Three brave Australians’ sustainability pilgrimages

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Today, The Sustainable Hour introduces you to three adventurous Australians who went one big step further to spread the message about the urgent need for change as far as our environmental impact and carbon footprint is concerned.

Mary Beth Gundrum walked 1,005.5 kilometres over 23 days to create awareness about the dangers of fracking – “walking would bring us more attention,” she explains – Steve Posselt is rowing his kayak to connect one climate disaster area with another, heading for the River Seane and Paris in three months’ time, and Benjamin Henzgen cycled 14,000 kilometres around Australia in 61 days to promote climate change action.

Meet them in The Sustainable Hour no. 81:

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


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Meanwhile, even those politicians who claim to be listening, such as the Labor state government in Victoria, are continuing their walk out the fossil foolish path. They talk about making changes, but judging from their actions, they are continuing to put profit over planet and people. Last week, the Victorian state government received 1,400 submissions about fracking, but why is it they even want to make an inquiry? Why don’t they simply ban the toxic gas industry all together, as they did it in Holland last week? And why on earth are they still issuing more licences to look for coal? It feels like betrayal, but that’s another story.

Sustainability News Bulletin

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The show features The Sustainable Hours’ youth reporter Jack Nyhof’s first Sustainability News Bulletin, which you can listen to here:


» Right-click to download audio file

The headlines:

China commits to stopping the rise of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and pledges to reduce the carbon intensity in its economy
» http://tinyurl.com/TSH-SN-140715-1

Bill Gates promises to invest up to US$2 billion dollars (AUS$2.8 billion) in renewable technology
» tinyurl.com/TSH-SN-140715-2

United Nations World Heritage Committee decides against the decision to list our Great Barrier Reef as in danger
» tinyurl.com/TSH-SN-140715-3

Abbott Government cuts funding to renewable energy projects, putting many jobs at risk
» www.smh.com.au/federal-politics

The Solar Impulse 2 airplane completes record breaking leg of world flight
» www.solarimpulse.com

USA: Judge rules youth petition must be reconsidered
» www.seattletimes.com

13 year old conservation photographer
Find our more: www.ashleighscullyphotography.com
» tinyurl.com/TSH-SN-140715-4

Greenpeace flag ship celebrates 30th anniversary
» www.greenpeace.org

Denmark generated 140% of power demand
» tinyurl.com/TSH-SN-140715-5



The music in the bulletin is the soundtrack for the People’s Climate March in 2014, ‘Divest!’ by Tem Blessed, published on www.youtube.com on 18 December 2012.



This is such an inspiring story. It's only a matter of time before the Australian government and its media allies will…

Posted by The Sustainable Hour on Sunday, 19 July 2015




 ON DEMAND 

Audio excerpts

from the 81st Sustainable Hour


Mary Beth Gundrum

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» Right-click to download audio file

Mary Beth Gundrum, Knitting Nannas Against Gas & Greed

12 Knitting Nannas walked over a 1,000 kilometres from Cairns to the very tip of Cape York to raise awareness about the risks of unconventional gas mining. Their concerns have been highlighted by a recent report in the Australian that said the loss of pressure caused by coal seam gas drilling “could be enough to stop bores flowing throughout the Great Artesian Basin, which is the sole water source for towns and farms across 22 per cent of Australia.”

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knitting-nannas-cape-york» www.nannadreaming.com.au

» www.facebook.com/nannadreaming

» Read more about the walk: 12 Nannas walking 1,000km’s



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Steve Posselt

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» Right-click to download audio file

Steve Posselt, Connecting Climate Chaos, Kayak 4 Earth

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Benjamin Henzgen

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» Right-click to download audio file

Benjamin Carlsen Henzgen has been interested in issues related to climate change for many years. This stemmed from his love of nature, and his love of cycling, he says. He has been passionate about both for many years.

“I quite enjoy running and hiking trails, as well as cycling. With my recent circumnavigation of Australia on a mountain bike, I endeavoured to frequently share numerous photos of the beautiful places I explored. And also, described in prose and poetry, the magnificence of the locations I adventured through.”

Benjamin Henzgen attempted to convey some of the vast collection of amazing areas he has had access to travel amongst, and the importance of saving them. He also hopes to inspire people to cycle more:

“If I can ride a mountain bike around Australia in all manner of despicable weather, hopefully they can ride to work at least once a week.”

