Emergence of Gas Free Geelong

Founding meeting in Zoom

In a Zoom-meeting on 28 August 2020, we launched a new group called Gas Free Geelong to inspire and assist our local business and resident community with transitioning away from gas – and to advocate for the cancellation of any new gas projects and investments in our region.

If all of Australia’s planned gas projects go ahead, they would release three times the annual carbon emissions of the entire world. Gas cannot be part of our recovery.

→ Connect with and help Gas Free Geelong show our numbers on www.facebook.com/gasfreegeelong

→ Contact Gas Free Geelong on gasfreegeelong@climatesafety.info

Letter to Geelong’s councillors, politicians and business leaders:

Time to let go of gas

Australia has listened to the experts and has done well to manage the pandemic medical emergency. We now urge politicians and business leaders at all levels to also listen to the health and climate experts who are telling us that a “gas-led recovery” is not a safe way forward for our country or our city.

Gas-fired electricity is expected to cost twice as much as onshore wind or solar in 2025, according to CarbonBrief.

More gas extraction, both for domestic use and for export, will raise global carbon dioxide and methane levels even higher.

As one of the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, Australia cannot afford to be adding large amounts of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. Drought, bushfires, coastal erosion, extreme heat waves, and changing patterns of disease are just some of the effects of the climate emergency we face, and have health, economic and social consequences.

The interests of the gas industry should not be put ahead of Australians whose health and wellbeing depends on a liveable climate.

We must prioritise the energy solutions which do not pose a threat to our health and that of our families, not the false promise of another fossil fuel.

We are hoping for your support in this making our city and our country gas free.

→ Read Geelong Sustainability’s Briefing Paper: ‘A ‘gas-fired recovery’ is a poor choice for the economy, jobs and the transition to a safer and more resilient future’

Letter to the Editor of Geelong Advertiser, published on 27 September 2020

We need a “get off gas” economic recovery, not a “gas-fired” recovery because:

Gas is a fossil fuel. Burning more gas to “reduce emissions” is like eating more chocolate to lose weight. We need to stop burning fossil fuels to reduce emissions;

The CSIRO and AEMO have reported that renewable energy is cheaper than both gas and coalfired electricity, even with energy storage included. Investing in fossil fuels is likely to result in stranded investments with poor returns to shareholders and taxpayers if our money is wasted supporting gas projects. If gas is profitable, why has the private sector not invested? AS renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels, the best thing both industry and households can do to reduce their energy costs is to reduce energy use by becoming energy efficient and switch from gas to electricity within their homes and choose/produce renewable electricity. Turn on your reverse cycle air conditioner and turn off your ducted gas heating during winter and save money!

The gas industry provides fewer jobs per dollar invested than the renewable energy sector already and almost every other sector in Australia. Stimulus money would be far better spent in almost any other sector than gas to create jobs.

Our governments should provide transparent, comprehensive business cases for economic stimulus plans, which scrutinise a range of proposals for their ability to generate jobs, attract investment and reduce emissions. The safest and wisest energy investments are now not in gas, but renewables.

~ Sally Fisher,
Hamlyn Heights

Letter to the Editor of Geelong Advertiser, published on 29 September 2020

Sally Fisher is right to argue against a gas-fired recovery (“Renewables can anchor recovery”, GA 26/9).

To save money, people buying or building new homes would be wise to go solar and battery, with electric heating and cooling. Not only is it emission-free, but it will save them money in the long run.

If they join the government’s microgrid initiative, they will become part of a virtual power plant, the way of the future.

~ Ray Peck,

The gas fallacy

Drought, floods and the recent catastrophic bushfires have brought home the reality of the climate crisis to Australia – the burning of fossil fuels is destroying our world. The Covid caused recession creates an opportunity to transition rapidly to renewables as part of economic recovery, but the federal government maintains a gas-led approach to recovery is necessary. This is despite the fact that gas produces unacceptably high greenhouse emissions and that renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels, and better for the economy, environment, climate and our health.

Port Phillip Emergency Climate Action Network (PECAN), Glen Eira Emergency Climate Action Network (GECAN) and Bayside Emergency Climate Action Network (BECAN) are bringing together key experts to help us understand the proposal for a so called gas-led recovery, and how an alternative renewable led recovery would work. This forum is supported by many other climate action groups throughout Melbourne’s South East, from Melbourne Central to Western Port Bay and The Mornington Peninsula.

