Change will come from the ground up

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On 29 November 2014, residents in Victoria will be voting on who should be their leaders in government. In this and the following Sustainable Hours, we look into what this means. Today we talk with two artists about the topic: Colin Mockett who is an actor and entertainer, and Jane Kempe who is a painter and a cartoonist.

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“The mainstream candidates are much too busy standing behind their leaders and having the photograph taken, or standing on street corners and giving away things, and having their photograph taken, and they aren’t concerned with what I want them to be concerned with, of which the environment is front and centre. I am concerned that the environment is being largely ignored by the mainstream candidates. Instead of just all the feelgood-stuff that they have been saying, if we can get them to address the issue, we have at least done something,” says Colin Mockett.

He challenged two candidates in his electorate over Facebook. As Number One, he wrote, he would like to see the Anglesea power station shut down, and the anti-wind farm laws repealed. He got a reaction from both candidates.

“Change will come from the ground up. It is not going to come from the top down. Fossil fuels are literally that: they are fossils. They are out of date. So there is a will on the part of the people to take initiatives. Some politicians have misread where the electorate stands on this,” says Jane Kempe. She has worked with arts projects around the world where politics meets arts, and where arts is used to create awareness and focus on the environment.

“I get a great deal of satisfaction knowing that I can make a difference with my art as well, in things that I feel strongly about,” she says.

Jane Kempe has worked with arts projects around the world where politics meets arts, and where arts is used to create awareness and focus on the environment.

“I get a great deal of satisfaction knowing that I can make a difference with my art as well, in things that I feel strongly about,” she says, and also explains why she believes in the saying, “Beauty will save the world” – a line from Dostoevsky’s novel, ‘The Idiot’, attributed to the main character, Prince Myskin, an epileptic Russian nobleman.



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Jane Kempe’s ‘Derek Seagull’, published in a Barwon Heads newspaper

We also talk about what is behind the Victorian government’s current full page advertisements about natural gas in the local Geelong newspapers? Why should taxpayers be paying for that kind of promotion for fossil fuels? And do we need this large sum of money spent on gas infrastructure which is complete disregard of the latest science on climate change, and the promise of rising gas prices.

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Advertisment in Geelong Advertiser, financed by the Victorian taxpayers.

“It would take some genuine journalism to ask the right questions, when for instance your own newpaper brings consecutive half and full page ads about ‘natural gas’ right after Geelong council has made a decision to ask for a permanent ban on onshore gas mining.”
» Local media silent about Council’s strategy launch


“The grid financial model will collapse within 10 years – for the early movers the time has come to get off the grid today. For the rest of us it’s time to buy a 15kW solar system, using the SRES, and shift off gas.”


» businessspectator – 10 November 2014:
Solar wins! Zombie-grid a dead man walking

Poster by The Australia Institute


The federal Australian government is moving to lower the renewable energy target, despite strong support for investment in cleaner energy sources. Recent research by The Australia Institute shows an overwhelming 90 per cent of people want more solar power in the nation’s electricity mix. It is time Australians begin asking themselves: If the rainy UK can produce 5,000 GigaWatts of solar, why can’t Australia?



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“My challenge still stands”

Colin Mockett challenges election candidates Christine Couzens and Paula Kontelj on Facebook

“Here they are in full campaign mode, candidates from the two big political parties in my electorate of Geelong for our forthcoming State election. That’s Labor’s Christine Couzens and Liberal Paula Kontelj. I challenged these candidates FIVE weeks ago to put climate-change policies front and centre of their electioneering campaigns. I said at the time I was concerned that we voters had allowed our State politicians to continue to support the 19th century technology of burning brown coal to generate our electricity. So far I’ve heard not a reply from either candidate.

In particular, I asked to see plans to close Alcoa’s redundant and now completely unnecessary Anglesea Power Station and the area reclaimed – lots of jobs there – as well as the scrapping of our state’s illogical windfarm restriction legislation, and a concrete, structured plan to close down our dirtiest power stations, starting with Hazelwood, to replace them with renewable energy inside a tight time-frame. Again, this can only lead to more job creation in the renewable energy sector.

