Elite sports waking Australia up to the climate crisis

Our guests in The Sustainable Hour no 397 on 2 February 2022 are two climate-concerned elite sports groups from two sports closest to the Australians’ heart and identity as a nation: Australian football and surfing.

First we have Jasper Pittard and Tom Campbell from AFL Players for Climate Action. Jasper has been on the show before, but since then, he and Tom have founded this group which now represent more than 260 AFL players who want to do more to tackle climate change: to take action in their lives, at their clubs, and across the industry. We hear about what they have achieved so far – plus what their ambitious plans are for the future, taking steps to address AFL’s contribution to climate change and hoping they can bring millions of Australians on the journey with them.

Tom is a professional athlete playing for St Kilda Football Club. He has played 54 AFL games for North Melbourne and Western Bulldogs. Jasper played 11 seasons of AFL football with Kangaroos, Port Adelaide and North Melbourne. To find out more about AFL Players for Climate Action, they have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and their website is www.aflp4ca.org.au

Next we have Belinda Baggs and Linley Hurrell from Surfers for Climate. They have been busy educating fellow surfers to become active participants in climate solutions. We hear of successful campaigns they’ve been part of over the last 12 months as well as what has been occupying them recently. This includes campaigns against seismic testing around the iconic 12 Apostles and plans to drill for gas in that area. They are also collaborating with a network of local groups working to stop Viva Energy’s proposed floating gas hub in Corio Bay. They have recently launched a commitment to wiping out members’ emissions – details of this can be found here.

Surfers for Climate have an election campaign, ‘Don’t kook it on climate’, where Corangamite will be one of their key electorates. At this stage they are selling t-shirts for people to wear when they’re at the polls. Details of this can be found here: surfersforclimate.org.au/merch. They will be busy in the time leading up to the election with a series of events coming to Surf Coast beaches. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Colin Mockett‘s Global Outlook hits the first 2022 Sustainable Hour running. He starts off in England where, in his first major speech since the Glasgow summit, COP26 president Alok Sharma has outlined his plans for the coming year. He aims to build on the commitments secured at COP26 and work with the president of COP 27 Egypt, as well as COP 28 in the UAE to pressure rich nations to help climate-vulnerable countries. Sharma said that progress is being made towards doubling adaptation finance by 2025.

Colin then zooms us to the United States where talks between President Biden and Senator Joe Manchin have resumed after they broke down in early January. The senator, although he’s a democrat, the same party as Biden, is refusing to vote for the president’s “Build Back Better Act”, which will invest $1.75 trillion in climate policies and US social programs.

Next to Germany where the giant cement company Holcim has announced a partnership with tech company Magment to develop a magnetizable concrete technology that would enable electric vehicles to recharge wirelessly while driving. They aim to create innovative electric roads that enable electric vehicles to charge in motion through inductive charging.

Then, in another part of Germany, the global IT giant SAP has committed to achieve net-zero emissions – along with its entire global value chain – by 2030, 20 years earlier than originally targeted. The company said that November’s COP26 conference and the Glasgow Climate Pact gave a strong signal to countries and businesses to set more ambitious targets.

Finally, for this week, back to England, for all our listeners who have no doubt been wondering how our adopted English soccer club, Forest Green Rovers, the only carbon-neutral football club in the world, has been going. Wonder no more. They set the bar even higher over the last month. At the weekend, they had a top of the table clash with second placed Tranmere Rovers. The game, played at Tranmere’s home ground, was won by FGR 4 – 0, leaving the Rovers ten points clear at the top of English League two, with a game in hand. It also gave a winning end to the team’s renaming of the month ‘veganuary’.

Kristen Bell rounds the hour off with her song from the Netflix film Chasing Coral, ‘Tell Me How Long’.

That’s it for this show.

We congratulate the two pioneering climate concerned elite sporting groups for standing up for a safer, more just, inclusive and healthy future. In our sports-crazy country, we know they are going to bring their fans along with them. We wish them all the very best in all their endeavours.

We start each year by saying it’s going to be a ‘big year’ on the climate front. Maybe this year we’ll have to upgrade that to a ‘huge year’ because we have two crucial elections coming up, the federal election, most likely in May, and the Victorian state election in November. Two incredible opportunities to turn any climate concerns into action in the lead up to the election as well as how we vote in both elections. These have to both turned into ‘climate elections’.

We’ll be doing our very best to make sure that you, our listeners, receive all the information you need to enable you to vote wisely so we get the best outcomes for the climate in both elections.

As we rapidly approach our 400th show, we’ll continue our commitment to focus on solutions which are the basis of hope for the best possible future for all of us. As always we hope that you all come along with us in an interactive way. We always welcome feedback and suggestions for guests to invite on as well as topics to cover.

We’ll keep encouraging each and every one of you to find your role in the climate revolution.

