Extraordinary climate action from two directions

The Sustainable Hour no 363

Our three guests in The Tunnel on 19 May 2021 are all climate revolutionaries in their own unique ways.

[10:05] Anthea Falkiner, 49, and Mary Christie, 19, are both Extinction Rebellion activists who were involved in three days of non-violent direct actions aimed at disruptions in Canberra last week. They were part of a team of 35 dedicated, determined and courageous Australians from three states who came to Canberra to show their displeasure at the lack of any funding for real climate action in this year’s budget. Both were arrested for their actions. Anthea is an experienced campaigner, but for 19-year-old Mary, this was her first time. We learn of their motivations for doing what they did. We are left with the burning question: just who were the criminals in Canberra last week?

[38:45] Dr Adrian Panow is Director of Energy at Deakin University, Geelong’s local university with a budget pushing $1 billion, 60,000 students and set to become carbon-neutral by 2025. By 2030 the intention is to be carbon-negative, which includes sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. Adrian has two focus points at Deakin. One is maximising the use of renewable energy to power their operations. The second one is making sure that right across its operations, no energy is wasted. Adrian tells us about a new carbon-conscious culture that is growing at his university by going down the dual pathways of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

[01:09] Opening the hour, Mik Aidt is excited about the Rebellion of One, which is a new kind of highly effective solo protesting climate fight – a new style of rebellion – that has started to spread across the globe.

[03:40] Colin Mockett‘s Global Outlook starts in the United Kingdom with the conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson phoning Scott Morrison, urging him to set Australia a decarbonising target by mid-century. Our illustrious leader declined as was clearly shown by the budget that was handed down last week. Boris also has appointed Sir David Attenborough as host of COP26 in Glasgow, and Sir Dave announced he will be addressing world leaders at international meetings in the six-months before COP26 – starting with the G7 Summit in Cornwall next month.
At the important Transport Transition Summit, we were shown up yet again when the UK announced new initiatives starting with promoting the British to walk and cycle more – along with electrifying rail transport and decarbonising road freight. Spain also got on board, with Madrid planning zero emissions for its freight, while the Spanish government said it would end fossil fuel production by 2042.
Not to be outdone, in the US, the Biden administration announced the country’s first off-shore wind farm off Martha’s Vineyard – 84 turbines, 800 megawatt. Colin then zooms us to Finland where research from Aalto University found one third of global food production will be affected by climate change if emissions are not cut.
Finally here in Australia, the progressive online newsprovider The Conversation analysed last week’s budget to find that for every $100 spent just 37 cents was spent on the environment and 16 cents on addressing climate change. Definitely not a good look for us. Meanwhile, talks about trade sanctions being imposed on us gather momentum world wide.

Week after week, we meet people who are active participants in solutions in their own way telling their stories, showing us all that we have everything we need to transition to a safer, more just, inclusive and healthy world. Just two things are lacking: 1) The political will. 2) The number of people who are prepared to stand up to change that political will. The number of people who are prepared to become climate revolutionaries.

In today’s show, Anthea, Mary and Adrian have all shown us ways to do this. We’ll have more inspirational stories next week. Till then, please do all that you can to join this non-violent climate revolution.

“How do you sway someone’s opinion when they are actually quite comfortable where they are? Perhaps that is where we need the shock treatment.”
~ Dr Adrian Panow, Director of Energy at Deakin University

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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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XR Australia blockading the road to the Federal Parliament in Canberra

In their latest newsletter, Extinction Rebellion Australia wrote:

“Last week, Extinction Rebellion rebels from the eastern states converged on the national capital as the federal budget was handed down. It was the final budget before our political representatives attend the United Nations climate negotiations in November. The budget should have included the funding for the emergency transition we so desperately need, but instead it included more of the ‘business-as-usual’ measures that are taking us to the brink of collapse. We were there to draw attention to the criminal inaction of the government and let them know that the eyes of the world are upon them.

