Geelong grapples with its climate emergency declaration


City of Greater Geelong Council is now on the official list of 1,400 local governments that have declared a climate emergency after a unanimous vote [at 1:21:00 min in the streaming video] in Geelong Council on 25 February 2020.

However, there were mixed feelings and claims of greenwashing among the climate action activists who had come to follow the debate. For instance, Brenda Hawke wrote on Facebook right after the desicion had been made that she thought it was a “Very strange council meeting. They did not vote to declare a climate emergency, but just acknowledged a recognition of the climate emergency. Playing with semantics. And get this… They are engaging Global Reporting Initiative to implement this sustainability framework. Huge mining and fossil fuel companies use the GRI standards, like ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, BHP, Rio Tinto and Adani!”

Colin and Mik, who both attended the meeting at city hall, spiritedly discuss just what it means for Geelong residents and ratepayers.

Our guest in the studio, Monica Winston from Transition Streets Geelong, comments on this, and also tells us about the big event her organisation runs on 8 March 2020 at Deakin Waterfront, the Sustainable Living Festival 2020. We’ll be talking with Mayor Stephanie Asher about this when she is guest in the program in about three weeks’ time.

Hear Monica speak very excitedly about the day her organising team has put together. There really is something for everyone in the day which is going to be MC’ed by veteran social justice comedian Rod Quantock.

Tony talks with Michael Chee about his project Portraits of Change exhibition and workshops – based on his PhD project on using photographs to tell stories of environmental projects. For the last three years Michael has been working with youth in China, Bangladesh and Australia, empowering them how to use photos to tell stories about what they are doing. The project concludes with an exhibition of his photos at Monash University’s Caulfield campus, Portraits of Change, which runs till Sunday 1 March 2020.

Paul Sheldon from Transition Australia delivers his weekly ‘National Wrap’ events calendar. He tells of the many events on the climate emergency and sustainability calendar in Victoria and beyond.

At the National Climate Emergency Summit at Melbourne Town Hall on 14-15 February 2020, a group of school students had a workshop about how schools and students can declare a climate emergency. We listen to a speech by a very impressive 14-year-old climate activist and Year 10 student Zel Whiting from Adelaide. See the video recording of his speech below on this page.

We also listen to a speech by Andy Meddick from Animal Justice Party, which he gave at the Climate Crisis National Day of Action in Geelong on 22 February 2020.

Until next week: Be the difference

“One voice. One fight. We unite.”
~ Andy Meddick, Member of the Victorian Parliament for the Animal Justice Party


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‘The green spine’ in Geelong – wrecked after just two years

Councillors demolish newly built bike path

On the same evening as Geelong Council voted for a Sustainability Framework which included a climate emergency declaration, they decided to spend millions of dollars on turning a newly built bike path back into car parking space.

In not so many years from now, more and more people will be using other means of transport than cars. Selfdriving taxis are around the corner, and who needs parking space when you arrive in a taxi?

E-scooters are getting more and more popular, and they need protection from the cars, just like bicycles do.

Cancelling newly built bike paths is a most short-sighted waste of ratepayers’ money.

There’s a lot more to a thriving city than seeing loads of polluting cars parked in those roads that can serve so many other functions.

Geelong councillors should take a look around European cities and see how well it works for a city’s economy when it is done right, and not just halfhearted, as currently is the case in Geelong.

“Ludicrous” decision
Greens MP Sam Hibbins told the ABC the decision was “ludicrous”. “It’s not the first time we’ve seen some councils get the heebie jeebies about a new bike lane. If Melbourne or Geelong are going to be liveable cities in the future then we need to get more people riding their bikes, particularly families, and that means separated bike lanes.”

Liberal MP Louise Staley said the council should make decisions and stick to them: “I personally wish they would just stick to what they put in and not keep changing it,” she said.

Cyclist – and The Sustainable Hour radio host – Tony Gleeson said the changes were a waste of money:

“More and more cities that are really serious about sustainability, and aren’t just talking about it as a feel-good thing, are getting rid of cars from their CBDs,” he told the ABC.

