Geelong’s future is in renewables – not risky gas

“The fight against climate change will only succeed if everyone comes together to promote more ambition, more cooperation and more credibility.”
~ Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General

The Sustainable Hour no 382

[01:11] We start The Sustainable Hour on 27 September 2021 with an impassioned speech to the world leaders by the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. In this he lays out the litany of injustices and inequalities facing the world as the latest round of global climate negotiations in Glasgow rapidly approaches.

[05:21] Mik Aidt then sheets the blame home to the world’s largest banks who have funded fossil fuel projects to the tune of trillions of dollars since the so-called Paris Agreement six years ago. He rightly questions the legality of allowing this.

[13:57] Our first guest is Sal Fisher who is co-ordinating the Geelong Renewables Not Gas campaign. Having been raised on a farm, Sal grew up with an awareness of the importance of a stable climate for our food system. She practiced as a dietician across three states and then studied horticulture before arriving in Geelong, where she has moved onto climate activism and now leads the Geelong Renewables Not Gas campaign. Sal is acutely aware that strong action on climate is crucial right now for ensuring a safe world for humanity into the future.

When Viva Energy’s multi-million-dollar plan to build a gas import hub in Geelong was floated initially, it came across as a fait accompli. However Sal gathered a group of other concerned citizens and a community campaign was born. In listening to Sal today, we learn the latest news from the campaign, plus what is planned to let Geelong and district people know just how Viva’s proposed floating gas hub is going to impact negatively on our city and district.

One thing different about this campaign is that it is working with acknowledged independent experts to devise a job-rich plan to take us into the post-carbon world which is going to be necessary if we are to navigate our way through the climate emergency we face. When commenting on the future gas shortage myth, Sal directs us to a Facebook page called My Efficient Electric Home run by Tim Forcey.

An important online forum coming up called “Residents At Risk”, will be held on Wednesday 13 October 2021 from 6pm to 8pm. To register for this, go to: Residents at Risk: Community Forum on Viva’s Gas Import Terminal.

[23:38] One of the speakers at this forum is our next guest, Garth Norman. Garth lives in North Shore in Geelong and is very concerned about the safety implications of having such a potentially dangerous facility so close to where people live and recreate. What makes Garth interesting to listen to is that he has worked in the oil and gas industry for over 20 years. Four of these have been working on LNG projects all over the world.
He clearly articulates these concerns, and we recommend that people listen to them as part of their information-gathering process on this contentious issue.

[40:14] Another speaker at the forum is Geoff Wilson, who has been reporting and writing about fishing for close to 60 years. “The main problem is as I see it, the refinery is too close to civilisation, it is so close to Geelong Grammar School, to North Shore and St George’s Road – all those areas are so populated, should there be an unfortunate incident, we could have a disaster,” Geoff Wilson tells us. He is worried that exclusion zones will limit the fishing possibilities in the area.

“The last Ernst & Young Report which was commissioned by VR Fish, our representative body, valued the recreational fishery to the state gross product in Victoria at $1.7 billion. We are not a small group, we are an important group, we contribute a great deal to the community and we must be heard. Any of these plans have to take us into consideration. And we don’t think this project should go ahead.”

See excerpt of the interview with Geoff Wilson on Youtube

Be informed: You are entitled to have a say in the future of your city and its district – there really is a choice: Do we want a job-rich future powered by renewable energy or continue to be powered by toxic fossil fuels?

Petition: Quiet concern doesn’t exist for decision makers. If you want to know how to make your concerns public, join the campaign and sign the petition at

[06:31] Colin Mockett‘s Global Outlook begins in New York where, in the lead up to COP26, the United Nations has been addressed by world leaders over the past week, and all of them stressed the importance of taking measures to address the climate crisis. China’s Xi Jinping caused the biggest stir with two announcements which won’t endear him to the coal industry, plus other actions they are taking to meet their emission reduction responsibilities. Then US President Biden addressed the UN vowing, among other things, to double funds to help developing nations deal with climate change. That’s $11.4 billion per year by 2024.

Then for some light relief, Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro sounded just like ex-president Donald Trump when he called his country’s environmental laws ‘a model for the world’. It’s astonishing, because he has been widely criticised at home and abroad for the hugely increased deforestation under his government. But he told the United Nations that his government was now taking protection of the Amazon seriously. Time will tell on this.

Then to the United Kingdom, where electricity prices have tripled in the last year, with 86% of this caused by the soaring costs of fossil gas imports. The report shows with the northern winter approaching, the escalation in gas prices looks set to continue.

Also in the UK, Peter Bakker, President and CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), has signed up retailers H&M Group, Ingka Group (IKEA), Kingfisher Plc and Walmart for a new climate retail campaign. This campaign is ‘a call to retailers everywhere to take ambitious climate action as they increasingly recognise the risks posed by climate change across their supply chains and operations. ‘We need more retailers to join the UNFCCC’s Race to Zero,’ he said.

