What makes the climate movement strong

The Sustainable Hour no. 419 | Podcast notes

Our guest in The Sustainable Hour on 6 July 2022 is Dr Robyn Gulliver, Research Fellow at the Australian National University and University of Queensland and Director of The Commons Social Change Library. She researches the antecedents and consequences of environmental activism, focusing on applying empirical data to theories and questions around ‘what works’. Last year she researched pro-democracy activism in Hong Kong.

Robyn is from New Zealand. She lived in the Pilbara for five years and now she calls Brisbane home. She has also been a volunteer leader, organiser and participant for a range of environmental groups in both New Zealand and Australia.

Robyn came to our notice very recently when she penned an article in The Conversation entitled Draconian and Undemocratic: Why Criminalising Climate Protestors in Australia Doesn’t Actually Work. This followed an earlier article in the same publication under the title of How Australia’s Expanding Environmental Movement Is Breaking The Climate Action Network In Politics.

One of the exciting initiatives Robyn is involved in is her work as director for the Commons Social Change Library. This online library has been set up with free resources specifically to help campaigners, organisers and anyone working for a better world to make the work easier for them. The library puts an effort into making resources that are often technical and scientific more accessible to the everyday activist or volunteer.

It turns out to be a fascinating discussion we have with Robyn about her work, her motivations and why she chose the area she did to concentrate her research on: what works and what doesn’t when it comes to climate activism and protesting.

Towards the end of our chat with Robyn, Anthony Gleeson speaks of his experience in Sydney last week when he took part in the Blockade Australia actions. Actions that saw him spend 36 hours in lockup.

Robyn also points out these publications on the topic: Civil Resistance against Climate Change (International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, 2021) – The Advocates: Women within the Australian Environmental Movement (Melbourne University Press, 2021) – The Psychology of Effective Activism (Cambridge University Press, 2021)

. . .

Our 45-minute talk with Robyn is broken up by the seventh installment of our local sustainability consultant Heidi Fog‘s suggestions on how to reduce our carbon emissions. This time she hones in on the materials that we throw out to landfill. As always, she gives facts about the current situation as well as ways of improving it. All her topics can be found here.

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“First of all, we must face the truth. And then we can change our course. We simply must have faith in each other.”
~ Jimmy Carter, American president from 1977 to 1981, in his “Crisis of Confidence” speech on 15 July 1979

We start today’s show listening to former US president Jimmy Carter urging us to face the truth and have faith in each other. He was talking about the energy crisis almost 50 years ago – but chose not to talk with the public about the memorandum he received in 1977 from his science advisor, where the headline on that one-page warning talked about the “Release of Fossil CO2 and the Possibility of a Catastrophic Climate Change”.

We then hear from the current NSW Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke warning people from flood-affected areas in and around Sydney that they face danger on multiple fronts. This leads to Mik Aidt laying the responsibility not only on the politicians, who allowed climate change to escalate well-knowing of the consequences, but also on fossil fuel executives and their use of green washing to further delay their demise, while people protesting in the streets for greater action on climate face hefty fines and long prison terms. This poses the question: just who are the criminals?

The songs we play are ‘Don’t Watch The News Be The News’ by Pete the Temp Bearder, and ‘Climate Movement’ with Formidable Vegetable Sound System and Spoonbill.

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Colin Mockett‘s Global Outlook begins in the West Virginian Supreme Court, where a decision that took away the power of the Environment Protection Authority to order companies to restrict emissions was handed down. This one decision is likely to hold up most of the Biden Government’s climate change legislation, which uses the EPA to enact its policies. Bill McKibben, the longtime environmental writer for New Yorker magazine, warned that there is much more to come because in his last year as president, Donald Trump nominated more than 200 right-wing judges to the Supreme Court, who will be making decisions on climate change for decades.

“Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has documented that hundreds of millions of dollars in dark money (funds whose sources are unknown) were poured into the nomination and confirmation of the three judges appointed to the court by Donald Trump. Among the groups leading these campaigns was Americans for Prosperity, set up by the Koch brothers: oil tycoons with a long record of funding rightwing causes. As an investigation by Earth Uprising shows, there’s a strong correlation between the amount of oil and gas money US senators have received, and their approval of Trump’s supreme court justice nominations,” wrote George Monbiot in The Guardian.