The Panel

Professor Penny Sackett is Professor at the Climate Change Institute, ANU and was previously Australia’s Chief Scientist. She will speak about the impact of plans for gas expansion on greenhouse gas emissions and the climate.

Dr George Crisp, a GP and Committee Member, Doctors for the Environment, will speak on the less well known effects of gas on people’s health.

Mark Ogge, Principal Advisor and gas expert at the Australia Institute will speak on The National COVID Coordinating Commission’s plans as well as the renewable alternatives to gas.

The webinar will be moderated by Esther Abram, Consultant and Strategic Advisor at Estuary Resources and formerly the inaugural CEO at the Moreland Energy Foundation and Director of Environment Victoria.

The Issues

The speakers at the webinar will cover these questions: 

  • What impact will plans for gas expansion have on greenhouse gas emissions and on the climate?
  • What impact would it have on people’s health? 
  • Why is the Australian government supporting this gas expansion? Do we actually need more gas? 
  • Can the transition to renewables be achieved without gas?

Why this Webinar?

This important webinar will give us all the opportunity to learn more about gas and its impacts, and the government’s plans. It will also be an opportunity to make our voices heard to our parliamentary representatives before the federal budget, on 6 October. Many of Melbourne’s south east federal seats are held by Commonwealth Government members– some being key ministers.

A Call to Action

Climate For Change will be present to guide participants to engage with their local MPs through a letter writing activity. Our voices combined, can matter.

Read more

Presentation by Tim Forcey – an independent energy researcher and advisor, formerly an
energy advisor with the University of Melbourne and a former engineer with BHP.

Reasons to #GetOffGas:

Why we don’t need gas any longer

• Gas causes more climate damage than coal and oil when methane and fugitive emissions are accounted for

• Gas prices are going up – while prices for electricity, which has been generated with renewable sources, is going down. The smartest, safest, cleanest and only sustainable investment is in renewables

• What drives the gas mining industry forward is a desire to make profits, but this industry is only profitable because costs of cleaning up and climate damage are not part of the equation, and because of public subsidies

• Gas emissions have been increasing. This is dangerous and irresponsible

• The climate emergency makes it urgent to move focus and transition our economy to renewables and sustainable jobs

• Gas is a fossil fuel, and we must phase out fossil fuels out as quickly as possible now

• So-called ‘scientific’ figures on gas are taken out of thin air. Scientists’ statements are for hire

• Gas is not a ‘transition fuel’ – it is an unnecessary detour

• Investing in more gas will not provide a “jobs-led recovery” nor provide secure, sustainable jobs into the future for our children

• The continued extraction and burning of gas, oil and coal is intergenerational theft. It is not only short-sighted, it is amoral. The gas industry must be held accountable by authorities to pay the bills for the damage they are creating in the ground as well as in the air

→ G21 – 8 September 2020:
G21 calls for joint government support of Viva
“G21 calls on the federal and state governments to support Viva Energy’s Geelong refinery in order to save local jobs, protect the regional economy and help ensure liquid energy security for the nation.”

→ 9News – 7 September 2020:
Geelong oil refinery on the brink of closure amid COVID-19 restrictions
“The Viva Energy refinery in Geelong could be on the brink of closure as COVID-19 economic pressures make it unviable to keep the doors open.”

→ The Guardian – 3 September 2020:
Phasing out gas would benefit Australian manufacturers and households
“The Australian government should allow the electricity industry to wean itself off gas.”

→ Sydney Morning Herald – 27 August 2020:
Taylor expands clean energy fund’s remit to fire up gas-led recovery
“Australia’s clean energy fund is being primed to pump up the Morrison government’s plans for a gas-led economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, with proposed rule changes to fuel investment in gas power plants and infrastructure.”