We started the week with a smoking ceremony at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, hearing stories of the 50 years’ campaign, and were honoured to participate in Women’s Business and Men’s Business workshops.

Then, on the morning of Tuesday May 11, Australia’s Federal politicians readied themselves for another ordinary day presiding over the slow destruction of all life on earth. But as they awaited their luxury chauffeured ‘ComCars’ to ferry them across to Parliament House, it soon emerged their morning would not go to plan. Rebels had arisen in the hours before dawn and blockaded the ComCar depot, chaining and gluing themselves onto gates, and even vehicles. We were sounding the alarm and drawing attention to the need to declare a climate and ecological emergency. We had expected a massive police presence after news of our action was prematurely announced on the ABC, but were delighted to find no major obstacle as we moved into position.

The disruption lasted for nearly three hours, forcing Australia’s political leaders to opt for regular taxis. One rebel was arrested and taken to the watch house. About a dozen others had their details recorded and may be charged on summons.

Clinical psychologist Jane Morton chained to the fence. Good luck getting your Beamer to work today Scotty.

Clinical psychologist Jane Morton chained to the fence. Good luck getting your Beamer to work today Scotty.

As expected, our broken political system failed us and the budget that was handed down on Tuesday afternoon confirmed our worst fears. Next day, Wednesday May 12, we again arose before dawn, this time aiming to block all major road routes to parliament. Two of our three rented trucks successfully moved into position, with three rebels on top of each, ready to lock onto each other in ways that would make them hard to remove.

One truck with rebels, Jess, Ross and John on top had a giant orange banner calling on the government to declare a climate emergency, and the other, with Violet, Anthea and nineteen year-old, Mary-Christie, featured a burning earth and the Greta Thunberg quote: “I want you to act like the house is on fire – because it is”. A third truck was intercepted by police and moved to the side of the road. Two rebels, Lesley and Mark, then attempted to glue themselves to the road in the unsecured entry, but were removed by police and arrested.

Enjoying the morning sun on Kings Avenue with a budget message loud and clear – Our house is on Fire

Meanwhile, two exceedingly heavy cement-filled barrels had been moved into place with intrepid rebels Karlo, Nick and Wesley locking their arms inside the barrels. First Nations activists from the Tent Embassy joined us at the barrel blockade before moving on, carrying a climate emergency placard, to the lawns where multiple press conferences were underway.

Wesley, one of three people who were locked-on to concrete filled barrels for 6 hours

Wesley, one of three people who were locked-on to concrete filled barrels for 6 hours

Outside Parliament House, blind rebel Sam Noonan was in place, glued to a rock, disrupting the media scrum with a mournful rendition of the Extinction Rebellion hymn. The Sybils were also present, displaying a heart-felt plea, “Don’t cook our kids”. The Red Rebels were able to photobomb a news broadcast and a giant Macedon Ranges banner was hauled into place by Rob. Senator Malcolm Roberts was spotted attempting to impose his climate denial views on a protester wearing a giant Scott Morrison head. He was engaged in debate by rebel Jane, in an effort to draw the attention of cameras to her “business as usual equals death” placard.

It seems that the presence of Extinction Rebellion kept Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg from drinking in media attention on the lawns.

The truck blockades held for more than six hours with rebels committing to remain through the freezing Canberra night if possible. However, eventually, all rebels were cut loose by police search and rescue teams. By the end of the day, 10 rebels had been were arrested and were held in custody for these actions, with all refusing bail.

Don’t think anyone’s going to be getting past this conscientious disruption on Commonwealth Avenue

Several rebels were successful in contesting bail conditions that would have limited their right to protest in Canberra and, by Thursday, all arrestees were out on bail except one. Violet CoCo took a principled stand for climate justice, refusing to acknowledge the criminality of her actions and asking the court to recognise the criminality of the Australian Government’s continuing to invest in fossil fuels. Refusing bail once again, Violet was held at Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) in Canberra for one week. Click hear to watch Violet’s Testimonial on why she is willing to go to jail.

