Liberating wind of change in Geelong region


An energetic Sustainable Hour where two friends of the wind – Friends of the Earth Melbourne’s Yes2Renewables coordinator Pat Simons and community-owned Hepburn Wind’s community manager Taryn Lane – help us bust a couple of industrial wind farm and power price myths, along with how best to respond to the various ‘visual pollution’ concerns that continue to be raised in local media, now that wind farm projects are finally beginning to materialise in our region.

Australia’s electricity sector is the nation’s biggest climate polluter. Irresponsibly, editors of local media and certain politicians refuse to acknowledge that we need to get off fossil fuels in order to deal with the existential threats of the climate change crisis – and that wind farms happen to be an important part of the solution to that crisis.

We learn how the Victorian government’s renewable energy targets create thousands of new jobs while solving terrible, painful and costly health problems related to the coal industry as well. As we have now entered the lead-up to the Victorian state election on 24 November, we extend Pat’s invitation to get actively involved in communicating about all of this to others in our community – there’s a meeting in Geelong about this next week.

We play a clip with Dr George Crisp from Doctors for the Environment Australia, as he spoke in ABC Matter of Fact on 9 August 2018, a clip with Richard Riordan MP on 4BC, and with Barnaby Joice on the ABC, a trailer for the new film ‘Our Power’, and the song ‘Get Together’ from the new – and free – ‘Radish Beet’ remix album from the absolutely Formidable Vegetable Sound System.

 

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”
~ Kofi Annan, 1938-2018 – Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations over almost a decade, from 1997 to 2006





Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 230 on 94.7 The Pulse:

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“Australians are sick of the inaction and political bickering around climate change, and we want some real answers.”
~ Mel Abel, Bendigo District Australian Conservation Foundation, on 29 July 2018




 LISTENER SERVICE: 

Content of this hour

Links, excerpts and more information about what we talked about in this Sustainable Hour


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Geelong Meetup: Building on Victoria’s Renewable Energy Leadership

While the federal Parliament is plagued by disunity and denial, Victoria is showing real leadership on renewable energy.

Victoria’s Renewable Energy Target (VRET) of 40% by 2025 has been written into law, and recently the Andrews government announced an ambitious plan to put rooftop solar on 650,000 homes across the state. In the weeks ahead, we’re expecting more news about the winners of Victoria’s very first renewable energy auctions, which will see new wind and solar farms built across the state.

But we’ve got a problem.

The Matthew Guy opposition has pledged to axe the VRET – a policy expected to create 10,000 jobs in wind and solar, cut pollution and help the state get a grip on electricity prices.

With less than three months until the Victorian election, the Guy opposition has failed to set out their own plan to grow renewable energy and deliver thousands of jobs in wind and solar.

Join the Yes 2 Renewables collective for a casual community meeting at the Geelong Library next Thursday to talk about the state of play, and how to celebrate and protect renewable energy in the months ahead.

With the federal government in turmoil and so much at stake, it’s up to all of us to defend Victoria’s renewable energy leadership.
This is a fairly casual meeting bringing together like-minded people keen to get organised in Geelong and the surrounding region.

No prior knowledge is required, only passion and interest. Tea and coffee available on the evening.

~ Pat Simons

Geelong Meetup: Building on Victoria’s Renewable Energy Leadership
Thursday 30th August at 6:30 – 8:00 PM
Geelong Library, Level 2 Meeting Room.

» RSVP via Facebook.



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 #WINDROW: 

What is behind this strange opposition to wind power?

This week in The Sustainable Hour, we learn about wind. Wind power, that is. What is on its way in our region? What are the benefits and the challenges?

Unlike coal, natural gas, diesel and petrol power, unlike these products Geelong Refinery along with numerous coal mines and fracking gas wells so ‘proudly’ deliver to the Australian communities at a high cost… the wind is free. The energy it provides, once the construction cost of the turbines that harness it has been paid off. Free, clean, climate-safe. Who in their right mind would be against something which is free and benefits humanity in numerous ways?

Well, as it turns out, plenty of farmers and politicians in the Geelong region… At least that is the impression the local media would like you have.

