One Australian city takes a stand: climatesafe by 2035

The Sustainable Hour no 390

Cities are leading: we’ll do it ourselves

“Now we have a plan. And the plan is that we’ll do it ourselves. Household by household, business by business, community by community, city by city.”
~ Mik Aidt, in The Sustainable Hour no. 390

On 23 November 2021, Geelong Council approved its new Climate Change Response Plan with a target to become carbon neutral by 2035.

Our guests in The Sustainable Hour on 24 November 2021 are Patrick Simons and Wendy Farmer from Friends of the Earth Melbourne’s Yes2Renewables campaign.

[49:50] Patrick Simons fronts Friends of the Earth’s Yes2Renewables collective. He updates us on what has been a very busy few months for them. In particular we learn that at the federal government level, they are focusing on getting approval for off-shore wind farm legislation from federal energy minister Angus Taylor. This, when approved, will free up important projects like the Star of the South wind-farm in Gippsland and other similar off-shore renewable energy projects. They have also been busy at the state level by having input into various enquiries, in particular how to get to 100% renewable energy.

A discussion then follows on the opportunities that will come with these off-shore farms. And yes, we couldn’t resist a rant about our Prime Minister’s dismal performance at Glasgow.

Patrick’s colleague and Latrobe Valley’s powerhouse grass roots campaigner and organiser Wendy Farmer joins us [at 1:03:28] with specific details on and insight into what is happening on the sustainability front on ground in the valley where she works and protects with great passion. You can find out more about their work at the website for Friends of the Earth Melbourne’s renewable energy campaign.

[At 10:52] Mik Aidt talks about the corruption of our democracy by fossil fuel money and the movement that is gaining momentum against that, led by the initiative by Climate 200 to raise funds to support campaigns by high profile independent candidates at our next federal election.

This is accompanied [at 12:54] by an excerpt from the very popular Australian new program on Channel10, The Project, where this issue was covered in some detail last week.

Mik also sings the praises of the City of Greater Geelong Council for setting a target of zero emissions by 2035. This is in direct contrast to our current federal government’s lack of climate ambition.

Following this, we hear clips from the leaders of two megacities in London and New York who spoke at COP26 last week. Firstly London’s mayor Sadiq Khan [at 26:35] and then New York’s ex-mayor in Michael Bloomberg [at 32:17]. Both of them clearly articulate the great work their cities are doing and their strong belief that cities can, and are, picking up the slack from national governments that aren’t doing enough. They also inform us about the very ambitious world cities network C40 that is rapidly building and enabling them to make demands of these national governments to get real on climate.

[45:50] We hear a clip from Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forest who implores all the politicians and governments who are in denial about the rapidly approaching, huge renewable energy industry, to not deny their constituents the choice to not ignore the “Green pollution free industrial revolution” of our times.

Colin Mockett‘s Global Outlook begins this week in India which has temporarily shut down five coal-fired power plants around the capital New Delhi as part of its drive to combat air pollution, according to an order from the federal environment ministry panel on air pollution. The Commission for Air Quality Management has also banned trucks carrying non-essential goods and stopped construction in Delhi and its neighbouring cities.

Pollution levels usually rise at this time of the year due to geographic and climactic conditions – but this is the worst in living memory. The air quality index surged to “severe” levels this month, registering as high as 499 on a scale of 500. This means that healthy people were at risk as well as those with risk factors.

Meanwhile the rest of the world has found itself involved in a new set of circumstances with high fuel prices and a gas shortage in Europe.

Scotland will be the first UK country to pursue a new ban on problematic single-use plastic products. Legislation will ensure Scotland’s use of various plastic items will be abolished in 2023. The ban will apply to plastic cutlery, plates, straws, beverage stirrers and balloon sticks; and all food containers made of expanded polystyrene.

Colin zooms us to Fiji where Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has called on business leaders around the world to view the race to achieve net zero as a spur to spread prosperity and enhance the lives of citizens. “We have a singular opportunity to create jobs and promote gains in human wellbeing,” he said, “but speeches alone will not save us. From island communities to megacities, it is the cutting-edge leaders in sustainability that will deliver real change.”

Which brings us to good news from our carbon-neutral vegan football team, Forest Green Rovers, where both the men’s and womens’ teams made their world wide supporter base, including The Sustainable Hour, happy with news of their on-field exploits.

There’s a job vacancy at Forest Green Rovers if anyone’s interested. They’re advertising for a CXO – a Chief Experience Officer built on their success. The Rovers reckon that their message has already reached five billion people last year – so they’re now looking for someone to deliver great experience for staff, visitors, fans and supporters. What a job! Leading the sporting world into a safer, more just, inclusive and healthy post carbon world.

We’ll return next week with more guests who – like the mayor of London – believe that a new world is possible and are being active contributors to proudly make that happen. We continually do this to inspire the ‘can do’ spirit in you, our listeners – empowering actions as we all face up to what the Geelong Council in its new official plan now terms ‘our climate emergency’ – a little three-letter word that makes all the difference!