With the rest of the rebels out on bail or pleading guilty to the charges, it seemed the frenzied week of action was at an end. However, Rebel grandmother Lesley Mosbey decided she had no choice but to continue, gluing herself to the front door of Parliament House in a heroic lone stand against this murderous government. Remaining there for an hour and a half, she was finally re-arrested, and again refused bail, joining Violet in prison at AMC for the last six days. Both Violet and Lesley have only just been released, with court appearances scheduled for June 10. With their release, we can now all turn our eyes towards the next steps for us as a movement.

“Those with the privilege to know, have the duty to act”. Lesley Mosbey glued to the frontdoor of Parliament.

What To Do Now?

These budget week actions are just the start of months of escalating disruptions focusing on the federal government and the fossil fuel industry in the lead-up to the international climate talks. Coming weeks are a great time to reach out to new rebels and get organised for a series of highly disruptive actions targeting the fossil fuel industry in June.

We have legal support in place for arrested rebels, but be sure to welcome and support them when they return home and please give a donation to support the legal and other costs for the brave actions.

As much as we are all incredibly thankful for those who took part in these actions, we cannot stop there. We all have to dig deep in these dissonant times of unfolding climate catastrophe, to build this nonviolent movement willing to force the government to act.

This Saturday at XR HQ at 60 L, Carlton, from 2-4 we are running an awesome, interactive session for rebels new and old. Hear first hand testimonies from the frontline and find out how you can help build the movement. RSVP here.

You can also help by sharing this story, and by reaching out to your friends and family to encourage them to join Extinction Rebellion.

Act now, before it’s too late.”

→ XR Australia website: www.ausrebellion.earth

→ XR Australia on Facebook: www.fb.com/XRAustralia

“Humans can’t grow ice sheets. Humans can’t cool oceans. Humans can’t even grow a primary forest. But we can stop burning fossil fuels.”

Extinction Rebellion tweet

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“That’s the fight I’m in: Fighting for Australia, for Australia’s national interests, and protecting Australians (…) keeping them in jobs, protecting their lives and protecting their livelihoods.”
~ Scott Morrison, Australia’s Prime Minister


→ The Australian – 17 May 2021:
Refinery rescue bill costs $2.35bn
“Taxpayers will underwrite the operations of the nation’s two remaining oil refineries under a $2.35bn rescue package.”

→ The New Daily – 17 May 2021:
‘Absurd’: Petrol prices could rise, thanks to $2.3 billion oil refinery handout
“Motorists could end up paying more money for petrol under a new government plan to pay oil companies up to $2.3 billion to bolster Australia’s fuel security.”

“This is the script for election 2021 – and it will be an election later this year, most probably just a week after the NRL grand final. Put a ring around Saturday, October 9.”
~ Dennis Atkins, The New Daily

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Deakin unveils largest-ever solar farm at an Australian university

Media release on 20 April 2021:

“Deakin University’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2025 received a significant boost today with the official opening of the $23 million Deakin Renewable Energy Microgrid at the Geelong Waurn Ponds campus.

Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin was joined by Dr Alan Finkel AO, Special Adviser to the Federal Government on Low Emissions Technology, to turn the key on the industrial-scale Microgrid, the largest solar farm ever built on an Australian university campus.

Professor Martin delivered an impassioned address, using American President John F Kennedy’s Rice University speech in 1962 as an inspiration, likening NASA’s Apollo program to the scale of ambition required to achieve global carbon neutrality.

“Australia is in a strong position to benefit from moving rapidly in this endeavour, and at Deakin, we believe we have a duty to use our capabilities and assets to demonstrate both ambition and leadership on the issue of renewables,” Professor Martin said.

“We want to be a working example – a ‘living lab’ – of how a large organisation can lead through its actions and fundamentally change its ways of doing. This includes the complete, systemic integration of sustainability across all our activities.”