“We are trying to be leaders in this space by trying to unite a really large group of players throughout both our competitions. There are challenges at times in convincing people that this is an important issue among all the other stuff they have going on in their lives on a daily basis, but we’ve been so buoyed and feel so optimistic after conversations with other players.
That’s why we started this.
We tested the waters early days by having chats with team mates and players from other teams and after a while we realised that there were definitely enough players who were passionate about doing more and not just as footy players but also as individuals and also collectively and that gave us the green light to get this thing off the ground.
Everyone knows that this is the path forward, for everyone in sport and all industries, in life in general – it’s just how can we accelerate this. This is the challenge for us, but not just us, for anyone working in this space.”
~ Jasper Pittard, co-founder of AFL Players For Climate Action

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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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Geelong Sustainability wrote:

“Join the Community Power Hub Barwon South West as we host the first webinar in a 7 part series. In our first webinar – ‘Engaging your Community: Empowering Action at a Grassroots level’ – we will hear from two very special guests, who will share their unique climate action journeys focusing on community engagement and mobilizing support for local climate initiatives.

Each webinar aims to build on the last, with a wide range of special guests, who will share their unique climate action journeys focusing on community engagement and mobilizing support for community energy initiatives.

Hosted by the Community Power Hub Barwon South West, in conjunction with Geelong Sustainability and BRACE, you will learn how to get involved in Climate Action and Community Renewable Energy Projects at a grassroots level.”

Book now

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A survey of 580 AFL and AFLW players suggested 92 per cent were concerned about climate change but most were unsure how they could be part of the solution.

→ The Guardian – 17 October 2021:
‘We all have a role’: more than 260 Australian rules footballers sign up to climate campaign
“AFL Players For Climate Action counts members from the men’s and women’s leagues and hopes to build club and fan support.”

Tom Hickey on @RadioNational
“We’re taking steps to reduce our carbon impact as players by offsetting our
personal travel,” Jordan Roughead explains on @RadioNational.

Offshore oil and gas explorers are circling like sharks eyeing off new Australian exploration zones, despite an acknowledged acceptance that the need for new fossil fuel resources is waning as the world transitions to renewables. According to 350.org, the gas industry has raked in a staggering $1.5 billion in public money since the pandemic began.

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Flood of fossil fuel money contaminating Australian sport


“Gina Rinehart, a global warming denier and the wealthiest person in Australia, cannot protect the sports she sponsors from the impact of the climate crisis. But should they be protecting Rinehart’s reputation from the condemnation that is increasingly directed at those who stand in the way of climate action? That is the question on the lips of many Australian athletes.” 

→ The Guardian – 28 January 2022:
Should Australia’s major sports stars really be defined by fossil fuel companies trying to look good?
“What is the cost to athletes and sports of accepting money from an influential denier of global warming? And what is the cost to our planet?”

Tennis Australia drops Santos: Other codes must follow suit

“The Climate Council is calling for Aussie sports to ditch their polluting fossil fuel sponsors after Tennis Australia dumped oil and gas giant Santos, a year into what was meant to be a multi-year sponsorship. 

Almost 12 months after some of the nation’s most high profile athletes, including Australian Cricket Captain Pat Cummins, called for greater climate action, the Climate Council has welcomed the decision to cut ties with the fossil fuel industry from one of Australia’s biggest sporting events. 

Australia’s summer of sport is under threat from climate change, which is being driven by the burning of coal, oil and gas. Recent examples include:

  • Temperatures at the Australian Open Tennis in Melbourne have repeatedly hit +40°C with games suspended and players taken to hospital. 
  • In 2018 and again in 2019, dangerous heatwaves forced organisers of the Santos Tour Down Under cycle event to shorten the route.
  • In 2018, at the Sydney Ashes Test, England’s captain Joe Root was hospitalised as air temperature hit 41.9°C.
  • Bushfires smoke from the 2019-20 Black Summer exposed athletes and spectators at all levels to dangerous air pollution. 
  • In November 2020, AFL Northern Territory league implemented an extreme heat policy with mid-30°C temperatures forecast for weekend games. 

Dr Martin Rice, the Climate Council’s Director of Research, said: 

“Santos is a huge contributor to climate change, and yet it’s sponsoring some of our most beloved sports including Rugby Australia and the Santos Tour Down Under, the largest cycle race in the southern hemisphere that is taking place right now in South Australia.” 

“Other fossil fuel sponsored sporting codes must take note of this move by Tennis Australia and kick fossil fuel-backed companies into touch. Sporting clubs and codes can also rapidly cut their own greenhouse gas emissions by changing the way they build venues, power events, travel and by cutting waste.” 

“Fossil fuel companies sponsoring our sporting events, from a professional to community level, makes as much sense as if they were being supported by the tobacco industry. We ditched tobacco sponsorship in sport, now we need to do the same for polluting coal, oil and gas companies, which are driving worsening climate change and putting the future of sports at risk.” 

Australian sport is worth $50 billion to the economy and employs over 220,000 people, but governments are ill prepared for escalating climate risks. You can learn more about how climate change is affecting sport in Australia and how it can also be a powerful force for change in the Climate Council’s ‘Game, Set, Match’ report.” 

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Melbourne Cricket Club GM – Facilities, Peter Wearne on the MCG.