It is the millions of individual actions that make the climate revolution roll, and even more so when we have a collective plan to guide us all in the same direction and towards the same ambitious goal. Not from Glasgow, not from Canberra, but from our own city hall. This is all that it will take, really, to solve a global leadership crisis: when enough city halls step up and join this new trend. And with over 2,000 councils having declared a climate emergency, covering the homes of more than one billion people, we are already well on our way.

A cheers and salute to our listeners, climate revolutionairies and difference-makers! Take care and stay climatesafe!

From The Sustainable Hour team
Mik, Colin, Jackie, Rusty, Ben and Tony

“The federal government really needs to catch up with the economic and political reality that the rest of the world is engaging with. There are no more excuses. Everybody knows: the writing is on the wall. New industries are being created. The failure from the federal government is really the failure to plan for the communities that are going to be impacted. So what is going to happen to communities who rely on coal exports or gas at the moment? We need to start the planning now and work on the new industries and that’s why we are starting to look at new industries like off-shore wind.”
~ Pat Simons, Friends of the Earth Naarm’s (Melbourne’s) co-ordinator of the ‘Yes2Renewables’ campaign, in The Sustainable Hour no. 390

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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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Archived livestream from the Geelong Council meeting on 23 November 2021

Make a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into a 100% renewable Victoria

Coal and gas are the leading causes of the climate crisis. Victoria still gets 70% of its electricity from coal, and the Labor Government is supporting new gas drilling. Push them to go further and faster to reach 100% clean renewable energy as quickly as possible. Submissions close Friday 26 November. Your submission will be most powerful if you make it unique and personal. There is a template if you’re short on time. 301 emails had been sent on 22 November 2021. Write your submission

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The political revolution in Australia: Rise of independents

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Some positive news from Geelong – Victoria’s second-largest city

On 23 November 2021, the City of Greater Geelong Council voted unanimously to accept a wide-ranging ‘Climate Change Response Plan’, which acknowledges our global climate change emergency, and commits to whole-of-community net zero carbon emissions by 2035.

Intense local activism and Green Council representation through Sarah Mansfield and a committed #PutClimateFirst independent have played huge roles in turning around the previously split council of two years ago. We’ve now arrived at the starting line. 

Councillor Mansfield suggested in her commenting that during 2022, Council should organise a ‘COP of Geelong’ – a conference which brings together the city’s many stakeholders.

One of Centre for Climate Safety’s goals with the plan has been to secure the appointment of a well-resourced 100-member Citizens’ Assembly of stakeholders to act as a governance focal point to marshal disparate viewpoints on priorities and management, as well as a coalescing of community insights and skills.

A community group proposal along these lines was rejected by Council, even though this structure was instrumental in leading Geelong out of the wilderness a few years ago, when the City was under administration. However, we’ll maintain the pressure and insistence on accountability as we roll into 2022.

~ Alan Barlee 

Plan targets zero net emissions by 2035

Media release by City of Greater Geelong: “Zero net emissions in Greater Geelong by 2035 is a key feature of Council’s Climate Change Response Plan.”

“The plan, which will guide the organisation and the community’s response to climate change issues and impacts through to 2030, was adopted by Council last night.

The key target is supported by a range of principles that would see the region become a zero- emission, climate ready city, including:

–           A coordinated and collective response from the whole community;

–           Supporting an empowered and active community;

–           Increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy production; and

–           Switching to sustainable transport and cleaner fuels.

With a total of 80 actions, the plan is a roadmap for collaborative action, outlining how the Council can support an empowered community response.

The draft plan was released for public consultation during July and August, with 431 comments and 39 submissions received.

Key themes emerged in the feedback, with strong support for the plan’s targets and principles; increased Council leadership and advocacy; and increased investment and engagement.

It led to 70 individual updates being incorporated into the final plan.

Mayor Stephanie Asher said the feedback recognised that a target the scale of net zero by 2035 required more than just Council’s initiatives.

“There is a clear desire in the community for the Council to proactively lead widespread action in the region,” Mayor Asher said.

“We have set this as a stretch target on the basis of responses to the Climate Change Response Plan consultation process and our own Sustainability Advisory Committee.

“Our own ambitious commitments are just one part of the solution. 

“We’ll advocate for funding and partnership opportunities with other levels of government and support the local community and business sectors to implement their own initiatives.

“Everyone has an active role to play, and this plan lays the blueprint for a co-ordinated, collective effort.”

Cr Belinda Moloney, Climate Change Action portfolio chair said the community and stakeholders provided insightful and clever feedback.

“A massive thanks to everyone who contributed to this plan,” Cr Moloney said.

“Council now needs to implement this plan with fervent vigour and lead the way towards zero emissions for our community and set an example for businesses.”

The plan notes the last corporate emission reduction target of 50 per cent by 2020 was met, through a range of notable projects.

