle, and importantly, climate change is such a huge challenge that it can only be addressed if we tackle it together, in collaboration. We need the entire community on board.

In this light, it is commendable and significant to see Council stating that it intends to “show leadership to address climate change” as a strategic priority. Yet, when the only major initiatives in this area are to renew the Environment Management Strategy and start a Hard Rubbish Service Collection Trial it appears as if this statement is just that: a statement that looks good on paper, but will change nothing in the real world.

In Chapter 9, ‘Where rates are spent’, climate change is not even mentioned.

The total expense in the area amounts to $3.7 million, which mainly is to be spent on landfill upgrades, landscaping and water treatment, plus a minor grants program. Out of a $396m expenditure, $3.7 million is less than 1 per cent, and the projects covered within this 1 per cent can hardly be said to be “addressing climate change as a strategic priority.”

So our question is: how will Council genuinely and sufficiently address this critical challenge, which it acknowledges as one of the greatest challenges of our time? How will you show that you are taking this topic seriously and showing real leadership?

Has Council been briefed about what is happening in nearby regions? Darebin City Council, for instance, has adopted a community-wide climate emergency plan, and a number of other Australian councils are preparing similar measures.

We strongly recommend that Council fulfil their visionary statements by setting qualitative targets for the whole municipality – not just council operations. These targets need to be achieved through priority projects that have tangible aims, success criteria and budgetary resources.

Our neighbouring municipality Surf Coast Shire has a renewable energy target for the whole municipality that it should be powered by 25% renewable energy sources by 2020. That’s a start. Elsewhere in Australia, there are municipalities targeting to be powered 100 per cent on renewables already within the next five-seven years.

We encourage Council to up the ante and put a boost into our economy by turning words into action – by leading real change in the community with support and education to programs that efficiently address the issue. This is not only about updating Council’s Environment Management Strategy – this is about grasping the enormity of this moment and addressing the most dramatic crisis the human family has ever faced with strategic, economical allocations that will help make residents come together, work together and decarbonise our society.

6. Climate safety: Divestment
In February 2016 Cr Andy Richards moved a motion to Geelong Council that the municipality should divest. It said:

NOTICE OF MOTION – Cr Andy Richards – Fossil Fuel Divestment and Stranded Assets.
Fossil fuel divestment is the removal of investment assets including stocks, bonds, and investment funds from companies involved in extracting fossil fuels in an attempt to reduce climate change.
Stranded assets occur when the reserves of fossil fuel companies are deemed environmentally unsustainable and so unusable and so must be written off. Currently the price of fossil fuels companies’ shares is calculated under the assumption that all of the companies’ fossil fuel reserves will be consumed, and so the true costs of carbon dioxide in intensifying global warming is not taken into account in a company’s stock market valuation. Recently, several residents have approached council in regard to these issues, and seeking council to take a position on them.
Recommendation: That Council officers prepare a report for council on all issues surrounding fossil fuel divestment and stranded assets.

There has been little if any information from Council about the outcome of this motion. According to a list compiled by Fossil Free Australia, there are 32 councils in Australia that have divested, and more keep being added. Melbourne City Council divested from fossil fuels in 2015. Melbourne City Council divested from fossil fuels in 2015. Will the City of Greater Geelong divest?

There is a moral question here: Council says it will show leadership on climate change but remains exposed to fossil fuels via its investment strategy. As the renewable energy revolution rolls out, with communities ditching big electricity companies and taking power into their own hands – Council will be exposed to the fossil fuel industry of the old, polluting world and its inevitable collapse represents a direct financial risk. It is a gamble with ratepayers’ money.”

» Geelong Sustainability – 5 June 2018:
Council urged to demonstrate effective environmental leadership
 

» Read the six-page submission (PDF)



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Taking power into their own hands

Renewables in reality: reliable and cheap

“With the diesel generators, there were always blackouts and brownouts,” Wright says. EDL, the company behind the project, “came in with these two big windmills and the solar panels, and ever since it’s been extremely reliable.”

It’s strange to think that this mining town of 3,500 people has been quicker to adopt renewables than many parts of Australia. But Wright has a message for the rest of the country:

“Just put the bloody solar panels and the wind in and stop telling us it’s unreliable. They say, ‘It’s expensive’. But it’s going to be more expensive if none of us can bloody breathe.”

