Walking the talk with spades and sweat

The Sustainable Hour no 399 on 16 February 2022.

Our first guests today are Elly Tucker, Joe Barnes-Hill and David Maher from AusRegen. They have come back to excitedly tell us about their latest project. Much has happened since we last heard from them. They now have a professional structure around which they are building. Today they tell us about an exciting weekend initiative they have coming up from 18 to 20 March 2022. They have called it RegenFest 2022 – a weekend of “walking their talk” where around 50 people will be coming together to undertake regenerative practices on an actual site near Kynton in Victoria.

We plan that The Sustainable Hour will attend the ecofestival and report back on it as we sweat it out during the day by building water flow slowing objects in and around the creek and listening to their music on Friday and Saturday nights.

Next follows Olympic Games 52-kilometre walker Rhydian Cowley. (Yes thats right: 52 kilometres all at once). Along with his elite status in this sport, Rhydian feels comes a responsibility to use that platform to talk publicly about his climate concerns and actively promote solutions that are job rich and aren’t going to cost us the earth literally. We talk about the impact that sponsorship by fossil fuel companies and the banks that help fund them have on sporting events and liken it to sponsorship by tobacco companies in the past, something that’s no longer accepted in today’s world.

Rhydian mentions a number of organisations and content, firstly the Sports Environment Alliance and their “no planet, no play” resource for sports organisations. Also Frontrunners, whose team helped get AFL Players for Climate Action and Cricket for Climate get off the ground. Most recently this was through ‘The Cooldown Letter‘ which was signed by hundreds of elite sportspeople from a variety of Aussie sports. Another group Rhydian mentions is EcoAthletes.

The Guardian article which Rhydian thought deserves more reads is titled Australian sport has been captured by carbon. The ‘sliver of light’ came from Tennis Australia dropping Santos as a sponsor. This is the same fossil fuel company that is sponsoring three Australian teams in the International Rugby Union competition. Will other sporting codes and bodies follow this bold lead and become the all important “first responders” when looking at how change happens? (Looking at you in particular, AFL! – because of your connection with the National Australia Bank which refuses to stop funding deadly fossil fuel project.)

Rhydian leaves us with the fascinating news that at a competitive walk that he has entered in Oman later this year, where the World Athletics Organisation is implementing tree planting and a beach clean up into the meet – another example of what can happen when the will is there.

In-between the interviews, we play Climate Council’s new video about gas and renewables, which you can share via Facebook or Youtube.

Mik Aidt starts the hour today with singing the praises of Amsterdam which has just given the global Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty a real boost by signing onto it. They are the first big city to do so. This city is indeed creating the mould for post carbon cities to follow as it is also one of the first cities to follow the alternative, fit-for-purpose Doughnut Economics model as proposed by Kate Raworth. We have referred to this in the past and will be having a closer look at it later in the year. Mik brings it back home by urging our local council, the City of Greater Geelong, to follow Amsterdam’s lead, in particular when it comes to refusing new fossil fuel projects such as Viva Energy’s proposed floating gas hub in Corio Bay.

Colin Mockett‘s Global Roundup this week begins, surprisingly, with the news that a group of European banks have invested 4 billion euros ($AUS 6 billion) on removing plastics from the world’s oceans. The banks are the French and German development banks and the European Investment bank and their project is called the Clean Oceans Initiative. It’s a multi-pronged effort that includes reducing the amount of plastic packaging produced as well as waste, waste water and stormwater throughout the world. Their figures, researched by the UN and WWF, show that an estimate 8 million tonnes of plastic are washed into the world’s oceans annually and that isn’t sustainable for the planet. The group had initially invested 1.6 billion into the project. The new figure of EUR4 billion recognises that this wasn’t nearly enough. It is time our ‘Big Four’ banks in Australia take their lead and stop funding planet destroying fossil fuel projects.

Still more good news of banks comes from the United Kingdom, where three banks in the Natwest group have launched fee-free loans for eligible small businesses in the clean buildings, energy, transport and agriculture sectors. The banks have set aside £100 billion of Climate and Sustainable Funding and Financing to customers by the end of 2025. They’re targeting support for solar panels, electric vehicles, or heat pumps on commercial buildings that fall within the eligible list developed by the banks.

Colin then zooms us to Southern Africa, where the ongoing effects following the two massive storms, including Cyclone Batsirai that hit Madagascar, has seen landslides and flooding with thousands more homeless and the death toll has risen to 120. The new figures are much worse in terms of displaced people and destroyed homes. To put this into perspective, that’s the population of Warrnambool and Alice Springs combined.

On the subject of the news cycle moving on from environmental disasters: There is still no fishing off the coast of Peru, a month after more than 10,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into the Pacific Ocean from a tanker as it unloaded its contents at a refinery near Peru’s capital, Lima. Marine birds are still dying from oil floating in the water they once dived into, and the government has banned fishing near the spill, which President Pedro Castillo has called Peru’s worst environmental disaster in recent history. The Spanish oil company Repsol, which owns the refinery, has brought in specialist cleaners and hired those out-of work fishermen to help with the ongoing clean it up.

