Runway to fossil fuel freedom

The Sustainable Hour no. 437 | Podcast notes

Guests in The Sustainable Hour on 9 November 2022 are Freja Leonard, Friends of The Earth Naarm’s No More Gas campaigner, and Mark Carter, founder of Flight Free Australia.

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Freja Leonard enthuses over the ‘Community Gas Retirement Roadmap’ which was launched yesterday. Freja speaks very enthusiastically about the process that led to the production of this important document that arose out of a concern for the consequences of the so-called “gas-led recovery” from the Covid pandemic that the people we elected to look after our interests still seem so fond of. The 28-page document can be found here.

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Inbetween our two guests, we hear an impassioned plea from Louise, a 24-year-old climate activist, as she livestreams from a tripod that she is attached to holding up traffic over a major freeway in England. Then from Richard Dennis from the Australia Institute as he calls out the fossil fuel industry’s attempt to greenwash us and pleads with us – and ABC The Drum‘s viewers – to consider the costs of continuing with business as usual and get on with the transition that science is demanding of us.

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Mark Carter explains the concerns that led to Flight Free Australia being formed. He asks us to support his group’s opposition in the middle of the climate emergency to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Slot Conference of around 1,000 airline and airport delegates will be meeting at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 15 to 18 November 2022, to allocate airport landing and departure gates to airlines, also known as “Airlines Business As Usual”.

The Slot Conference is a timely opportunity to oppose, protest and publicise the aviation industry’s emissions flight path and growing contribution to the climate emergency — exemplified by conference host airport, Melbourne Airport’s plan for a third runway.

Mark outlines Flight Free’s concerns:
• Flying is the most global warming human activity by the minute and by the kilometre.
• It can’t be emissions free within the few years we have to eliminate the risk of ongoing emissions triggering runaway.
• The aviation industry uses its Net Zero 2050 pathway to greenwash an emissions reduction response that allows flight emissions to grow.
Greenwashing Fact Sheet Series

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We start this week with a brief clip from Simon Stiell, the UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, where he reminds us that no one can be a mere passenger on this climate crisis journey. He spoke at the opening of COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh on the weekend. United Nations chief Antonio Guterres follows up by asking us to consider who the ‘real radicals’ are.

Mik Aidt then gives The Sustainable Hour’s full support for the (mostly) young activists from all over the world who have recently taken to throwing food at and glueing themselves to famous pieces of art at galleries and museums. They have done this in an attempt to highlight the lack of real action to address the climate emergency. Mik particularly focuses on the Dutch activists who recently used bikes to block private jets. Some social media reports of this humorous and effective action can be seen here.

Mik then reports on a new group called Stop Fossil Fuel Subsidies which has launched a campaign aimed at forcing legislative change to stop subsidies to oil, gas and coal. A video statement from them can be found here.

Mik continues in this vein by playing an excerpt of a speech by Andy Meddick, the Animal Justice Party’s representative for Western Victoria in the upper house, at the ACF Geelong Community Group’s anti-gashub picnic last Saturday. Andy’s speech can be found 4 minutes into our Facebook livestream here.

Following this, Mik addresses the absurdity in our government’s approach by comparing it to the Norwegian government’s approach to taxing fossil fuel profits made within their borders. Plus the fact that the three of us pay more tax than the total tax paid by all of the fossil fuel companies operating in our country after making billions of dollars in profit.

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Colin Mockett‘s Global Outlook this week begins predictably with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, ahead of the opening of the United Nations COP 27 in Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt, which began on 6 November 2022. The talks are scheduled to run until 18 November.

It’s almost traditional for the UN Secretary-General to warn of the importance of each COP climate conference, but this one was the sharpest reminder yet. He noted, “There has been a tendency to put climate change on the back burner. But if we are not able to reverse the present trend, we will be doomed.” He couldn’t have put it much clearer than that.