As a teenager, Benjamin used to build and race solar powered cars. He worked for a sustainable construction company in Melbourne from 2007-2009, installing water tanks and solar panels. He completed a Diploma of Sustainability at Swinburne University in 2009.

The numbers:
• 61 days
• 14,134 kilometres
• 12 flat tyres
• 135 litres of milk
• 43 meat pies
• 12 coffees
• 72 iced coffees
• 343 hours of sleep

» www.facebook.com/BenjaminCarlsenHenzgen

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Video clip with Senator Scott Ludlam, Acting Greens Leader:

scott-ludlam200» See on www.facebook.com/Australian.Greens

“It is industrial sabotage. Abbott is trying to handcuff Australia to the coal and gas industry.”
~ Senator Scott Ludlam, Acting Greens Leader. See video clip



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Video clip with Senator Glenn Lazarus:

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» ABC News – 7 July 2015:
Senator Glenn Lazarus threatens to ‘use Hopoate tactics’ on Tony Abbott over coal seam gas mining

“I make no apologies for being one of the few senators in this place to stand up for the future of this country. The rest of the world is moving towards renewable energy and so should we.”
~ Senator Glenn Lazarus



Glenn Lazarus was voted into Australia’s Senate on the Clive Palmer ticket in 2013. He is now an independent – and has emerged as one of the most eloquent advocates of critical policies in the Senate. This is especially the case in the energy and climate change spheres. He said:

“The people of Australia want our country to move towards cleaner, greener energy. Everyone knows that dirty coal is bad. Everyone knows renewable energy is not only good for the planet but also good business sense – full stop.”

“I would also like to put on record that I am not party to the other dirty deal done between the Abbott government and the cross-bench which reduces support for the wind industry, puts in place additional layers of compliance and installs a national wind farm commissioner.”

“I make no apologies for being one of the few senators in this place to stand up for the future of this country. The rest of the world is moving towards renewable energy and so should we.”


» Source: www.reneweconomy.com.au

PLEASE help me secure an inquiry into the human impact of CSG mining. Sign, share and promote my petition. The health…

Posted by Senator Glenn Lazarus on Saturday, 16 May 2015


 OUR SOURCES 

Quotes, excerpts and links

…in relation to the 81st Sustainable Hour


 VICTORIA 

Onshore gas inquiry

Why does the Labor Government in Victoria keep a door open for the fracking industry?
Apparently, around 1,400 submissions were sent in to the State Parliament about the unconventional gas inquiry in Victoria. The Geelong Advertiser writes “more than 1,000”. That is even more than when New South Wales had a similar inquiry and received 900 submissions.

A committee of members of parliament will now be considering the submissions and make a final report to government in December.

» See the submissions


Public hearing in Torquay
And what is important: the inquiry will be organising a public hearing in Torquay on 12 and 13 August 2015.
Put those dates in your calendar and make sure you can be there! If you wrote a submission, this is the other very important thing you can do: show government officials and politicians that you really care enough about this to show up at a public hearing!


Public hearing in Melbourne
On Wednesday 22 July, a Victorian parliamentary committee is holding a public hearing in Melbourne in relation to the inquiry into unconventional gas in Victoria. The Committee is examining the potential economic, social and environmental impacts of onshore unconventional gas development.

» Read more


62nd community in Victoria declared gasfield free
Congratulations to Gormandale – a lovely little farming community in the Latrobe Valley – for becoming the 62nd community in Victoria to be declared gasfield free.



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 AUSTRALIA | POLICY 

Australians in uproar over financing-blow to renewables

When Tony Abbott and his ministers have banned the government’s clean energy bank from financing wind power and small solar systems it caused an uproar on social media, and in the mainstream media as well.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation was set up by the former Gillard government, and the Coalition’s policy is to abolish it altogether. Labor said the decision to stop investment in wind was part of the Coalition’s “relentless attack on the renewable energy industry”.

Tony Abbott was quoted as saying he and his Government have had “the best fortnight in the life of this Parliament.” Well, some of the “achievements” over those two weeks week were not only that he prevented the Clean Energy Finance Corporation from investing in wind farms and rooftop solar, but also tha he approved a huge coal mine in the Liverpool Plains.

Hashtags such as #StopTheWarOnWind‬ and #StopTheWarOnRenewables‬ were flooded with angry, frustrated or joking comments.