→ ABC News – 26 February 2020:
Geelong council votes to spend $2 million to rip up part of the city’s $8 million ‘green spine’

. . .

Listen to a one-hour audio excerpt from the meeting and read our Mik Aidt’s blogpost on the topic:



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Sustainability Framework adopted to tackle ‘global emergency’

Media release from City of Greater Geelong on Wednesday 26 February 2020:

Council has adopted a Sustainability Framework and recognised climate change as a global emergency, at last night’s council meeting.

The Sustainability Framework considers environmental, social and economic sustainability. It aims to integrate sustainability principles across all of the City’s operations, leading to a potential reduction in carbon emissions and an increase in community resilience to the impacts of climate change.

The framework will be implemented through an action plan which details a set of priority and other actions, including:

·         Recognising climate change as a global emergency;

·         Developing and endorsing a Sustainability Policy;

·         Adopting a globally recognised reporting framework; and

·         Accelerating a number of strategies, such as a Zero Carbon Emissions Strategy and Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.

As part of the framework, the City commits to enable, lead and promote innovation, deliver and enable ‘best’ and ‘next’ practice and activate community opportunity.

The community will get the opportunity to have its say on the action plan, when it goes out for public consultation for no less than six weeks.

Stakeholder workshops, risk, policy and literature reviews and existing global frameworks helped to inform the framework.

The Sustainability Framework was developed in response to a resolution passed by council in September 2019.

Greater Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher said:

“The adoption of the Sustainability Framework is an informed, responsible and strategic step forward towards addressing the impacts of climate change on the Greater Geelong community. It defines what we mean by sustainability, sets measurable objectives and implements a clear plan of action for every decision made by the city. This is a chance for the city to demonstrate leadership through sustainability best practice and work with the community to becoming a sustainable city-region.”

→ Wikipedia: Global Reporting Initiative



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446 scientists call for deep cuts to emissions

There is no strong, resilient Australia without deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.”

This open letter on the scientific basis for the links between climate change and bushfires in Australia was supported by 446 scientists with research expertise across the fields of climate, fire and weather science and published on 7 February 2020.

Read the full statement, a summary statement, and lists of co-signatories and references here:
australianbushfiresandclimatechange.com

→ The Age – 24 February 2020:
Australia must hit net zero by 2050 to meet Paris: scientists
“Top scientists say for Australia to honour the Paris Agreement and limit global warming to less than two degrees, the country must reach net zero emissions before 2050. Debate over the emissions target flared in Federal Parliament on Monday, as the Morrison government attacked Labor for a commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050, which it announced last week.”

Two trillion dollars of fossil investment has to go

Radical changes are needed if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change: Two trillion dollars of fossil fuel related capital investment has to go. Without a better understanding of the basic relationships between energy and production it is hard to say how such changes will play out in the wider economy, and almost impossible to prepare to face them.

Productivity, Energy and Climate Change—a View on the Links
By Simon Mair on 24 February 2020

Fossil fuel emissions ‘severly underestimated’

Human-caused emissions of methane from the extraction and use of fossil fuels may have been “severely underestimated”, a new study suggests. The research indicates that “natural” emissions of fossil methane, that seeps out of deeply-held reserves, make up a much smaller fraction of total methane emissions than previously thought.

Methane Emissions from Fossil Fuels ‘Severely Underestimated’
By Robert McSweeney on 20 February 2020



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“One voice. One fight. We unite.”
~ Andy Meddick 

Speech by Andy Meddick from Animal Justice Party at the Climate Crisis National Day of Action in Geelong on 22 February 2020. Andy Meddick is member of the Victorian Legislative Council since 2018, representing Western Victoria Region.



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Ten year plan to boost recycling

The Victorian Government has released its circular economy strategy – Recycling Victoria – a 10-year plan that will completely overhaul Victoria’s recycling sector, create 3,900 jobs and reduce waste going to landfill.

