Geelong gas hub ‘moral and economic madness’

The Sustainable Hour no. 406 

Guest in The Tunnel on 6 April 2022 is Robert Patterson from Geelong Renewables Not Gas and ADAC.

We listen to excerpts of speeches from UN Chief Antonio Guterres, Labor leader Anthony Albanese, Geelong climate activist Lauren Dillon, and Research Director at The Australia Institute Rod Campbell.

In brief, some of the reasons Robert Patterson doesn’t think Viva Energy’s gas hub should go ahead are:

  • City of Greater Geelong council have set a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2035. Viva Energy’s gas project will seriously undermine that target
  • Gas is no cleaner than coal when fugitive emissions are taken into account
  • The latest IPCC report says all fossil fuels must stay in the ground – the atmosphere is already super saturated
  • Attribution studies show the connection between excess carbon in atmosphere and extreme weather events
  • Concerns that ships containing a very explosive and flammable fuel will come within 400 metres of homes.
  • There are around 30,000 people living within the three different impact zones should an explosion occur.
  • Impact on marine environment of chemicals used to clean the system
  • Impact of dredging on sea grass beds – smothering the grass – sun doesn’t get through
  • Heavy metals in stirred up sediments – impacts of this right through food chain
  • The speculated gas shortage can be managed by demand reduction measures from government. E.g. subsidies given on electrical appliances. This shortage will only be for around 30 days – easy to manage

Colin Mockett‘s Global Outlook begins this week at the United Nations, where Secretary-General António Guterres launched what he called ‘an Expert Group’ to develop stronger and clearer standards for net-zero emissions pledges by non-State entities. Basically, what this means is non-nations. It’s leaders of big businesses, banks and investors, cities and regions – all of them chosen to speed up the world commitment to net-zero emissions. The move comes amid a worsening climate crisis and growing urgency among the UN for all national commitments to be transparent, credible, backed by robust implementation plans, and converted into real emissions cuts as rapidly as possible. In short, the fossil fuel companies greenwashing tactics are winning, so the Secretary-General has opened up another front. He said at the launch: “Despite growing pledges of climate action, global emissions are at an all-time high. They continue to rise. The latest science shows that climate disruption is causing havoc in every region — right now. We are in a race against time to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees. And we are losing.” This is not to say that the UN has given up on nations’ meeting their pledges at COP26.

A day after Antonio announced his Expert Group, the IPPR Progressive Review Journal was published and sent to all countries’ delegates. In it, the president of COP26, Alok Sharma, called on all countries to “honour their commitments and take rapid action” to tackle the climate crisis and achieve net zero. He said: “It is several months since Glasgow and we must build on and protect the integrity of the Glasgow Climate Pact by showing that, collectively, the world is serious about delivering on the commitments made. The key thing now is implementation. Our COP26 achievements will come to nothing if we do not deliver on them.”

In this regard the UK government announced it was spending £198.3 million to provide 943 zero-emission buses nationwide. This builds on 121 million spent last year on 300 buses. And a further 100 buses from previous schemes. It means the UK government remains on track to deliver its COP 26 commitment. UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Not only will this improve the experience of passengers, but it will help support our mission to fund 4,000 of these cleaner buses, reach net zero emissions by 2050 and build back greener.”

And further to the UN’s move towards keeping business as well as nations motivated, the global chemical company INEOS announced that it was investing more than €2 billion in green hydrogen production throughout Europe. This is Europe’s largest ever investment in electrolysis projects to make green hydrogen with the potential to transform zero carbon hydrogen production across Europe. It’s supported by the EU in the light of its decision to move away from the dependency on oil and gas from Russia. This should fast-track the production of hydrogen during Europe’s coming summer. So it’s likely that some good will come from the Ukraine conflict.

New global research shows a 71 per cent rise in popularity of searches for sustainable goods over the past five years, with continuing growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report titled ‘An Eco-wakening: Measuring global awareness, engagement and action for nature’ shows a surge in consumer demand for sustainable goods in high-income countries. Sheila Bonini, from WWF, who commissioned the report, said: “Sustainable and planet-friendly products used to be a niche market. Today, that’s no longer the case. This research backs up what we’ve seen anecdotally over the years — demand is there. The report, which analysed data in 27 languages, across 54 countries, covering 80 per cent of the world’s population.