It is obvious that there are vested interests among shareholders of fossil fuel companies trying to stop the renewable energy industry from taking over – which it eventually will. What is seldom mentioned in the public discussion, though, is that one of the real reasons for the resistance we are seeing against wind energy among wealthy members of the Coalition parties has nothing to do with electricity, visual pollution or health concerns – the reason is that construction of new wind farms is something which disrupts the economic status quo in a small community.

Wind farms generate a new source of income to some farmers, but not to all. This sort of redistribution of economic gains in the local community, disrupting the traditional power structures, very quickly can become a basis for jealousy and conflict.






Moorabool Wind Farm

The construction and operation of 107 wind turbines – the Moorabool Wind Farm, 47 kilometres from Geelong, 27 kilometres from Ballarat – has been approved and is well under way.

Moorabool’s 107 wind towers will be turning by mid-2019, while 60 turbines nearby at Lal Lal Wind Farm will follow a few months later. The turbines are expected to power the equivalent of 223,000 average Victorian homes, that’s 11% of all Victorian homes.

On the slopes of Mt Gellibrand, blades have also started turning with the first of the $258 million wind farm’s 44 turbines now turned on.

Eleven wind farms have been completed in Victoria in the past four years, with a further eight projects under construction. And there is more in the pipeline.

WestWind plans for a $1.7 billion Golden Plains Wind Farm and a multi-pronged project in Inverleigh, featuring 16 turbines, 22MW of solar and 12MW of battery storage, is being looked at.

The electorate of Liberal member for Polwarth, Richard Riordan, covers parts of the Golden Plains Shire down to Mortlake and Port Campbell. It has 15 wind energy projects on the books. But Riordan is no fan of the large expansion of wind farms, he told Geelong Advertiser: “Good things done badly aren’t always a good thing,” he said. More about this further below.

» 4BC – 10 June 2018:
Wind farms are more than just an eye sore
“For many living in the Victorian countryside, the increase of wind farms is impacting their health and quality of life.
Member for Polwarth, Coalition MP Richard Riordan told Kayley Harris from 4BC in Queensland that residents wanted wind farm companies to share transmission lines to reduce their impact on the landscape and even underground the lines.”

» Community update in November 2017

» Home page: www.mooraboolwindfarm.com



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» Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) – 16 August 2018:
Infigen to build new Tesla battery at Lake Bonney wind farm
“South Australia’s wind and solar farms will be bolstered by more storage, with a new big battery to be built by Infigen Energy at Lake Bonney in the state’s south-east.”


“Experts agree there is no rational basis for conservative Liberals’ ‘infatuation’ with coal. Building more coal-fired power stations will do nothing to lower energy prices”
~ James Fernyhough, Money Editor, The New Daily

» The New Daily – 24 August 2018:
Dutton camp’s claim that coal is cheaper is just not true, energy experts agree



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 #DENMARK: 

Danish wind industry turnover equals nine per cent of country’s annual GDP

Turnover for the Danish wind turbine industry is approximately 240 billion Danish kroner. That’s the equivalent to around 9 per cent of Denmark’s total annual GDP.

Wind energy boom helps boost revenue at Danish firm
Leading Danish wind developer Vestas has posted revenue of 2.2 billion euros in the second quarter of 2018 (3.44 billion AUS$). The interim results released on 15 August 2018 beat forecasts and led to a 7 per cent jump in the company’s share price.

The figures also show an order intake now at 3.8 gigawatts, an increase of 43 per cent on the previous year. The all-time high backlog represents a value of 10.2 billion euros, and combined with service agreements in place pushes the value to 23 billion euros in future earnings.

Data released by the Global Wind Energy Council earlier this year showed the technology was in rude health; worldwide installations hit a massive 52 gigawatts in 2017, fuelled by declining costs and the push for cleaner forms of electricity.

[52,000 megawatt = 52,000,000 kilowatt = 10 million home roof solar systems]

Total investments are expected to be around 500 million euros this year due to a flurry of activity. Vestas remains the world’s largest supplier of wind turbines, but faces stiff competition since the merger of Siemens and Gamesa last year.

