Award season highlights climate solutions

The Sustainable Hour no 392

In October, Alan Taylor, a climate coach for the international health care company BUPA, told us about an in-house sustainability competition that he had been engaged to coach the Aussie teams. He then committed to coming back on the show to let us know how it all went.

Today is that day. Alan is back speaking very enthusiastically about what this competition threw up. We learn how BUPA staff who were involved in sustainability startups were given some financial incentives to help them out. An Aussie team ended up doing well. They came equal second in a very high quality field. The judges were so impressed that they were awarded $185,000 to progress their work. We’ll get Alan back again next year to update us on how BUPA’s 2022 Global Eco-Disruption Competition pans out.

For those who want to know more about the competition and BUPA’s work in this space, here are links to the Overall Program Wrap-Up, the Australian Country Final outcomes, and to the winners: Circoolar from Spain, Airseed from Australia and Upcycled Medical from the United Kingdom.

We start today’s show with discussions based on clips focusing on good news from both the City of Greater Geelong Council and the Australian Labor Party. Contrary to the narrative of the Liberal-national government over the last decade, Labor finally broke the news to the Australian people that renewables will give them cheaper, not more expensive, electricity. And Geelong can now call itself Victoria’s Sustainable City of the Year.

New figures reveal record wind and solar output, and record-low output from fossil fuel generators across the September quarter. As a result, electricity prices are falling in South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria – where solar and wind resources are abundant – but rising in coal-reliant New South Wales and Queensland.

Mik Aidt then reports on a twitter post which really exposes the reality of the world wide amount of money that is devoted to subsidies for fossil fuel companies. Air pollution, caused by the burning of oil, gas and coal, kills more people each year than tobacco does. According to the WHO, tobacco-related health problems lead to 8.2 million deaths annually. Air pollution from fossil fuels leads to more than 8.6 million deaths annually worldwide, according to a new study from British universities.

Under the Liberal-Nationals government right now in Australia, there are 116 major coal and gas projects under development. If they all go ahead, they could release nearly 1.7 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases every year – equivalent to around 5 per cent of global industrial emissions. 

Colin Mockett‘s Global Roundup this week begins in Finland where a new free app encourages people to change their lifestyles to cut carbon emissions. Called SITRA, it is so successful, it’s being adapted and rolled out by London councils. 17 other nations are interested in their own versions.

The tool aims to help people create their own path to reducing their CO2 output. Developer Markus Terho, said “Studies show that individual action has a significant potential to lower CO2 impact on a global level.”

Then Colin zooms us to the United States where new research by scientists from Duke and Columbia Universities shows that improved air quality caused by reducing emissions from burning fossil fuels would improve human health and prevent economic losses by a considerable margin.

Also in the U.S., new figures released by NASA show that CO2 emissions returned to near-pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2020, despite reduced activity in many sectors of the economy. The figures suggest that reducing activity in these industrial and residential sectors is not practical in the short term as a means of cutting emissions, the study noted: “Reducing these sectors’ emissions permanently will require their transition to low-carbon-emitting technology.”

Then to the United Kingdom, where a study from Oxford University compares how much different nations are spending on what is termed a ‘Green Recovery’ from the pandemic economic economic meltdowns. It is no surprise where Australia is placed here.

And finally both good and bad news of our carbon-neutral vegan football team, Forest Green Rovers. The bad news first. The team drew 1 – 1 with Chelsea’s under 21 squad in the English League Trophy – but lost the penalty shootout 4 – 1. Just like their women’s team did last week. But they’re still top of the ladder. The good news is that the Rovers began the season with a pledge to plant 10 trees for every goal they scored, and this year that’s more than 40, so 400 new trees are planted in re-forestation schemes in Scotland. They’re now looking for donations to help expand their tree-planting scheme.

That’s it for another week. We hope you get something out of it and use that to motivate you to find a way to join the climate revolution if you aren’t already involved in it. Till next go well and think of ways you can reduce your footprint over the festive season. There’s never been a better time to be the difference!

“It’s been a fantastic journey over the last 6 or 7 months with this program. It aims to get startups connected with startups around the world, helping people within BUPA learn around different ways of working, working with startups, thinking differently basically.”
~ Alan Taylor, Climate Coach at BUPA Healthcare

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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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→ National Geographic – 7 December 2021:
2021’s weather disasters brought home the reality of climate change
“Heat waves. Floods. Megadroughts. This year’s weather showed us that climate change is here—and deadly.”