“However, to achieve a sustainable energy future in Australia, it will require a long-term, cross-sector, collective effort. We require a bi-partisan political commitment over the next few decades; the political and community leadership required will be significant.”

The Microgrid at Deakin provides a unique opportunity to make a positive contribution in the collective fight against climate change while also conducting high-value research to benefit Australian communities.

Designed and built in partnership with AusNet Services and Mondo Power, the Microgrid comprises a 7-megawatt solar energy farm and 2 megawatt hour central battery storage system on 14.5 hectares, a 0.25 megawatt distributed rooftop solar generation and storage system, and a Research, Teaching and Visualisation Centre located in the Centre for Advanced Design Engineering Training (CADET) building.

Dr Adrian Panow, Director of Deakin Energy, explained that the project is underpinned by more than 23,000 solar panels on the solar energy farm and a further 833 panels on campus rooftops, including student residences.

“Ultimately, the Microgrid will supply more than half of the campus’ energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12,000 tonnes each year,” Dr Panow said.

“The scale of the Microgrid project is important in two ways: achieving our carbon neutral objectives and providing a platform for industry-relevant research. The research focus incorporated into the design of the infrastructure builds on consultation with universities around the world, including Princeton and the University of California at San Diego.

Deakin is committed to educating the next generation of industry professionals, providing staff and student learning, and creating research and employment pathway opportunities.

The Deakin Energy platform draws on internationally recognised capabilities and facilities for sustainable energy development across Deakin, including the Institute for Frontier Materials, BatTRI-Hub, the Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI), and the Faculty of Business and Law.

With the Microgrid the latest asset to go fully operational, Deakin is realising its integrated and comprehensive response to the challenge of meeting growing energy demands in an environmentally, ecologically, socially, and economically sound way.”

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Rebellion of One

A Rebellion of One – “Ro1” – wave has swept across Europe and the Middle East over the last few weeks. 

From Alaska to Israel, lone rebels are sitting in the streets. They are facing not only arrest but oncoming traffic, baffled onlookers, and potentially aggressive drivers. So far more than 450 rebels have sat on the world’s tarmac and refused to get up.

It started more than a year ago, in Russia. One lone rebel in Moscow inspired the whole Ro1 movement when, in January 2020, he disrupted a busy crossroads outside the Kremlin, sitting in the middle of all the traffic, with a sign that read: “Our planet has great capacity. But it’s not limitless”.

In 1.5 years of solo protesting, he has been jailed for 81 days and arrested 22 times.

A Rebellion of One in Warsaw, Poland, blocked traffic with a sign saying: ‘I’m a resident of this beautiful planet and I have the right to defend it.’

In Södertälje harbor, Stockholm, Sweden: ‘I’m terrified that the fossil fuel industry will destroy our future’.

In Malmö in Sweden, a sitter is given flowers. Her sign reads: ‘Baghdad 50°C I am terrified that places on Earth will be uninhabitable due to the climate crisis’.

In Tel Aviv, Israel: ‘I’m dead scared for what my generation will have to deal with because of the climate crisis’.

In a shopping mall in Haifa, Israel, the Ro1 sign reads: ‘I’m dead scared that the world burns from heat waves and fires because of the climate crisis and we go on as usual’.

In London, a man sits on the Tower Bridge with a sign that reads: “I am terrified billions will die because of climate crisis”

In Berlin: ‘I am afraid that my children will suffer because of the climate crisis.’ 

In Poland: ‘Climate crisis fears made me abandon my dream career’.

→ Read more on: www.rebellion.global

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→ Climate Change News – 14 May 2021:
Spain to end fossil fuel production by 2042 under new climate law
“Spain’s 2030 emission reduction target lags other EU countries but the government won praise for committing to end coal, oil and gas production.”

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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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» To listen to the program on your computer or phone, click here – or go to www.947thepulse.com where you then click on ‘Listen Live’ on the right.

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