Danish wind: reliable

“We were once afraid of what would happen when wind energy generation reached 5% of the total consumption. We then worried about approaching 10% – would the system be able to cope? Some years later, we said that 20% had to be the absolute limit! However, in 2016, Danish wind turbines produced more than the total electricity consumption for 317 h of the year, and we barely give this any thought.”
~ Peter Jørgensen, Vice President Associated Activities, Energinet.dk

» RenewEconomy – 19 June 2018:
The fake arguments against 100% renewable energy



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 #USA: 

Offshore wind electricity: 6.5 cents a kilowatt-hour

“Developers of the 800-megawatt project expect to provide power and renewable energy credits for 6.5 cents a kilowatt-hour. (…) Offshore wind can be a competitive source of clean energy as costs continue to come down.”

» Bloomberg – 2 August 2018:
First Big U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Offers $1.4 Billion to Customers
“Massachusetts electricity users will save about $1.4 billion over 20 years from the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm in the U.S. Project expected to cut monthly power bills up to 1.5%. The wind project will be 18% cheaper than alternatives”



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 #WINDFARMOPENDAY: 

Wind Farm Open Day to showcase Australia’s growing renewable energy industry

On Sunday 21 October, wind farms around Australia will be throwing open their gates to the public for a range of fun and informative open day events.

Nine wind farms have so far signed up to open their gates across NSW, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia. In Victoria, the wind farms currently involved include Bald Hills Wind Farm, Cape Nelson South Wind Farm, Mt Gellibrand Wind Farm, and Salt Creek Wind Farm.

Each wind farm will be running a range of activities for the community and families. For more information on each wind farm and details on how you can be involved visit cleanenergycouncil.org.au/openday. More details on each activity will continue to be added to the website.

» Read more on www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au



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 #RENEWABLEENERGY: 

Australian energy facts

“In a discussion riddled with conflicting opinions and vested interests, facts can be hard to find,” writes Dr Martin Rice, Acting CEO, Climate Council:

“Here’s what we know:

1. The electricity sector is Australia’s biggest opportunity to act on climate change. That’s because it’s our biggest polluter, generating 33% of our emissions and yet the solutions – energy efficiency, renewable energy and storage technologies – are readily available and can be rapidly deployed. A credible climate and energy policy needs to make sure this sector significantly cuts greenhouse gas pollution, or the job will be left to other sectors, such as transport and agriculture, where reducing pollution will be harder, and more costly.

2. Burning coal is the most polluting way to generate electricity. Since 1990, greenhouse gas pollution in the coal-dominated electricity sector has increased by 42%, largely because of the burning of fossil fuels.

3. “Clean coal” is not a thing. All coal power stations, old or new, cause greenhouse gas pollution. Even a new, “high-efficiency” coal power station would produce about 75% of the emissions of an existing power station of similar size.

4. On reliability, renewable power and storage – not ageing, inflexible coal power stations – are the clear winners. Australia’s ageing coal power stations are struggling to cope, with most rapidly approaching the end of their operating lives. A mix of renewable energy technologies, such as wind, solar PV and solar thermal, along with energy storage, can provide electricity 24/7 to power Australia’s 21st century economy.

5. Wind and solar can’t be beaten on cost. Renewable energy from wind and solar farms is now the cheapest form of new energy generation in Australia. And when coupled with storage, renewable energy technology is best placed to replace old, polluting coal.

~ Dr Martin Rice, Acting CEO, Climate Council, and Head of Research



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The Victorian Government’s new solar power plan

Solar Panel Rebate: The Victorian Government is providing a 50 per cent rebate, up to the value of half of an average 4kW solar panel system (which currently equates to $2,225) for eligible households in 2018-19.

» www.solar.vic.gov.au





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 #AUSWIND: 

Australia’s wind power fleet increased 25 per cent in one year

In the last 12 months, no less than 10 new wind farms were completed, adding over 900 megawatts of capacity and increasing Australia’s wind power fleet by 25 per cent. In one year. The construction boom has delivered hundreds of local jobs, it also adds something near half a billion dollars – 427 million dollars to be more precise – in new so-called “Community Enhancement Funding” into the host communities, every year for the next 25 years.

That’s called “benefit sharing”: Making sure the benefits of wind farms stay local. Wind energy builds relationships and makes a positive contribution to the social fabric of rural and regional Australia.