Further bad news from the US came in the form of a new report from the Scientific American magazine. It states that for at least a decade the fossil fuel industry has worked to green its public image by putting forward environmental plans while in practice doing the complete opposite.

The article lays out the system in Texas, where the Texas Energy company funds much of primary and secondary school education and in return, it nominates members of the education boards. These are people who choose subjects and curriculums which – surprise surprise – no longer reference the impact of climate change, but instead boost the roles and benefits from fossil fuels. The article concludes: the industry continues to downplay the crisis it has wrought, impeding efforts to provide clear science about that crisis to a young generation. to put this into plain words, it would be ‘Don’t trust any fossil fuel company to do the right thing. Ever.’

Further to this comes a report from the Netherlands where the giant fossil fuel company Shell announced that the only way the country can meet its environmental targets would be by creating green hydrogen in Australia, then shipping it from here to there. The same Scientific American issue named the global giant Unilever as another company that is expert at greenwashing.

Then we zoom to the United Kingdom for the slightly better news that they are currently halfway through London Climate Action Week. Opening the week, the Mayor Sadiq Khan revealed that Transport for London has launched a new initiative that will eventually see all of London’s transport – that’s buses, tubes and trains – using 100 per cent renewable sourced electricity across its operations by 2030. London’s transport is one of the largest consumers of electricity in the UK, with the equivalent to the electricity consumed by around 420,000 homes every day. That’s 12 per cent of homes across London.

The new scheme will increase demand for new solar and wind generation in the UK, which will help to create new green jobs and support the economy, the Mayor said. He also launched a new initiative called ReLondon, where he disclosed plans for the city’s businesses, policymakers and communities to come together to adopt a circular economy aimed to achieve a listed set of targets. It’s part of London’s Race to Zero strategy, which has published criteria that all companies and parties must meet. And it’s overseen and reviewed by an independent Expert Peer Review Group. If the city meets just the Mayor of London’s waste and recycling targets, aimed at stopping pollution at its source, it would prevent 450,000 tonnes of waste coming from the city and increase its recycling rate to 65 per cent.

Finally to Switzerland, where the global giant Nestlé has signed an agreement with World Central Kitchen to not only donate its waste food, but part of its profits to help provide meals and water to people impacted by climate disasters and wars, including the Ukraine.

The initiative will support communities to feed themselves as well as help farmers to adapt to changing climate. It invests in local food producers and teaches foodservice professionals and culinary students. This is part of Nestlé’s Net Zero Roadmap.

The company is not only addressing its own operations and product portfolio to reduce its carbon footprint across its supply chain. It is also supporting farmers and suppliers to implement regenerative agriculture practices and is scaling up its reforestation program, given that nearly two-thirds of its emissions come from agriculture. The initiative has already provided over 27 million meals across eight countries to those affected by the war in Ukraine. Is this yet another example of greenwashing? Only time will tell if this leopard can change its spots.

. . .

That’s it from us for this week. We’ll be back next week aiming to give ideas that will give all our listeners reasons for action and inspire each of you to find your role in the #climaterevolution. You don’t need to join a large group, you simply could join forces with two friends of yours – two fellow ‘musketeers’ – who share your vision to implement local community solutions for regenerative global change.

As Dr Robyn Gulliver explained to us in today’s program, the strength of the climate movement lies in its diversity.

In singer Charlie Mgee’s words, as he rounds off the hour:

“So we invite you now to amplify the synergy, devise an inspired distinctive soliloquy, combining with like-minds in adaptable symphony of radical simplicity, balance and symmetry. Whatever your ability, we need your assistance, in aid of reclaiming a stable existence, so summon your gifts at this critical hour and deliver wherever they move and empower.”


Climate Movement

“I believe we all came to be here for a reason
To acknowledge the seniors, everything has a season
This season is warm, but it’s bringing a storm
And a burning urge for our journey to transform

But held in our hand at this grave intersection
Is a map of the passage for a clearer direction
To a permanent culture, it’s time we began it
With some wise design to realign with the planet

Share skills to rebuild our combined reliance
And with wild guidance, redesign our diets
Befriend energy descent and the changing climate
To grow forests of food and a finer environment

Permaculture at this tumultuous juncture
Is a superstructure that can plug the puncture
In a society of anxiety, confusion and greed
This really may be one solution we need

To bring back our elementary essence of ethics
And walk an Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share epic
Now’s the time to embed it while the temperature’s tepid
Let us rise as a choir beside the people who get it

To guarantee that our future generations lives
Are provided the conditions they require to thrive
Instead of being deprived of the tools to survive
In a biosphere too defiled to revive

So we invite you now to amplify the synergy
Devise an inspired distinctive soliloquy
Combining with like-minds in adaptable symphony
Of radical simplicity, balance and symmetry

Whatever your ability, we need your assistance
In aid of reclaiming a stable existence
So summon your gifts at this critical hour
And deliver wherever they move and empower.”