Still in the UK, a brick manufacturing company in the west midlands, Ibstock PLC has unveiled plans to make one of its factories net carbon zero. They’ll use a combination of reduced process emissions and greater thermal efficiency to cut the carbon intensity of bricks produced at the Atlas site.

In Yorkshire the first solar powered Park and Ride centre opened this week in Stourton. It’s Leeds’ third Park and Ride service and the whole idea is to reduce commuting times and costs while cutting congestion and pollution in the city centre. The £38.5 million project is powered entirely by solar panels and a battery storage system, creating a smart energy grid on site using sustainable technology.

According to new analysis from Trillion Trees, a joint venture between three of the world’s largest conservation organisations – BirdLife International, Wildlife Conservation Society and WWF – deforestation must be stopped and enough tree cover restored to store the equivalent of 5.9 gigatonnes of CO2. Their report was based on over 30 years of satellite imaging plus surveying experts with on-the-ground experience in over 100 sites from 29 countries. It also included models of best practice from both parts of the Amazon and the boreal forests of Mongolia’s northern wilderness. Their conclusion was that the science is clear: “If we are to avoid dangerous climate change and turn around the loss of nature, we must halt both deforestation and restore natural forests.”

[53:36] We round off the hour with OneMoreSong‘s ‘Climate Change Song – The Time is Now’ produced by Susan and Adam Sinclair for school education and inspiration: “No more wasting time. The time is now for drastic action. One last chance for a green revolution.”

Until next week, consider this: Do you think Geelong and district residents should have an informed say in such a potentially dangerous project that Viva Energy is proposing? Are we getting the most accurate information from Viva Energy to allow the decision makers in the Victorian Government to make an informed decision that they – and we – won’t regret later? Quiet concern doesn’t exist for our decision makers. It is all about numbers. So we hope you will sign the petition and get involved.

This might be just what you need to channel your inner climate revolutionary into becoming an open, articulate and outspoken anti-gas-hub climate-safety activist.

Jan Eliasson, former UN Deputy Secretary-General, closes the hour with what he believes is the most important word in today’s world: Together.

“As I’ve engaged myself in more of the details around this proposed LNG facility [in Geelong], I am deeply troubled at the approach to safety and the selective adoption of standards and practices – really not the direct adoption of the industry best practices, because there is no doubt that LNG is a very hazardous material.”
~ Garth Porter, Geelong North Shore resident who has many years experience working in the oil and gas industries

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Residents at Risk: Community Forum on Viva’s Gas Import Terminal
A community forum on Viva Energy’s proposed gas import terminal in Corio Bay and associated safety risks.

→ Mitchell’s Front Page on 94.7 The Pulse:
Campaign organiser for ‘Geelong Renewables Not Gas’ Sally Fisher

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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 disrespectful and unfair is that?

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A report by the United Nations finds that even if all the national commitments submitted by signatories of the Paris climate accord were honoured emissions would still rise nearly 16 per cent by 2030 when they need to fall by around 75 per cent.

With today’s plans for economic growth, Earth’s species will likely suffer profoundly catastrophic global heating by the 2030s – already in the next ten to twenty years from now – indicated The United Nations.

→ SBS News – 18 September 2021:
World on ‘catastrophic’ climate path of 2.7C warming, UN warns
“The world is headed towards a hotter future unless governments make more ambitious pledges to cut greenhouse emissions, UN chief Antonio Guterres warns.”

A slow transition away from carbon will be costlier than a fast one, but each year that we keep spewing carbon is a year in which fossil-fuel companies’ current business models stay intact.”
~ Bill McKibben, 20 September 2021

Climate criminals in suits
In Australia, the major banks lent $835 million to expansionary fossil fuel projects in 2020. The world’s biggest 60 banks have provided $3.8 trillion of financing for fossil fuel companies since the Paris Climate Accord in 2015.

Government inaction causes youth anxiety
More than half of young people think “humanity is doomed”, according to major study, and their climate anxiety is directly connected to government inaction. Researchers from the United States, United Kingdom, and Finland found that 45 percent of teens and young adults say climate anxiety is affecting their daily lives and ability to function. It’s the first study to suggest that young people’s emotional distress is strongly linked to their governments’ failure to respond. Read more

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The Guardian – 9 August 2021:
The IPCC report is clear: nothing short of transforming society will avert catastrophe
“Achieving net zero will require action from everyone – and a renewed emphasis on science and innovation. By Patrick Vallance, the UK government chief scientific adviser.”

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Join the Geelong gas campaign

Newsletter from Environment Victoria:

Viva Energy wants to build a massive gas import terminal in Corio Bay, locking in decades of dirty and polluting gas. This looming threat is increasingly urgent and a local group needs your help — join a community forum of concerned residents on 13 October >> 

Gas is a dirty and polluting fuel, and a major cause of the climate crisis. But right when we need to be transitioning away from fossil fuels like gas, Viva Energy is proposing to build a massive new gas import terminal in Corio Bay! 

