City Council takes lead: carbon-neutral by 2025

Our two guests in The Sustainable Hour on 24 February 2021 are the two sitting City of Greater Geelong councillors Mayor Stephanie Asher and the Put Climate First Alliance’s newly appointed councillor Dr Belinda Moloney for what we hope will be a regular appearance on the show.

We hear Mayor Asher very proudly announce the City’s ambitious zero carbon emissions target – more ambitious than most cities and countries have announced. We learn that at the moment they are going through the crucial, but very difficult task of drawing up their annual budget and trying to fit ambitions and needs into a covid restricted amount of funds. At the same time they are developing their four year plan as required under the new Local Government Act.

Councillor Moloney outlines the demands of a new councillor to get herself across the requirements of her demanding, but satisfying position and of the responsibilities she has taken on as she represents both the people in Kardinia Ward, and the wider City of Greater Geelong community and its environment.

We also hear from both councillors about the contentious proposed Viva gas hub in Corio Bay. A topic we’ll be hearing much more about on The Sustainable Hour as part of what we consider to be our responsibility to tell the truth about this explosive and planet-warming fuel – and yes, we’ll be asking Viva to present their case too.

We were left wondering how our leaders at City Hall seem to think that carbon neutrality will be achieved as long as they don’t at the same time take a strong stand and regulate to get the city’s businesses and residents switch to using electricity instead of gas, as New York City’s councillors for instance has done it recently by announcing they are going to ban all new gas installations in their city.

As always, Colin Mockett‘s Global Outlook zooms us all over the planet. He starts in the United States where the new Biden administration have just recommitted to the Paris Accord. The international agreement, or a set of carbon emission reduction and renewable energy targets that most countries have agreed to to keep our average global temperature well below 2 degrees Celcius increase. We also learn that John Kerry who is the US’s spokesperson on this matter has strong views that the language used must reflect the urgency of the matter.

There’s no doubting Denmark’s resolve as regards meeting their climate responsibilities. Colin’s next item takes us there with news of very ambitious plans to build an artificial island devoted completely to renewable energy production for the equivalent of 10 million homes. This will provide all their own energy needs, but also allow the excess to be exported to neighbouring countries providing much needed economic opportunities. The big question Colin leaves us with here is: Why not Australia?

We stay in Europe for the next item: Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Union, shows herself to be a true climate leader when she announces the European community are prepared to listen to what the science is demanding by being the first continent to announce a carbon neutral target. Not satisfied there, Colin then takes us to New Zealand with the news that, in another world first, big businesses are required to report on what they are doing to reduce their exposure to climate risk.

Until next week we encourage you to find new ways to be that climate revolutionary who makes a real difference in your local community.

“Treat the [climate] crisis as the emergency that it is.”
~ John F. Kerry, the United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate

“Put a big fat price on carbon.”
~ Ángel Gurría, Head of the OECD, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

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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 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 the climate emergency 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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John F. Kerry, United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, speaking at the United Nations Security Council meeting on 23 February 2021.

After decades of political procrastination, it is encouraging to finally see the UN, UK and US along with numerous other countries and organisations stand together on this issue. Many have started initiating better legislation and regulation to address the dire security and safety crisis, which our leaders have caused themselves by allowing unregulated and uncontrolled human and industrial carbon emissions to continue to rise, currently amounting to over 50 gigatonnes of planet-warming gasses spewed into the atmosphere every year, and thereby granting the fossil fuel industry the greatest market subsidy ever: the privilege to dump its waste products into the atmosphere at no charge.

In 2019, Kerry likened the funding and the scale required to tackle the climate emergency to the Marshall plan to rebuild Europe after the Second World War. At the recent Climate Adaptation Summit, Kerry urged the world to “treat the crisis as the emergency that it is.”

→ The Guardian – 26 January 2021:
US returns to global climate arena with call to act on ’emergency’
“At virtual Global Adaptation summit, John Kerry says ‘we’re proud to be back’ after four-year absence:”

→ The Guardian – 3 September 2019:
John Kerry says we can’t leave climate emergency to ‘neanderthals’ in power
“It’s a lie that humanity has to choose between prosperity and protecting the future, former US secretary of state tells Australian conference.”

Poll on Geelong Council’s home page,

“For the benefit of the Geelong region and the planet”

City of Greater Geelong writes on its home page:

“The City of Greater Geelong (the City) acknowledges the changing climate is a global emergency and recognises the urgent need to take appropriate action, both mitigation and adaptation. The City is developing a Climate Change Response Plan (CCRP), identified as a priority action in the new Sustainability Framework and Environment Strategy 2020-2030.

The Plan will provide a roadmap for how the City will reduce its operational carbon emissions and manage its climate change risks. The Plan will also identify how the City can support community and business efforts to reduce emissions and preparing to adapt to the likely impacts of a changing climate.

Through this engagement process, the City’s goal is to work with both internal and external stakeholders and the community to co-develop a municipality wide Climate Change Response Plan that is understood, accepted and supported by all parties, providing a platform for a shared commitment to collaborative action.