“Unbelievable! @TonyAbbottMHR gives us a coal mine in a food bowl and bans new #CEFC investment in clean #WindEnergy!”, tweeted Surf Coast Air Action.

“How can a so-called “environment minister” approve a huge Chinese-owned coal mine in the midst of the best Australian farmland?,” many asked.

While the government wants to shut down the Clean Energy Finance Corporation – which is providing funding for renewable energy projects with returns to the taxpayers – the government’s budget this year offered a five billion dollars loan scheme to coal companies that want to expand their activities in the Galilee Basin.

In Victoria, the Labor government recently issued permits to a coal company to explore for more coal in Gippsland, and a year ago the Victorian government handed out $25 million of taxpayers’ money to a Chinese coal company.

» The Age – 15 June 2014:
Chinese company gets $25m from Napthine and Abbott governments for Latrobe Valley brown coal project


 QUOTES: 

The reactions

“I believe Tony Abbott’s becoming a very real threat to the Australian way of life. This guy is out of control.”
~ Joel Fitzgibbon, Labor’s agriculture spokesman, interviewed by ABC’s Insiders


“An overt directive preventing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation from investing in wind reinforces a growing perception that renewable energy investors are not welcome in Australia. In the midst of a global race to attract investment and jobs in renewable energy, Australia has just thrown another weight in its own saddle bag.”
~ Kane Thornton, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council


“There is no sound economic base for the majority of [the Australian government’s] decisions.”
~ Kobe Bhavnagri, head of Australia at Bloomberg New Energy Finance


“I felt ashamed to be an Australian. I am 67 and I cannot remember of a previous prime minister so out of step with the thinking of the majority of Australians on so vital in issue.”
~ Graeme Brazenor, Richmond – in a letter to The Age, published on 14 July 2015


“Big coal puts a lot of effort into lobbying governments. A royal commission can be an expensive way to discredit political opponents but voters deserve an investigation of the links, financial and others, between big coal and the government.”
~ Rod Anderson, Sandringham – in a letter to The Age, published on 14 July 2015


“Tony Abbott, while you hold the title of prime minister, you are obliged to make decisions in the nation’s interests, based on scientific, economic, etc research. You are not entitled to govern to suit your personal predilections or vested interests. Your attitude to renewable and clean energy have left you on the wrong side of history. These issues transcend political alliance. The health of our children, and the environment they will inherit, overrides all other considerations. If you are unable to govern in our nation’s interests, please resign.”
~ Lloyd Shiled, Moonee Ponds – in a letter to The Age, published on 14 July 2015


“How a prime minister and treasurer can so blatantly undermine thousands of Australian jobs and billions of dollars in investment is beyond comprehension. Tony Abbott is abusing his office and the cabinet process by pursuing his own anti-wind ideology, enlisting fellow wind haters Joe Hockey to help bring down a whole industry.”
~ Mark Butler, the opposition’s environment spokesman


“It’s a wholesale attack on renewable energy. Not only is this a backwards environmental policy, it also puts thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investment in the renewable energy sector at risk.”
~ Mark Butler, Shadow Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water


 THE TREE: 

“Captain’s call to cut funding for clean energy is vindictive industrial sabotage”

“The Abbott Government’s job and investment-destroying attacks on renewable energy continue, with the Prime Minister ordering the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to cease investments in wind and rooftop solar projects.

Dubbed “revenge politics” and “an extremely vindictive form of industrial sabotage,” the decision comes just after the Government finally reached a deal with independent senators and Labor on reducing the Renewable Energy Target (RET). Solar-supporting senators that have twice blocked the abolition of the CEFC are already speaking out about the attempted gutting of its activities so soon after the Renewable Energy Target.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt appears to have no inkling the cut to rooftop solar support was coming, tweeting on Sunday morning that Government policy is to abolish the CEFC, but until then ensure it focuses “on solar and emerging technologies”. This signals a growing rift and communications breakdown inside the government due to Tony Abbott’s “captain’s calls”, but worse for the government: it also raises questions on the legality of Ministers giving direction to the CEFC, as under Section 65 of its Act they may not give a directive that is inconsistent with the object of the Act to facilitate finance flows into clean energy.”