Finally, our Forest Green Rovers – the world’s only vegan carbon-neutral football club – at the weekend played bottom to the table Scunthorpe at home. They won 1 – 0 leaving them 4 points clear at the top of the table a game in hand and only eight games left for the season.

“Transformational change is needed practically in every sector and every region.”
~ Tommy Wiedmann, lead author of the ‘Emissions trends and drivers’ chapter of the latests IPCC report

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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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Moral and economic madness

Video message by UN Secretary General at the IPCC Working Group III AR6 press conference

“Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness.”
~ Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, at the IPCC report launch press conference on 4 April 2022

“The jury has reached the verdict and it is damming. This report is a litany of broken climate promises. It is a file of shame, cataloging the empty pledges that put us firmly on track to an unlivable world. We are on a fast track to climate disaster. This is not fiction or exaggeration. It is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies…this is a climate emergency,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries who are increasing the production of fossil fuels. Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic madness,“ said Guterres.

For the first time in its 34 year history, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has declared that no new fossil fuel infrastructure must be built. That means no new gas pipelines, no new oil drilling or refineries, no new coal mines or power plants — no new production facilities for the fossil fuels that still supply nearly 80 percent of the world’s energy consumption. 

Fired Up – a newsletter on climate spin and greenwashingwrote:


The third instalment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report singled out Australia’s enemies of climate action… fossil fuel companies, unions and the media.

In Chapter One it states: “One factor limiting the ambition of climate policy has been the ability of incumbent industries to shape government action on climate change. Incumbent industries…  lobby more effectively to prevent losses than those who would gain. Drawing upon wider networks campaigns by oil and coal companies against climate action in the US and Australia are perhaps the most well-known and largely successful of these.”  

It goes onto say that: “Fossil fuel industries have been important agenda-setters in many countries, including… Australia.”

Unions also get a mention. “In countries with significant fossil fuel resources such as Australia, Norway, and the United States, labour unions, particularly industrial unions, tend to contribute to reducing the ambition of domestic climate policies mainly due to the concern of job losses.”

As does our media. “Fossil fuel industries have unique access to mainstream media via advertisements, shaping narratives of media reports, and exerting political influence in countries like Australia.”

“This is madness. Addiction to fossil fuels is mutually assured destruction.”
~ Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, calling out Australia and a “handful of holdouts” for failing to lay out meaningful near-term plans to slash emissions.

“Scientists declare that fossils are toast if we are to keep within the emission peak by 2025 to prevent disaster. Armed with fresh technical and financial arguments, the report puts vital pressure on governments, asset managers and decision makers to pack a punch and do it swiftly — nationally as well as globally. Indicating that carbon emissions from over the last decade have never been higher, the writing is clear; we are amid a now-or-never moment.

While there are enough elements to worry about on the 2,913 pages, the key takeaway is that a lot more can happen at a lower cost than commonly assumed. As such, the report should instil an instant move to deploy renewables, invest in energy efficiency, and fast-track global partnerships.”
~ Magnus Højberg Mernild, Editor, State of Green Weekly

→ The New Daily – 5 April 2022:
‘They are lying’: UN chief attacks Australia’s climate approach as IPCC report released
“The United Nations secretary-general says Australia and other countries intent on increasing fossil fuel production are dangerous radicals.”

→ ABC – RN Breakfast – 5 April 2022:
Climate scientists say its ‘now or never’

→ The Guardian – 5 April 2022:
IPCC report: ‘now or never’ if world is to stave off climate disaster

“The clock is really in a count-down, and if we don’t take action now, we are putting in place a future for ourselves that is one that – quite simply – we may not survive.”
~ Cassie Flynn, Strategic Advisor on Climate Change at the Executive Office of the UNDP

“We are facing the end of civilisation if we do not act on the climate emergency. We are heading towards societal collapse. When your house is on fire, you stop pouring petrol on the flames.”
~ Larch Maxey, eco-campaigner in the United Kingdom

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Calculated, expensive climate crime

“The plans are going to destroy our future by funding more coal and gas and making the climate crisis worse. This budget is a calculated, expensive climate crime.”
~ Adam Bandt, leader of the Greens, commenting on the Federal Budget

→ RenewEconomy – 28 March 2022:
“Perverse:” Australian fossil fuel subsidies will top $22,000 a minute this year
“Australian fossil fuel subsidies will top $11.6 billion this financial year, with new analysis shedding light on the extent to which both federal and state governments are actively supporting the continued expansion of the fossil fuel industry.”

