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Out of The Tunnel at last: What have we learnt? What will COP26 give us? What will the next election give us? Which ‘climate story’ will win peoples’ hearts and minds? Are we approaching a social tipping point? This is what episode 387 on The Sustainable Hour’s 8th birthday sets out to explore.

[07:35] Our first guest today is Simon Holmes á Court. Simon is senior advisor to the Climate and Energy College at Melbourne University and sits on the board of the Smart Energy Council. We learn all about his latest project, Climate 200 – Fighting for science-based climate policy. The intention isn’t to start a new political party, but to support independent candidates who are strong on science-based climate policy. This they believe will break the barriers that party loyalty has inflicted on us for the last years in Australian politics. Climate 200 have been raising funds – so far $3 million by 5,000 donors – that will be allocated to suitable independent candidates in key seats. This is a true political revolution in Australia. Giving even just a five dollar donation to Climate 200 is a revolutionary act.

[34:36] Our next guest is arguably Australia’s key climate scientist: Professor Will Steffen from the Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University in Canberra. He is also a councillor at the Climate Council. Will doesn’t discuss the science at all, as it’s a given. Rather he tells us his strong feelings about what needs to happen. The interaction between Simon and Will at 46:00 makes this hour particularly interesting.

Colin Mockett‘s Global Outlook begins this week predictably in Europe where the COP26 world climate meeting opened at the weekend. It was also where Russia temporarily closed its gas pipeline and even reversed its flow for a matter of hours without any explanation. Informed sources rate it as a reminder to the EEC where a lot of its power comes from at present.

A nation not represented in Glasgow, New Zealand, announced firm commitments to halve its net greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, in another unspoken message to Scott Morrison, who is in Glasgow with a vague plan and his personal photographer.

At the talks a new report found that the United Kingdom pensions industry enables more CO2 than all the country’s carbon emissions. British pension schemes are estimated to invest £112 billion into fossil fuels – that’s £60 for every £1,000 invested. The report calculates that if the pensions industry were a country, it would find itself in the Top 20 carbon emitters globally.

The report, convened by Make My Money Matter, has created a campaign called 21x Challenge. This highlights that making your pension green is 21x more powerful than giving up flying, growing veggies and switching energy providers. It is calling on people to tell their pension providers to go green. It’s the most powerful thing you can do for the planet.

And finally, news from the world’s only carbon-neutral football team, Forest Green Rovers, who play in the English northern second division. Our adopted team was playing away at Bradford where they drew 1-1. Bradford scored first and Forest Green pressed until they got an equaliser. The foul count was Bradford 15, FG Rovers 9. And in Australian terms, the Rovers remain a game clear at the top of the ladder.

[32:08] The song we play in-between the interviews is Midnight Oil’s new ‘Rising Seas’ and we round off with Sam Garrett’s and Mollie Mendozas ‘Mama’.

That’s it from us for another week. We look forward to being back for Week 2 of our 9th year. We hope we’ve given you some hope and inspiration again this week, but remember what Will said: ‘You have to earn hope – you have to act.” Find your role in the climate revolution.

“If you want to have hope, you have to go out and earn it. You have to act. You have to do something. Whether it is a 5-dollar donation to Climate 200, whether it is deciding “I want to stand for Parliament”, or “I am going to lobby for climate…”, whatever you are going to do, whatever you are comfortable with – do it! But do something. That is my advice. And I work a lot of [climate] tipping points, but you can have social tipping points too that can occur quite rapidly. And I sense we are approaching one here.”

“This isn’t just another political movement – this is a different type of movement. And that is why I think this could be a real tipping point in terms of how this country is governed …I think what Simon is talking about is very important. It is that you start with a few independents, and then a few more, and then the cross bench has a lot of influence, and then the system changes.”
~ Professor Will Steffen, climate scientist at the Australian National 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 disrespectful and unfair is that?

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ABC Q&A: Australia’s climate future

ABC’s Q&A last week was all about Australia’s climate future: Climate200 convenor Simon Holmes à Court didn’t hold back, fact-checking Tim Wilson MP’s half-truths and obfuscations in real time, and admonishing PM Scott Morrison for taking Tony Abbott’s ‘rewarmed up homework from 2015’ to this year’s Glasgow climate conference.

Glasgow notes

“COP26 got underway today with “doomsday” warnings from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. But there were also renewed commitments from world leaders to tackle climate change.

The crucial climate talks in Glasgow aim to keep global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels as current projections show we are on track for a catastrophic 2.7C.

Opening the summit, Johnson compared global warming to “a doomsday device” strapped to humanity.

