Advocacy for climate action gains momentum


In The Sustainable Hour on 94.7 The Pulse on 2 December 2015 we debrief the fantastic weekend of climate rallies around the world with speeches held recently in Geelong by the Minister for Climate in the Victorian Government, Lisa Neville, and by Professor of Atmospheric Science at University of Melbourne, David Karoly.

We also play a short snippet with the American President Barack Obama who spoke at the UN Climate Summit in Paris, and we talk with climate consultant, ex-tv-weather man and geologist Rob Gell about the rising temperatures and what we should make of it all.

Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 102 while scrolling further down:

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Prerecorded interviews and speeches in this Sustainable Hour:

Barack Obama, American President
Rob Gell, consultant
David Karoly, Professor, University of Melbourne
Lisa Neville, Minister for Climate, Victoria State Government

David Karoly and Lisa Neville spoke at the Act on Climate festival opening night in Geelong, and were introduced by MC Suzette Jackson, director at Innate Ecology:

Climate change is back on the agenda

Speech by Lisa Neville

Lisa Neville
Lisa Neville

“We want Victoria to again be a leader in the political sphere and provide leadership across the community when it comes to climate change.”

Click on player above to listen to the speech – or  download the mp3 file

Lisa Neville is Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water in the Victoria State Government and is a member for Bellarine in the Victorian Legislative Assembly.

Climate change, crisis and opportunity

Speech by David Karoly

David Karoly
David Karoly

Click on player above to listen to the speech – or  download the mp3 file

David Karoly is professor of Atmospheric Science at University of Melbourne, and a member of the Climate Change Authority which provides advice to the Australian government on climate change policies.

One week after the festival, David Karoly published an article in The Age, saying:

“We should be committing to greater emission reductions than the Turnbull government has taken to Paris. A fairer share for Australia would be to reduce emissions by at least 46% from 2005 levels by 2030, as recommended by the Climate Change Authority, and much more than the 26% to 28% current commitment.”
David Karoly

» The Age – 4 December 2015:
Global warming: what level of risk would you accept?

» More about this event can be found on


Wow! Biggest climate action event ever

What a weekend! Together, we managed to create the largest action on climate change ever in Australia with over 130,000 people participating in 55 towns and cities. In Melbourne, somewhere between 40,000 and 60,000 people took part in The People’s Climate March. (Police says 40,000 – the organisers say 60,000).

World-wide, it was also the biggest climate action event ever – with an estimated 785,000 participants walking the streets over this one weekend.

These were people from all walks of life who have taken to the streets in more than 2,300 actions and events – and some 140 major cities worldwide – to send a message to the politicians. Because on Monday 30 November 2015, the UN climate talks started in Paris.

The disgraceful Australian coal-addiction
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull gave a gave a speech at the UN Climate Summit.

» Four minute video clip here, more comments and reactions here

Australia was asked to sign a global agreement in Paris to end subsidies to fossil fuels after intense lobbying from the Minerals Council. While Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declined to do so, New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key joined Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen as well as 40 other nations in signing and launching the fossil fuel subsidy reform statement.

Fossil fuel subsidies continue to outpace those for renewable energy by a factor of more than four-to-one.
If we want to protect our climate and our children, we need to stop making it cheaper to pollute. Right now, 8 per cent of Australia’s carbon pollution is being subsidised by giving businesses tax-free diesel.

Taxpayers pay billions every year to fund coal. Subsidies in coal amount up to a quarter of sale price, new research reveal. But neither Malcolm Turnbull nor Bill Shorten have a plan to do anything about it.

Sadly, what Australian journalists were reporting from Paris was that in Australia, a minerals council and politicians with strong ties to the fossil fuel industry are able to control a democratically elected government and direct its politics.

Waleed Aly expressed this better than anyone else I have seen in this short segment on The Project:

‘Climate Fail: Waleed talks about why fossil fuel subsidies have to go’

» See also:

“We can’t go on denying that climate change is real, and can’t continue to find emotional or even incorrect reasons not to act on it. We stopped subsidising the local car industry when we realised it had no future. It wasn’t an easy choice, but it was a choice we were prepared to make. If we don’t stop subsidising fossil fuels, then it’s us, our children, their children, whose futures will be in doubt. (…) We know the world is watching our next move, so now is not the time for our leaders just to walk away.”
Waleed Aly

What?! Stop using fossil fuels?

Cliff Clarke wrote this comment on Facebook:

“All of you who hate Fossil Fuels –
Please Stop Using Them.
Stop using anything;
Mined using fossil fuels,
Manufactured using fossil fuels,
Powered by fossil fuels,
Manufactured from fossil fuels,
Transported using fossil fuels.
Wouldn’t want to be Hypocrites now.
Good luck.
You’ll need it.”