These include the installation of more than one megawatt (MW) of solar PV across 27 facilities, and the ongoing conversion of 25,000-plus street lights to LED luminaires.

Council has also procured renewable energy for all buildings and street lights over the next decade, as part of the Victorian Energy Collaboration Project.”

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Global perspective: Cities can do it

London Mayor Sadiq Khan: A new world

Sadiq Khan is Mayor of London and Chair-Elect of C40 Cities. He spoke at C40’s event at COP26 in Glasgow on 4 November 2021, called ‘Our Last, Big Chance: Why our future depends on action taken today in the world’s cities’

Michael Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy for Climate Solutions

Michael Bloomberg is a former Mayor of New York, president of the C40 Cities alliance and the UN Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions. He spoke at C40’s event at COP26 in Glasgow on 4 November 2021, called ‘Our Last, Big Chance: Why our future depends on action taken today in the world’s cities’

→ World Economic Forum – 4 November 2021:
The planet is in peril and business is ready to do its part
“At COP26, the World Economic Forum and the US Department of State launched the First Movers Coalition. Steered by US climate envoy John Kerry, this new partnership of the world’s leading companies across emissions-intensive sectors will make proactive purchasing commitments for emerging green technologies.”

“Scientists used to assume that air pollution primarily impacted the lungs. Eventually we learned it impacts the heart, too. Now we’ve realised that air pollution impacts every organ system we’ve looked at, including the brain.”
~ Aaron Reuben, Duke University researcher

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Newsletter from Yes2Renewables:

“We’ve got some great news to share — this morning Victoria’s Andrews government announced a $40 million investment in three offshore wind proposals that could put Gippsland at the forefront of the industry and create thousands of jobs. 

Not just one offshore wind farm, not two. Three.

The funding is part of Victoria’s Energy Innovation Fund, which we advocated for in 2020 and will support feasibility, environmental and pre-construction studies for the landmark Star of the South project, as well as new proposals from Flotation Energy and the Macquarie Group off the Gippsland coast.

Kickstarting offshore wind in Gippsland will create thousands of jobs, help deliver deep emissions cuts and create new transition pathways for coal communities like the Latrobe Valley.

Together, these three projects could create up to 5,600 jobs, bring more than $18 billion in investment to the state and power around 3.6 million homes with clean, renewable energy.




With the Yallourn coal fired power station set to close by 2028 at the earliest, it’s critical that governments get started now preparing communities for the transition, and creating jobs in exciting new industries like offshore wind.

Let’s share the good news so the government knows the community backs climate solutions like offshore wind.

This announcement is a great start for Victoria but there is much work to do to make the most of Australia’s offshore wind opportunity.

With Victoria making big investments in offshore wind, now it’s critical that national offshore wind legislation is finally passed to enable the sector to get going. 

A final Senate vote on Australia’s first offshore wind bill is expected in the last few sitting days of federal Parliament.

It’s going down to the wire — we’ll be in touch soon with next steps to bring it home.”

~ Pat and Wendy – Yes 2 Renewables

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The business community is ready

Twiggy: “Do not deny your constituents their future”

Excerpt of Twiggy’s ‘betrayal speech’ in NSW in October 2021 – 3 minutes

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Green & circular Geelong business sector

Article in the Geelong Advertiser highlighting the Committee for Geelong ‘s support for lifting Australia’s 2030 carbon emissions reduction target.

“While it’s important to have clear policy direction from government, there is much we can do as a community to take action. Our Resilient Geelong research paper made a key recommendation to seize the opportunity to build a better, greener economy for the future and explore the possibility of Geelong becoming a site for the Beyond Zero Emissions Million Jobs project.

The BZE project is a tremendous opportunity for the region to support emissions reduction while also outlining the jobs in green & circular economies. Future economy jobs can be delivered, as an example, through investment in clean tech, sustainable social housing developments, increased uptake of renewable energy sources and in developing the required infrastructure to increase public and active transport usage.”

Read the Committee for Geelong’s statement in full here

Read the Committee for Cities and Regions media release here
~ Jennifer Cromarty

Vicki Perrett, president of Geelong Sustainability, commented: “Fantastic article from Jennifer Cromarty. Globally the world is moving to net zero and it’s moving quickly. As Victoria’s second city, #Geelong can be at the forefront of this transition IF we look forward and collaborate.” 


Geelong Port’s race to zero

“GeelongPort is thrilled to be the first port in Australia to achieve Climate Active carbon neutral certification for its business operations.

Reaching carbon neutrality was one of the long-term objectives in GeelongPort’s 20-year Environment Strategy released in 2019 and we are delivering on this objective by sourcing renewable energy and offsetting all residual carbon emissions.

We acknowledge that climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing communities globally, and we know we have a long way to go.

We are committed to investing in renewable energy and carbon offsets now while we continue investigating and developing longer term decarbonisation initiatives, including future clean energy opportunities.”

~ Geelong Port – on

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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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