Geelong Sustainability has been sending the following letter to politicians in the Geelong Region. Below is the response from Darren Cheeseman

From: Vicki Perrett
Sent: Tuesday, 25 August 2020 6:06 PM
To: Darren Cheeseman Darren.Cheeseman@parliament.vic.gov.au
Cc: Geelong Sustainability Group Inc info@geelongsustainability.org.au
Subject: A “gas-led recovery” is dangerous and irresponsible

Mr Darren Cheeseman, Member for South Barwon

Dear Mr Cheeseman / Darren,

I am writing on the behalf of Geelong Sustainability, an apolitical community sustainability group with over 3400 subscribers and extensive networks with community, government and business throughout the Geelong region. Our mission is to empower people to protect and regenerate the environment. Since our establishment in 2007, we have become the region’s leading sustainability group organising local events, coordinating projects and fulfilling our advocacy role.

Geelong Sustainability appreciates the enormous potential Australia has to become a clean energy superpower. However, we are very concerned that both Federal and State Governments are considering giving their support to increasing both the domestic production and export of natural gas (hereafter called gas). Gas can no longer be considered a “transition” fuel. It is already driving up Australia’s and the globe’s carbon emissions.

Our community is determined to accelerate the uptake of renewable energy and rapidly decrease its carbon emissions across our region. Recognising the multitude of jobs in clean energy and low emissions industries, several local organisations, including Geelong Sustainability have joined BZE’s Zero Carbon Communities. Collectively, we are advocating for a regional emissions reduction target of Net Zero Emissions by 2040.

Any hope of reaching this target will be severely impacted by Viva Energy’s proposal to build a Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) import terminal in Geelong as part of its Energy Hub. Whilst we support in principle the solar farm and battery storage aspect of the proposed Energy Hub, we are opposed to the production of brown hydrogen. We question the economic benefits that Viva claims it can deliver to Geelong and beyond. More broadly, we are deeply concerned about the environmental and social impacts locally and beyond of fossil fuel projects.

Supply is only one side of the market equation. Much can be achieved more cost effectively by reducing the demand for gas within households and industry.

The following facts based on the recent work of experts across climate science, energy and industry underpin our request that you do not support a “gas-fired recovery”:

● Gas is a fossil fuel and its emissions have been increasing

● Gas is no longer a “transition” fuel and increasing its emissions are dangerous and irresponsible

● Increased gas infrastructure displaces renewable energy and storage, not coal

● Investing in more gas will not provide a “jobs-led recovery” nor provide secure, sustainable jobs into the future for our children

● We already have enough gas and there are risks in further investment

● Demand management is not adequately considered in addressing any shortfalls in gas supply

● The smartest, safest, cleanest and only sustainable investment is in renewables.

We’ve outlined the extensive evidence which supports our position in the attached Briefing Paper.

Geelong Sustainability would like to receive a response to the following questions please:

1. Will you share our community vision for a clean energy future, which provides secure, sustainable jobs for our region through a rapid transition to renewables in line with AEMO’s “Step-Change” scenario?

2. Will you decline to support any proposals for a “gas-fired recovery”, including gas import terminals and new on-shore extraction in Victoria? If you support these gas developments, can you please provide the evidence you base your response upon?

3. Will you oppose the use of taxpayer funds to invest in any gas projects recommended by the NCCC or any other body?

4. Will you support and assist the community to ensure that Viva Energy’s proposed Energy Hub undertakes the most rigorous community engagement and environmental approvals process possible?

5. Given the importance of policy certainty to investment decisions in renewable energy and business generally, will you announce your interim Emissions Reductions and Renewable Energy Targets within the month to ensure that Victoria is transitioning to a zero emissions economy by at least 2050, if not before?

We appreciate your time in reading this letter and our accompanying Briefing Paper and for considering our questions.

We look forward to receiving your response to our five specific questions in the near future.

Yours sincerely,

Vicki Perrett, President
Geelong Sustainability

From: Darren Cheeseman Darren.Cheeseman@parliament.vic.gov.au
Date: Tue, Sep 8, 2020 at 10:52 AM
Subject: RE: A “gas-led recovery” is dangerous and irresponsible
To: Vicki Perrett
Cc: Lisa Neville lisa.neville@parliament.vic.gov.au, John Eren john.eren@parliament.vic.gov.au, Christine Couzens christine.couzens@parliament.vic.gov.au, Gayle Tierney Gayle.Tierney@parliament.vic.gov.au

Hi Vicki,

Thank you for your email and patience.

We can’t respond to some of these issues yet as they would pre-empt policy decisions – indeed some of these decisions haven’t even been made by the Federal Government yet!