» Australian Wind Alliance – 24 April 2018:
Rural communities receive windfalls from wind farm




 #WINDROW #GEELONG: 

Victorian ‘Don Quixotes’ take up fight against ‘Towers of Power’

When even the world’s King of Oil, Saudi Arabia, starts putting its money in building major wind farms, it tells you something about which way the wind is blowing in the world at the moment – and it can only make you wonder why any sensible Australian politician would dare to continue the federal conservative crusade against these ‘Towers of Power’ as Geelong Advertiser​ named the wind turbines in a headline of an article about ‘Wind farms facing blow back’

While the world is worried about coal and oil polluting the air, Liberal Polwarth MP Richard Riordan is worried about wind turbines “polluting the landscape”. Here is an excerpt from the article in the Geelong Advertiser:

“Mr Riordan said the high concentration of sites in Western Victoria was not only troublesome when the wind doesn’t blow. “All projects are considered in isolation. So the creation of all the new transmission lines and technology is not only costing the consumers, but polluting the landscape even further.” (…)

Mr Riordan will lobby his parliamentary colleagues to embrace a 1.5km buffer zone, which he says is in place in other states. He is also concerned that the existing 1km setback can use other people’s land, threatening any future development on properties that border turbines.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has said he would dump the VRET if the Coalition wins November’s election, believing it is unnecessary and only increases energy costs. When asked what should be done about the upcoming renewables auction, Mr Riordan called for a moratorium on wind projects.”

What is going on?
It has come to a point where if you are still not paying attention to the climate crisis and helping with solving it, there is something seriously wrong with you. You are either being a very selfish fool or you are being fooled.

This has nothing to do with party politics. This has to do with the protection of the global commons – that biosphere which we all are a part of and which our lives depend on. The only ones who can’t see the importance of this are those who have vested interests in polluting, dirty energy systems of the past centuries.

Labor’s Victorian Renewable Energy Target aims to have at least 40 per cent of the state’s energy needs met by renewables from 2025. 11 wind farms have been completed in Victoria in the past four years, with a further eight projects under construction and more in the pipeline. Investments of several billion dollars into raising hundreds of new wind turbines.

How absurd is it to observe Australian politicians who call themselves “conservative” calling for a stop to this positive and necessary modernisation to clean up our old polluting energy system and protect the world’s ecosystems and climate, while their conservative colleagues in Europe and in countries that don’t have fossil fuels in the ground are embracing and supporting the wind industry?

The truth of the matter is that construction of clean energy plants based on wind and sunlight contains all the values that conservative politicians around the world always have taken pride in and stood up for: industrial investment and progress, new job growth, individual prosperity, energy freedom, resilience, security and safety.

It is impossible to prove how much money outspoken anti-renewables politicians are receiving on offshore bank accounts from the fossil fuel industry lobby, but reportedly, this is what is happening[*], and it could of course be one way of explaining the mystery why anyone in their right mind would want Australians to continue polluting the air with burning coal and gas to generate increasingly more expensive electricity, when renewables only get cheaper and cheaper, and on top of that don’t pollute the air or disrupt the climate – an issue which, regardless of whether Mr Riordan and Mr Guy acknowledge it or not, kills people and destroys properties every day around the planet, something which is considerably more urgent for our society to address than the claimed issue with wind turbines’ ‘visual pollution’ in the landscape.

As if the high voltage electricity wires which already scar the Australian landscape were subject to any such considerations when they were built.

Richard Riordan’s and Matthew Guy’s energy policies are not only wrong and misleading when they claim renewables will increase costs. Reality is it is coal and gas that will increase costs, and even more so those costs that are currently unaccounted for when society again and again is hit by yet another devastating extreme weather event, costing citizens, businesses and governments billions of dollars every year.

The world is in a climate emergency. We only have to watch tv news to understand the seriousness of this. This is a problem every one of us on this planet must help addressing now. And those who pollute the most, such as the Australians, should be even more eager to change this.

Anything else would be immoral and knowingly irresponsible and unkind to our young people and to future generations.

Other countries have managed to reduce their pollution levels and benefit from it both economically and socially, greenhouse gas pollution levels in the Australian electricity sector have increased by 42 per cent since 1990. That is an outright disgrace in an international context.