KEY POINTS
• The Abbott Government is destroying jobs and investment by continually undermining renewable energy. Uncertainty drives away investors, and less investment means fewer jobs – especially given the government’s stated desire for focus on “emerging” and not mature technology. The CEFC has already carefully explained that it exists to “facilitate increased flows of finance into clean energy”. It does not specifically focus on kick starting riskier emerging technologies, but its role is rather to expand the full breadth of the industry. This is why it is able to generate more than a $1 profit for every taxpayer dollar invested. Compare this with the $3.5 billion the Government spends every year on fossil fuel exploration for products that cause health issues, death and climate change.

• Undermining renewable energy means higher electricity prices, and makes it harder for Australia to do its fair share to address climate change. The Abbott government’s oft-repeated claim that renewable energy support leads to higher electricity prices is willful misinformation that contradicts the conclusions of its own RET review. Undermining the CEFC’s ability to help poorer Australians, renters, and others that could not otherwise take advantage of the significant cost savings solar provides will hurt many people right now. Further damaging Australia’s ability to take credible climate action will hurt many more in the future.

• Fighting the renewable future is madness. The Government’s ongoing stealth attack on renewables is a last ditch attempt to protect coal and gas in Australia, but there is only so much it can do to slow the unstoppable clean energy transition. The coal industry is a zombie in terminal decline, and it looks as if gas is already on a similar path.

» Read more: www.treealerts.org



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A war on renewables = a war on jobs. Especially in regional Australia.

Posted by Jeremy Buckingham on Friday, 17 July 2015



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 THE CONVERSATION: 

“Grotesque”

“The examples are quite grotesque. Fuel rebate subsidies that mining companies receive run at A$2.2 billion per year. Meanwhile, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) is asked to cancel its A$2.1 billion in subsidies directed exclusively to windfarms – which have the ability to hurt coal.

Before it moved to neuter the CEFC, the Coalition has proposed what has been dubbed the ”Dirty Energy Finance Corporation” for Northern Australia. It will bewilderingly make up to A$5 billion available to subsidise infrastructure projects in northern Australia and Queensland in particular.

A source has suggested to me that the fund is actually an elaborate financial smokescreen to helping out the coal mines in the Galilee basin – particularly the Adani Enterprises mine, but also the GVK Alpha Coalmine. GVK Alpha, the largest coal mine in Australia, was approved 2 months after the Coalition assumed power, is part-owned by Gina Rinehart – and also stands to benefit from billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies.”


» The Conversation – 18 july 2015:
Australia’s ‘Carnival of Coal’ – can you feel the love?




Science news


 SEA LEVEL RISE: 

New report: Six metres sea level rise is inevitable

Seas could rise six metres even if governments curb warming, according to new study by a U.S.-led international team – published on 9 July 2015 in the journal Science.

Whatever we do now, the seas will rise at least five to six metres, says the new report. Many low-lying areas and cities around the world are doomed to go under. If that weren’t bad enough, without drastic cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions – more drastic than any being discussed ahead of the critical climate meeting in Paris later this year – a rise of over 20 metres will soon be unavoidable.

“Scientists published research today showing evidence that present temperature targets may commit Earth to at least six metres sea level rise.”
www.washingtonpost.com

After speaking to the researchers behind a series of recent studies, New Scientist made the first calculations of what their findings mean for how much sea level rise is already unavoidable, or soon will be. Much uncertainty still surrounds the pace of future rises, with estimates for a five-metre rise ranging from a couple of centuries – possibly even less – to a couple of millennia. But there is hardly any doubt that this rise is inevitable.

» Washington Post – 9 July 2015:
Why the Earth’s past has scientists so worried about sea level rise

» Reuters – 9 July 2015:
Seas could rise 6 meters even if governments curb warming: study

» New Scientist – 10 June 2015:
Latest numbers show at least 5 metres sea-level rise locked in
“It’s too late to stop the seas rising at least 5 metres and only fast, drastic action will avert a 20-metre rise, New Scientist calculates based on recent studies”

“Last year, some scientific studies indicated that parts of West Antarctica’s ice sheet had already passed a ‘tipping point’, and were locked in an unstoppable long-term thaw. Tipping is not just a theoretical possibility, it is a reality.”
Ricarda Winkelmann, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

» Daily Kos – 28 July 2014:
“Vast methane plumes escaping from the seafloor” discovered in Siberian Arctic Sea

» Slate – 28 May 2013:
The Arctic Ice “Death Spiral”