And here was the payoff. I said I would judge who gets my vote solely on the candidate’s environmental policies. But if Christine and Paula didn’t come up with concrete environmental policies (or, as more likely, can’t because of party policy) then I would place them LAST on my voting list, and urge all my friends, fb and physical, to do likewise. As Geelong is a marginal electorate, you would have though this would have at least got some reaction. But no – my candidates have simply continued with their policy of high-street profile and picture opportunities with party leaders. But my challenge still stands, Christine and Paula, and it’s now less than FOUR weeks and counting…



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Geelong Clean Jobs Forum 2014

On Friday, we have invited Mark Diesendorf to Geelong, and we think you should meet him and hear what he has to say. This is why we organise the Geelong Clean Jobs Forum at GPAC.

You will also be able to hear Professor Lee Astheimer from Deakin University explain how Deakin and the massive ‘brainpower’ which this university represents can play together with Council and the business sector in the City of Greater Geelong, and Greg Jones from electric vehicle tourist company Bongo Transit will present a new vehicle he has designed.

Diversitat CEO Michael Martinez is MC, and six state election candidates will provide you with their perspectives on the topic, and so will the two films we show after the forum, ‘Reasons for Hope’ and ‘The Future of Energy’.

Entry is free, but booking is mandatory. Make a quick decision and sign up now, as the room will be fully booked very quickly.

» Click here to RSVP


Clean Energy Jobs for Geelong Forum
Friday 14 November 2014 at 4pm to 6pm, followed by drinks and films
Geelong Performing Arts Centre

Speakers: A/Prof. Dr Mark Diesendorf, University of NSW
Professor Lee Astheimer, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Deakin University
Greg Jones, Bongo Transit

Perspectives from State Election Candidates: Andrew Katos, Liberal; Christine Couzens, ALP; Doug Mann, Independent Candidate, Lloyd Davies and Bruce Lindsay, The Greens; Sarah Hathway, Socialist Alliance.

MC: Michael Martinez, Diversitat


BACKGROUND
Geelong could have a bright jobs future if it invests in the clean energy sector now, one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, according to Associate Professor Mark Diesendorf, keynote speaker at a Clean Energy Jobs Forum in Geelong on Friday 14 November 2014.

While numerous jobs have been lost in old industries in Geelong this year, the forum will outline how new technologies and strategies can bring job opportunities to the region by meeting the world’s demand for energy-efficient and renewable energy-based products.

“The aim of the clean jobs forum is to inspire our community and business leaders about the potential of the renewable energy and clean technology sectors for Geelong, and the new jobs that can be created,” said Mik Aidt from Geelong Sustainability.

“The forum will show that renewable energy and clean technology can create badly needed jobs in Geelong, providing the State government supports growth in this emerging sector.”

Already Geelong boasts companies such as Backwell IXL who manufacture frames for large solar farms, Austeng who build wind turbines, and Deakin University’s Carbon Nexus research centre on carbon fibre.

Deakin University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Lee Astheimer will also speak at the forum to outline Deakin’s vision for a low-carbon, clean technology future for the region, and the role the young and inventive ‘brainpower’ at a university like Deakin can play in the local economy.

Greg Jones from electric vehicle tourist company Bongo Transit will present a new vehicle he has designed, the Bongo Hero. Candidates for the state election have also been invited to speak in response to the keynote speakers to outline their policy commitments for renewable energy.

GetUp! – a grassroots group with 650,000 members Australia-wide – is currently running a ‘Vote Clean’ campaign asking voters to pledge to vote for pro-clean energy candidates at the upcoming state election.

“What’s lacking is real commitments from either of the major parties in the lead up to the State election to fund and support renewable energy and clean industries in Geelong,” said Dan Cowdell, GetUp’s Geelong organiser.