. . .

‘Climate Movement’ was released on 30 April 2020.
Vocals by Charlie Mgee, trombone by Mal Webb and violin by Kylie Morrigan.
Produced by Spoonbill.

“What I did find from peer-reviewed data is that disruptive protests do not appear to have a negative effect on the publics’ attitude to climate change.”
~ Dr Robyn Gulliver, research fellow at University of Queensland


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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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“Who is responsible for blocking more traffic? Climate change protestors or climate change-causing fossil fuel executives?”

The New Daily – 6 July 2022

XR: Protests are having real impact

Extinction Rebellion Victoria wrote in their newsletter on 6 July 2022:

“Our democratic right to protest is under sustained attack. Faced with disruption from Blockade Australia, the NSW government reaction was brutish and quick. There is little reason to think we here in Victoria will be looking at anything better.

Activists were spied on, tracked and arrested, then issued with bizarre and punitive bail conditions. Unidentified cops in camo infiltrated an activist camp, before a hundred or so armed police raided the area, confiscating and smashing property, doling out arrests.

All of this takes place under NSW’s new anti-protest laws. Clearly though, it’s not just our mates up north at risk. Equally repressive laws, aimed at forest protestors, are slated for Tasmania and Victoria. These could see people who act to prevent native forest logging in Victoria cop fines up to $21,000 or 12 months in jail. That’s the price they’ve put on a conscience.

Still we resist. Brutal government reactions only prove protests are having real impact. Now’s the time to keep pushing back. Let’s disobey together. There’s no choice but to act.

Love and rage,

XR Victoria”

UPCOMING ACTION 👉 United Climate Rally on Saturday 30 July 2022
If you live in Victoria, you can join a coalition of climate groups on the streets of Melbourne to demand the federal government commits to real zero emissions by 2035. Plus fully public renewable energy with no new coal, gas or oil, and protection for ecosystems and biodiversity.
Read more
https://twitter.com/RogueBalam/status/1543917908488818689



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‘Catastrophic climate change’ memorandum to the American president

In 1977, a distinguished American geophysicist named Frank Press sent this letter to the White House warning of catastrophic climate change. “…once the climatic effects become evident not long after the year 2000; the situation could grow out of control…”

“Catastrophic climate change,” that’s how he phrased it, that’s not me using the language of today to describe something in the past, it’s what Frank Press wrote to President Jimmy Carter in 1977.

Frank Press served an eventful four year term as science advisor to President Jimmy Carter and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Offices of the White House.

→ The Guardian – 14 June 2022:
The 1977 White House climate memo that should have changed the world
“Years before the climate crisis was part of national discourse, this memo to the president predicted catastrophe.”

→ Read more

→ The memo retyped “Release of Fossil CO2 and the Possibility of a Catastrophic Climate Change”

→ More climate history on climatesafety.info/history



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Heidi Fog

Heidi Fog: Lots of different solutions to reduce the amount of material that goes to landfill



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“I’m exhausted. When you first read up on the eco crisis it almost destroys you. It’s hard to believe it is really happening. But what’s worse is the realisation is that we are barely doing anything about it and most people are completely blocking it out. It’s a true nightmare.”
~ Matthew Todd, on Twitter on 2 July 2022

https://twitter.com/MrMatthewTodd/status/1543889568004554752

“You can pledge all you like, but what we need is action. Right now existing government policies have us hurtling toward 2.7 degrees of heating in the coming decades. What will happen to our world under these conditions? As temperatures approach 3 degrees, 30-50% of species are likely to be wiped out. More than 1.5 billion people will be displaced from their home regions. Yields of staple crops will face major decline, triggering sustained food supply disruptions globally. Much of the tropics will be rendered uninhabitable for humans. Such a world is not compatible with civilization as we know it. The status quo is a death march. Our governments are failing us—failing all of life on earth.”