While we’re enjoying our summer in Australia, in the northern hemisphere, it’s the depths of winter and new figures released show that the air temperatures for January 2022 at about 2,500 feet above the surface were above average over all of the Arctic Ocean. Temperatures were up to 7 degrees Celsius (13 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average in their north, with smaller, but significant rises in other areas.

Finally for this week, we go back to the United Kingdom for some more good news: Our adopted soccer team Forest Green Rovers were playing away at the weekend at Sutton United. The result was a 1 – 1 draw, meaning Sutton move to fifth place, while the Rovers move 11 points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand.

That’s it for this week. We hope that you have gained inspiration from Elly, Joe and Dave from AusRegen and our Olympic champion Rhydian. They have all been prepared to get well out of their comfort zones and work flat out, in their own ways, to hasten our transition to the post carbon world for which we all yearn.

We’ll be back next week for yet another milestone: The Sustainable Hour number 400. Until then, we hope that all our listeners continue to hone their roles in the climate revolution that needs each and every one of us doing our bit. May you be the difference!

“Do we go and stop this problem at route cause? If we can go in there and put some structures that slow the rate of erosion and the flow of water, maybe we can make a change on the few acres we are talking about here – and if from this, we get a couple who want to have a crack at it elsewhere, we can then do that.”
~ Joe Barnes-Hill, First Nations Australian and Head of AusRegen

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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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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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“Climate change isn’t just an environmental issue; it is also an economic issue that makes us all poorer.”
~ Paul Dawson

“World leaders do not speak of rapidly ending the fossil fuel industry, even though this is the ONLY thing that would stop catastrophic climate breakdown, because they take money from said industry.”

Peter Kalmus, climate scientist

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Amsterdam endorses treaty to end fossil fuels

As one of Europe’s largest energy ports and a major historical exporter of coal, the Dutch capital’s support for a global initiative to phase out fossil fuels is one of the most significant endorsements of the Treaty campaign to date. After ending fossil fuel advertising, Amsterdam goes further and shows it wants to do its fair share in the fight against climate change.

Amsterdam joins more than 35 cities around the world who are demanding an end to the fossil fuel era and calling on others to join them in a just transition. Brighton and Hove (United Kingdom), Itahari (Nepal), Burnaby (Canada), Grenoble (France), and Milwaukie (USA) are among the visionary cities that have also endorsed in the past weeks.

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→ If you’d like to launch a city campaign, check out Cities For a Fossil Fuel Treaty

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See the video on Youtube – or Facebook:

“Saul Griffiths in an experienced engineer and energy analyst, and he has generated a truly remarkable overview of what we can do as a nation, a state, a municipality, as industries and as households. He cuts through irrelevant hype and lands in a truly good place, with a clear focus on priorities, decisions  and concrete actions that apply to all of us. In a word – “Electrify everything!  Saul’s book provides many useful charts, but a webinar is a good way to quickly tune into his compelling rationale.  

I absolutely commend this webinar from the Australia Institute. In under an hour you will have a big picture view about the concrete steps we can all take now, and become really optimistic that our Geelong targets are both critically important and achievable:

This is the kind of optimistic information that we all need to get out to our community, whether by forums, working groups, advertising or action plans – likely all of these and more, so that we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet.

Many thanks for considering this.

~ Alan Barlee
Centre for Climate Safety, Geelong


→ The Guardian – 2 February 2022:
Extreme heat in oceans ‘passed point of no return’ in 2014
“Formerly rare high temperatures now covering half of seas and devastating wildlife, study shows.”

→ Futurism – 2 February 2022:
Environmental Catastrophe Passed “Point of No Return” Eight Years Ago, Scientists Say
“Climate researchers are warning extreme heat present in the Earth’s oceans passed the point of return turn — eight years ago, The Guardian reports. It’s damning new evidence that only underlines we are well on our way towards another climate catastrophe — or rather underlining the fact we are already living in one.”

“The problem is, you can’t just turn off, let alone reverse, permafrost thaw. It won’t be possible to refreeze the ground and have it go back to how it was.”

→ The New Yorker – 10 January 2022
The Great Siberian Thaw
“Permafrost contains microbes, mammoths, and twice as much carbon as Earth’s atmosphere. What happens when it starts to melt?”


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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.


Greenpeace: The Reef is in danger

To the Australian Federal Government: “The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage treasure in our own backyard, and right now Australia is not looking after it. We call on Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Australian Government to protect our Reef from climate change by replacing all coal-burning power stations with clean and safe renewable energy by 2030 and committing to net-zero by 2035.”

13,000 signatures on 14 February 2022.
Add your signature here


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 airwaves in the Geelong region every Wednesday from 11am to 12pm (Melbourne time).

» To listen to the program on your computer or phone, click here – or go to www.947thepulse.com where you then click on ‘Listen Live’ on the right.

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