Dear Cliff Clarke, sorry, but you seem to have been missing or misunderstanding an important part of the story. Which point are you trying to make? Are you claiming that it is an argument for continuing to use fossil fuels that we are currently addicted to fossil fuels? Did you somehow manage to overlook that we have a serious problem with the pollution from fossil fuels causing global warming?

When people discovered that there were gasses in their fridges that destroyed the ozone layer, they stopped buying those fridges, and the fridge-makers quickly found out how to produce fridges without those gasses. This didn’t happen overnight, it happened over a number of years.

Now that we have understood what kind of destructive powers the burning of fossil fuels have on our planet’s climate, and now that we know that the air polluted by those same fossil fuels that drive climate change kills seven million people every year, one would expect the exact same process to be happening as far as burning fossil fuels is concerned.

Not to stop using fossil fuels overnight, Cliff. But to change our policies and to define our targets over the next decade, so that we gradually get less and less dependent on them.

Frankly, why would anyone in their right mind be defending the use of polluting fossil fuels? Already now, meteorologists are telling us that 2015 will be the hottest since 1880, when NASA’s records begin. 2015 will break a record that was set only in 2014. Every single year so far this decade has been hotter than every single year before 1998.

So, Cliff, there is nothing hypocritical about hating fossil fuels or about hating the fact that our society is so incredibly addicted to using them. Their pollution of the air threatens our health, our food safety and our long term security. So, like we did it with the fridges, what we clearly need to do now with the fossil fuels is to stop using them.

Hypocritical is to be profiting from burning fossil fuels while pretending that it doesn’t harm our health, climate and economy. Coal kills:

“Climate change degrades air quality, reduces food security and compromises water supplies and sanitation. WHO estimates that, each year, more than 7 million deaths worldwide can be attributed to air pollution. Climate change is also causing tens of thousands of yearly deaths from other causes. Records for extreme weather events – like droughts and floods, storm surges, heatwaves and wildfires – are being broken a record number of times, claiming human lives and livelihoods. The World Meteorological Organisation says 2015 is already the hottest year since records began in 1880. Next year is predicted to be even hotter.”
Dr Margaret Chan in

The reason it is so hard to stop using them – to avoid goods that have not been manufactured using fossil fuels, powered by fossil fuels, manufactured from fossil fuels, transported using fossil fuels, and so on – is not because those goods couldn’t have been produced using clean, renewable energy – they could. But they are being produced using fossils because the powers that be don’t want society to switch away from using them. They don’t want the billion-dollar government subsidising of the fossil fuels stopped.

Those with vested interests have the view that protecting their investments and revenue stream is more important than protecting the common good or the Earth’s ecosystem. And whereas we have laws about not polluting our rivers and cities, our legislators are resisting making laws that would stop the pollution of our atmosphere.

They prioritise their own short-term gain over society’s long-term safety. In order to buy some extra time, fossil fuel companies have spent millions of dollars on spreading misinformation and lies about the science of global warming, successfully resulting in a general regime of doubt and skepticism about the need to even make the switch. That misinformation has allowed the policy makers to get away with simply ignoring the risks for almost a decade now.

“Entitled to believe the human race is insane”

“…Environmental activists like Jeremy Leggett of the Carbon Tracker Initiative have pointed out that if a temperature increase is to be kept to the consensual, post-industrial 2°C limit, 80% of the fossil fuels currently on the books of the corporations will have to remain in the ground. Nonetheless, the corporations have shown no inclination to moderate their quest for the tar sands of Alberta, the coal of Queensland’s Galilee Basin, and the oil and gas now potentially available because of the melting of the Arctic Circle. Nor has any country, not even climate-conscious Norway, shown any desire to prohibit or even restrain the activities of the fossil-fuel corporations.

In his ‘Don’t Even Think About It’, George Marshall tells us that he had asked both Leggett and the founding chair of the IPCC, Sir John Houghton, whether they could recall even one instance where a proposal to limit the activities of the fossil-fuel corporations had been discussed in government circles. Neither could.

In the age of neoliberal capitalism, everyone in authority who is concerned about global warming seems to agree that the solution to the problem is to put a price on the emissions produced by the burning of fossil fuels but not to restrain the global corporations from expanding their search for ever more coal, oil and gas.
An intelligent and observant Martian visiting the Earth and learning of our climate problem would be entitled to believe the human race is insane…”


» The Guardian – 16 September 2015:
US and Australian taxpayers pay billions a year to fund coal – report
“Ending subsidies, that amount to almost a quarter of the sale price in some cases, would hugely reduce carbon emissions, new research reveals”

These matters, Cliff, are what more and more people are upset about, and beginning to rebel against. This is why they are now eager to go off the grid and generate their own, clean energy locally, why they start walking and cycling instead of driving, and the many many other initiatives individuals are taking and exploring in order to lessen their own carbon footprint and their dependency on oil, gas and coal. They – we – do it even though it is an uphill battle as long as we don’t have our governments behind us.