Will you share our community vision for a clean energy future, which provides secure, sustainable jobs for our region through a rapid transition to renewables in line with AEMO’s “Step-Change” scenario?

· The Victorian Government is already taking strong and lasting action on climate change. Victoria’s Climate Change Act 2017 commits Victoria to a target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and last year the government legislated an increased Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) of 50 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2030.

· The increased VRET target will provide the industry with the long-term certainty needed for new investment in renewable energy projects in Victoria. The VRET 2030 target is expected to reduce Victoria’s emissions from electricity generation in 2030 by two million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, support additional economic activity of up to $5.8 billion in Victoria by 2030 and increase employment by around 24,400 jobs to 2030. To support the achievement of the VRET target, the government has implemented a number of initiatives, including the VRET 2017 Reverse Auction to support the delivery of new large-scale wind and solar projects.

· The Victorian Government has also just announced market sounding for a second VRET auction to support at least 600 MW of new renewable energy projects to create more jobs and stimulate the economy at a time that this is much needed.

Will you support and assist the community to ensure that Viva Energy’s proposed Energy Hub undertakes the most rigorous community engagement and environmental approvals process possible?

· Gas provides an important part of Victoria’s energy mix for industry, commercial and residential customers. The Victorian government acknowledges that the emissions associated with natural gas usage will also need to reduce to align to Victoria’s net zero emissions future. However, with approximately two million Victorian customers currently dependent on gas, the government needs to ensure that the transition to fully sustainable alternatives is smooth, well-coordinated and will meet the reliability and affordability needs of all Victorian consumers.

· The Victorian Government is pursuing measures to unlock long term decarbonisation pathways for gas by supporting hydrogen, biogas and other emerging technologies through the Victorian Energy Upgrades program and the Victorian Hydrogen Investment Program.

· The Victorian Government has introduced legislation to enshrine the historic ban on fracking and coal seam gas activities (unconventional gas) in the Victorian Constitution to ensure the existing ban would be more difficult to remove, and to protect the farming industry from the impact of fracking and coal seam gas activities.

· The Victorian Parliament passed the Petroleum Legislation Amendment Act 2020 to restart the onshore conventional gas industry from 1 July 2021. The onshore conventional gas restart follows three years of detailed scientific investigations by the Victorian Gas Program. It found an onshore conventional gas industry would not compromise Victoria’s environment or our vital agricultural sector. The investigations were overseen by Victoria’s Lead Scientist, Dr Amanda Caples, who chaired an independent Stakeholder Advisory Panel made up of farmers, environment groups , industry representatives and local councils.

· Viva’s proposed energy hub could play a vital role in securing our gas supply while bringing online more renewable energy and creating new jobs in Geelong. Environmental risks associated with development projects are assessed through the relevant approvals processes. Under the Environment Effects Act 1978 (Vic) the Victorian Planning Minister can determine that an Environment Effects Statement (EES) assessment is required.

Given the importance of policy certainty to investment decisions in renewable energy and business generally, will you announce your interim Emissions Reductions and Renewable Energy Targets within the month to ensure that Victoria is transitioning to a zero emissions economy by at least 2050, if not before?

· Under the Climate Change Act 2017, the Victorian Government has a legislated target of net-zero emissions by 2050 and a requirement to set five-yearly interim targets. Setting interim targets in the current environment is very difficult – given the significant impacts of coronavirus on how industry and the economy operate, how we move around our city and how households use energy. We will continue monitoring these impacts over the coming months and announce our interim targets for 2025 and 2030 when there is greater certainty for this decision making.

· The Victorian Government has already legislated a 50% renewable energy target by 2030

On behalf of Darren Cheeseman MP

Office Manager/Electorate Officer

Darren Cheeseman
State Member for South Barwon
Level 1, 174 Torquay Road, Grovedale Vic 3216.
T: (03) 5243 5222

Read Geelong Sustainability’s Briefing Paper: ‘A ‘gas-fired recovery’ is a poor choice for the economy, jobs and the transition to a safer and more resilient future’


Climate change game changer

From: Kelly O’Shanassy, ACF <action@mail.acf.org.au>
Sent: Friday, 28 August 2020 1:25 PM
Subject: Climate change game changer

“Today, the Australian Climate Roundtable – a powerful alliance of Australia’s biggest businesses, farmers, unions and civil society – has thrown down the gauntlet to the Morrison Government, demanding immediate action to address the climate crisis.

