Build an election platform for climate safety

More Australian residents than ever before are putting their hands up to run on a climate emergency platform in the council elections in August-September 2020.

So have you written your first speech yet? Are you well prepared for your first radio interview? Do you know what you will write in the blurb which is distributed by the election commission to all households?

It’s time to start thinking about it.

In Geelong, we have established an election platform for climate emergency candidates. The platform currently has five members, who all five are going to run. One or two more are on their way in as we speak. The group meets virtually in The Tunnel (zoom) to discuss and co-ordinate strategy, build confidence, coach one another, share examples of ‘thunder speeches’, possibly start a shared fund raising campaign, and more. If you live in Geelong and would like to join, send an email.

Below are some words and ideas you can pick up, take inspiration from or copy/paste for your election campaign if you find them helpful.

Yes kids, we can do better

I stand for carbon clarity and climate safety. For trust in the science. And for improving our democracy so important decisions about our common future are based on what the community wants, not what a few influencers in the Big End of Town wants.

People want safety, fairness and equality. That is not what we are getting at the moment.

I speak for Greta’s generation – the generation that is too young to vote, but old enough to understand that their parents’ generation is abusing our planet for shortsighted and selfish gains, even though the frightening consequences are visisble all around us: More intense bushfires. Extreme weather events. Heatwaves at the poles. Extinction of species, ecosystems collapsing. Dying reefs, eroding beaches… The list of destruction is already long.

Refusing to address the escalating climate emergency is the same as condemning our children to a life in anxiety and grief because of unrest, turmoil and losses.

Greta Thunberg talks with clarity about all of this: Our leaders have lost their credibility. The way to restore that is to enable the community to make the decisions about its own future. We can repair our broken democratic system with Citizens’ Assemblies, where decisions on complex topics such as the climate emergency are made by a group of 150 randomly selected residents from our community – not by 11 elected representatives whose opinions tend to be coloured by rich people’s money, party politics and career-making. France has shown the way with their recent ‘Climate Convention’.

When citizens are given responsibility, they actually take it upon themselves. The time has come for local government to organise a People’s Climate Convention in our city as well.

I know we can do better. We can build a community that is cleaner, fairer and more resilient. It is not a conincidence that study after study shows that those countries in the world where people thrive and feel their lives are good, are those who lead when it comes to social inclusion and sustianable development. The time has come to make our community carbon neutral with all the new jobs, financial gains, joy and optimism that will emerge from this.

[350 words]

Treat this crisis as a crisis

“Today, leaders all over the world are speaking of an “existential crisis”. The climate emergency is discussed on countless panels and summits. Commitments are being made, big speeches are given. Yet, when it comes to action we are still in a state of denial. The climate and ecological crisis has never once been treated as a crisis.”
~ Greta Thunberg, on Instagram on 19 August 2020

Where are the adults?

“July 2019–June 2020 was tied as the warmest 12 months on record. That’s +1,39°C above preindustrial levels and rapidly closing in on 1,5°. So I ask again: where are the breaking news? Where are the front pages? Where are the emergency meetings? Where are the adults?”
~ Greta Thunberg, on Twitter on 7 July 2020

Caroline Danaher: “What are you doing to make the climate emergency declaration real in our neighbourhood?”

Residents, roads and rubbish

It is often stated during election time that a council should remain focused on ‘roads, rates and rubbish’.

It is time to amend that line with one specific word in particular: ‘Residents, roads and rubbish’ – first of all by bringing in the voice of the general public, and actually making decisions on that basis, rather than being guided by the voices of vested interests. Council’s first priority must be the health, safety and wellbeing of the community and the environment.

Roads are part of the old world before we had Zoom and the covid response. However, we still need to focus on how we can improve our community’s road infrastructure so that it becomes safer for cyclists and e-scooters. We also need to support or facilitate the development of smarter systems for effective car-sharing programs, both for neighbours and employees. 

Where we are heading, the issues with getting rid of our rubbish will become less of a priority, because in a truly circular economy there will be very little waste. Recycling and regeneration would be more relevant ‘r’-words to focus on.