The gas terminal would be 300 metres long, almost as long as Cunningham Pier. It would import gas from Australia or around the world, which could include ‘fracked’ gas.  

In other parts of Australia gas terminals are located at least 6 kilometres from populated areas, but under this proposal LNG tanker ships could pass within 250 metres of people’s homes. 

Join us for the Residents at Risk community forum on Wednesday 13 October, and learn more about this looming gas threat for Geelong

Residents at Risk: Community Forum on Viva’s Gas Import Terminal 

WHEN Wednesday 13 October, 6-8pm 

WHERE Online! RSVP here to receive the link

WHO Hear from a great list of local people about the risks of this gas proposal:Welcome to Country: Melinda Kennedy, Waddawurrung Traditional Owner Rai Miralles, Climate and Energy Analyst, Environment Victoria Garth Norman, North Shore resident and oil and gas professional Dr. Coralie Jenkins, North Shore resident and Editor of TWINS: This Week in North Shore Geoff Wilson, local fishing identity 

Book online here

We’ve beaten proposals like this before. Fighting alongside the amazing Westernport Bay community, we stopped AGL’s plan to build a polluting gas import terminal in Westernport Bay, in the middle of a Ramsar-listed wetland. 

Now gas companies have set their sights on the Geelong region, and an inspiring new local group has formed to fight back – Geelong Renewables Not Gas (GRNG). 

GRNG has already put this issue on the agenda with a forum attended by the Victorian Energy Minister, coverage in the Geelong Advertiser, letterboxing, lobbying politicians and local events. 

But with an Environment Effects Statement on the gas terminal proposal due in early 2022, now’s the time to ramp up the campaign. Please help by visiting the GRNG website and signing the petition 

Sign the petition

Victoria has a major gas problem. Victorian households burn more gas than any other state and it’s responsible for 15.8 percent of our emissions. Despite this, each year Victoria connects tens of thousands of new households to this dangerous, polluting and increasingly expensive fuel. 

This has to change. Unless we address the root problem, get off gas and switch to clean energy, we will remain in a vicious cycle where growing gas consumption continues to underpin destructive projects like Viva Energy’s plans for Corio Bay. 

That’s why, along with supporting the Geelong groups to fight Viva’s proposal, we’re also focused on reducing gas demand across the state. If Victoria can get off gas quickly, then these energy companies won’t be able to argue their import terminals are needed. 

As someone living in or near Geelong, the most important thing you can do is get involved in the local campaign. So please join us for the Residents at Risk forum on 13 October 

Hope to see you there,
Rai Miralles
and the team at Environment Victoria

PS: The Geelong Renewables Not Gas campaign is supported by ACF Community Geelong. 
Learn more about the gas threat for Geelong and join the campaign here

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A panel of speakers with expertise in the oil and gas industry, environment and recreational fishing will answer Geelong residents’ questions about the risks associated with Viva Energy’s bid to build a potentially dangerous and polluting gas import terminal in Corio Bay at an online meeting next week.

Sally Fisher of Geelong Renewables Not Gas said “Many people live within just a few hundred metres from ships that will deliver gas to the proposed terminal that will be moored near Viva’s Oil Refinery.”

Analysis to be presented to the meeting says residents living within 3.5km of the shipping channel could be impacted by an accident or incident involving LNG tankers. This includes people in North Shore, North Geelong, Norlane, Rippleside, Geelong West and Corio.

“With the possibility of a gas terminal nearly the height of the Giant Sky Wheel on Geelong Foreshore and the length of Cunningham Pier in the neighbourhood, a growing number of residents are saying they feel unsafe and are very disturbed,” Ms Fisher said.

“Residents and local fishermen also have very real concerns about the impacts of dredging which could dislodge toxic sediments and the chlorine used in the gas terminal which could affect fish and seagrass and possibly impact nearby internationally recognised Ramsar Wetlands.”

The meeting, on Wednesday October 13, 6pm to 8pm, will hear from speakers including:

Garth Norman, a concerned North Shore resident and engineer in the oil and gas industry for more than 20 years. 

Rai Miralles, from Environment Victoria, a campaigner focused on pushing for the state to rapidly transition away from gas.

Dr Coralie Jenkin, a concerned North Shore resident and editor of the online newsletter TWINS: The Week In North Shore 

Geoff Wilson, a local fishing identity and fishing writer in the Geelong Advertiser.

Ms Fisher said “Our city and region need jobs and energy. However, there are many job-rich alternatives in renewable electrification industries rather than increasing risks to the community from gas, an explosive fossil fuel which is a significant contributor to climate change.”

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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 running petitions where we encourage you to add your name

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