New music, facts and atmosphere for change

Guests in The Sustainable Hour on 24 April 2019 are:         

Singer, songwriter and musician Andrea Robertson lives on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria. She is a strong supporter of sustainability and sings her own composition ‘Beautiful World’. Andrea was the recipient of the 2017 Queenscliff Emerging Artists grant, and this has enabled her to complete an album which will launch on 17 May 2019.

Colin Mockett’s Global View this week includes Sir David Attenborough’s recent BBC documentary about climate change, ‘Climate Change – The Facts’, and Colin’s recent trip to the Canberra Folk Festival where he learned about a unique methodology of voting in the upcoming federal election.

As Labor promises to invest – we say waste – $1,500,000,000 of taxpayers money into new gas projects in the north of Australia, professor Melissa Haswell from Queensland University of Technology, who is also a member of Doctors for the Environment Australia, explains why this is such an incredibly bad idea, not only because of the climate implications but also because of the public health impacts, and this can be said about offshore gas processing just as much as the methane- and groundwater-polluting fracking for shale gas on land.

Fatima Kidwai from Climate Leaders explains how a group of young school strikers are supporting independent candidates with climate action policies. We talked with her during the Sustainable Living Festival in February 2019.

Sustainable People: Lene Foghsgaard continues her series on sustainable people she has met in Melbourne and who have started cutting down on meat, or live completely without it. She talks with Tina Zenou, whose family no longer eat meat. “My hope is to inspire us all to eat more green, which can reduce our individual carbon footprints by several tonnes per year,” says Lene.

Brian Paterson from Urban Systems in Vancouver, Canada, was interviewed on Raff’s ABC Drive program late in 2018. He has a message for the design of bike infrastructure — a topic which Geelong councillors will be discussing at their meeting on Tuesday 30 April 2019, where the city’s new proposed bike infrastructure plan is up for a final vote.

“We could face irreversable damage to the natural world, and the collapse of our societies.”
~ Sir David Attenborough, BBC documentary-maker

Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 264 on 94.7 The Pulse:

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ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2019 is a socially engaged festival of ideas, exhibitions and events.

Presenting over thirty curated exhibitions at leading museums and galleries in Melbourne and regional Victoria, the 2019 festival will consider ideas and concepts around art and activism, community engagement, transition and accelerated action on climate change.

Alongside festival exhibitions, commissions, artist talks and keynote lectures our public programs will bring together experts in art practice and curatorship, with some of the foremost researchers in climate and environmental science, alongside prominent thinkers on cultural, philosophical and psychological consequences of climate change.

Let’s join with the artists, curators and our committed partners and creatively move to a just and sustainable future – for all life on earth.


Content of this hour

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

Andrea Robertson

Andrea Robertson is a musician who lives on the Bellarine Peninsula in Ocean Grove with her husband David and their two teenage children Heath and Carly. They are all very talented musicians and can often be seen performing locally together as the Von Robertsons

Andrea is a generous soul, regularly investing back in to the lives of young people and the local community in various ways: running music programs in schools, as a private music tutor, leading community singing groups, and frequently supporting local events, causes and fundraisers. 

When The Sustainable Hour called on Andrea to record herself with a message supporting the Geelong students’ school strike, Andrea did not hesitate. 

Andrea’s song ‘Beautiful World’ is about the environment, inspired by watching the first episode of the War On Waste series on the ABC.  

Fatima Kidwai: Climate Leaders

Fatima Kidwai explains about Climate Leaders
“Climate Leaders is about changing the system from the inside out,” says Fatima Kitwai in this clip

Colin Mockett: Global outlook


The Australian climate election?

This week, opposition leader Bill Shorten announced that Labor will spend up to $1.5 billion taxpayer dollars on new gas projects.


How can anyone possibly claim to be concerned about climate change and then allocate 1.5 billion dollars to polluting the atmosphere with more fossil fuel emissions?

The announcement came on the same day Global Witness found that “any production from new oil and gas fields, beyond those already in production or development, is incompatible with limiting warming to 1.5°C.”

For a decent chance to achieve this goal, the United Nations climate expert panel’s latest report models declining gas use for primary energy and electricity generation from 2020 onwards. Yet Bill Shorten stands there talking about that the Beetaloo Basin has “enough gas to supply the domestic market for up to 400 years.”

What?! Is this Labor’s plan? Who in their right mind will be talking about the possibility of burning gas for the next 400 years, if you know what the facts are as far as the planetary climate emergency is concerned?

Seven times worse than an Adani coal mine
Fact: We are well past the point where new fossil fuel reserves or infrastructure can be built that could be considered consistent with meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The climate impacts of opening up the Beetaloo, Bowen and Galilee basins for oil and gas production would be enormous, far beyond the damage that even the famous Adani Carmichael mine would do.

