Zero Climate Action

We have two guests in The Sustainable Hour no. 393 on 15 December 2021:

Dan Ilic is an Aussie comedian, podcaster and billboard fundraiser – and now also a political satire pamphlet-creator in his bedroom. Dan talks about his activism which started around 10 years ago with a podcast called ‘A Rational Fear’. More recently he has gained international attention by crowdfunding for billboards mainly aimed at our federal politicians and their attempts to greenwash and make us believe that they are doing enough on climate. This started in an attempt to embarrass them, especially our Prime Minister, in the lead up to and during COP26 in Glasgow.

Professor Stephen Bygrave is a member of the Australian National University’s new Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions. What an exciting position to have at this time. When we learn of Stephen’s work history from academia to head of Beyond Zero Emissions, to the head of government departments in both ACT and New South Wales, it’s easy to understand why he is involved in this new initiative back in academia at ANU.


Mik Aidt starts us off today talking about a global organisation named Avaaz which over the years has gathered 70 million members world wide to sign on to various petitions around real action on climate. He reports that in their latest newsletter they comment on a team from Harvard University who have established a ‘golden rule’ as to the percentage of people who need to be actively involved in a campaign to bring about the change which the campaign is calling for. Very strikingly, he then translates this to the number of people needed for this happen in Geelong and makes it sound very do-able.

Mik then takes us to ExxonMobil’s fuel distribution centre in Yarraville where two Extinction Rebellion activists have locked onto a barrel filled with concrete. They are supported by many others who are singing, holding banners and signs, chanting and generally shining a light on this huge fossil fuel company who have been doing everything in their power for over 50 years to ignore what their own scientists were telling them about the climate-destructive nature of their products. The wording on the barrel says it all: ‘Climate Criminals – Exxon Kills’. We then find out why Tony Gleeson is absent today as Mik is able to interview him with his right hand firmly attached to a pin in the centre of a pipe inserted into the barrel. On the other side of the barrel is fellow staunch Extinction Rebellion Westside activist Brad.


Colin Mockett’s Global Outlook this week begins with a real global impetus from the activist group Avaaz urging everyone in the world to sign a petition to prosecute Brazilian president Bolsanaro in the international criminal court for sabotaging our world environment by his backing of industrial logging of the Amazon basin. You can sign the petition by logging on to: www.avaaz.org

He then zooms us to the United Kingdom with a suitably festive item, where a coalition of 25 breweries have joined together to accelerate action on climate change. They have also proposed a strategy to reduce food waste, which they name as one of the fastest and most equitable measures to tackle the climate crisis. Apart from elimination strategies in breweries and beer outlets, they have developed a limited-edition collection of beers that uses surplus bread to prevent waste and reduce demand for natural resources.

Then up to Scotland where figures released this week reveal that Scotland has taken 30 years to halve its territorial emissions – but the nation now plans to halve it again in under a decade to meet its newly legislated 2030 emissions target. The targets are law; the Scottish Parliament has made clear its ambition. Now it needs to deliver on its climate promises. The Scottish Climate Change policies have already closed power stations. It has set extremely ambitious targets for reducing emissions from the transport sector, a low-carbon agriculture policy and a clear plan to move Scottish people to healthy and low-carbon diets.

A landmark report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) projected that if the world reached net zero by 2050 — and thus prevent the worst impacts of climate change — it would still be using nearly half as much natural gas as today and about one-quarter as much oil. This corroborates a recent analysis carried out by a team of researchers at Princeton University in the United States which found that if the United States reached net zero by 2050, it would still be using a total of one-quarter to one-half as much gas and oil as it does today. That would still be a vast reduction.

Finally: news of our carbon-neutral vegan football team, Forest Green Rovers. The team drew 5 – 5 away at Oldham Athletic. But they’re still top of the ladder, 3 points clear with a game in hand. Those 5 goals mean 50 new trees planted as part of the club’s pledge to plant 10 trees for every goal scored. Go the Rovers!!!