Residents, recycling and regeneration are three important areas, which a Council of the 21st century must be all about.

Podcast: What it involves to run as a climate candidate

At the Australian council elections this year, could we imagine an alliance of candidates running in each their own wards, but who spoke out with one voice about the climate emergency – with Greta-style clarity about the issue of intergenerational theft – and who had a simple shared vision of where we have to go and how we will get there?

Have a listen to this one-hour podcast where Bryony Edwards explains about the vision of CACE – Council and Community Action in the Climate Emergency.

Join the Geelong candidate network
→ If you let us know that you plan to run as a candidate for Geelong Council on a climate emergency platform, we will connect you with others who do the same. Send an email to

The Geelong roar

Questions for your fellow candidates

If you get the opportunity to participate in a public candidate forum, consider making it clear to the audience how many of the candidates will put their hand up to properly address the climate emergency – setting a target of the community – businesses, residences as well as Council’s own operations – becoming carbon neutral in 2030.

At any time, be ready to ask this question, in particular to those candidates who sat in the previous Council:

• What have you done to address the climate emergency?
• How was it reflected in the 2021 budget that we are in an emergency?

“The reality of our situation impels us to act and think more clearly. Narrow-mindedness and self-centered thinking may have served us well in the past, but today will only lead to disaster.”
Dalai Lama

Inspirational speeches, videos and texts

“The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power.”
Charlie Chaplin, in a speech closing his film ‘The Great Dictator’ published in 1940


How it is done

Mayor Rex Parris is a visionary American who has brought amazing sustainable change to a very conservative city of 160,000 people.

How the conservative city of Lancaster became a climate leader

Our highest priorities must be to figure out how we build a safer, healthier and happier society. Lancaster in Los Angeles has a story for us to learn from about what happens when a community comes together around a common goal.

What the Republican mayor Rex Parris from Lancaster, USA, suggests here is that taking firm and united action on climate change has had a direct positive effect on reducing crime rates in his city. I find that an interesting observation. What could we pick up from Lancaster’s experience and leadership?

Over the coming years, as a natural step-by-step response to new technological, economical and environmental developments, we will be changing the way services are delivered, the way our food is produced, the way houses are built, the way we transport ourselves. So, as people of common sense, let’s get on with it!

For a start, we need restructuring the way we think about our relationship with each other and the economy. For instance, changing our city in way which is cost-efficient and profitable can also be eliminating air pollution, and in that way benefit both our health, our connections with each other and interaction with our neighbours, while at the same time contributing to re-stabilising our climate.

Over the last eight years, the American and Republican mayor Rex Parris has been able to demonstrate this in Lancaster, Los Angeles. Here a transcript of an excerpt of his speech:

Bringing people together, everything gets better

“At World War II, what occurred was that our way of life and everything about us was threatened. It was a very real threat. It could have all ended.
And so Republicans and Democrats, and Christians and Muslims, everybody came together, because we had this enemy that was going to crush us if we didn’t.
We came together and survived.
The threat that World War II presented to us is one tenth of the threat that we are facing today.
And what is crazy about is: even Republicans know it. We all know it.
It is the insanity that seems to be overwhelming us. It is hard to comprehend.
But then again, it is not at all, because it is so horrible what we are facing, it is hard to keep looking at it for very long at all. (…)

The synergy that develops when you start facing this common enemy and bringing people together is that everything gets better.
We had the highest crime rate in LA County. It is now one of the lowest. We had the highest number of gang murders. In two years we had zero. Because that’s what happens when the community comes together to have a common goal. And what is that goal? We want our children to live! Because that is really what is at stake.”

Rex Parris, mayor of Lancaster, Los Angeles, USA

• • • • • • • • • • • •

Geelong City Hall in Alex’s and Evan’s projection

Know this: Real and unstoppable progress in cities and companies is already changing the story

Lancaster is not alone in the United States. Georgetown in Texas is a community of 50,000 people that has chosen to get all of its electricity from wind and solar energy because renewable power is cheaper than fossil fuel alternatives. Greensburg in Kansas rebuilt itself as a thriving 100 per cent wind-powered town after a tornado almost wiped the small town off the map.

