Planting seeds of climate leadership

The Sustainable Hour no 331

We have three guests in our Hiatus Tunnel on 9 September 2020:

Social researcher and climate activist Rebecca Huntley is the author of the recently released book ‘How to Talk About Climate Change in a Way that Makes a Difference’. Rebecca explains what led her to write the book as well as how to approach different people differently.

Victoria McKenzie-McHarg revisits the show, this time as the manager of Womens’ Environmental Leadership Australia, WELA. She took part in the WELA program a couple of years ago and believed in its potential so much that she managed to talk them into putting her on full-time to expand their reach. We hope that some of our female listeners apply for this very successful program in 2021.

Melbourne psychiatrist and climate/health campaigner Dr Pia Brous talks about her concerns about the health implications of our reliance on fossil fuels. These concerns are such that she is part of the organising committee for a webinar which aims at seriously questioning the call for a gas led recovery from Covid-19.
This webinar is on Tuesday 15 September 2020.

Global Outlook: Colin Mockett starts his look around our planet this week with two bad news items. The first is from the record heatwave in California where their unprecedented out-of-control wildfires have continued unabated for another week and left tens of thousands of acres of native forests destroyed in their wake. Next he revisits Mauritius and the damage being done to the wildlife there, but this time it’s caused by the cleanup efforts. His final two items herald more hopeful news. Firstly, protest actions outside Murdock Press offices and printing presses in England highlights that gigantic media corporation’s inability or unwillingness to tell the truth on all matters climate. Finally he brings us back home with the recent announcement by Aldi – the German supermarket chain’s commitment to take its responsibility to be part of the solution to the climate emergency we face seriously by generating its own renewable electricity. Colin concludes by pondering if this will inspire our two supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths to do the same.

We couldn’t resist giving Keb Mo some more airplay with his song ‘Put a Woman in Charge’. Until we return to the Tunnel next week, educate yourself about what each candidate is pledging to push for should the be successful in the upcoming City of Greater Geelong elections. This time around we must #VoteTheDifference.


“If we want solutions that are going to work, that are going to be long-lasting, and are going to bring communities along with it, then we need womens’ leadership at scale right across society for the issues of climate and the environment – and we need to see that across government, across business and across the not-for-profit sector.”
~ Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, manager, WELA program

“There is no one single approach that will work with every doubtful person you speak to about climate change, but there is a way that will work with everyone if you can establish common ground with them.”
~ Rebecca Huntley, author

Excerpt of interview with Dr Pia Brous

Why it the climate emergency so important, why does it overshadow all other decisions we make – and why do things need to change now? Dr Pia Brous, who was guest in The Sustainable Hour this week, gave us an answer to that. What she says here in just a few minutes is useful for any conversation, interview or election panel discussion you are participating in about the topic of climate change. This is how our doctors are now talking about the issue. People generally have a level of respect for their own doctor. Doctors obviously know something that our politicians – including some councillors – simply don’t understand, because they never received the relevant education. Or, as Dr Brous tells us, they pretend not to understand it because of vested interests.

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. If everyone takes that approach, we can do anything.”
~ Zali Steggall, independent member of the Australian Parliament



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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 land. They nurtured it and thrived in often harsh conditions for millenia before they were invaded. Their land was then stolen from them – it wasn’t ceeded. It is becoming more and more obvious that, if we are to survive the climate emergency we are facing, we have much to learn from their land management practices.

Our battle for climate justice won’t be won until our First Nations brothers and sisters have their true justice. 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…

“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.”

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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The gas fallacy: Event description

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.




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MEDIA RELEASE – 9 SEPTEMBER 2020:

Climate change posing new disease risk – Biosecurity experts sound the alarm

Climate change is a key factor in the emergence of new, potentially dangerous diseases, a new group of biosecurity experts has warned.

The group of 18 former chief veterinary officers and senior government veterinarians have written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, urging him to commit Australia to reaching net-zero emissions before 2050.

They have also asked the Prime Minister to meet with them to discuss how climate change is threatening Australia’s biosecurity.

Chief veterinary officers advise state and territory governments on how to keep emerging diseases out of Australia.

Dr Helen Scott-Orr, inaugural Inspector-General of Biosecurity for Australia and former NSW Chief Veterinary Officer, said the distribution of pests and spread of diseases was already changing both in Australia and abroad as global temperatures increased.

“We know that over the past few decades, between 60 and 70 per cent of new diseases affecting humans have originated from animals, including COVID-19,” Dr Scott-Orr said.

“Climate change is an important factor behind the emergence of new diseases and it is not a future issue, climate change is happening now,” she said.