The Egypt talks are crucial since the last global climate talks in Glasgow ended in what was described as a ‘fragile win’ for our warming planet, but since then the world order has shifted rapidly out of control. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine brought an energy crisis in Europe that has caused some nations to dive back into coal. Grain exports from Ukraine were halted, which drove up the price of staples while crops are being battered by heatwaves across China, Africa, Europe and the US and floods in China, Pakistan and Bangladesh, all of which are blamed on human-induced climate change.

So now, those world leaders gathering in Egypt have a huge amount to talk about – and to fix. Because the signs are that developing nations are preparing to push back.

So far, the world leaders listed to appear at COP27 include US President Joe Biden and new British PM, Rishi Sunak along with French President Emmanuel Macron. It seems that neither Chinese President Xi Jinping nor India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi – both leaders of greenhouse gas giants – will be there. And certainly not Vladimir Putin. At least none of these are listed to speak. New King Charles wanted to go, but his government stopped him from attending so he held his own pre-summit meeting at the weekend in Buckingham Palace.

Our own Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, won’t be there, either. Instead, the Australian delegation will be led by Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen and will include Pacific Minister Pat Conroy and Senator Jenny McAllister. There is an air of expectation around this trio, because it’s well-publicised that the Ablanese government wants to host a forthcoming COP meeting, and announcing some drastic cuts to Australia’s CO2 emissions at this meeting would greatly enhance their chances. It would also win friends among Pacific nations.

Another key figure who won’t be there is activist Greta Thunberg, who was quoted as saying. ‘The COP meetings are mainly used as an opportunity for leaders and people in power to get attention, using many different kinds of greenwashing,’ she said, never one to mince her words.

Looming over the talks will be the fact that since last year’s COP26 in Glasgow, the world has failed to put itself on track to meet its own targets agreed seven years ago in Paris to hold warming to below 2°C degrees.

In fact, the world is headed for 2.8°C degrees of global heating by the end of the century, according to a report last week from the UN’s Environment Program. ‘The recommendations in that report are clear,’ said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: ‘End our reliance on fossil fuels. Avoid a lock-in of new fossil fuel infrastructure. Invest massively in renewables. Commitments to net zero are worth zero without the plans, policies and actions to back it up.’

He will be at the meeting and he will be speaking as bluntly as Ms Thunberg. The Egyptian hosts are on record saying that if the Glasgow talks were about driving nations to set more ambitious targets, this year’s Egypt COP will focus on creating the policies to meet them. Not only that, but participants will be urged to restore what the COP’s incoming president, Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, called the ‘grand bargain’ of the Paris Agreement, in which developing nations agreed to cut emissions and in return rich nations agreed to help pay for their effort.

So at Sharm el-Sheikh, there will be negotiations about pumping billions, if not trillions, of dollars into a range of public and private sector funds, all of which have so far not hit any of their targets.

Wealthy nations, particularly the US, have absolutely opposed even talking about loss-and-damage payment negotiations, ‘fearing that they would open a chequebook that would be difficult to close’, as the ANU’s Professor Mark Howden put it.

According to the London School of Economics, depending on the extent of global efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, loss and damage payments could cost the rich nations anywhere between $US290 billion and $US580 billion in 2030, and between $US1 trillion and $US1.8 trillion by 2050.

With stakes that high, Australia’s decision to ramp up emissions cuts to 43 per cent by 2030 looks like simply an opening step. There’s much more to play out in the next two weeks.

Finally, good news of our carbon-neutral football team, Forest Green Rovers. They won 2-0 away at South Shields at the weekend, while their Women’s First team beat Warrminster Ladies by a similar score. The bad news was that both these were cup games, and don’t affect their perilous position on their league tables.

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That’s all from us for another week. As the world’s mostly elected leaders gather in Egypt accompanied by over 500 fossil fuel lobbyists, to negotiate the future of our planet, we have a growing number of world wide climate activists who are imploring us to withdraw our consent from the business as usual that will destroy everything we value.

We at The Sustainable Hour strongly concur with this sentiment as we ask each listener to become an active participant in the climate revolution. Be the difference!