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Make a submission – before Monday

Lauren Dillon: “The gas hub flies in the face of the climate emergency.” Share via Youtube and Facebook

If you have any concerns about Viva Energy’s plans for a gas import terminal in Corio Bay, now’s the time to speak up.

This is a big new fossil fuel project in Geelong’s Corio Bay that could lock in gas consumption for years. It takes Victoria in the wrong direction just as we need to be switching to renewable energy.

Environment Victoria wrote: “Feedback on the environment assessment closes on Monday 11 April 2022, and we need hundreds of people to lodge their objections by then to make sure the community’s voice is heard.

There’s been a huge groundswell of momentum against this project in Geelong, but now we need to translate that into official submissions to the government.

Here’s how you can get involved:

1. Join a webinar this Thursday at 7pm

WHAT: Workshop to give feedback on Viva Energy’s gas terminal in Geelong
WHEN: Thursday 7 April, 7pm-8.30pm
WHERE: Online with Zoom – Register here

At the workshop, we’ll run through the facts about the gas terminal and guide you through the process of making a submission. There will also be time in the session to draft your submission and send it off!

2. Make a submission right now!

You don’t have to be an expert and it only takes 5 minutes.

You can follow the guidelines from local group Geelong Renewables Not Gas here:

Or you can simply go straight to the government’s webpage here.

The successful campaign against AGL’s proposed gas import terminal in Westernport Bay demonstrated that written submissions from concerned locals can make a big difference.

So if you have 5 or 10 minutes spare before Monday 11 April 2022, please take the time to make a submission against the gas terminal.

Thanks for any help you can give to this important cause.”

Geelong Grammar School students fight to stop Viva Energy’s gas terminal
Article in Geelong Advertiser

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IPCC report:

Final warning

The new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes it clear that the next few years will be critical in making the changes needed to avert climate disaster. Greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025, and can be nearly halved this decade, to give the world a chance of limiting future heating from turning into a planetary catastrophe.

The final cost of doing so will be minimal, amounting to just a few percent of global GDP by mid-century, though it will require a massive effort by governments, businesses and individuals. What we are putting into the decarbonisation process needs to be speeded and scaled up six times the current level.

The report urges citizens to prioritise walking and cycling as important lifestyle choices to make a difference at a personal level while also flagging the role of plant-based diets.

BBC noted: “One of the big differences with this report from previous releases is that social science features heavily. This is mainly focussed on the ideas of reducing people’s demand for energy in the areas of shelter, mobility and nutrition. This covers a multitude of areas – including low carbon diets, food waste, how we build our cities, and how we shift people to more carbon friendly transport options. The IPCC believes changes in these areas could limit emissions from end-use sectors by 40-70% by 2050, while improving well-being. That’s a huge goal but the report is quite specific and detailed – and yes it will take incentives and nudges from governments. But it feels like a fairly painless way to really make an impact.”

“There is renewed emphasis in this report on the outsized impact that richer people are having on the planet. According to the IPCC, the 10% of households with the highest per capita emissions contribute up to 45% of consumption-based household greenhouse gas emissions. In essence, the report says that the world’s richest people are spending way too much of their money on mobility, including on private jets.”

“I think there are individuals with high socioeconomic status who are capable of reducing their emissions by becoming role models of low carbon lifestyles, by choosing to invest in low carbon businesses and opportunities, and by lobbying for stringent climate policies,” said Prof Patrick Devine-Wright, an IPCC lead author from the University of Exeter.

→ BBC News – 5 April 2022:
IPCC scientists report five ways to save the planet
“The dangers of climate change have been well reported for years. But what’s had less attention is how the world could effectively tackle the issue.”

IPCC identifies missing ingredient for climate action

“For the first time in IPCC history, the report includes a chapter on the social science barriers to solving the climate threat. Chapter 5 of the report, titled “Demand, Services and Social Aspects of Mitigation,” makes an effort to parse the conditions under which humans will take action to slow the climate crisis. The intergovernmental panel has included social science in its global assessments before, but this is the first report that has dedicated an entire chapter to understanding and analyzing human behavior. “I think in some ways, this chapter is sort of the IPCC catching up with an understanding that many of our political leaders already have that this is a challenging political issue,” Mildenberger said.