This is a game-changing moment for climate action in Australia.The Roundtable includes the Business Council of Australia (BCA) – who represent hundreds of Australia’s biggest businesses like Telstra, ANZ, Wesfarmers and Qantas.

Just one year ago, the ACF community asked the BCA to step up and be a climate advocate. They listened and rose to the challenge.The Roundtable also includes major electricity providers and retailers, the Australian Industry Group, the National Farmers Federation and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. It includes the Investor Group on Climate Change, representing investors with $2 trillion who are concerned about climate change.

I am proud to be part of such a diverse range of groups with a strong and united message to our Government.We still have our work cut out for us. This week in Parliament, even though the country is gripped with a pandemic crisis, the Morrison Government introduced changes to weaken our national environment protection and clean energy laws.

With you, we will leave no stone unturned to strengthen them, not weaken them.

And today some powerful voices joined our call for climate action.

The Australian Climate Roundtable’s statement was stronger than any push by big business we have ever heard:

“Australia is currently woefully unprepared for the scale of climate change threats that will emerge over the coming decades.

There is no systemic government response (federal, state and local) to build resilience to climate risks.

Action…does not match the scale of the threat climate change represents to the Australian economy, environment and society.”

The statement also points to the solutions we have at our hands as a clever, creative country.For decades now, the ACF community has spoken out delivering this message to governments. Now, some influential businesses are advocating too.

With so many powerful voices speaking out publicly, our Government is now isolated in their determination to ignore the issue.

Many businesses still have a long way to go to be responsible climate citizens and we’ll keep pushing them, but this news today is incredibly positive and simply unprecedented.Despite all the bad news, climate momentum is real – it’s building fast and it’s uniting us all.

Thank you for caring and for speaking out.

Don’t stop now – keep encouraging your local MP to raise your climate concerns in their party room, and represent you when they vote on climate policies.

Onwards we go.
~ Kelly O’Shanassy
Chief Executive Officer, Australian Conservation Foundation

P.S. This is a game-changing moment for climate action in Australia. This work has been made possible thanks to you. And with your support, we can continue it, pushing our elected representatives to take immediate action to address the climate crisis. Donate now to fund this independent work.”


Australian Climate Roundtable: Far-reaching climate change risks to Australia must be reduced and managed

The Sydney Morning Herald: Nation ‘woefully unprepared’ for climate change, business groups warn

The Guardian: Climate crisis: business, farming and environment leaders unite to warn Australia ‘woefully unprepared’ 

Petitions to sign

Let’s rebuild a gas-free Victoria
– Environment Victoria

Call on Dan Andrews to make a plan to phase out gas. Victoria could cut its gas consumption by more than half in the next ten years, cutting pollution and saving Victorian households and businesses on our energy bills.   

→ Sign the petition: www.environmentvictoria.org.au/action/lets-rebuild-a-gas-free-victoria

Narrabri Gas Project: Gas has no future in Australia’s energy mix
Climate Council

Add your name now to our submission. It’s time to build a better, cleaner Australia, by rejecting the Narrabri Gas Project and choosing clean energy opportunities, which put people and the environment first.

→ Sign the petition: www.climatecouncil.org.au/actions/petition-narrabri-gas-project

#TurnOffTheGas – Doctors warn gas is a health hazard
– Doctors for the Environment Australia

Gas is not a ‘transition’ fuel away from fossil fuels; it further entrenches our dependence on dirty coal, oil and gas. Email PM Scott Morrison and tell him to: #TurnOffTheGas.

→ Sign the petition: www.turnoffthegas.good.do/turnoffthegas/turnoffthegas

Gas is a climate disaster. Let’s recover, rebuild, renew right!
– Australian Conservation Foundation

Petition calling on our state premiers, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese to listen to the people, not polluters.

→ Sign the petition: www.acf.org.au/economic_recovery_petition

Gas Free Geelong meeting minutes

#GasFreeAustralia | #GasFreeVictoria | #GasFreeGeelong | #GreenRecovery | #BuildBackBetter |