According to AEMO, the Australian Energy Market Operator which performs an array of electricity market, operational, development and planning functions, recently made it clear that wind and solar can’t be beaten on cost. Renewable energy from wind and solar farms is now the cheapest form of new energy generation in Australia. And when coupled with storage, renewable energy technology is best placed to replace old, polluting coal.

Neither of these two politicians disclose anything about their religious background on their personal websites, but Riordan is an Irish Catholic name, and Matthew Guy hypocritically claims to be fighting for the Catholic school communities in Victoria, while at the same time they both elegantly manage to turn a completely deaf ear to the Catholic’s leader Pope Francis, who in 2015 told the world in very explicit terms that “highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay.” (Laudato Si’ 165).

“Without delay”, Mr Riordan and Mr Guy. What is it that makes you think that you know better than the Pope, so in spite of all your alleged care for the Catholic community, you think we should just ignore Pope Francis’ very straight-forward and sensible message to humanity?

The Liberals almost destroyed the renewable energy sector last time they were in Government. Where is your plan to deliver the benefits of the Victorian Renewable Energy Target, once you scrap it? What is your way to create 10,000 new renewable industry jobs, investment to regional communities, cheaper power to businesses and residents, and above all, cuts to carbon emissions?


[*] There are documented cases of career corruption, whereas allegations that mining companies transfer millions of dollars to the Liberal party’s offshore accounts in order to buy influence, are just that: allegations, yet without disclosure of the total figures being transferred. Read more on www.smh.com.au

» The Guardian – 17 July 2018:
Renewables will replace ageing coal plants at lowest cost, AEMO says
“Forecast by energy market operator is a blow to Coalition MPs campaigning for new coal-fired generation”



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Re: ‘Wind farms facing blow back…’ (The Advertiser, 28 July 2018)

The Victorian Renewable Energy Target will see 5,000MW of new electricity generation come online across the state. The rollout of new solar and wind farms will create 10,000 jobs, put downward pressure on power prices, and help the state meet the legislated target of zero emissions by 2050.

It’s no wonder renewable energy enjoys strong support from the communities that host projects them and beyond.

Many will remember that the Liberal party almost killed off Victoria’s renewable energy sector the last time it was in office. Our state missed out on millions worth of investment and hundreds of jobs. It’s disappointing to see sitting Liberal MPs hanging on to an ideological opposition to renewable energy technology.

Matthew Guy and the opposition have told us they’ll scrap the VRET. But when will the release their plans to bring 5,000MW of solar and wind online to cut power prices? How will the create 10,000 jobs in the sector? What steps will they take to uphold the state’s climate laws and ensure emissions are cut?

A party worthy of forming government would have a clear plan for these issues. It would have no problem releasing it for public scrutiny well before the state election. Failure to do so would raise doubts about the fitness of the Coalition to govern.

~ Leigh Ewbank, Act on Climate coordinator, Friends of the Earth



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“The promise of legislation to secure a 26% emissions reduction target died today — that is if a propped up skeleton can die. It can be pulverised into dust, I suppose, which seems fitting. Ben Potter in the Australian Financial Review writes that the real test will come when we are expected to commit even further to the cause, as have many of our allies and trading partners, twenty-three of whom have signed a ‘Declaration for Ambition’ to ratchet up their emissions targets.
The fact is that the global effort to reduce emissions is succeeding, with India and China especially meeting their Paris Agreement targets with gusto. Signing, and staying true to the Paris Agreement will arguably benefit economies around the world. Even for us, according to an Australian treasury analysis, aiming for emissions reduction is the economically prudent thing to do. We are being held back.”

~ Kara Eva Schlegl



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Re: The so-called ‘visual pollution’ question

“To me, an industrial wind turbine is not an electrified tower jarring the landscape. It is a beacon of hope, designed by sapiens, powered by nature.

My intention is to seduce, to inspire others to visualize – to imagine – what a post-carbon world will look like.

What is holding us back at this existential moment? How can we shift the global climate change conversation from despair to hope, from apathy to action?

In the past, it was imagination that propelled homo sapiens forward. In the future, it is imagination that will ensure our existence in a rapidly changing world.