“Everyone has a responsibility, and the Danish [oil and gas] actors in the North Sea are no exception.”
~ Oil Gas Denmark, Danish fossil fuel sector umbrella organisation, in a Summit Statement

→ Information – December 2021:
New name, new image, new products – the oil industry is getting ready for the future
“The other day, the former industry organisation Oil Gas Denmark held a summit under its new name, Danish Offshore, which is preparing for a new role as climate protector via green energy and carbon deposition at the bottom of the North Sea. And then, for three more decades, some oil and gas production.”

Labor and the climate

Labor has released the climate policy it will take to the Federal election. It’s less ambitious than their previous policy and falls well short of what’s required to help rein in global warming. The test for Labor is not whether they can promise something a bit better than one of the worst performing governments on climate action in the world. The test for Labor is whether they can meet the urgent need to secure the future of the Australian nation and act fast to reduce the sources of pollution that are driving global warming.”


“The Liberals are driving us off a climate cliff at 200 km/h while Labor’s promising to do it at 180km/h. We need to be slamming the brakes. The science is clear: Australia’s climate target must be a 75% cut to our emissions by 2030.”
~ Adam Bandt, leader of the Australian Greens

“This target falls short of what the science says is necessary to limit global warming and avoid catastrophic climate change. The best science tells us that Australia needs to reduce climate pollution by 75% below 2005 levels by 2030, and reach net zero emissions by 2035.”
~ Nicki Hutley, Climate Councillor

2030 targets

Coalition target: 26-28%
Coalition projected forecast: 30-35%
Labor’s new target: 43%
Labor’s target from 2019: 45%
Business Council target: 50%
South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria state target: 50%
Climate Council policy: 75%
Greens policy: 75%
Climate Council says the science demands 75% cut by 2030

“Anxious to quash a scare campaign about a higher target, Labor climate spokesman Chris Bowen ruled out a negotiation with the Greens on the figure in the event of a hung Parliament despite Coalition claims he would have to overhaul his policy. Mr Bowen also rebuffed calls from the Greens to close coal-fired power stations and phase out coal exports by arguing nothing in the Labor policy would bring forward closures or hurt exporters who were exposed to competition from overseas.”

→ Brisbane Times – 6 December 2021:
Labor sets up a clash with the Greens on climate change
“Labor has set up a clash with the Greens on climate change in a bid to assure voters it will not change its 43 per cent target to cut greenhouse gas emissions if it wins the election, insisting the Parliament would have to pass the goal or vote it down.”

“Less than 3 weeks after the Glasgow climate summit, Labor sided with the Liberals again to hand $50 million of public money to gas corporations to frack the Beetaloo Basin. Labor put the profits of their fossil fuel donors before the safety of the communities they represent.” 
~ Adam Bandt, leader of the Australian Greens

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Sustainable Cities 2021 Awards Ceremony

Geelong wins 2021 Sustainable City Award

The City of Greater Geelong has won the overall Keep Victoria Beautiful 2021 Sustainable City award, along with three other awards for clever and creative projects that save energy, reduce waste and protect the environment.

Sustainability Performance Chair, Mayor Stephanie Asher, said the Council is proud that the City has been recognised in the annual awards program, which celebrates action on climate change and initiatives to protect local environments.

“We’re thrilled to win the overall Sustainable Cities Award because it recognises how hard we’re working to keep the Greater Geelong region sustainable and liveable,” the Mayor said.

“Our community wants to see the City proactively showing leadership to reduce our environmental impact, prevent waste, and protect our world-class biodiversity.”

“These projects are good for the environment but also make economic sense over the long-term. Whether it’s using crushed glass to build roads, putting solar on City facilities, or installing an artificial reef at Portarlington, we’re leading the way on sustainability action at the local government level.”

Andrea Dennett from Bellarine Friends of the Hooded Plover was also recognised at the awards, winning the 2021 Community Green Achiever Award for her work to protect threatened bird life.

“Andrea has shown real leadership and commitment over almost 14 years to nurture and care for threatened birds and protect our precious coastal habitat,” the Mayor said.

“Andrea has brought people together and shown we all have a part to play in protecting our beloved Hoodies.”