“We are digging our own graves,” added UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for the introduction of global carbon pricing. She said that it was the best way to bring about a clean energy transition.

In a compelling speech, 95-year-old natural historian and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough urged world leaders to ‘rewrite our story’.”

For all the speeches and new pledges at COP26, one element most critical to fighting climate change remains absent, as Earther explains: “an explicit and credible plan to end fossil fuel extraction and use. And without that, the world will continue to play with fire.”

“The optimal outcome in Glasgow would be no agreement at all. If our so-called leaders are unable to pretend that they’ve come up with something world-saving – and they certainly won’t be able to pretend if there is no binding agreement. Then we citizens of the world will finally know the truth: that it’s up to us now. Us the people.”
~ Rupert Read, professor at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom

With “net zero 2050” and the 1.5°C in the same breath, Glasgow reeks of cognitive dissonance

“So far most of the media coverage and advocacy at COP26 has been poor and severely misinformed. One after another  politicians, business leaders, journalists and NGO advocates talk about “net zero 2050″ and the 1.5°C Paris goal in the same breath, and get away with it.  This gross underestimation of the climate condition is utterly delusional, and very few seem to be calling it out.”

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COP26 calls time on coal, but Australia stuck in Dark Ages

The end of coal is in sight with a group of 190 countries and organisations agreeing to rapidly phase out coal power at COP26, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just announced — but Australia is missing from the list.

The ‘Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement’ commits signatories to both phase out coal power and end support for new coal power stations. It already has the signatures of Vietnam – a mooted, major destination for Australian coal – and Poland – a country that ranks ninth in the world for coal consumption. 

Climate Councillor, Professor Will Steffen: “This is coal’s curtain call. It is a major global commitment and the world’s second largest exporter of thermal coal, Australia, is nowhere in sight. First we refused to join more than 100 other countries in the global methane pledge, and now this. Australia is so out of step and out of touch with the rest of the world, and that’s going to harm our economy, climate and future prosperity.”

The UK Government says alongside pledges by major banks to end coal – and earlier commitments from China, Japan, Korea and G20 countries to end overseas finance for coal by the end of 2021 – this effectively ends international public finance for new unabated coal power.

“Fossil fuels like coal have got to go, because they are accelerating global warming, which is worsening extreme weather events like the Black Summer bushfires that harm Australians. We have known about the risks, impacts and costs of climate change for some time, but it seems the prosperity and wellbeing of Australians is once again being ignored in favour of short-term profits for coal and gas corporations,” said Professor Steffen. 

“We need to stop clinging to our polluting past and look to the future. It’s not just a matter of saving face internationally, it’s about creating a future where our children and grandchildren can not only survive, but thrive,” he said. 

“Australia is acting as a handbrake on global climate action. Government representatives are spruiking gas, a fossil fuel, and carbon capture and storage at this climate conference and are resisting the push to phase out fossil fuels globally,” said Professor Steffen.

“Whether Australia likes it or not, the world is moving toward net zero and that has serious ramifications for our country, particularly for communities and sectors that have traditionally relied on fossil fuels. We need to respond quickly and decisively by cutting emissions rapidly this decade, and supporting zero-emission products and industries that set us up for the future,” he said. 

The Climate Council recommends that Australia reduce its emissions by 75% (below 2005 levels) by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2035. This is based on rigorous scientific risk assessments.

Australia Coal Facts:  

  • Australia is the world’s second largest export of thermal coal – the kind used in power stations – and produces 20% of the total coal traded internationally.
  • The Australian government is still pursuing new thermal coal, funding a $3.6 million feasibility study into a potential new coal power station at Collinsvale in Queensland.
  • The top five countries that Australia exports coal to are: Japan (43%), South Korea (16%), Taiwan (13%), India (7%) and China (3%).
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison has visited Vietnam for trade talks that included discussion on importing Australian coal.
  • Despite considerable progress, Australia has one of the most emissions intensive electricity networks in the world, with 54% of the country’s electricity coming from coal, and a further 20% from gas. It also has some of the most inefficient coal-fired power stations in the world.

The unAustralian way

“Morrison claimed that his Government is acting on climate change “the Australian way”. However, based on the Federal Government’s track record, their “way” of responding to the climate threat seems very unAustralian.

This includes blocking global collaboration on climate action, promoting the extension and expansion of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, and refusing to step up and set stronger, bolder climate goals this decade.