The chapter shows that lifestyle sector changes, when adopted en masse, have significant power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Taking fewer flights and more public transportation, switching to plant-based diets, and living in more energy-efficient buildings, among other strategies, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all economic sectors between 40 and 70 percent by 2050.

So what’s standing in the way of more people making those lifestyle decisions? In short, it’s policy.

“Individuals can’t just up and make a different decision, necessarily, to emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions,” Sarah Burch, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo, Canada and a coauthor of the IPCC report, told Grist. In order to make choices that result in fewer emissions, people need policymakers to shift the status quo. They need public transit options that allow them to easily leave their cars at home or ditch them altogether, access to affordable housing stock that runs efficiently on clean energy, and the ability to buy fresh vegetables and other plant-based foods.”

→ Grist – 8 April 2022:
Scientists identify the missing ingredient for climate action: Political will
“The IPCC’s latest report finally recognizes the social barriers to climate action.”

“All sectors must change dramatically and rapidly”

1.5°C of global warming is now inevitable, the climate scientists say. It is when we move above this thresholdthat the climate breakdown effects will become irreversible. The IPCC Working Group 3 report found:

1. Coal must be effectively phased out if the world is to stay within 1.5°C, and currently planned new fossil fuel infrastructure would cause the world to exceed 1.5°C.

2. Methane emissions must be reduced by a third.

3. Growing forests and preserving soils will be necessary, but tree-planting cannot do enough to compensate for continued emissions for fossil fuels.

4. Investment in the shift to a low-carbon world is about six times lower than it needs to be.

5. All sectors of the global economy, from energy and transport to buildings and food, must change dramatically and rapidly, and new technologies including hydrogen fuel and carbon capture and storage will be needed.

Climate Change 2022 – Summary for policymakers (PDF)

“If most IPCC reports present a warning, this week’s is more of a “how to avoid the apocalypse” guide. This is the last report before the 1.5-degree-Celsius scenario becomes completely impossible.”
~ Robinson Meyer

EarthBeat wrote:

“On Monday, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its latest report. If that news is making you feel a bit of déjà vu, you’re not alone. We’ve been here before, sort of.

Monday’s major report is the third in a three-part series released over the past nine months as part of the sixth assessment report, and it will be followed by a synthesis document later this fall. Each report is long and densely packed with information that alarms (though often doesn’t surprise), but also increasingly provides hope. There is a path forward for planet Earth that doesn’t include total destruction; we just need to embrace it — immediately. 

If you didn’t quite make it through all 7,000+ pages of the sixth assessment reports, never fear. EarthBeat has been covering every step of the process, from a uniquely Catholic angle. Here’s a round-up of our stories on the three reports of the IPCC sixth assessment. 

  1. Issued August 9, 2021, part one covered the physical science of climate change. It was the group’s first review of climate science research since 2013. Barbara Fraser reported that Argentinian meteorologist Carolina Vera, one of the report’s authors, said at a virtual press conference, “The report clearly shows that we are living the consequences already of climate change everywhere, but furthermore, that we will experience further and concurrent and multiple changes” with each fraction of a degree of additional warming.
  2. Part two, issued on February 28 this year, details the impacts of climate change and how we can best adapt to the resulting conditions. Chloe Noel, the faith, economy and ecology project coordinator for Maryknoll, told NCR environment correspondent Brian Roewe the report “exposes what the world can no longer deny — the incalculable loss of life, culture, livelihoods and biodiversity from the climate crisis.” The good news is adaptation measures work; the bad news is some places, typically those that are home to the world’s already most vulnerable people and systems, are reaching points beyond their ability to adapt.
  3. And part three, released this week, focuses on climate change mitigation measures and solutions, given the reality made clear in parts one and two. It is encouraging in its finding that the solutions we need already exist and are extremely effective. However, thus far, political and financial motivations have kept them from being embraced and utilized to the extent necessary. Salesian Fr. Joshtrom Kureethadam, coordinator of the ecology and creation sector of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, told Roewe, “This is doable if we are willing to change our behavior, if our political leadership is able to step in. But we don’t want to wait for others to lead. We think we should be leading our communities.” He added that the Laudato Si’ Action Platform is a good way for Catholics around the world to embrace sustainability and ecological conversion.