» Bloomberg – 16 January 2015:
2014 was the hottest year on record

» Switchboard NRDC – 29 April 2013:
Five Reasons We Need a New Global Agreement on Climate Change by 2015


 AUSTRALIA 

In the news: Climate change threats and risks

» Climate Institute – 13 July 2015:
Climate change threatens the stability of our financial system
New analysis by The Climate Institute: Australia’s financial system and climate risk

» Tree Alert – 9 July 2015:
Climate change risk should be assessed like national security risk – report

» The Guardian – 13 July 2015:
Climate change threat must be taken as seriously as nuclear war – UK minister
In foreword to Foreign Office report, Baroness Joyce Anelay highlights holistic risks of global warming, including food security, terrorism and lethal heat levels

» Climate News Network – 18 July 2015:
Climate threat as grave a risk as nuclear war
An international scientific report commissioned by the UK government says the risks of climate change are comparable to those posed by nuclear conflict. Article by Alex Kirby

» Sydney Morning Herald – 12 July 2015:
Welcome to 2050: Here’s what the planet has in store
Welcome to 2050. The days are hotter, the sun is harsher and sea levels are up. A series of extreme storms have hit NSW that have been directly linked to the warm ocean temperatures associated with global warming.



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Australian prime minister: Burn it all

“Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said he can imagine a future where the world no longer uses fossil fuels. That might seem like a major step forward for a leader who dislikes wind turbines and has cut the renewable energy target, but his vision has one major caveat: He can only see it once every tonne of coal and every molecule of gas has been burned.”
Giles Parkinson


» RenewEconomy – 6 July 2015:
Abbott imagines a fossil free future after its all been burnt



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“The Australian think-tank the Climate Institute says there are two key things to consider. The first relates to population – how much will Australia be emitting per person under the new target? The second relates to the economy – how much will it be polluting for every dollar of gross domestic product earned? Australia, you may not be shocked to learn, is a world-leader in both categories.”
Sydney Morning Herald



» Sydney Morning Herald – 10 July 2015:
Australia’s media watchdog: Alan Jones comments on UN climate change report inaccurate
The Australian Communications and Media Authority on Friday found Alan Jones, described on the station’s website as “the nation’s greatest orator and motivational speaker”, breached commercial radio codes in 2013 by making inaccurate comments about the rate of global warming.



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 NEW PUBLICATION 

Climate change conversations

Psychology for a Safe Climate has their latest publication ‘Facing the Heat: Stories of Climate Change Conversations’ available for free download:

» www.psychologyforasafeclimate.org


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jcj-front560

Journeys for Climate Justice is an innovative Australian not-for-profit organisation run by a team of passionate and dedicated volunteers, operating on minimal overheads. hey rely on ordinary Australians and members of the International community to fund their highly acclaimed projects to tackle climate change issues in the Asia Pacific Region. The organisation aims to address the inequitable impacts of climate change, which fall on communities that have contributed the least to the problem and have the least resources to cope with them.

» www.journeysforclimatejustice.org.au

» www.facebook.com/journeysforclimatejustice



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 RENEWABLES 

Wind power generates 140% of Denmark’s electricity demand

Wind power generated 140% of Denmark’s electricity demand over most of a full day last week. That was a new world record for a country.

Denmark has long been one of the world’s leaders in wind power. The country of 5.6 million has set a goal of generating 50 percent of its power from clean energy sources by 2020 and aims to be entirely fossil fuel-free by 2050. Those goals, especially the one for 2020, are well achievable: Denmark has announced it scored 39.1 percent of its energy from wind in 2014.

Renewables generated 50% of Scotland’s electricity demand in 2014 – will be 100% by 2020.

South Australia is well on track to reach the 50%, could reach 100% by 2030

It is absurd we are still discussing these kind of topics, instead of just getting on with it? We could all be powered 100% by renewables TODAY if it wasn’t that some greedy and extremely wealthy fossil fools really didn’t think that would be such a good idea for their business. They made Mr Abbott what he is today – and they do what they can to remain in denial about the global warming science, hereunder financing those individuals who are spreading the denialist message to the broader community.


This is a short youtube-video from Ohio which all Australians should see. It is about how the people of Ohio are reaping the benefits of wind energy.

We know Tony Abbott and his mates are out of reach, but the rest of Australia really should be listening to what these good folks in Ohio have to say about their wind energy investments.