“It’s been a wonderful opportunity to work with such a diverse cohort of people who are all engaged in the same issue, and they may be coming at it from different angles. Some will be approaching it from a workers’ rights perspective, some from a climate perspective, some just may recognise that hydrogen is profoundly uneconomic. As the primary author, my job was to take a bunch of disparate writings – and some were incredibly technical and some were more prosaic in scope – and to take all that and give it a continuous voice all the way through. I just really want to acknowledge all of the work that has gone into it from such a range of people with such a range of backgrounds and coming at it from all these different perspectives.”
~ Freja Leonard, lead author of the report Community Gas Retirement Roadmap

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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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“No one can be a mere passenger on this journey.”

Simon Stiell, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, speaking at the opening of COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh

→ McKinsey – 16 November 2022:
The future of sustainable air travel
“The airline industry faces growing pressure to accelerate its sustainability efforts from environmentally minded passengers. While many organizations have committed to reaching net zero, obstacles stand in the way.”

Community Gas Retirement Roadmap released and ready for download

Friends of the Earth Melbourne newsletter by Freja Leonard

Finally, after months of collaborative work, studious copy editing, beautiful cover artistry and brilliant graphics rendering we can share the Community Gas Retirement Roadmap with our supporters!

Download here

Huge thanks to our contributors including Liz Wade, Leigh Ewbank, Yaraan Couzens-Bundle, Jim Crosthwaite, Michael Nolan, John Godfrey, Alan Pears, Tom Swann, Darcy Dunn, Mark Zirnsac, Gillian Blair, Pat Nesbitt, Amaryll Perlesz and Shannon Hurley for their input. The cover is the result of some beautiful art making by Clare James, copy editing by Jenny Lee and graphics tie-together by Tessa Sellar. We also want to thank Humanists Victoria, Climate Action Network and CoPower for making financial contributions towards the creation and launch of our roadmap.

If you want a hard copy (including a handy guide to reducing energy use and simple fuel switching measures in your home) to have and hold please email me directly with your address to – feel free to make a donation to cover postage if you are able to do so (but no stress if you can’t).


Tuesday day of action on gas!

Tuesday is a big day for gas actions in Melbourne. Can you make it to either or both of these important events?

AGL AGM – 9:45am – 10:30am Tu 15 Nov, 699 Bourke St, Docklands

Join us for an encouraging rally outside AGL’s headquarters as we tell them to get out of gas and coal for good. AGL announced in 2016 that they were winding back coal and gas exploration and production. In the past 6 years the company has announced that they are shutting down coal seam gas production in Gloucester NSW and Camden Qld, and will wind up the Liddell black coal power station in 2023 and brown coal power station Loy Yang A by 2035; ten years ahead of schedule.

AGL have been active in striving to turn around their status as Australia’s heaviest climate polluting fossil fuel company but still retain some carbon heavy energy projects nationally. We need to keep the pressure on to tell them – and by proxy the big four banks that continue to provide them with finance for fossil fuel projects – that it’s time to drop the fossils and switch entirely to renewable energy.

More information from our mates at Healthy Futures here

If you can’t make it but want to lend your support sign the petition to urge AGL to go 100% renewable


Tiwi Islanders in the Federal Court – 12:45pm Tu 15 Nov, 305 William St, Melbourne

On the same day as the AGL AGM, the Federal Court will hear the appeal by Santos against the people of the Tiwi Islands as they push back against the Barossa gas project in their traditional waters. It’s a loooong way from the Northern Territory and the Tiwi people making the journey to this final hearing would love to see some support and warmth from Melbourne allies as they face their final showdown against the tax avoiding fracking and offshore gas company Santos.

Facebook event here for RSVP and sharing


Emissions Submissions – have your say

Federal approvals for 18 coal and gas projects under review

Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has decided to call back all 18 major coal and gas projects under prospect across Australia for reappraisal. Exactly zero of these fossil projects were considered on climate grounds so this is an exceptional opportunity to make sure that the small matter of a livable planet is weighed up in the approvals process for these heavily climate damaging projects.