MCG and EnergyAustralia join forces to turn the ‘G green

Media release on 22 February 2022

The MCG has turned green, becoming the first major stadium in Australia to run on 100 percent renewable power, thanks to leading energy retailer EnergyAustralia. 

From lighting up the iconic light towers to heating the pie warmers and opening the turnstiles, from January 1 this year all energy used by the MCG is GreenPower coming solely from renewable sources. It means that even though we’re less than two months into 2022, the MCG has already cut its greenhouse emissions by close to 1000 tonnes – the equivalent to taking 214 cars off the road for one year.
This is the latest sustainability initiative to come out of a partnership between the MCG and EnergyAustralia, going back five years. 
An earlier effort, in 2018, saw EnergyAustralia make the MCG carbon neutral during the AFL finals month of September. It installed 12 solar powered lights and security cameras in 2019, lighting the way for those coming to the ‘G through Yarra Park and keeping them safe.
The following year it put in 220 solar panels along the roofline of the Northern Stand, powering the stadium’s innovative water recycling facility, which impressively turns sewerage into Class A water. Then in August last year the energy retailer installed 14 solar compactus bins in Yarra Park, crushing rubbish down to a fifth of its normal size so requiring less garbage trucks to empty bins.
Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) Chief Executive Officer, Stuart Fox, said this latest initiative is a huge moment in the sustainability journey of the MCG.
“This is a really exciting initiative for the MCC and EnergyAustralia – to work together and provide a first for major stadiums in the country,” Mr Fox said.
“We have a keen focus on environmental sustainability at the MCG – from our water recycling plant and organics dehydrator to the solar panels installed on the roof a couple of years ago with EnergyAustralia.
“To have all of the MCG’s energy needs provided by 100 per cent renewables is a great step on our sustainability journey.
“At the MCG, we’re about inspiring excellence and leading by example, so we hope to see this initiative continued into other stadiums and venues across the country.”
EnergyAustralia Chief Customer Officer, Mark Brownfield, said: “Since 2017 we’ve been helping the MCG become more sustainable. And now we’ve kicked the winning goal – getting the MCG running off 100 percent renewables in an Australian first. 
“But EnergyAustralia is about more than just big stadiums – we’re focused on helping households go green too. Through our Go Neutral offer we’ve offset nearly three million tonnes of carbon dioxide on behalf of customers – all at no additional cost to them. And our solar panel and battery bundles make it easy and affordable for families to go solar.  
“We’ve got our eye on the big picture too. We recently updated our Climate Change Statement with a clear commitment to have net zero emissions (scope one, two and three) by 2050, to be out of coal by 2040, and to reduce our direct emissions by 60 percent by 2028/29 relative to 2019-20.  
“As part of this, we have announced the early retirement of the Yallourn coal-fired power station in mid-2028 and are building Australia’s first net zero emissions gas and hydrogen capable power plant, pumped hydro energy storage, and large-scale battery storage projects.
“We’re doing, not just dreaming, when it comes to making the clean energy transition a reality.”  


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Flood of fossil fuel money contaminating Australian politics


Fossil fuel interests corrupt the coming election

“In the last 12 months, fossil fuel companies have lined the pockets of the Coalition and Labor parties with over $1 million in donations.[1]
It’s no surprise these old parties have failed again and again to do what’s necessary to protect the climate.
The donation data just made public by the Australian Electoral Commission gives us new numbers, but the story remains the same…coal barons and fossil fuel polluters are still the biggest donors to political parties in Australia.
And all this is just what’s reported. Donation loopholes mean millions more in dark money likely flowed into the pockets of the coal and gas supporters that fill Parliament House.
If just three more community-backed independents like Zali Steggall get elected in 2022, Australia could get real climate action and a federal anti-corruption watchdog.
Recent polling shows independents are in with a shot at winning in key races,[2] but they’re up against powerful fossil fuel companies that will pump millions into the major parties between now and election day to maintain the status quo.
And with $10 billion in fossil fuel subsidies provided by Australian governments each year, you can see why.[3]
The health of our families, economy and environment is at stake. Now is the time for us to take action and see integrity and climate action return to politics.”
~ Byron Fay, Executive Director, Climate 200

P.S. Over 7,400 Aussies have already chipped into Climate 200’s election fund. It takes just a few minutes to donate again or for the first time.”

[1] Political Party Returns, Australian Electoral Commission, accessed 1 Feb 2022
[2] Fossil fuel subsidies in Australia, The Australia Institute, April 2021
[3] ‘Voices of’ independents competitive in three Liberal seats, Australian Financial Review, 20 Jan 2022

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Climate change is beginning to show its face.

For some reason, everyone acts as if this comes as a surprise, even though scientists have warned
us for more than 30 years about that this would be the predictable consequences.

The problem is that as long as media doesn’t make the connection clear to everyone, reminding us constantly
what we need to do to avoid this getting worse, communities are not mobilised and too little action is taken.
Geelong Independent‘s flash flooding report

→ The Guardian – 20 January 2022:
‘The treeline is out of control’: how the climate crisis is turning the Arctic green
“In northern Norway, trees are rapidly taking over the tundra and threatening an ancient way of life that depends on snow and ice.”


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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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