The thing that stands out in today’s Hour is the mutual respect that both Dan and Stephen have for each other’s work. Their interconnectedness. One using satire and humour to expose greenwashing and lying from politicians and the other using his position in academia to search for solutions and empower his students to become active active participants in those solutions.

Listening to this mutual respect unfold takes us back to the ‘golden rule of 3.5%’ that Mik referred to and makes it seem so much more achievable.

We aren’t quite to that 3.5% yet. Right from our start, over eight years ago, our aim has been to empower people to find their way of being active contributors to that 3.5%. As we close out on 2021, and enter Year 9 of our climate revolution, we commit to taking the goal into the new year: Connecting 3.5% of Geelong on the same path towards a real climate revolution.

Witnessing the interaction between Dan and Stephen today leaves a clear understanding that it’s going to take all of us focusing on how we are similar rather than letting our differences divide us to get us to where we need to be. A determination to work for a safer, more just, inclusive and healthy world. This is the climate revolution we all need to be part of, and it will be an ongoing focus for us next year and in the years ahead. We hope that you all come along with us.


“Look at the headline ‘Net Zero Climate Action’. They have no idea how to use language. Net zero climate action is actually the policy of the Liberal Government. I’m going to make my own – and it says:

“Net zero climate action (literally). Australia has reluctantly pledged to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Don’t worry if you own shares in fossil fuel companies, Australia’s own government modelling says it’ll get there, not by reducing actual emissions, but with magic, it’s true. Google it! The Liberals tell us that Australia is investing in record amounts of solar under Labor and something called soil carbon sequestration and head capture, the process of reducing head levels by burying them in the sand. By 2050 we hope to have 100% more heads buried in the sand compared to 2005 levels.

I’m Dan Ilic and I learned of the Liberal’s ongoing fight for literally zero climate action by reading their press releases. With your votes and support they can continue to deliver more words about climate action and less actual action because that would involve them in doing something which they are avoiding.”
~ Dan Ilic, Australian comedian, in response to a pamphlet he received from his local member Liberal so-called moderate Dave Sharma with the incredibly honest headline ‘Net Zero Climate Action.


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Acknowledgement

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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Exxon exposed

In June 2021, Greenpeace UK’s investigative platform exposed Exxon as one of the worst polluters in history. Exxon has spent years telling the world that it supports action on climate change. But behind the scenes, they were spending huge sums of money thwarting limits on fossil fuels.

Greenpeace secretly recorded an oil executive admitting that Exxon “aggressively fought” against some climate science. It was a confession that’s rarely caught on camera. The footage blew the lid on how the oil company works behind closed doors to wreck progress on tackling the climate crisis.

And it didn’t stop there. Exxon’s oil lobbyist bragged about how they had senior politicians under their thumb, ready to aid their efforts to undermine crucial climate legislation.

→ Channel4 News – 30 June 2021:
Revealed: ExxonMobil’s lobbying war on climate change legislation
“A senior ExxonMobil lobbyist has been captured on camera revealing how the oil giant is using its power and influence to water down US climate legislation.”

→ The Guardian – 28 October 2021:
Oil executives face ‘turning point’ US congressional hearing on climate crisis
“The heads of top US oil companies will answer accusations that their firms have spent years lying about the climate crisis.”

→ The Guardian – 7 December 2021:
‘Your generation got us in this mess’: children of big oil employees discuss the climate crisis with their parents
“Two generations of energy workers discuss how their family has responded to the climate emergency.”



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→ The Guardian – 13 October 2021:
Comedian’s ‘subversive’ billboards attacking Australia’s climate policy to feature in New York’s Times Square
“Dan Ilic raises $140,000 for satirical campaign ridiculing fossil fuel-supporting Australian politicians ahead of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.”

