Transformational designers of the true zero

The Sustainable Hour no. 431 | Podcast notes

Our guests in The Sustainable Hour no. 441 are Charles van Dongen from the battery company Zenaji and Tim Adams from the ‘true zero carbon’-focused architectural firm F2 Design.

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Charles van Dongen from Zenaji talks about the pro’s and con’s of his company’s lithium titanate batteries. It is refreshing to hear a company being completely honest with their products. Charles starts off by telling us the disadvantages of Zenaji’s batteries. He then proceeds to outline what they are best suited for. To find out more about Zenaji’s batteries, go to

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Tim Adams has been working in the building design space for 45 years. He founded F2 Design in 2000, where he provides high performance house design and sustainability consulting. He is the past president of Design Matters National, previously Building Designers’ Association of Victoria. He was the initiator of the association’s 10 Star Challenge in 2011 and became the award winner of that program in 2012, confirming that it was possible to design houses that do not need any heating or cooling.

Recently, F2 Design received the Achievement Award of the 2022 Design Matters National True Zero Carbon Challenge for demonstrating a ‘true zero carbon’ result. F2 Design used the St Leonards House which was part of Sustainable House Day Geelong 2022 as the design for the entry. This research activity is the sort of progress that the entire housing industry needs to embrace to get us where we need to be to start to have a chance at addressing the climate emergency.

The St. Leonards House design was the only entry based on a built example – all the other 16 entries were unbuilt concept plans. Delivering a True Zero Carbon result meant considering all embodied energy of materials and equipment, transport of materials and workers, and all operational energy by 2050. For the St Leonards House to receive the Achievement Award confirmed that houses following the principles employed by F2 Design in collaboration with clients can assist in addressing the goals of a true zero carbon future.

To find more about Tim’s and F2 Design’s work, go to

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We start off today’s podcast with a clip from UN head Antonio Guterres. Today his words are particularly apt because he asks just who are the “dangerous radicals”. This leads into a recording which climate activist Violet CoCo made before she was found guilty and imprisoned for 15 months in a Sydney court last Friday as she had disrupted traffic on a busy road for 25 minutes. In the video Violet explains why she has resorted to non-violent direct action to call attention to the climate emergency. We are left wondering just who are the real climate criminals? Has Violet received justice here?

To get a sense of the interest in and support for Violet from a wide range of sources, check the tweets below on this page. Violet has been on our show before, and The Sustainable Hour joins the rapidly growing chorus of support for Violet and lack of support for the way she has been treated by the so-called NSW Justice system. The right to peaceful protest is supposed to be a cornerstone of a democratic society. International human rights groups have aligned with environment and social justice groups to speak out strongly about her imprisonment. She’ll be applying for bail early next week, something we’ll be reporting on. A crowdfunder has been set up for her legal expenses as she fights for justice.

Mik Aidt proceeds to talk about a recent Channel Ten news report about the number of deaths attributed directly to breathing in coal dust each year in Australia.

He then mentions a landmark judgement against a Clive Palmer coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Queensland because “it will harm future generations”. This came after a First Nations challenge of the project.

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We play a “surprisingly honest” satire mock ad about the oil company Chevron, which American filmmaker Adam McKay posted on Twitter in September. It has since been viewed 5.6 million times. [We apologise that we forget to give our listeners a language warning before playing it.]

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Colin Mockett‘s Global Outlook this week begins in the United Kingdom where the aviation engine giant Rolls-Royce says it has successfully run an aircraft engine using green hydrogen, a first for the aviation industry, It’s in the early test phase, but promising enough to prompt the company to release a prediction that they could reach net zero in aviation by 2050.

Then to the European Union which will be introducing legislation early in the new year that is aimed at drastically reducing packaging throughout their continent. They’re starting with plastics and they’re looking to reduce the numbers of different plastics in use to only those that can be efficiently recycled. They’re also looking to standardise the system of labelling what is recyclable and what’s not, bringing in fines for companies that don’t comply.