At its core, why climate change and global warming makes people upset is because this mess is caused by nothing but human greed. Nothing else.

What is happening at the moment in Indonesia is part of that picture. It’s being called the greatest environmental disaster of the 21st century – and it’s a direct result of corporate greed.

The disaster has inflicted a staggering toll on the region’s environment, economy and human health: 2.1 million hectares of forests and other land burned, 21 deaths, more than half a million people sickened with respiratory problems and $9 billion in economic losses from damaged crops to hundreds of cancelled flights.

Why? Because palm oil and paper pulp companies illegally set fire to forests to clear land to plant more trees in the cheapest and fastest way possible.

“The targets of 2 degrees, or even 1.5 degrees of warming are designed to protect fossil fuel companies from losing money – not to protect countries from rising seas and raging storms,” Dr Richard Denniss wrote from Paris earlier this week. He is The Australia Institute’s chief economist.

“I don’t give a damn if you believe in climate change. I couldn’t care less if you’re concerned about temperatures rising or melting glaciers. It doesn’t matter to me which of us is right about the science. (…) A clean energy future is a wise investment, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either wrong, or lying.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger

Posted by Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday, 7 December 2015

So anyway, let’s not get sidetracked. 🙂 The point we were making was that the switch away from fossil fuels is happening – and this has nothing to do with anyone being hypocrites. Switching to renewables simply makes common sense – economically as well as morally.

But still, that switch – or transition – is happening at a shockingly slow pace, considering the urgency of this matter. Scientific studies have been suggesting that we have only about 10 years to make the full switch away from the fossils if we want to keep the climate safe. At the pace we are going at the moment, with politicians on the wrong side of history, it doesn’t look like this is going to happen at all. Which is why this kind of more radical initiatives are beginning to happen:

Civil disobedience. Some people think that is the obvious next step to take. You can read more about the initiatives on

British design icon and climate activist Vivienne Westwood sends a greeting to activists and the Danish politician Uffe Elbæk.

Survey on

All of which is why, as you can see in the left column on this website, many people currently respond they are frustrated, angry, worried, and sad:

We asked: “What best describes your current feeling about the climate change crisis?” Here is what people answered:

    Frustrated: why aren’t our leaders fixing this problem? 34%
    Angry: ready to take to the streets to protest 22%
    Worried: would like to act, but tell me how! 15%
    Sad: I think time has run out for humanity 9%

    Optimistic: humanity will tackle this! 8%

    I don’t care. What will come, will come 6%
    Disillusioned: what can I do about it? 5%
    Doubtful: are we sure emissions are the cause? 2%

17 years of age, Anna Langford from Melbourne penned this powerful letter to world leaders in Paris. It will be delivered by the Climate Guardian Angels during the UN Climate Summit. We encourage you to read it. And share it:

Postcards from last weekend’s climate marches
You got to watch this ‘video postcard’ from Australia. In just two minutes it tells a brilliant new story about what is happening in Australia, and in many societies around the planet:

This is a video which sets a nice tone of hope and optimism as far as what our self-induced carbon & climate nightmare is also about. While stopping the burning of oil-gas-coal is urgent – and we all share a responsibility there – the energy transition from fossils to renewables is about something more, something deeper, something which is exciting and enriching – a societal shift – dare we say: revolution – that strikes some beautiful sounding chords because it is about establishing connections and relations, while we formulate an entirely new sets of values.

Not since the late 1960s and early 1970s has the world seen a movement like this. The Canadian author Naomi Klein points it out in her book and film ‘This Changes Everything’: the climate crisis actually gives us a great opportunity to make a more fundamental change of course.


Melbourne’s Climate March

The weekend’s climate rally in Melbourne was an excellent example of this: well organised with great speakers and a fantastic turnout.

This blogpost by Melbourne-based photo-journalist Tess Holderness provides a colourful and detailed documentation of the spirit and the essence of what the People’s Climate March was about. Tess Holderness wrote:

“It was heartening and uplifting to see so many people turn out, with their wonderful messages of hope and collective calls for change. It all helps in creating those tipping points that will lead us in the direction of a clean energy future. Nice to see the pics from Peter Campbell too – they provide a wonderful insight into the different aspects of the event and also, the diversity amongst those present.”


» Rowena dela Rosa Yoon took the photo from the Melbourne climate march which is used in the collage on top of this page. More of her photos on

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Quotes, excerpts and links

…in relation to the 102nd Sustainable Hour

Foreign Correspondent: ‘How to Save the World’

Foreign Correspondent looks at how countries across the world are tackling the effects of climate change by turning to alternative power sources. Australians can watch Foreign Correspondent’s ‘How to Save the World’ on ABC’s iView.