“That’s why we’ve invited the candidates from all parties to come to the forum and respond to the speakers with their policy commitments to make a thriving renewable sector a reality in Geelong and beyond.”

With the recent launch of a new environment strategy, the City of Greater Geelong supports the clean energy call, and last month Geelong Councilors underlined their support for local growth in the renewable energy sector, when they wrote to the State Government calling for a permanent ban on onshore gas mining and greater support for renewable energy.

At the 14 October 2014 Council meeting, Cr Rod Macdonald told his fellow councillors:
“Look across the world and see the restrictions being placed on fossil fuels. I think it says to us the time for us now is to invest in renewable industry and not the industries of the 18th and 19th centuries. I think it is time to send a message. This municipality can be amongst the leaders to say that we want a renewable sector developed, and we want it now!”


Video about GetUp’s door knocking campaign for clean energy – on Youtube.com and Facecook.com



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‘Reasons for Hope’ film screening campaign

“Citizens are getting active across the country the week of the G20, starting with small gatherings in cafes and lounge rooms, building to a global social media campaign.

Australian Conservation Foundation is asking hundreds of its members to host a small gathering to show climate change is on your agenda.

“Your gatherings may be small, but we’ll weave them all together into a BIG story, and amplify your work on social media, local media, on billboards in the G20 host city Brisbane, and with a large collaboration of allies in Australia and overseas. Networked, we reach millions.

At your event, you can do what people in every social movement have done since the abolitionists first proposed the then scandalous idea that slavery is immoral, since women’s suffrage circles first discussed the wild notion of women voting.

You can gather in a room and talk about why you care, the gifts you bring, and the possibilities you are willing to share.

So far, dozens of fabulous event hosts have stepped up:

• Noel in Mullumbimby will screen our short film Reasons for Hope plus another movie to make a film night at the local drill hall.

• Emerald on the NSW South Coast is hosting a vegetarian picnic.

• In Wonthaggi, Superpod are hosting an energy efficient house open day.

• Kathryn in Parkville is tempting friends with wine and cheese.

You can screen the 10 minute version of Reasons for Hope (we’ll send you the link or a DVD!), or you can create your own activity.

www.24hoursofreality.org/event/post

Instead of accepting that energy sources must shift (and renewable energy innovation is unstoppable!) big polluters are trying to rebrand themselves as saviours of humanity from poverty. Yet our friends in the Pacific, the Philippines and Pakistan tell us, people in poorer countries are hit worst and first extreme weather caused by climate change.

The ‘Reasons for Hope’ compilation video shares stories of heroes and innovators who are helping communities leapfrog over fossil fuels, out of energy poverty and straight to distributed, clean energy.

While eyes are on Australia for the G20, let’s gather with friends, family or colleagues, and show that climate change matters to us, even if our Prime Minister refuses to add it to the agenda. Register an event, we’ll send you a host kit, and our climate team will look after you and answer all your questions.”

» www.action.org.au



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CALENDAR

Recycling week highlights reuse options
This year National Recycling Week commences on Sunday 10 November 2014. It provides an ideal opportunity to find out about the recycling and reuse options available throughout the region.

» www.geelongaustralia.com.au/news/item/8d1b80e62d46ee2.aspx



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DIVESTMENT

United Nations’ Ban Ki-Moon talked about divestment when he was in Copenhagen last week. That is particularly significant, given the recent debate in Australia, and the fierce reaction from conservatives in the government and the media.

‘Record year’ for bank coal financing as latest UN climate warning looms
A report has shown that 92 of the world’s leading banks last year provided at least 66 billion euro in financing to 65 coal mining and energy companies, and 373 billion euro (US$500 billion) in total between 2005 and April 2014.

In other words, even after the publication in 2012 of numerous reports on climate change and the clear, present and irreversible danger burning fossil fuels poses to life as we know it, bankers keep shutting off from this reality and hand out 66 billion euro to fossil fuel companies in 2013 alone. And this trend is continuing in 2014. This is how absurd things stand.