The fantastic team at Environmental Justice Australia have put together a series of letter-writing workshop webinars to help if you’re not sure how to be most effective in this critical process. They’ve also created a series of accessible submission guides specific to each project under review.

Submissions close 24 November


Emissions Omissions Submission: Unaccounted for gas in Victoria’s gas mains system

UAFG is a constant problem in Victoria, reported as around 7.7 PJ (or about 3.7% of our total use statewide) each year. Although this is below the 4% benchmark of what is considered acceptable under Victorian Government regulations, it is still a concerning release of a potent greenhouse gas in this most critical decade for climate action.

What is more alarming is that this figure does not include fugitive emissions from point of production, nor leakage behind the meter into our homes and businesses – although we do know that this happens constantly, particularly from gas stoves. Neither of these sources of leakage are even measured or quantified in reliable terms, so it’s impossible to fully appreciate the full climate impact of methane leakage into the atmosphere.

The Victorian Government is reviewing the acceptable benchmark for unaccounted for gas leakage across the mains system and on behalf of Friends of the Earth Melbourne I will be writing a submission calling for lower acceptable thresholds and greater monitoring and consideration of other points of leakage. I will be asking for the full scope of fossil gas leakage to be included in Victoria’s greenhouse gas accounting ongoingly so that we have a better idea of how methane impacts greenhouse gas emissions.

If you are interested in preparing your own submission and would like some pointers please contact me directly – and quickly!

Submissions close 25 November

That’s enough gas bagging for now – we’ll be back once the Victorian festival of democracy is done and the feathers have settled to report on the election results and provide one more update before this calendar year is over.

If you ever have any tips, questions, suggestions or concerns please don’t hesitate to be in touch. Always happy to hear from our people and see how we can work together to secure a better and cleaner energy future.

For the Earth,

Freja Leonard
No More Gas campaign coordinator

We run on the smell of a (vegetable) oily rag – please support our work!

I acknowledge that wherever we are we are living and working on stolen land and in deep respect of First Nations Peoples everywhere. This newsletter written and posted from Wurundjeri-Woi Wurrung land in the Kulin nation.

No More Gas logo

“When you look at Norway and the idea that Norway has this trillion dollar sovereign wealth fund, which the Norwegians boast about, and this is held up as something wonderful. That’s not a trillion dollar sovereign wealth fund. That’s a trillion dollar sovereign debt to the planet because of the greenhouse gas pollution that Norway has emitted.”
~ Melinda Janki, lawyer, Guyana

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The New Daily on 3 November 2022: Floods and fires make climate change a top worry for most people, report finds
Rupert Read: What could come next?

According to the IPCC, over 40 percent of land globally is threatened by desertification, affecting two billion people.

LiveScience – 9 November 2022:
World’s largest iceberg is getting swept away from Antarctica to its doom, satellite image shows
“A new satellite image shows that the world’s largest iceberg, A-76A, has entered the Drake Passage, a waterway that contains a fast-moving ocean current that will send the mighty berg on a one-way trip to its watery grave.”

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About COP27, ABC and SBS: What we all need to understand