» ABC – 30 November 2015:
Clean energy and the global fight against climate change
“From wind turbines to solar power, how countries across the world are tackling the effects of climate change by turning to alternative power sources.”

‘You’re the Voice’


“There can be no peace on earth while our atmosphere is choked with carbon.”
Liz Conor, author, columnist, climate guardian angel

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The good news

Coming from Paris:

• Bill Gates just announced the creation of a multi-billion dollar clean energy fund, The Breakthrough Energy Coalition. It will be the biggest clean energy fund in history.

• 13 of the largest companies in the United States have pledged $600 billion worth of voluntary low carbon investments.

• The American bank Citigroup has announced it will invest $140 billion into tackling climate change.

• Solar and wind power installations are currently emerging faster than any other electric power source, growing at worldwide annual rates of 50% and 18% respectively. Solar power is now cheaper than coal in most countries.

• On Friday, the People’s Pilgrimage arrived in Paris – having walked all the way from Rome.

• On Saturday in Paris, a coalition of all faiths delivered a petition signed by over 1.8 million people calling for climate justice.

• On Sunday, 10,000 shoes were laid out in the streets of Paris, symbolising those who couldn’t march in the state of emergency there – and over 5,000 people from all faiths and walks of life linked arms down Rue du Voltaire, calling for climate unity.

• At the climate summit in Paris, the Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative (LCTPi) has unveiled an ambitions and action plans developed by more 153 companies and 70 partners over the past 12 months to lead the transition to a low carbon world. PwC analysis shows that if the ambitions are met, LCTPi could achieve 65% of the emissions reductions necessary to stay under 2°C, channel $5-10 trillion of investment into low carbon sectors by 2030 and support 20-45 million jobs each year.

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South Australia embraces low-carbon economy

As the first Australian state government, South Australia has committed to a new target of zero net emissions by 2050. Currently about 40 per cent of South Australia’s power is provided by renewable energy, the most of any mainland state. South Australia’s example is showing that much higher levels of renewable energy are possible throughout the rest of the country.

» RenewEconomy – 25 November 2015:
South Australia commits to zero net emissions by 2050

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The Greens launch plan for 2050

Media release: ‘Thousands of jobs, cheaper power for Victoria under RenewAustralia plan’

As the Paris Climate Summit kicks off, the Greens have put forward a plan to drastically cut Australia’s pollution that would create thousands of jobs in regional Victoria.

A new federal government authority called RenewAustralia would deliver a 15 year pipeline of clean energy projects through a combination of reverse auctions and direct investment, to ensure that Australia’s energy generation is at least 90% renewable and twice as efficient by 2030.

“For Victorians, this means cheaper electricity, cleaner air and water, and doing our part to slash carbon pollution,” said Greens Senator for Victoria Janet Rice

“It means more rooftop solar for homes and businesses in regional Victoria, and investment in publicly owned wind farms, solar thermal, geothermal, hydro and biomass energy generators.

“Building up clean energy infrastructure is only one side of the coin. The other is the staged closure of coal-fired power stations like Hazelwood.

“The Greens want a transition out of coal, starting with the worst polluting power plants, to provide an orderly transition and give workers the security to plan their future rather than being thrown out by the company when it has no choice but to close.

“RenewAustralia would see Hazelwood in the Latrobe Valley, which is Australia’s dirtiest power station, go offline.

“RenewAustralia will have access to a Clean Energy Transition Fund to provide a just transition for workers and communities affected by the shutdown of coal and gas power stations and the mines which supply them by providing retraining, industry assistance and other support – to ensure no coal worker is left behind.

“Instead of taking Tony Abbott’s pathetic climate targets to Paris, these are the tangible things the Australian government can and must do to safeguard and strengthen our economy, our society and our precious natural environment.

“By powering our economy on at least 90% clean energy and shifting from fossils fuels to electricity for vehicles, industry and domestic heating and cooling, Australia’s total pollution will drop by 38-40% by 2030.

“We want RenewAustralia to have the ability to ensure that the right renewable energy generation projects are built in the right places at the right times in the public interest.”

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Open call for environmental videos

Bait Muzna for Art Film (BMAF) in Muscat, Oman, invites videographers, art filmmakers and artists to send works for the institution’s permanent video archive.

The videos can be sent on a USB flash or memory card for further study and selection. The work must be submitted in high quality PAL .mp4 or .mov format. The duration of the video should not exceed 30 minutes in length, no production year restrictions.

For the first six months the theme of the screening in the atrium loop of BMAF will be ecology, wildlife and conservationism. Works that treat subject matters such as poaching, contamination, rising sea levels, hydraulic fracturing, or environmental research are welcome as part of the program.


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