Jonathan Pie: The World’s End

COP26 short film with George Monbiot, Caroline Lucas & Ed Miliband

Luke Heggie: Veggie box | Stand Up Comedy

The Guy Who Decides Packaging



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“Modelling by AEMO indicates that most of the coal capacity can actually be shut down with only a small addition to storage beyond what’s already planned. But this government is controlled by the National Party, and therefore by coal and agriculture. Which means it’s not really focused on reducing emissions, only on appearing to be focused on reducing emissions, while paying coal-fired stations to stay open and stopping farmers planting too many trees.”
~ Alan Kohler, The New Daily. Editor in chief of Eureka Report and finance presenter on ABC news

Gas slumps to record lows

Comparing Spring 2021 to Spring 2020, gas generation in the NEM fell to its lowest spring levels in 15 years, providing less than five per cent of our power, despite virtually no change in electricity demand, according to new data from the Climate Council. You can view the data here.

 

→ The Guardian – 8 November 2021:
Few willing to change lifestyle to save the planet, climate survey finds
“Poll of 10 countries including US, UK, France and Germany finds people prioritising measures that are already habits.”



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WorkForClimate’s weekly newsletter

Australia’s coal-fired power plants will likely close almost three times faster than expected, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). The same report also projects a nine-fold increase in large-scale renewables. Hard to believe Scott Morrison was spruiking coal as recently as January.
 
In a field near Geelong, one of the world’s biggest batteries was quietly flicked on for the first time. Victoria’s Big Battery (that’s its actual name) is a 300-megawatt monster, three times larger than the Tesla battery built in South Australia in 2017.
 
Nottingham in the UK is known for two things: Robin Hood and deep-cut coal mining. But with the UK edging closer to its target of zero coal by 2024, Nottingham has announced plans to go carbon neutral by 2028. If it’s successful, it’ll be one of the first cities in the world to hit that mark.
 
Private firm Nexsphere has unveiled plans for a $2 billion, 1000 megawatt wind farm off the coast of Tasmania, which it hopes to have up and running by 2026. The Bass Offshore Wind Energy Project could power over 325,000 homes. Wind turbines – or “dark satanic mills”, as Tony Abbott once described them – will be crucial for Tasmania’s ambitious ‘200% renewables by 2040’ target.
 

On the Radar

Malcolm Turnbull, with no visible traces of smug, has thrown his support behind several climate-focused independents contesting key Liberal seats at the next federal election. The government can’t afford to shrug these guys off, either: the independents are backed by Climate 200’s $3.6 million war chest.
 
How’s this for a story: independent planning commission finds coal mine expansion would cause irreparable damage to drinking water. Commission rejects expansion. NSW government swoops in and overturns commission anyway. That’s what happened this week, when the state government green-lit the Dendrobium mine expansion near Wollongong. The reason? Jobs, money, coal and money. We’re paraphrasing here.
 

Water Cooler Moments

Should protestors be allowed to land a helicopter near an open-cut coal mine and have an al fresco party? Probably not. But it allegedly happened anyway, and in response, Adani have been pushing the Queensland government to increase penalties for coal protestors. The government hit back this week, saying that the current maximum penalty (14 years in prison) is probably deterrent enough.
 
Can Scott Morrison scare his way to victory? The Australian’s Paul Kelly says it’s unlikely. The climate scare tactics that worked for the LNP in 2013 and 2019 might not play so well in 2021, with a new generation of voters coming through, and the Business Council backing Labour for the first time in who-knows-how-long.
 
Traditional Owners in South Australia’s Finders Rangers are furious that two energy projects –  exploration drilling and a high-tech battery – have apparently already kicked off, without prior consultation, potentially compromising cultural heritage sites. Both projects have hit pause in the meantime, but it’s another reminder why the proposed Juukan Gorge environmental laws are so necessary.
 

Quote of the Week

“By the mid-2040s, electricity supply is expected to be generated almost exclusively from renewable resources, with energy storages helping manage their seasonality and intermittency.” 

AEMO put the writing on the wall this week in its draft Integrated Systems Plan report.  


Until next time!

Lucy and the WorkForClimate team

You can sign up for WorkForClimate’s newsletter here



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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.

Petitions

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List of running petitions where we encourage you to add your name

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