It is urgent therefore, for artists and architects and all creative souls to take their rightful place at the table alongside scientists, engineers, city planners, journalists and politicians. Collectively, we must “imagine that which we know” according to the poet Shelley.

Collectively, we must design a future of clean abundance and endless opportunity.

Collectively, we must immediately start to build this future. A future that, according to architect Alice Guess, not only insures we will persist, but that persisting can be beautiful, comfortable, safe and functional.

The Holy Grail is within reach: a 100% post-carbon circular economy in our lifetimes. To get there, Wise Man needs to embrace the arts, culture and myth. If not, we will lose our humanity in the Human Age.”
~ Joan Sullivan, a Canadian renewable energy photographer



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 #COAL #GIPPSLAND #FILM: 

Our Power

» www.ourpowerdoco.com





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 #COAL #PODCAST: 

After the smoke clears – the battle for energy in Victoria

Beyond Zero Radio with 3CR are producing a special five-part radio series about the battle for energy in Victoria. Follow it via

» www.afterthesmokeclears.com.au



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 #COALKILLS #HEALTH: 

Air pollution is shortening your life

Depending on where you live, the air you breathe is shaving months, even years, off your life, according to a new study.

In Egypt and India, where air pollution is high, the average life expectancy is cut by 1.9 and 1.5 years, respectively. In the U.S., air pollution shortens a life by four months.

The study comes at a time when President Trump is loosening environmental protections. This week, the Trump administration unveiled plans to overhaul regulations of coal-burning power plants. And, according to the administration’s own analysis, that policy shift could lead to as many as 1,400 premature deaths a year by 2030 and up to 15,000 new cases of upper respiratory problems.

» Source: The New York Times: Your Thursday Briefing



 ADDITIONALLY: 

In other news

From our notes of this week: news stories and events we didn’t have time to mention but which we think you should know about






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» Below2C – 21 August 2018:
The Best Way To Create Jobs: Reduce Fossil Fuel Use



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 #SOLUTIONS #SUMMIT: 

Electrifying our industry

“Industry is responsible for 21 per cent of all emissions, and yet you will rarely find anyone pursuing solutions. This is about to change! There are loads of opportunities for Australian industry using renewable energy and clean tech.”

On 13 September 2018, Beyond Zero Emissions launches their new report, Electrifying Industry, on one day summit around the topic. The summit is a chance for manufacturers, policymakers and industry to come together to explore the opportunities in the coming decade for a revival of Australian manufacturing powered by renewable energy. Registration is free.

The report includes 10 ‘How to electrify’ case studies for developing many common industrial materials without fossil fuels, including pre-prepared meals, beer, milk powder, paper, aluminium casting, brick, glass, plastic, steel, & ammonia.

» www.electrifyingindustry.org.au

» You can also find out more by listening to Kay and Nat interview Liz Fletcher and Vanessa Petrie in this BZE podcast



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 #GUIDE: 

How to communicate about energy

Not sure how to talk about electricity? A new guide from the Climate Council aims to help us all with often difficult conversations on climate change and energy. It was created to assist those communicating on climate change and energy to do so accurately and effectively.

» Download the PDF document:
‘Energy Communications Guide’



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 #GASKILLS #GASBAN: 

Woman killed from gas poisoning

A Victorian coroner wants open flue gas heaters to be phased out after the carbon monoxide poisoning death of a woman in her Melbourne public housing unit.

» Read more in www.thenewdaily.com.au



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Strike for safety. Climate safety



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Acknowledgement

We at The Sustainable Hour would like to pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land on which we are broadcasting, the Wathaurong People, and pay our respect to their elders, past, present and future.

The traditional owners lived in harmony with the environment and with the climate for hundreds of generations. It is not clear – yet – that as European settlers we have demonstrated that we can live in harmony for hundreds of generations, but it is clear that we can learn from the indigenous, traditional owners of this land.

When we talk about the future, it means extending our respect to those children not yet born, the generations of the future – remembering the old saying that…



The decisions currently being made around Australia to ignore climate change are being made by those who won’t be around by the time the worst effects hit home. How utterly disgusting, disrespectful and unfair is that?




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“Participation – that’s what’s gonna save the human race.”
~ Pete Seeger, American singer