If you’d like to browse the IPCC sixth assessment reports in their entireties, along with the corresponding graphics and charts, you can find them at these links:

  1. Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis
  2. Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
  3. Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change

Together, these reports paint a comprehensive picture of how we arrived at today’s ecological reality, what it means for life on Earth and how we can heal moving forward. The increased emphasis on climate science along with a focus on the important work of people across a variety of sectors to secure a safe and sustainable future for all life is a welcome addition to the regular news cycle, in my opinion. 

When another report is released, and for all the faith and climate news in between, we’ll be here at EarthBeat sharing how Catholics and other people of faith engage the universal call to care for our common home every day.”

Carbon Brief wrote in their newsletter:

IPCC report: plant-based diets for the planet

KEY FINDINGS: The IPCC’s new report on tackling climate change published this week takes a deep look at agriculture, food systems, forests and diets – from the emissions they cause to the crucial role they play in mitigation. According to the report, nearly a quarter (22%) of global greenhouse gas emissions came from agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) in 2019, with deforestation contributing about half. Food systems are associated with roughly 42% of global GHG emissions, even as “there is still widespread food insecurity and malnutrition”, the report found. It noted that food waste alone contributed to 8-10% of emissions between 2010 and 2016 and cautioned that “it is crucial to focus on high-emitting individuals and groups within countries”, given the role of global food supply chains. Methane emissions increased between 2010 and 2019 – mainly courtesy of the digestive process of cows and sheep and manure production – as did nitrous oxide emissions, which have been “dominated by agriculture and fertiliser use”.

MEAT HALFWAY: At a household carbon footprint level, the food sector “dominates in all income groups”, according to the report, accounting for 28% on average – more than the footprint for energy. Food production accounts for 48% of the negative impacts on land and 70% on water resources, the IPCC said. These impacts increase with incomes, as richer homes consume more meat, dairy and processed food. Of all foods, meat from cows and sheep is the most emissions-heavy, but not all beef is the same – emission estimates vary vastly from cows reared in factory farms versus those reared on rangelands or mountain pastures. Shifting consumption towards plant-based diets has “high mitigation potential”, states the report, and sustainable food systems that provide healthy diets for all are within reach, the authors said. But it is not just diets – plant-based alternatives, cultured meat, hydroponic and aquaponic agriculture are all part of a host of “emerging technologies” that the IPCC authors suggested could help with “substantial reduction” in emissions from food production.

STANDING FORESTS: As of 2020, 4 billion hectares of land globally were covered in forests. While levels of deforestation may have declined between 2010 and 2019, the world continued to lose more carbon-critical tropical forests, with gains in forest cover in temperate and boreal regions. Of all emission-cutting measures from now to 2050 related to land, protecting and restoring forests and other ecosystems could have the highest potential, the IPCC said. Of all factors that kept deforestation levels low, the report found that protected areas, payment for ecosystem services and the presence of Indigenous people were the most consistently successful. By contrast, higher crop prices, close proximity to agriculture, urban areas and roads were consistently associated with higher levels of deforestation.

PARKS AND LAND RECS: The report estimated that “global urban trees sequester 217 million tonnes of carbon annually” and that urban greening can reduce energy and health bills, while delivering multiple benefits, from cooling to buffering weather extremes. It cautioned against creating high-density housing without “green and open spaces”, which could intensify the heat-island effect in cities and impact the urban poor. Tackling climate change could improve crop productivity, but large-scale, land-intensive climate measures could create food insecurity and “exacerbate trade-offs with the conservation of habitats, adaptation, biodiversity and other services”. The report also pointed to the funding gap for land-based climate measures. The world currently spends $700 million on them each year, against the $400 billion needed if the land sector is to deliver up to 30% of the CO2 cuts needed to meet climate targets, the authors said. This is a sum that is “smaller than current subsidies provided for agriculture and forestry”. 

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Animal Justice Party has started a petition:

Declare a Climate Emergency

“The climate crisis is here. Australia is already growing warmer, experiencing changes in rainfall, catastrophic bushfires and witnessing rising sea levels. The devastating bushfires of 2019-20 placed our wildlife on a fast-track to extinction, with nearly three billion animals perishing.”

Sign the petition

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“It’s hard to accept, but all our kids face a challenging, turbulent future. There’s nothing we can do about this. It’s our job now to make sure they don’t face an impossible one.”
~ Climate Dad, UK, who has 10,000 followers on Twitter

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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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