Community interest in tackling climate change is growing, but the region needs a holistic plan to show how we (the City, residents, and businesses) will rapidly reduce our emissions and adapt to climate change risks.

In response to this need, the City is leading the development of a new Climate Change Response Plan.

These key themes will frame the development of the Climate Change Response Plan:

Acknowledging the Climate Emergency
The City recognises climate change is a global emergency and the urgent need to take action.

A Zero Carbon City and Region
The City of Greater Geelong is committed to being a zero carbon city and region.

A Climate Ready City and Region
The climate is changing and we need to be be prepared.”

→ Read more: City of Greater Geelong – Climate Change Response Plan

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Researchers in Sweden examined the possible steps that people can take to help tackle the climate crisis. Although a lot of resulting news coverage focused on the most effective action (having one fewer kid), the real takeaway is that individual actions still matter. A lot. Click to see how they stack up…

Did you know?

A single two-hour flight contributes more greenhouse gases than three years worth of recycling saves.

→ BBC’s Smart Guide to Climate Change:
Should we give up flying for the sake of the climate?
“Using scientific research and data, we break down the most effective strategies each of us can take to shrink our carbon footprint.”

A diet with meat and dairy has nearly double the carbon footprint as a diet without it.

→ CarbonBrief:
Interactive: What is the climate impact of eating meat and dairy?

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Geelong Renewables Not Gas meeting

Petition: ‘Renewables Not Gas for Geelong!’

“We’re calling for renewables not gas for Geelong. The state government should reject Viva Energy’s gas terminal proposal. Viva Energy should focus on 100% clean energy instead.

Sign the petition now to Richard Wynne, Victorian Planning Minister, and tell him to reject the gas import terminal component of Viva’s proposed energy hub.”

You can add your name to the petition here

→ Follow the campaign on

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“Australians fear climate change more than catching Covid, survey shows”

→ The Lancet – 9 September 2020:
Climate anxiety in young people: a call to action
“The climate crisis could precipitate new psychological conditions and worsen existing mental illnesses among young people experiencing climate anxiety, yet pervasive data gaps preclude our ability to act.”

A Harvard University study finds one in five deaths globally are linked to fossil fuel pollution. The study finds that more than 8 million people are estimated to have died from fossil fuel pollution in 2018 – almost double previous estimates. In Australia, it represents about 4 per cent of all deaths each year, or about 5,700 fatalities, on average 15 every day.

Exposure to air pollution significantly increases the risk of infertility, according to a study examining the danger to the general population.

→ The Independent – 27 January 2021:
Biggest ever survey finds two-thirds of people think climate change is a ‘global emergency’
“UK and Italy top poll with respondents most concerned by crisis:”

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Below Zero 2030: Emergency action for negative emissions

National Climate Emergency Summit: Reset.21 – Forum 6

The dramatic shift in mainstream climate policy in support of a zero-emissions target is widely welcomed. But are we at grave risk of missing our intended outcome by attaching highly dangerous timeframes to this critical goal?

The evidence is clear: any further emissions released from now will only jeopardise the ability to address the existential threat of climate change. Current emissions will have ongoing impacts, and temperatures will continue to rise even if all future emissions were prevented today.

In addition for the need to address the question of immediate cooling, two actions critical for long-term climate repair include eliminating all further emissions, and large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

What are the leading tech disruptions, key innovations and economic strategies that could dramatically accelerate the transition to zero within the decade? What elements could make up an effective global drawdown program at the monumental scale and speed required?

Saul Griffith – Founder and Chief Scientist, Rewiring America
Heidi Lee – CEO, Beyond Zero Emissions
Justin Borevitz – Professor of Plant Energy Biology, ANU

Moderated by Natasha Mitchell – ABC Broadcaster & Journalist

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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.



List of petitions where you can add your name

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Live-streaming on pause


The Sustainable Hour is normally streamed live on the Internet every Wednesday from 11am to 12pm (Melbourne time), but due to the corona lockdown, the radio station has been closed.

» To listen to the program on your computer or phone, click here – or go to where you then click on ‘Listen Live’ on the right.

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  1. I think Geelong Council needs a lot of help educating constituents in order to reach that zero carbon target. People are asking “What’s in it for me?”. To make the dollars stretch further, I think Council could partner in a more strategic way with local environmental groups. Yes, we can install LED lights and EV chargers, yes we can lobby state government for electric short rail services that take bikes, improve road infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, encourage putting solar up, we can insulate our houses, and so on, yes … but ultimately, everyone in society needs to lift up its weakest link.

    I don’t know who that is but I fear that the Federal government is leading us into more confusion. As you mentioned, it boils down to whether or not Council will find the budget for educating our wider community and the local business sector. In order for Council to successfully meet these targets, partnerships, networks and education will be all key.

  2. Very frustrating. WHAT IS COUNCIL DOING???

    Them: we don’t want to upset Viva

    BUT we will get to zero emissions by 2025…….Really????? I doubt it!!

    OH and we need to listen to the people because not everyone will be on board. Ummmm no shit!! thats why we are in this mess.

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