  • Implementation of current Nationally Determined Contributions pledges would put the world on track for around 2.5ºC of warming by the end of the century — significantly missing the Paris Agreement’s 1.5ºC limit. (UNEP 2022)
  • Despite this, governments are on track to produce more than double the fossil fuels that would be in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal of 1.5ºC. (UNEP 2021)
  • If the world’s fossil fuels reserves were to be developed it would result in more than 3.5 million tons of emissions, more than seven times than the world’s carbon budget can allow. (Global Registry of Fossil Fuels 2022)
  • To limit warming to 1.5ºC the world must decrease fossil fuel production by at least 6% per year between 2020 and 2030. The longer we expand coal, oil and gas, the faster this transition will have to happen. (UNEP 2021) 
  • To stay below 1.5C there must be no new oil and gas fields or coal mines, and global clean energy investment tripled by 2030 plus immediate and rapid transition away from fossil fuel production. (IEA 2022)
  • Yet the Paris Agreement makes zero mentions of coal, oil or gas and must be complemented by a Fossil Fuel Treaty.
  • Air pollution, most significantly from burning fossil fuels, is causing more than seven million premature deaths each year — 1 in 5 deaths worldwide. It contributes to cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions, and cancers. Wildfires, made increasingly intense and common by climate change, add to this burden.
  • The fossil fuel industry is getting rich off a global energy crisis, meanwhile as we gather here in Egypt a fossil fuelled energy system has failed to give 600 million people across Africa any access to energy. 
  • Every continent in the world has enough renewable energy potential to provide 100% renewable energy access to its population. Africa has the greatest renewable energy potential on earth. (UTS, Sydney 2021)
  • Transitioning to 100% renewable energy globally would cost $450 billion annually until 2030. Forecasts indicate that up to $570 billion will be spent annually on new oil and gas during the same period. (IISD 2022)
  • New supplies take years to come onstream and “are unlikely to provide any relief in the short term”. The IEA says oil and gas projects starting production since 2010 have taken an average of 19 years from the award of an exploration licence through to first production. 

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Expectations for COP27

The Wuppertal Institute wrote:

On 6 November 2022, the 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP27 for short, began. The international community gathers in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, until 18 November to further advance the implementation of the Paris Agreement. 

With the Paris Agreement, the international community agreed on the goal of keeping the increase in global mean temperature since the beginning of industrialisation well below 2 degrees Celsius and to make efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Even though very substantial progress has been made since the Paris negotiations, the world is still far from this goal. The climate protection contributions pledged by countries so far are still too weak. Therefore, one of the main topics during COP27 will be how countries’ efforts can be strengthened and, in view of the increasing weather extremes worldwide, that they must also become visible to all.

At the end of last year’s climate conference, COP26, in Glasgow, the British conference presidency declared that the conference results had succeeded in “keeping the 1.5 degree Celsius target alive”. However: “The 1.5 degree Celsius target is still on emergency life support,” explains Wolfgang Obergassel, Co-Head of the Global Climate Governance Research Unit at the Wuppertal Institute. The ‘Glasgow Climate Pact’ called on countries to revise and strengthen their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by the end of this year. But so far only 23 countries have done so. Moreover, there is an implementation gap, as many countries’ current concrete actions are not even sufficient to achieve their current NDCs which are too weak. “The COP must therefore re-emphasise the need to close both the ambition and implementation gaps and call on countries to strengthen their NDCs and their current national policies as soon as possible,” Obergassel stresses.

In addition to calling on countries to strengthen their NDCs, a work programme was set up during last year’s climate conference to help improve the implementation of climate protection measures “in this critical decade for climate protection”. This year’s COP must follow up on this and lay down key details. Furthermore, the climate conference will focus on improving financial support for developing countries. On top of securing the funds promised for many years by the industrialised countries, the aim is to give greater priority to adaptation to the impacts of climate change. The issue of coping with climate-related loss and damage is also on the agenda once again. In addition, further concrete steps are to be taken for the so-called Global Stocktake which is to document the efforts of the international community to combat climate change in a systematic manner. The stocktake itself is to be concluded at COP28 in 2023.

Statement, analysis and side events during COP27

In view of the international negotiations, the experts of the Wuppertal Institute have written a detailed statement on their expectations for the conference. Besides the topics mentioned above, the scientists also mention other aspects that will be on the agenda at the conference, such as voluntary cooperation under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Shortly after the conference the researchers of the Wuppertal Institute will publish a first evaluation of the results.

In addition, the Wuppertal Institute is organising a number of different side events during COP27 that reflect current issues being negotiated in Sharm El Sheikh. In specific side events, the scientists will also present their current research results. At the side event “Moving closer to climate neutrality – pathways and collaboration,” which will take place on “Decarbonisation Day” on 10 November 2022, they will discuss their proposal for the launch of an international club for the decarbonisation of the steel industry as an example of a transformative climate cooperation format. All side events can be followed as live webcasts on the UNFCCC website.

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Fossil greenwash

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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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