» More on www.theoec.org



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 RENEWABLES 

We’ve reached a tipping point

Renewable energy sources will have the last word in this competition between the dirty and the clean. You can trust us on this. Paul Gilding is saying it like this in a commentary:

“It’s time to make the call – fossil fuels are finished. The rest is detail. Don’t be Fossil Fooled.”
~ Paul Gilding


“The detail is interesting and important, as I expand on below. But unless we recognise the central proposition: that the fossil fuel age is coming to an end, and within 15 to 30 years – not 50 to 100 – we risk making serious and damaging mistakes in climate and economic policy, in investment strategy and in geopolitics and defence.

I’ve written previously about 2015 being the year the “Dam of Denial” breaks, referring to the end of denial that climate change requires urgent, transformational economic change. While related, this is different. It is now becoming clear we’ve reached a tipping point where fossil fuels will enter terminal decline, independently of climate policy action.

Given climate policy action is also now accelerating, fossil fuels are double dead. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, “So long and thanks for all the energy”.”

» Read the full column by Paul Gilding here:
“Don’t be Fossil Fooled. It’s Time to Say Goodbye



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» The Guardian – Monday 13 July 2015:
Benefits far outweigh costs of tackling climate change, says LSE study
Improved air quality, energy efficiency and energy security, plus falling cost of renewables among extra gains of reducing global emissions, says Fergus Green


» World Economic Forum – 10 July 2015:
Fight against global warming needs stronger political leadership
By Johan Rockström, Youba Sokona and Nicholas Stern
“The evidence is clear that the world faces profound dangers on our current unsustainable pathway. The alternative low-carbon pathway will significantly reduce the risks of climate change, and help to create greater prosperity and well-being for us, our children and future generations.”



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“The age of carbon is over.”
Joseph Stigliz, Nobel economist


“Coal is having a hard time lately. U.S. power plants are switching to natural gas, environmental restrictions are kicking in, and the industry is being derided as the world’s No. 1 climate criminal.”

Bloomberg, 13 July 2015



Petitions


• 350.org: ‘Tell Abbott and co. that you find their behaviour “utterly offensive”!’

• Avaaz petition to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott: ‘Save Aussie clean energy!’
“We call on you to withdraw the new directions given to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to stop funding wind and small scale solar projects. Renewable energy is the future for Australia, a country blessed with abundant resources for clean energy. We call on you to restore the CEFC’s ability to invest in profitable wind and solar projects. While Australia continues to subsidise coal, oil and gas companies, there is no justification for gutting investment in clean energy.”

• Solar Citizens: ‘Stand up for solar’
– around 10,000 signatures last time we looked
“Australians want a sun-powered future. Let’s make it happen. I’m standing up for solar”

• Solar Citizens: ‘Submit your personalised message to ALP National Conference Delegates’
The Australian Labor Party is about to decide on policy that could make or break the future of solar and renewables in Australia. Write your message below, telling ALP delegates that you’re expecting them to Stand Up For Solar at National Conference, and we’ll print it on a personalised postcard ready to deliver to decision makers in Melbourne.

» More petitions



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 GETUP: 

Big polluters are putting the health of communities at risk

“We all know the dangers that dirty coal-fired power poses to a safe climate. But there’s another threat that’s often overlooked — the danger to our health from breathing polluted air. Illness from air pollution kills 3000 Australians every year.[1] It’s no surprise that the worst affected communities are those living near polluting coal mines, coal-fired power stations and coal export facilities.[2]

Health experts from across the country agree — we urgently need strong national regulations on air pollution, and at the moment they’re woefully inadequate.

Next Wednesday State and the Federal Environment Minister will come together to decide whether to support a new set of clean air standards. The changes would force dirty coal mines and power stations to clean up their act and help ease the health burden among affected communities. Your State Environment Minister’s vote will be crucial, but they’ll only vote in favour of stronger regulations if they know the public wants them.

Air pollution is a silent and invisible killer in Australia. It impacts cardiovascular and respiratory health, and is responsible for conditions like asthma, lung cancers and too often, premature deaths.[3] Coal mines and power stations spew fine particles into the atmosphere that can travel deep into the lungs and pass into the blood stream, increasing the risk of stroke and heart attacks.

It’s estimated that health damages in Australia associated with pollution from coal-fired power amounts to $2.6 billion per annum2. That’s a huge burden on local communities – and often disproportionately affects those who can least afford it.