In Australia, the ACT has already reached their 100% renewables goal, and more than 50 cities and towns have a plan for how to get there within the next few years, guided by organisations like Beyond Zero Emissions and Climate Council.
This is the reality: in cities, towns and rural areas across the the world, citizens, companies and city councils are signing up for a clean energy future. They know, as we do, that 100 per cent clean energy is not only possible. It’s already happening.

And in the boardrooms of companies such as Coca-Cola, Apple, IKEA, Lego, WalMart, GM and many more the momentum for 100 per cent clean energy and a circular, non-polluting economy is people-powered and unstoppable.

Don’t tell me we can’t do better in our community as well. Enough with the greenwash, the excuses and the hypocracy. The corona crisis has shown us that when our leaders step up, Australians are ready to do better. We stand together, we fix the problems.

Integrity means telling it as it is

The climate crisis is a wicked one, because it creeps in on us so slowly that we need to see scientists’ graphs in order to realise how bad things actually already stand. How close we are to jumping from cliff, passing the point of no return.

But hey! That’s no different from what we learned everyone was able to do when the corona-crisis started: We looked at the experts on television who explained that our job was to ‘flatten the curve’.

What we have seen over the last three decades is that when a lie becomes the accepted narrative in society, it suddenly becomes much much harder to address the problem. During the Second World War, it was the spreading of the lie that the gas chambers were a hoax that enabled Hitler and his men to get away with killing six million innocent people.

Since 1988, the lie that “climate change is a hoax” has enabled fossil fuel companies to continue their destructive business completely unregulated and unchallenged. Still today, Australians love their fossils, because they’ve bought firmly into that lie. Governments are able to continue subsidising and supporting the polluting industries with taxpayers’ money, because the narrative among ordinary Australians has been that “we need fossil fuels to keep our society running.”

However, this is quickly changing now. The story is changing. In Europe, it has already changed. World-wide, and also here in Australia, poll after poll shows more than two thirds of the population believe we are in a climate emergency and that we – our governments first of all, but ourselves as well – must begin to act accordingly. 

There has never been a better time to step in with an agenda which is different to the current misguided narrative that “coal is good for humanity”, or “the future is fracking,” as a politician in the Northern Territory recently claimed.

The stage is ready for a new type of leader

If our democracy was working, Business As Usual would have been over decades ago. 

Many voters are looking out for “new leadership”. Someone with integrity who will speak with clarity about what is wrong and about what we have got to do now.

The teenage youth has Greta. Who do the grown-ups have?

The Greens party have all the right climate and energy policies ready to roll out, but in Australia they struggle with getting support from the broader population, one reason being that they are labelled as a ‘socialist’ or left wing party.

Addressing climate change shouldn’t be about “left or right” in politics, it should just be about getting the job done to secure our safety and health – which means implementing economic mechanisms that quickly will stop our society’s pollution of the air.

The stage is ready for a new type of independent thinkers and leaders who don’t fight for influence for themselves, their business mates or for their party, but for the community through enhanced participatory democracy. Examples from France, United Kingdom and Ireland shows that we have a new tool which can enable Australia’s civil society to reinforce democracy and support the global fight for climate safety.

The first duty of any local government is to protect the people, their well-being and livelihoods. By not addressing the climate emergency, previous councils, under pressure from the business community, has failed to live up to their duty. They must be called out on this failure.

Our elected representatives at City Hall can no longer push under the carpet that human-induced climate change is an overriding threat to human security in our locality, just as it is everywhere else.

Council has failed its duty and responsibility to listen to the community’s desire for strong action on climate change. But the response that “We will take more time to consult with the community” is no longer a sufficient answer. Years have been wasted and we now need stronger, bolder and more decisive measures to properly respond to the threats of a climate emergency.

Defending life

Defending the environment in our own community is defending the planet. It is defending the heart of the planet. We are all bonded to the land, to the water, to each other, and to our future generations.