Other finalists in the community award category from our region include:

  1. Mik Aidt – Climate Emergency Declaration Campaign (Education Award) – highly commended
  2. Geelong Sustainability – Sustainable House Day 2020 (Education Award)
  3. Friends of Waurn Ponds Creek – Waurn Ponds Creek Restoration (Environment Award)
  4. Lids 4 Kids – Saving Plastic Lids from Landfill (Waste Award)

City Project Award winners

Zero Carbon Buildings Program (Energy Award): The program has reduced the ecological and carbon footprint of the City’s community facilities, through renewable energy generation and energy efficiency improvements. Measures include rooftop solar systems, energy efficient lighting upgrades, automated building control systems and upgraded heating and cooling systems.

Ramblers Road Artificial Reef (Environment Award): The award-winning coastal protection solution has been effective in preventing further erosion, limiting the over topping of waves and stabilising and widening the beach at Ramblers Road, Portarlington. It has also delivered co-benefits in terms of habitat creation and restoration of seagrass.

Recycled Roads (Waste Award): The City’s innovative road construction projects incorporate materials collected via their kerbside recycling services. The first roads built using crushed glass as a replacement for sand are now open and other road construction projects have been completed using PlastiPhalt, which incorporates plastics destined for landfill in road construction materials. These projects are keeping tonnes of glass and plastics out of landfill and the highly efficient construction process is reducing project CO2 emissions by as much as 30 percent.

Bella Wiyn Birralee Family Centre was also highly commended by the judges for its Sustainability Champions of Tomorrow program.

The City recently endorsed its Climate Change Response Plan, which includes 80 actions towards net zero emissions by 2035.

Full details of the Keep Victoria Beautiful Sustainable Cities Awards are available at:

Sustainable Cities – Keep Victoria Beautiful

~ Jem Wilson, City of Greater Geelong

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New homes need 7 stars

Energy efficiency changes in 2022NEW homes built in Victoria from next year are set to require 7-star energy efficiency standards in a move that could slash owners’ power bills by up to 30 per cent.

Research has revealed that despite some extra costs in construction, owners of effici – ent homes can reap an 11 per cent return on their investments.

Building companies and experts say the keys to meeting the new standards – likely to be implemented under a national code in September – would be the position of properties on blocks, insulation quality and modern appliances.

And the Victorian government is now backing 8-star standards for newly built homes within five years, based on advice from Infrastructure Victoria.

The latest 30-year strategy released by Infrastructure Victoria found that achieving a “7-star NatHERS rating through smart design does not add significantly to construction costs”.

“It can reduce energy bills by 30 per cent and each 1.0 star improvement may add around $9000 to the value of the home,” the strategy suggested.

Sustainability Victoria is now running a 7-star home program ahead of construction code changes, providing training for builders and rebates to help with costs.

Chief executive Claire Ferres Miles said efficient properties were “the future of homes”.

“Builders are proving that energy-efficient homes can be designed and constructed using existing materials and technologies at an affordable price,” Ms Ferres Miles said.

As part of the verification process, giant fans are installed at the doorways of properties to test for air leakage that can deflate efficiency and add to a home’s running costs.

G-LUX Builders pre- construction manager Spiros Chasiotis, said using “sustainable materials does not always have to be more expensive”.

Some of the hi-tech methods used by the company include special ventilation systems, Mr Chasiotis said.

“Our homes are wrapped in an airtightness membrane that prevents air leakage,” he said.

VCON Homes operations manager Ahmad Kassab, said differences between a 7-star home and a 6-star home were not complex but made a big difference to residents.

“A great example is our 7.2- star Craigieburn home, it wasn’t much of a change. We focused on optimising orientation, increasing the thickness of insulation, draught sealing around windows and doors and double-glazing windows,” Mr Kassab said.

Infrastructure Victoria acting chief executive Jonathan Spear said there were clear benefits to consumers but also a broader benefit of reducing stress on the electricity grid.

Source: Geelong Advertiser – 5 December 2021

→ The Guardian – 6 December 2021:
ACT launches interest-free loans for electric cars to boost uptake

“Drivers in the Australian Capital Territory can now apply for zero-interest loans designed to boost the uptake of electric vehicles, as industry groups call for similar programs to be adopted across the country.”

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Ellen Burbidge: ‘The Scientist | a tribute’

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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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The Sustainable Hour is streamed live on the Internet and broadcasted on FM 94.7 every Wednesday from 11am to 12pm (Melbourne time).

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