“Australia has an important role to play in preventing this problem from escalating further, because with our natural resources, we could be selling clean, renewable energy to the world, instead of exporting polluting fossil fuels like coal and gas.”

Dr Ron Glanville, former Chief Veterinary Officer, Chief Biosecurity Officer and Chief Inspector of Stock for Queensland, organised the letter, with the support of the Veterinarians for Climate Action movement.

“We have spent our lives tracking the spread of infectious diseases and we can already see how global heating, combined with other factors such as habitat destruction, is changing the distribution patterns of disease,” Dr Glanville said. 

“I worry that unless the Australian government treats the problem of climate change with the urgency it deserves, which means committing to net-zero emissions by 2050 or preferably earlier, my grandchildren’s lives will be much less safe and comfortable than my own,” he said. 

Nobel-prize winning immunologist Prof Peter Doherty, who originally trained as a veterinarian, said the former chief veterinary officers were thoughtful, conservative people whose advice should be heeded.

“The health consequences of climate change, apart from the obvious ones of excess heat, go right across the board.”

·         A copy of the former chief veterinary officers’ open letter is here.

·         Biographies of each of the signatories to the letter are here.

·         Video and audio grabs from Prof Peter Doherty are here.



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Doctors sound the alarm to government: Climate change is a health emergency

→ 9News – 9 September 2020:
COVID-19 brought countries to a halt but climate change kept devastating the world, UN report says



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MEDIA RELEASE – 9 September 2020:

Greater Geelong Council takes determined stand on environment

Council has committed the City of Greater Geelong to strong targets and actions that aim to protect the region’s environment and address significant environmental issues and impacts on the region.

The Environment Strategy 2020-2030, which is supported by a two-year action plan, was last night adopted by council following extensive community consultation.

Greater Geelong features diverse urban, rural and coastal environments, including 1,300 hectares of protected natural habitat managed by the City, 133 kilometres of coastline, indigenous vegetation and flora and fauna of state, federal and international significance.

The strategy’s key targets include:

  • All City-managed operations to be carbon neutral by 2025;
  • All City-owned light fleet vehicles to be powered by zero-emission sources by 2030;
  • 100 per cent renewable electricity supply for all City owned and operated buildings and streetlights by 2025;
  • Establish an additional 1,000 hectares of protected natural habitat by 2030;
  • Plant 1 million new trees in Greater Geelong by 2030;
  • Achieve a net gain of biodiversity within Greater Geelong during the term of this strategy; and
  • Halve the volume of organic materials going to landfill from residential waste bins between 2020 and 2030, with a target of 20 per cent reduction by 2025.

Forty submissions and 194 online comments were received during community and stakeholder consultation in May and June 2020, showing overwhelming support for the goals, principles and actions contained with the strategy.

Significant community feedback was received on the importance of addressing climate change including the need for a region-wide response and to further engage with Traditional Owners.

The changes made to the Environment Strategy based on community feedback include:

·         Strengthened climate change commitments, including expansion of partnerships to reduce community emissions;

·         Increased the number and scope of biodiversity commitments and strengthened targets;

·         Increased commitments to collaborate with Traditional Owners to connect culture and biodiversity; and

·         Aligned the strategy with commitments to reduce the use of single-use plastic.

The Environment Strategy’s development was a key action within the Sustainability Framework 2020.

The strategy and action plan replace the Environmental Management Strategy 2014-2017 and are supported by strategic work including the Urban Forest Strategy, Stormwater Services Strategy and Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy.

Quotes attributed to Cr Eddy Kontelj, Chair, Environment portfolio:
“The council group’s commitment to the Environment Strategy acknowledges our significant responsibility to care for and protect the region’s unique environment. Responding to challenges and threats that impact our distinctive environment and building resilience is vital to improving sustainability.”

“The City is already running so many ‘clever and creative’ projects and initiatives in the environmental protection space, but we can always do more. This strategy will help the City improve its environmental performance, management of natural assets and delivery of services.”



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→ The New Daily – 7 September 2020:
‘We’re completely trapped’: More than 200 airlifted, 20 injured as fires rage across central CA
“The situation only can be described as just hellish conditions out there for those poor people,” Sheriff Pogue said.



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https://twitter.com/GreaterGeelong/status/1300323740472008704



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Events we have talked about in The Sustainable Hour

Events in Victoria

The following is a collation of Victorian climate change events, activities, seminars, exhibitions, meetings and protests. Most are free, many ask for RSVP (which lets the organising group know how many to expect), some ask for donations to cover expenses, and a few require registration and fees. This calendar is provided as a free service by volunteers of the Victorian Climate Action Network. Information is as accurate as possible, but changes may occur.

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Podcasts and posts on this website about climate emergency
Latest news on BBC about climate change


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