The issue is affecting Australians from across the country, including NSW’s Hunter Valley, where communities live alongside more than thirty coal mines and three giant coal terminals. The damage causes an estimated $600 million in health costs every year.2 A 2010 report showed that asthma rates among children aged 9 to 15 in the Hunter region were four times higher than the national average.[4]

It seems unacceptable for us to protect the coal industry more than the health of our own children. Yet right now, Australia’s pollution standards are letting the coal industry release harmful levels of particle pollution into our air.

But now we have an opportunity to improve air quality for the sake of everyone. The next few days will be a crucial time for State Environment Ministers to hear from their constituents that they care about air pollution. If we don’t speak up, they might think no one cares. But with a concerted effort we can demonstrate the widespread desire in the community for cleaner air standards.

Will you contact your State Environment Minister to tell them you care about clean air?
https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/climate-action-now/contact-the-victorian-environment-minister-about-clean-air/victorian-environment-minister-neville-vote-for-cleaner-air

It might seem a little intimidating, but politicians love to hear from their constituants, and you’ll be playing an important role in protecting something that affects us all – the air we breathe.

Thanks for all that you do,
Adam and Sam R, for the GetUp Team

References
[1] What kills 3,000 Australians a year?, The Guardian, 28 May 2014
[2] Coal and health in the Hunter: Lessons from one valley for the world, Climate and Health Alliance, 2015
[3] World Health Organisation, 2014, Ambient (outdoor) air quality and health, Fact sheet number 313, March 2014
[4] We must kill dirty coal before it kills us, The Age, 3 September 2014



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 UNITED KINGDOM 

Fossil fuel companies’ legal obligation

Accusation that many oil, gas and coal companies in the UK are ducking their legal duty to inform investors of risks caused by climate change.

Fossil fuel companies operating in the UK are accused by a financial monitoring group of a “staggering” disregard for their obligation to acknowledge the risks which climate change poses to them and their investors. An alliance of non-governmental organisations says the situation is so serious that there should be intervention by the UK Financial Reporting Council, the independent regulator responsible for promoting high-quality corporate governance.

The members of the alliance are an environmental lawyers’ group, ClientEarth, the Carbon Tracker Initiative, which works to improve business reporting, and the Climate Disclosure Standards Board. Together, they are urging the Financial Reporting Council to ensure companies in the oil, gas and coal sectors comply with the rules that govern their reporting.

» www.climatenewsnetwork.net



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 EVENT 

Speed Date a Sustainability Expert in Footscray

How can I have a naturally warm and energy efficient home in winter? What renovations can make my home more environmentally sustainable? What do I need know before having solar power or solar hot water installed? Can my garden help in making my home more liveable?

These are some of the questions likely to be asked at Speed Date a Sustainability Expert at the Footscray Town Hall on 25 July 2015.

Leading green home architects, designers and sustainability experts will provide free advice to the public during 20-minute “dates”. The event is held by the not-for-profit Alternative Technology Association (ATA) and supported by Lighting the West to promote sustainable living.

Speed Date a Sustainability Expert will include experts on:
• Energy efficiency
• Solar power
• Lighting
• Sustainable gardens
• Renovations

Lighting expert John Knox, who will be attending to give advice, said sustainable choices could save people money and make their home more liveable.

“We know that replacing incandescent lights with energy-efficient LED bulbs reduces lighting energy costs by 90 per cent,” Mr Knox said.

“And there are many other things that people can do without significant cost that can improve their home.”
ATA chief executive Donna Luckman said Speed Date a Sustainability Expert would be an informative and fun event.

“We encourage people to bring plans on their laptop, tablet or in hard copy. Registration is essential.”

Speed Date a Sustainability Expert is part of the Lighting the West project, which will see thousands of residential street lights upgraded to more energy efficient technology. This project received Australian Government funding.

Speed Date a Sustainability Expert
When: Saturday, July 25, 2pm-4.30pm

Where: Footscray Town Hall, 61 Napier Street, Footscray

Cost: Free! Bookings are essential.


» Register: www.sdse.ata.org.au



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“Let us not be afraid to say it: we want change, real change, structural change,” the pope said, decrying a system that “has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature.”
~ Pope Francis, speaking in Bolivia on 9 July 2015. By Reuters



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