To America where the Los Angeles Times reiterated that the ‘loss and damage’ fund agreed at COP27 is likely to produce much greater cuts to CO2 emissions. They warned that the fund would become what they described as ‘a money pit’ if the world doesn’t move sharply to limit temperature rise to the 1.5 degree Celsius goal all nations signed for at the 2015 Paris Agreement. That figure was largely resigned to the bin just three months ago, but the ‘loss and damage’ fund has changed all that. Countries will now be paying out big money if they don’t cut back.

This view was endorsed by the head of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, who told the Guardian: “It is factually incorrect, and politically it is very wrong to write off the 1.5 degree warming target,” he said. “The fact is that the chances of 1.5C are narrowing, but it is still achievable.” And he warned that, quote, “if the effort to achieve 1.5°C fails, fossil fuel companies will be the beneficiaries.”

And those battlelines are becoming clearer. The Guardian article reported that oil and gas companies are planning scores of what they call “carbon bomb” projects around the world. It identified new fossil fuel projects in 48 African nations — and named the financial institutions backing them.

Which brings us to Australia and the news that, since taking office, Resources Minister Madeleine King has approved 10 new sites for offshore oil and gas exploration, and expressed the federal government’s support for the Scarborough gas project in Western Australia. On ABC TV’s 7:30 last week, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also confirmed support for the Narrabri Gas Project in New South Wales. This ignores warnings from The International Energy Agency, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the secretary-general of the United Nations which are all of one voice that the world cannot afford any new coal, oil or gas projects if we’re to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

On the plus side, there’s a legal intervention currently before Environment minister Tanya Plibersek, and a new landmark ruling in the Queensland Land Court, which may make it harder for the government to continue brushing off these warnings. The president of the Land Court, Justice Fleur Kingham, late last week rejected an application by Waratah Coal, owned by Clive Palmer, to open what would be Australia’s largest thermal coal mine in the Galilee Basin. She noted that burning the coal would generate 1.58 gigatonnes of emissions, thus making a “material contribution” to the world’s remaining carbon budget and “limit[ing] the options to achieve the long-term goal of the Paris Agreement”. Final approval for the mine rests with Queensland’s Resources and Environment ministers. Waratah Coal’s argument was that, because the coal from the mine would be exported to countries overseas, “the emissions in generating electricity will be the responsibility of those countries” and were therefore not relevant to the case.

“Granting permission to mine the coal,” Justice Kingham stated, “cannot be logically separated from the coal being used to generate electricity. Wherever the coal is burnt the emissions will contribute to environmental harm.”

There are a string of court cases lined up in Australia with Woodside Energy looking to open up more oil and gas projects in Western Australia which should test the resolve of our government to resist the financial pressure of fossil fuel lobbyists.

A much cleaner thing to report is the progress of our carbon-neutral sporting club, Forest Green Rovers in the UK, which played Cheltenham at the weekend, and won 2-1 while the Women’s First were at home to Bristol Rovers Women and lost 0-5. Ironically, they’re still top of the women’s Premier League by 2 points.

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That’s it for episode 441 of The Sustainable Hour. If you are able to support Violet Coco in any way, please do so. We’ll be updating her journey for justice next week. We continually try to give ideas on how all of us can undertake the transformation to the post carbon world the science is demanding. Ways that aren’t difficult, and that aren’t going to cost us the earth literally. Ways to join the climate revolution.

We’ll return next week to do the same. Till then, Be The Difference.