Jason Hickel

→ Current Affairs – November 2021:
What Would It Look Like If We Treated Climate Change as an Actual Emergency?
“If we accept the facts of climate change, we also have to accept the radical changes necessary to address it.”

https://twitter.com/UNFCCC/status/1544614780807380993
https://twitter.com/MrMatthewTodd/status/1544783011539025920
https://twitter.com/MrMatthewTodd/status/1544280835888660480

“Just at the point at which we need a coordinated global effort to escape our existential crises – climate breakdown, ecological breakdown, the rising tide of synthetic chemicals, a gathering global food emergency – those who wield power string razor wire across the exit.”
~ George Monbiot, in The Guardian – ‘This is the endgame for our planet’



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Carbon: The Unauthorised Biography | Official Trailer

→ ABC News – 1 July 2022:
Climate change targets achievable by keeping global emissions to COVID levels, scientists say
“To keep climate change within limits that we can reasonably adapt to, the world needs to cut emissions at nearly the same rate it did during the peak of the global COVID-19 pandemic, scientists say.”



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Fired up: Major coal producer joins the list of greenwashers

“Fossil fuel and resources companies are scrambling to look sustainable. Glencore has officially joined the ranks of multi-national corporate giants who use branding to personalise and greenwash its business. And, as usual, the marketing is not representative of the facts – it’s chock full of all the messages we’ve come to expect from the fossil fuel industry:

  • We are necessary for everyday life
  • We are needed for renewables
  • We are all about innovation and the future

The tag line is eerily familiar…

Glencore:  Advancing everyday life
AGL:           Advancing Australia
BP:             Advancing possibilities
Shell:         Powering progress

The green, personal vibe extends to social media posts where the corporation contemplates its self-identity in a forest.



The campaign doesn’t mention coal or oil, but instead focuses on nickel, zinc and cobalt while showing EVs and windmills.

Interestingly, the company’s latest production report shows that its coal production increased by 16% and oil output was up 40% on the same quarter last year.

Meanwhile, despite apparent plans to reach ‘net zero’ it is also applying to open a $1.5 billion coal mine in Queensland.

Little wonder it feels the need to improve its brand. It’s cheaper to look green than to be green.”

You can read the Fired Up newsletter here



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The Canopy: Fossil fuel exporters pocketing billions

As the Australian energy crisis deepens, fossil fuel exporters are pocketing billions on the export market, while a new Grattan Institute paper argues for stricter controls on the country’s biggest polluters.

Speaking of big polluters, AGL and other coal-burning fossils are tipped to come under even greater shareholder pressure to make the shift to renewables. The impact of last week’s Supreme Court ruling on the EPA, and the ramifications for Australia’s climate response is scrutinised by Alan Kohler.

‘Industrial revolution’: Australia’s decarbonisation needs rigorous management, thinktank warns
Grattan Institute paper recommends allowing trading of carbon credits and a firm limit on emissions for country’s largest polluters

We need to speed up the shift to renewables. There are opportunities, and risks, for regional communities
For regional Australia, where much new energy infrastructure will be built, there’s great opportunity writes Andrew Bray.

Done right, network investment is an antidote to the ‘death spiral’
Decarbonisation-driven electrification of everything, including transport, mining and infrastructure, paired with network investment, will put our energy transformation back on track, writes EY partner Cara Graham.

Alan Kohler: Australia’s expensive climate change double whammy
Two documents were published last week that together present Australia with a horrible, very expensive problem.

Recognising Indigenous knowledges is not just culturally sound, it’s good science
It’s time to listen to First Nations people who have extensive knowledge of Country.

Want more news?
The Canopy is prepared each weekday morning by our communications team at Greenpeace Australia Pacific. For more news and blogs, head to Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s website.



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Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict by Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan highlights one of the largest studies ever done to compare social movements. The study investigated 323 social change campaigns around the world between 1900 and 2006 and found that around 80 percent of nonviolent campaigns have been partially or completely successful. Dr. Chenoweth also found that it takes about 3.5 percent of the population being actively engaged to make a difference. That translates into about 875,000 Australians. It can be easy to become discouraged about the pace of change in today’s politics, but the data is clear — when enough of us engage, activism works!
~ The Climate Center



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https://twitter.com/MrMatthewTodd/status/1543865105250648065



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“I was born at 318 ppm”

You can find out parts per million (ppm) when you were born here

You can follow the relentless rise in atmospheric CO2 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

petitions-banner560px

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

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» 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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