“In this handful of soil, lies your future.
Take care of it, it will sustain you for millenia.
Destroy it, it will destroy you.”

~ Vandana Shiva

Earth, teach me

5 June 2020 at Geelong City Hall: World Environment Day and yet another #FridaysForFuture gathering

Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain.

Ute Indian prayer, North America

“The pain expressed so eloquently in the richest country on Earth these past few weeks can’t help but make one wonder: If we’re just going to use solar power instead of coal to run the same sad mess of unfair and ugly oppression, is it really worth it?”
Bill McKibben, American climate activist and author

The science

Earth System scientist and professor Will Steffen from the Australian National Univeristy explains the current science very clearly in a one hour presentation he gave in the Zoom tunnel recently, “Why we are facing an emergency” – you can watch it on Youtube.

In 2017, almost a third of the carbon emissions in Geelong came from transport and almost two thirds from electricity use.

Emissions and climate in Geelong

Online interactive map of local climate impacts: We know the ice caps are melting and the Great Barrier Reef is bleaching, but what climate impacts are happening in our own backyard? Act on Climate has put together an online interactive map of climate impacts to help answer the question.

The big shift in the business sector

To understand what is coming, don’t take it from me. The World Economic Forum, the World Bank, the International Chamber of Commerce, along with influencial global management consulting firms such as McKinsey and Deloitte all tell very similar stories about the urgent need for radical change in the business sector.

“The socioeconomic effects of a changing climate will be large and often unpredictable. Governments, businesses, and other organizations will have to address the crisis in different and often collaborative ways. This shared crisis demands a shared response. Leaders and their organizations will have to try to mitigate the effects of climate change even as they adapt to the new reality it imposes on our physical world. To do so, leaders must understand the new climate reality and its potential impact on their organizations in different locales around the world.”
~ McKinsey & Company, global management consulting firm with 34,000 employees, advising leading businesses, governments, and institutions in 120 countries.

→ McKinsey & Company – 15 May 2020:
Confronting climate risk
“The changing climate is poised to create a wide array of economic, business, and social risks over the next three decades. Leaders should start integrating climate risk into their decision making now.”

Social research

Here is some freshly released social research from Sustainability Victoria on the link between health and climate change – it may be of particular use in preparation of climate adaptation plans or projects. 

It includes data on attitudes of health professionals and vulnerable groups, and expectations of action from various levels of government and other stakeholders. 

Key findings are:

Health workers are already seeing climate change-related health conditions and they think the public should be better informed about the link between climate and health;

Young people are considered at highest potential risk of developing climate change-related mental health conditions; and

During times of extreme heat, 19 per cent of Victorians are forced to leave their home because it is too uncomfortable. In contrast, 45 per cent of public housing tenants are forced to leave their home during extreme heat or cold. 

Facts about what people think in Geelong region (Barwon region)

“More science isn’t the solution. People are the solution.”
~ Rebecca Huntley, Australian social researcher, author of ‘How to Talk About Climate Change in a Way That Makes a Difference’

→ The Guardian – 5 July 2020:
Stop making sense: why it’s time to get emotional about climate change
“The science has been settled to the highest degree, so now the key to progress is understanding our psychological reactions”

“Is this a great time for campaigners to talk about climate change? The evidence shows that moments of shift — when habits are disrupted by major life events like moving house or having a baby — are also moments when people are more open to changing other behaviours.”

→ Climate Outreach – 14 April 2020:
Communicating climate change during the coronavirus crisis – what the evidence says
“We’ve released a practical, evidence-based guide on how to communicate about climate change during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.”

Download the guide (PDF)

“It’s a climate emergency. The whole world is watching as global temperature records are shattered, and one of the Earth’s true natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef, bleaches and dies. The climate emergency we’ve been talking about for 30 years is upon us. We really have entered the phase of now or never. Our actions now determine the world our children and grandchildren will live in. We’ll need to be strong to hold our state and federal governments to account and ensure they rise to the crisis.”
~ Mark Wakeham, CEO, Environment Victoria

Deliberative practices in local government

Victorian Local Governance Association webinar discussing deliberative engagement practices in local government, re: Giving the community real influence in Council’s decision-making process. Learn about the principles behind Citizens’ Assemblies and the deliberation principles. Presentations by Kimbra White of MosaicLab, and Brett Hennig from the Sortition Foundation.