Even with a new net zero by 2050 target, and a new “forecast” (not commitment) around our 2030 emissions reduction targets, Australia remains at the back of the pack. In other words, our actions so far at COP26 have only cemented our global reputation as a climate action blocker.”
~ Dr Martin Rice, Climate Council

Here are five things you need to know about the Scott Morrison’s wee speech in Glasgow:

Three quarters of Australia’s emission reductions since 2005 have come from changes in land management (in other words, not cutting down as many trees or clearing as much land). When it comes to reducing emissions from electricity and moving beyond fossil fuels, Australia has made almost no progress. In fact, apart from declines during the operation of the carbon price, and throughout the pandemic, our total emissions excluding land use have steadily increased since 1990.

Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target is weak – worlds apart from what the science says is necessary. There’s no prize for beating the most pathetic 2030 target in the developed world. It’s like expecting a five-star health rating on a deep fried Mars bar.

The PM has announced Australia will increase its international climate funding commitment to AU$2bn through 2020-2025. But, based on Australia’s contribution to global carbon pollution, and our status as a wealthy nation, independent assessments have determined that Australia’s fair contribution should be around $2.4 billion per year, instead of over five years.

Meeting the goal of net zero emissions in 2050 means that no new coal, no new oil and no new gas projects of any kind can be built – anywhere! But the Federal Government is still funding fossil fuels, which is fundamentally incompatible with a net zero world.

We already have the technology needed to replace most coal, oil and gas consumption worldwide. Instead of pouring money into unproven technologies, we need our Government to deliver an effective climate policy that enables existing technologies to drive down emissions this decade. With the right mix of renewable energy, backed by storage, Australia could have reliable, clean, abundant and affordable energy (your staple diet of neeps and tatties for a new economy). 

Help Australians see through spin by sharing our article: Debunking Scott Morrison’s speech at COP26

Nothing under the kilt: PM presents climate con to the world at COP26 

The Australian prime minister Scott Morrison addressed world leaders at COP26 in Glasgow in a speech that was light on commitments and credibility, but heavy on spin.

Chief Climate Councillor, Professor Tim Flannery who is on the ground in Glasgow, said: “First the PM tried to pull the wool over Australia’s eyes when he made a net zero by 2050 announcement without modelling, new funding or any new policy – and now he’s trying to do the same with the rest of the world.” [VIDEO GRABS]

What the PM said at COP26…The facts…
Australia’s emissions have fallen by 20% since 2005.Three quarters of this reduction has been the result of changes in land management. When it comes to reducing emissions from electricity and moving beyond fossil fuels, Australia has made almost no progress.REF: From Paris to Glasgow: A world on the move
We should be focussed on driving down emissions from the developing world.Australia’s first responsibility as a developed country is to reduce its own emissions.Moreover, many developing countries are taking more ambitious steps than Australia, even though they bear less historical responsibility for climate change and have far lower emissions per capita.REF: State of Climate Ambition, UNDP
Australia is doubling its international climate finance, from the AU$1bn over five years pledged in Paris, to AU$2bn over 2020-2025.On an annual basis, this contribution represents only around 0.3% of the international goal of mobilising US$100bn/year. Independent assessments have placed Australia’s fair share of this goal at around 2-3%.REF: From Paris to Glasgow: A world on the move

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“Rising Seas” has a political purpose. Released the day before the UN Climate Change conference started, a statement says that the song is meant to “add the band’s unique voice to billions of others around the world seeking a safe, habitable, and fair future for our planet.”

Sam Garrett & Mollie Mendoza: ‘Mama’

“This is a song of reverence for our Mother, our Home, our Earth. Our prayer is that this song will inspire a deeper connection to walk with humility and respect for this great life that we have been gifted and are a part of. This project of creating a music video, as well as writing and developing this song has been an incredibly growth provoking journey. Our prayers, love and learnings have been poured into this creation.”

2050: what happens if we ignore the climate crisis

“We envision two scenarios: what life could look like on Earth in 2050 if we do nothing and what life could look like if we take action, now. Watch this video to take a glimpse into the future and to find out what you can do to prevent global climate catastrophe. There is still hope.”

On 23 October, YouTube premiered ‘Dear Earth’ – a global celebration of our planet and what we need to do to reverse climate change.

Sprinkled with musical performances, Dear Earth contains well-known climate activists, creators, and celebs who will all share ways to make our lives more sustainable – including: Anitta, AsapSCIENCE, BLACKPINK, Brave Wilderness, Dream, Billie Eilish, Jack Harries, Lil Dicky + GaTa, Marsai Martin, The Muppets, Odd1sOut, PhysicsGirl, Bretman Rock, Jaden Smith, SpongeBob SquarePants, Tinashe, and ZHC.

To see everything that YouTube and Google are doing to create a more sustainable Earth, visit

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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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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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