» Read the full article on www.cnet.com


» C|Net – 24 May 2018:
Off the grid: How renewable energy is helping remote towns take back the power
“Tired of blackouts, high energy prices and fossil fuels, communities are ditching big electricity companies and taking power into their own hands.”

» Reuters – 24 May 2018:
General Electric’s power unit fights for growth as wind, solar gain

» The New Daily – 30 May 2018:
Record year for rooftop solar as households seek to cut costs



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Colin Mockett

Colin Mocket: Shanghai’s clean energy revolution – Part 1

More segments with Colin Mockett:

Colin Mockett’s global outlook

The electric vehicles are here

Electric vehicles on the world’s roads will grow to 125 million by 2030, according to a new report, with China and Europe leading the way. As more and more utilities turn to wind and solar, fossil fuel plants and equipment providers are feeling the pain. Volkswagen is confident it can meet and even exceed its goal of selling 1 million electric vehicles a year by 2025.

» CNBC – 30 May 2018:
Electric vehicles will grow from 3 million to 125 million by 2030, International Energy Agency forecasts
“The number of electric vehicles on the road around the world will hit 125 million by 2030, the International Energy Agency forecasts. The world’s fleet of electric vehicles grew 54 percent to about 3.1 million in 2017.”

» Reuters – 29 May 2018:
Volkswagen expects to beat electric car sales goal on China, Europe demand


Lighter, cheaper, electric car to be built… in Geelong?

“We are looking at many investments in Victoria, especially in power. Two ideas, one is the fact that it is of course electric and we want to combine that with our solar and battery initiatives. One of the concepts is that household rooftops become the generator and the car battery becomes the battery for the house not just for the car and combine the two things for a composite solution.”

There are also plans for a lighter, cheaper, electric car to be built in “Australia absolutely and Victoria very possible” to begin production in 2021.

Neil asked if Mr Gupta would look at revitalising the old Ford Geelong or Holden Broadmeadows factories.

“Yes that is definitely consideration, the likelihood is we’ll go into one of those ex-car locations,” he said.

» 3AW News Talk – 1 June 2018:
‘The Man of Steel’: British billionaire looks at Victoria for future investments


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Baba Brinkman: ‘Greenhouse’

Album cover





 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


Reflect and respond on World Environment Day

For World Environment Day on Tuesday 5 June 2018 Earth Charter invites you to adopt a sustainable lifestyle.

“As we approach the 2018 World Environment Day (WED) on Tuesday, 5 June, we invite you to adopt a sustainable lifestyle by consuming ethically, sustainably, and responsibly. As you consider ways to respond to this year´s WED theme “Beat Plastic Pollution”, we encourage you to use two mobile phone apps to help you deeply reflect on our Earth and positively respond with sustainable actions.

The Deep Time Walk enables you to enter a deep experience by walking through a dramatized history of the living Earth. Sensitively designed by a team of experts using appropriate technology, the app encourages a shift away from the smartphone screen to instead connect with the natural world around you. Walk through 4.6 billion years of earth history, learn about humanity’s ancestral heritage with all life, experience what you are a part of and comprehend our geological impact. Download the Deep Time Walk on any Android or iOS device, available at 1/3rd off the usual price until the end of World Environment Day.

We also invite you to download the Mapting app to share with others activities and projects you are involved with and that help in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Earth Charter Principles. Anyone can respond in creative ways to this year’s call for the international community to collectively “Beat Plastic Pollution”. We would like to see a wave of activities shown in Mapting.”

“Adopt patterns of production, consumption and reproduction that safeguard Earth’s regenerative capacities, human rights and community well-being.”
~ Earth Charter Principle 7

“SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.”



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$444 million dollar “greenwash of pro-coal agenda”

By Senator Peter Whish Wilson, Greens spokesperson for healthy oceans

“We all know the Great Barrier Reef is in trouble. Threats posed by climate change, coral bleaching, land-clearing and new coal mines demand an urgent solution. But carelessly throwing the $444 million of taxpayers money for reef science to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation is not the solution. Precious reef funding ending up with an organisation whose Chairman’s panel and board includes hand-picked representatives from some of the world’s biggest polluters in Peabody Coal, Rio Tinto, Shell and BHP, is yet another example of big corporate donors running the government.

Does anyone seriously think big mining execs are the right people to put in charge of the science funding about the long term future of our Reef? That’s why we need an inquiry to investigate why this motley crew received so much money, and whether they’re capable of meeting the objectives of the Reef 2050 plan.”

» Share this square on Facebook, so we can hold the Government to account.”  



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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