A Short Guide to Deliberative Engagement for Victorian Councils (PDF, 32 pages)

OECD report about citizens’ assemblies: ‘Catching the Deliberative Wave’

“Public authorities from all levels of government increasingly turn to Citizens’ Assemblies, Juries, Panels and other representative deliberative processes to tackle complex policy problems ranging from climate change to infrastructure investment decisions. They convene groups of people representing a wide cross-section of society for at least one full day – and often much longer – to learn, deliberate, and develop collective recommendations that consider the complexities and compromises required for solving multifaceted public issues.

This “deliberative wave” has been building since the 1980s, gaining momentum since around 2010. This report has gathered close to 300 representative deliberative practices to explore trends in such processes, identify different models, and analyse the trade-offs among different design choices as well as the benefits and limits of public deliberation. It includes Good Practice Principles for Deliberative Processes for Public Decision Making, based on comparative empirical evidence gathered by the OECD and in collaboration with leading practitioners from government, civil society, and academics.

Finally, the report explores the reasons and routes for embedding deliberative activities into public institutions to give citizens a more permanent and meaningful role in shaping the policies affecting their lives.”

Read the report Innovative Citizen Participation and New Democratic Institutions: Catching the Deliberative Wave

Thought leadership: How local councils crunch the climate stalemate

Global outlook – more inspirational reading

→ Thrive Global – 26 June 2020:
The Healing Power of Redemption
“Real change has to be grounded in the belief that people can be better.”

→ SmartCitiesWorld – 31 January 2020:
Saudi Neom megacity plans world-first ‘solar dome’ desalination plant
In 2017 Saudi Arabia, which has been built on oil, launched its plan for Neom, a ‘mega city’. It will be thirty times larger than New York and cost US$500 billion. The brochure states “Neom will introduce a new model for urban sustainability and be a place that is focused on setting new standards for community health, environmental protection and the effective and productive use of technology.” Clearly, there are serious reservations about the project. However, the Saudis obviously have understood for some time that fossil fuels are a thing of the past, and so plan to be carbon neutral.

“Carbon taxes are the most contentious climate tool of our time. But one thing is certain: They work”

~ Headline in the Danish newspaper Information. Here’s an excerpt of the article:

“In Denmark, several parties are calling for a green tax reform with high carbon taxes. And while they are negotiating a final climate agreement before the summer holidays, experience from abroad shows that the taxes are climate-effective – and without major consequences for business, the Treasury and inequality, says researcher.

While the energy-intensive industry accounts for a few percent of jobs, it accounts for 60-70 percent of process industry emissions. Therefore, energy-intensive companies should also not avoid carbon taxes, says Professor Mikael Skou Andersen.

In Denmark on 19 June 2020, a political majority formed for the most debated climate policy instrument of the time: Radikale Venstre (the Danish Social-Liberal Party) and Venstre (The Liberal Party of Denmark) joined forces to demand that a green tax reform must include a “uniform” CO2 tax across Danish society according to the polluter pays principle.

Thus, during the ongoing climate negotiations, there is now broad support for a ‘principle decision’ on a green tax reform with a CO2 tax, which should basically apply to all industries. The government has not directly rejected the idea of high carbon taxes – but also has not it embraced it.

The independent expert body is proposing to gradually double the tax to DKK 1,500 per tonnes of CO2 emitted by 2030, encouraging businesses and consumers to lower their emissions.”

Hashtag inspiration

#VoicesForGreta #CarbonClarity #ClimateSafety
#ClimateForAll #AllForClimate

Musical inspiration

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This page is likely to be continuously amended and expanded in the coming weeks. If you have comments, suggestions, additional information which could be added, etc, then you can post it in the comments-field below or send an email to