The more than $300 million package brings together a suite of landmark reforms, dedicated to shifting Victoria to a circular economy, including a statewide four-bin recycling system, a container deposit scheme and nearly $100 million to support businesses, drive innovation and create local jobs.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio announced that the strategy also includes $71.4 million to tackle waste crime and keep Victorians safe, with more resources to stop illegal dumping and stockpiling, and deal with high-risk sites and high-risk substances.

The media release continues:
“A dedicated Waste Crime Prevention Inspectorate will be established within the Environment Protection Authority, which will work closely with WorkSafe Victoria, emergency service agencies, councils and other regulators to improve information sharing and coordination, and keep our state safe.

Recycling Victoria will also set ambitious new goals for improved recycling and recovery in Victoria, including reducing our reliance on landfill with a diversion target of 80 per cent. These targets will create investment certainty for businesses, while promoting jobs and growth in the industry.

To measure progress accurately, Victoria will change the way we collect waste and recycling data. We will establish a new and dedicated data system to provide reliable information on the flow of recycled materials.

The Government will also provide $14.6 million to support local projects that boost recycling, reduce littering and take advantage of economic opportunites to reduce waste, particularly in regional communites. A further $1.8 million will be provided to support charities in handling waste from charitable donations.

These announcements are part of a suite of comprehensive measures outlined in the plan to better collect and sort recyclable materials, and better use them in new products, including:

• a new four-bin household recycling system to separate recyclables, glass, food and organics, and waste

• a container deposit scheme to be developed in consultation with councils and industry and begin by 2023

• a statewide education program to help households, businesses and councils transition to the
new system

• the doubling of funding for businesses to invest in infrastructure to sort and process recyclables

• new grants to make Victoria a leader in recycling innovation

• new grants to help business reduce waste and increase recycling in their daily operations

• funding for waste-to-energy initiatives, recognising its role in an integrated waste recovery system

• a Business Innovation Centre to develop new, innovative technology and solutions to waste problems

• support to target hazardous waste and protect the community from dangerous chemical stockpiles.

To ensure consistency across the state, the Labor Government will also make waste collection an essential service and establish a new dedicated authority to better govern our recycling system. To support our recycling reforms and provide a stronger incentive to invest in new waste technologies, the Government will progressively increase the landfill levy over coming years to bring it into line with other states.

Victoria’s landfill levy is significantly lower than our neighbouring states, meaning Victoria is too often used as a dumping ground for waste coming from New South Wales and South Australia.

The change reflects an agreement reached by state and territory Treasurers to work towards the harmonisation of landfill levies and will provide a strong incentive to reduce and recycle waste, and drive innovation in new waste technologies.

A circular economy – which emphasises using less to make more – represents a fundamental shift in our approach to waste, and comes in the wake of global disruptions to recycling markets. The Recycling Victoria package builds on the $135 million the Labor Government has already invested in waste and recycling.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said:
“This is the largest package of recycling reforms and investment in Victoria’s history. It will revolutionise household recycling, drive business innovation and create jobs of the future. Most importantly, it will give Victorians a truly circular economy and recycling system they can rely on.”

“For too long, waste crime has undermined Victoria’s recycling sector with dangerous and illegal stockpiling. Our investment will help to clean up the industry and make it fairer for businesses that do the right thing.”

Media Release from minister Lily D’Ambrosio’s office on Wednesday 26 February 2020:



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We play Aurora’s ‘The Seed’ towards the end of today’s podcast



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https://twitter.com/mcannonbrookes/status/1232774445837668352?s=20



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Acknowledgement

We proudly acknowledge that this podcast was created on the land of the Wadawurrung people. We acknowledge their elders, past, present and future, and we acknowledge the way they lived in harmony with the land by nurturing it for millenia before they were invaded. This land was never ceded, it was stolen from them as part of the colonisation process that is still ongoing. Their battle for equal rights continues. This battle is our battle as we work for a safer, more just and healthy world.

We also pay tribute to the great work that One Fire is doing in Geelong for reconciliation.

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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