“Throughout Australia there are different responses needed depending on where you are. In our area, down in Southern Victoria, orientation is king – absorbing the winter sun into the building is critical and then keeping the windows shaded in summer, making sure that the sun doesn’t get into the house. They are two simple understandings. The sun travels through the same path in the sky every year.”
~ Tim Adams, founder of the architecture company F2Design, designer of houses that don’t need any heating or cooling

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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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“It’s outrageous the state wastes its resources seeking jail time and housing peaceful protesters in custody at the expense of taxpayers.”
~ Josh Pallas, President of NSW Council for Civil Liberties

“Yes she blocked traffic, but she blocked one lane of five with a firefighter. It doesn’t matter if you disagree with the tactics. This young person was defending her future. Protest is a vital part of democratic society for everyday people to engage with their political system.”
~ Shannan Langford Salisbury, a friend of Coco

“A 32-year-old climate activist is about to be imprisoned for 456 days for stopping traffic for 25 minutes. In that 25 minutes the Government handed $553,475 to fossil fuel corporations.”
~ David Shoebridge

→ The New Daily – 5 December 2022:
Premier ‘pleased’ with jail term for bridge protester
“NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has welcomed the stiff jail term for a climate protester who blocked a lane on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.”

The Guardian and Greenpeace’s The Canopy newsletter reported:
Emails obtained by daily newspaper the Guardian show how NSW premier Dominic Perrottet’s advisers, along with several other ministers, sought to fast-track a bill targeting climate protests after media furore. It’s the bill that led to climate activist Violet Coco being jailed for 15 months. The documents reveal how the governor, Margaret Beazley, agreed to return to her office about 11pm after a function in April to sign off on the laws after a senior public servant complained he was “copping it from absolutely every direction”. But the sentencing of Coco on Friday to a minimum of eight months’ jail for a protest on Sydney’s Harbour Bridge in April has sparked a renewed push for the laws to be repealed. Both the government and opposition dismissed criticisms on Monday, with Perrottet saying the jail sentence was “pleasing to see”.

Jane Morton wrote:
“The draconian sentencing of Violet Coco has become news around the world. We need to do all we can to make these draconian laws (and the climate emergency more generally) an issue in the NSW election in March.

The first thing we can all do is to like, comment and share social media coverage. Hash tag #FreeVioletCoco.

Also really important to donate to, and share the fundraiser for her legal expenses.

And it would be great if lots of climate activists wrote letters to Violet in prison to help keep her spirits up.”

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Together we can win the battle against coal and gas.  
Let’s get it done.”  

~ Environmental Defenders Office

EDO wrote in their newsletter of 6 December 2022:

“Powerful legal intervention is needed more than ever to challenge the most harmful coal and gas projects currently in the approvals pipeline across the country. We have the legal expertise to take big polluters to court, and win. But as a non-profit environmental legal centre, we can’t do it without your support. 

Make your first donation to EDO today and help provide urgent, on-the-ground legal support to communities fighting major coal and gas projects.”

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Environment Victoria: “Destructive gas projects are spreading like weeds”

Victoria’s coastline is being bombarded with destructive, polluting gas projects.

Jono La Nauze, CEO, Environment Victoria, wrote in a newsletter on 6 December 2022:
“There are 21 gas expansion projects proposed along Victoria’s coast. The giant gas companies that own these projects want to drill or import more fossil gas right when Victoria needs to cut pollution from gas – with catastrophic consequences. But next year, the Andrews’ government ‘Gas Substitution Roadmap’ will be up for its first review – and this is one huge reason why the Environment Victoria team needs your help now.”

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France24 – 7 December 2022:
Climate activists hurl paint at La Scala entrance in Milan
“Environmental activists hurled paint at the entrance of Milan’s prestigious La Scala opera house on Wednesday, part of a series of recent protests across Europe to focus attention on climate change.”

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From the twitterstream

→ The Guardian – 22 November 2022:
Make ecocide an international crime and other legal ideas to help save the planet
Steven Donziger: A list of the five most promising legal steps we can take to help fight climate change

McKinsey: “The 1.5º Pathway is getting out of sight, given the short time frame that remains to keep emissions within the carbon budget”

The Age – 27 November 2022:
‘Frightening new era’: Flash flooding to grow under climate change
“Flash flooding is emerging as a growing natural disaster threat for Australia as the recent State of the Climate report warns Australia’s weather is becoming more chaotic and heavy rainfall bursts will continue to intensify, driven by rising temperatures. The report, authored by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, found climate change would cause “an increase in the risk of natural disasters from extreme weather”.”

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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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