According to Tim Forcey, an energy advisor at the University of Melbourne, Northern Territory shale oil and gas is one of Australia’s largest potential sources of greenhouse gas emissions, with a greenhouse gas potential four to seven times larger than Adani’s coal mine.

The Australia Institute has estimated that burning the identified shale gas resource of the NT would be equivalent to 50 large coal power plants operating for 40 years – and these figures do not even include the fugitive methane emissions, which, by the way, the fossil fool companies generally never account for anyway.

Companies like Santos and Origin Energy shouldn’t even have permission to tap these basins, let alone be given taxpayer-funded handouts to do so.

Why should we stand for our tax dollars being used to subsidise a pathway to climate catastrophe?

→ WA Today – 20 April 2019:
Doctors ‘very worried’ at Chevron venting toxic chemicals at Gorgon
“During the plant’s two years of operations, vapours have been vented direct to the atmosphere containing 300 parts per million BTEX and 13,000 micrograms of mercury per cubic metre.”

Wiping out Australians’ private solar efforts

“The combined greenhouse gas emissions saved by all of Australia’s solar panels in a year could be wiped out because of technical problems at a single oil and gas project in Western Australia.

Almost two million Australian households have installed solar panels to cut their power bills while also doing their bit for the environment. Households account for most of the country’s total solar panel emission savings.”

→ ABC News – 21 June 2018:
How the Gorgon gas plant could wipe out a year’s worth of Australia’s solar emissions savings

Pablo Brait wrote on Facebook on 24 April at 11:43:

“I called Bill Shorten MP’s office this morning (02 6277 4022) prompted by this call to action from the excellent Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network. The staffer who answered told me two lies in an attempt to justify Labor’s batshit crazy policy, announced yesterday, to spend $1.5 billion of taxpayer dollars subsidising the dangerous gas fracking industry across NT and Qld.

The first lie was that the UN’s Intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) allows for an expansion in gas production. First off, it’s important to say that there’s already too much carbon in the atmosphere to keep global warming at safe levels (we need to stop emitting ASAP and start drawdown), but even the conservative IPCC only allows for gas expansion (in its 1.5 degrees of warming limit scenarios) with widespread use of carbon capture and storage (CCS). CCS doesn’t exist. And the staffer admitted it wasn’t in play. So no, the IPCC does not say it is OK to expand gas use. Expanding gas use will doom us to catastrophic extreme weather more often, skyrocketing food prices and the economic and social collapse these will lead to.

On this, the unconventional gas extraction (fracking) that Labor wants to subsidise with our taxes is probably just as emissions intensive as coal. So it should be treated as coal from a climate point of view anyway.

The second lie was the old classic gas industry-invented public relations line about gas being a “transition” fuel. This has never made sense and makes even less sense now that renewable energy is cheaper than gas for electricity production.

I asked the Labor staffer to explain exactly how this fabled transition using gas would work, and was not given an intelligible answer. How does expanding the use of a highly polluting fuel help reduce emissions? It doesn’t. It’s bullshit.

Gas is a detour, not a “transition”. It will slow down the shift to renewable energy, not speed it up.

Oh, and Labor receives donations from the gas industry and major Labor decision-makers are linked to the gas industry through marriage. I wonder if this has anything to do with this appalling policy?

Please contact Shorten’s office and share this post so that people understand that it is not OK from a climate perspective to expand the dirty and dangerous gas industry.

Subsiding gas companies to pollute, destroy water supplies and land is not taking the climate emergency seriously.

And please, if you are concerned about global warming give a more responsible candidate or party (e.g. Greens, Socialists, climate independent) your first preference vote and put Labor further down (but obviously put them above the Libs/Nats/far-right).”

“To me it implies labor has not recognised the climate emergency. New coal and gas are not part of any climate emergency plan with legs. It also implies to me they’ve missed the urgency and true intent of the IPCC report – to convey the urgency and need to act. It does beggar belief that the ipcc are still talking about gas as a transition fuel!”
~ Heidi Edmonds

Friends in high places: Fossil fuel political donations

Every year, Australian governments and their departments spend billions of dollars of your money to help more coal, gas and oil to be extracted and burned. Favourable decisions include:

• tax-based subsidies

• direct contributions

• concessional loans from public financial institutions

• lax environmental laws and approvals for disastrous projects.

Meanwhile, drought and extreme temperatures are fast becoming the new normal and annual carbon emissions were up by 0.6% in 2018, driven mainly by gas export facilities.

So how has the fossil fuel industry come to enjoy such a cosy relationship with our politicians? A trawl of the latest political donations data, released on 1 February, offers some clues.

Fossil fuel donations up 32%
In 2017-18, fossil fuel companies donated $1,277,933 to the ALP, Liberal and National parties. This was up 32% from $968,343 in 2016-17 ($1.03 million in 2015-16).