» See the report: www.banktrack.org

The question everyone of us must ask ourselves when we learn this, is: Is MY money being used to fund projects in the fossil fuel industry?

If you find out that your bank is investing in destroying our planet, along with the 92 other leading commercial banks, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out what you need to do next. It’s a pain in the ass, but you gotta do it!

» Australians can find out more about their bank here: www.marketforces.org.au/banks/compare and about super funds here: www.superswitch.org.au

» Super fund with 100% renewable energy: Future Super, www.myfuturesuper.com.au



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Let’s talk about climate change

The Earth is locked on an “irreversible” course of climatic disruption from the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and the impacts will only worsen unless nations agree to dramatic cuts in pollution, an international panel of climate scientists warned on Sunday.

» www.washingtonpost.com

“The United Nations and its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has delivered a stark warning to Australia that its climate and clean energy policies are at direct loggerheads with scientific consensus, and what the world needs to do to address climate change.”


» RenewEconomy:
IPCC warning to Australia: Wrong way, go back

“Though this report is breezy by IPCC standards, coming in at a mere 116 pages with a 40-page summary for policymakers, Grist boiled it down a bit more. Here, with some charts, are 10 key things to take away — many of them familiar from the IPCC installments that have come out over the past 13 months.”

» Grist:
The 10 things you need to know from the new IPCC climate report


» United Nations Climate Panel:
Climate change 2014: synthesis report

» Read more about this report on: www.apo.org.au

» The Economist explains:
Why scientists are (almost) certain that climate change is man-made


Meanwhile, Australia’s power emissions continue to rise. Australia’s electricity grid emissions intensity rose again last month, bringing the total increase since the repeal of the carbon price in July to 10 per cent.

And with a G20 meeting coming up in Brisbane, the federal Australian government has refused to put climate change on the G20 agenda. “Not important”, says Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Instead he wants the world leaders to be talking about growth.

Big polluters have “hijacked humanity” and they drive the Australian government’s decisions. The government has demolished Australia’s polluter-pays law, spread doubt, told us wind energy is ‘utterly offensive’, and systematically undermined the country’s Renewable Energy Target.

The Renewable Energy Target uncertainty is starting to show in wind generation trends. Renewable energy investment in Australia dropped 70 per cent in past year, reported Climate Council. Australia is losing green business overseas as China and US exploit global shift to renewables


» www.theguardian.com

» www.businessspectator.com.au

» The Conversation – 7 November 2014:
Our kids need to learn about climate change
Kids need to learn about climate change in a way they can understand, and that teaches them they can help.


Recent world news on climate

  • Australia repealed its carbon tax–and emissions are now soaring (Vox)
  • Brazil wants richer countries to step up on climate (The Hill)
  • Rich nations forced IPCC to ‘drop’ key climate chart: Centre for Science and Environment (PTI)
  • What’s the environmental impact of modern war? (Guardian)
  • G20: Australia resists international call supporting climate change fund (Guardian)
  • Energy, economy topping PM’s G20 agenda (The Hindu)
  • G20 to focus on economic growth (Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Melting sea ice doubles the chance of harsh winters in other parts of the world (PTI)
  • Why snow machines are cold comfort as alps warm (Guardian)
  • Opec: Oil demand to hit 111m barrels by 2040 despite climate change (Telegraph)
  • Inter-university consortium embarks on glacier studies (The Hindu)
  • Geoengineering could prevent climate effects caused by giant volcanic eruptions (Guardian)
  • Climate change could mean more winter precipitation, summer heat waves for Finland (Alaska Dispatch)
  • This week, Canada’s poor climate change reputation got worse (Huffington Post)
  • Small islands need debt relief to pay for climate change (Guardian)
  • Meet the climate sleuths keeping carbon reporting honest (RTCC)
  • Panama’s climate struggle (Deutsche Welle)
  • Will polar bears become extinct? (BBC)

» Source: Climate Nexus


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