Yet given Australia’s reputation for woefully inadequate political disclosure and ‘dark money’ donations, the true figure could be 5-10 times higher. Like last year, we found big discrepancies between what the major political parties disclosed, and how much the fossil fuel companies claimed to have gifted.

Leading the pack in 2018 with $237,300 worth of largesse was Woodside Energy, followed by Santos with $182,083 and Chevron Australia with $121,879.

Notably, Chevron paid no company tax over the four financial years to 2017 and received a government handout for a gas project linked to huge increases in Australia’s CO2 emissions.

~ Market Forces, February 2019

Labor’s failure is a call for disruption

Labor’s announcement to throw $1.5 billion after the destruction of life as we know it is that plasticstraw that broke the camels back. Suddenly voting at this federal election has become a whole lot more simple: Forget about giving the big parties your support. Instead, send them a strong message about how you feel by voting for an independent candidate.

Comment by Mik Aidt

Here is what I think, and what I will be telling everyone I meet, know or reach via our podcast: Labor has failed us. Labor cannot be trusted. Vote for an independent candidate instead. Find one you can identify, and make your vote not only for that candidate, but for political disruption.

The International Monetary Fund, IMF, has estimated that Australian fossil fuel subsidies were equivalent to about $41 billion in 2015 alone. That is $1,712 per person in that year alone — or 2 per cent of our GDP. Did you know this?

Why would our government do this?, you may rightfully be asking. In The Sustainable Hour today, Colin Mockett explains: The answer lies in what the politicians call ‘donations’. Both Labor and the Liberals are taking ‘donations’ from the coal and gas industry, and they’ve been doing that for years – millions of dollars. This is what makes both parties make weird policy statements that go against all logic and common sense.

The worst part about Labor’s recent gas announcement is that it includes taxpayer money funding fossil fuel pipelines in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. Instead of committing to Stop Adani, they now want to start funding for gas pipelines – expensive fossil fuel infrastructure, that will become stranded assets, wasted money, just around the corner, when the next generation of young, intelligent and security-focused politicians begin to enter the stage in the coming years.

It’s 2019, and we’ve known since 1988 that we have to stop polluting the atmosphere. Yet neither major party has a plan to move Australia away from coal and gas. The Greens are right when they are saying: “If you don’t deal with coal and gas, you don’t deal with climate change.”

Australians demand bold action on climate
A new poll is out, from The Australia Institute, saying that a clear majority of Australians agree the nation ‘is facing a climate emergency’ requiring emergency action and that, in response, governments should “mobilise all of society” like they did during the world wars”. 

That’s according to polling from Australia Institute.

For years, Australians have been demanding genuine action on climate change, including stopping Adani and definitely not pumping billions of taxpayer money into new fossil fuel projects.

Climate election questions
So what needs to happen now is we have to turn this election into a Climate Election and send a very strong message to the major parties that their policy game is simply not good enough.

It could happen – maybe it is already happening. The other day, the The New Daily wrote: “Climate change has emerged as a key issue in the lead up to Australia’s federal election on 18 May 2019.”

And the ABC wrote: “Climate change is already a key issue in this campaign after featuring heavily in the Victorian state election and the Wentworth by-election, which stripped the Coalition of its majority.”

We saw on ABC Q&A on Monday how a frustrated young Liberal voter asked a question to the Liberal politicians in the panel: “How can I vote for you, when you refuse to deal with climate change?”

“How will the LNP win the votes of young Liberals who oppose Adani and offshore detention, but support the Coalition’s economic plan?”

The answer lies with the independent candidates. Read more about the Australian Climate Election here:

Environment the number one issue

Today, the environment, which in election-langauge includes climate change, is rated as the Number One issue by almost a third (29 per cents) of those almost 700,000 Australians that ABC’s Vote Compass have heard from.

That is a massive shift from just 9 per cent at the previous election.

Overall, the environment has climbed up to be rated as “Issue number 4” on the priority list.

Access to affordable health services is the biggest worry to a third of all Australians, followed by the cost of living at 31 percent and crime at 25 percent, according to the Ipsos Issues Monitor, cited by the Sydney Morning Herald.

But the monitor, Australia’s longest running survey of community concerns, found that 23 percent of respondents cited the environment as one of their biggest concerns, making it the fourth top issue.

At the last federal election in 2016, the environment ranked ninth at 14 percent.

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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

“You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to. And the saddest thing is that most children are not even aware of the fate that awaits us. We will not understand it until it’s too late. And yet we are the lucky ones. Those who will be affected the hardest are already suffering the consequences. But their voices are not heard. Is my microphone on? Can you hear me?”
~ Greta Thunberg, speaking to MPs at the Houses of Parliament in the United Kingdom, 23 April 2019

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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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