Calls on young women to stand up and be heard

The Sustainable Hour no. 472 | Podcast notes

Our guest in The Sustainable Hour on 16 August 2023 is Julie Lyford, who is chair of Womens’ Environmental Leadership Australia, WELA, an organisation which mentors and coaches young women, because “young people are going to change this place,” as Julie tells us. An independent not-for-profit organisation, WELA is a community of women transforming Australia’s response to our environmental and climate crises.

International evidence such as the report Gender & Society and a study reported in ScienceDirect has shown that more women in decision making leads to better environmental outcomes. Women’s leadership is often collaborative, networked and responsive to communities, which are essential skills for our transition to a sustainable future. But there are still many barriers stopping women from stepping into their leadership. This is where WELA comes in. To receive exclusive leadership tools, updates, event invitations and more, you can sign up to WELA’s mailing list on

Julie is on the board of the Green Institute and an ambassador with Australia reMADE. She lives in Gloucester in Mid-Coast Council in New South Wales, close to world heritage Barrington Tops National Park. She is chair and activist of the local group Groundswell Gloucester and Gloucester Sustainable Futures, and she co-organised the Sustainable Futures Convention 2019. Julie is also a former Councillor and Mayor of Gloucester Council. She started out as a registered nurse.

→ You can contact Julie directly on

Gloucester community’s epic fights against fossil fuel interests on two fronts has been well documented in two books: ‘The Town Who Said No To AGL’ and ‘Nine Lives For Our Planet’, both written by John Watts.

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We start today with a brief clip from scientist James Lovelock, who talks about the importance of informing the community on climate issues. This is the same James Lovelock, who, 40 years ago, originated the idea that the planet is a giant, self-regulating organism – the so-called Gaia theory. The clip is from a recent interview with BBC’s Hardtalk.

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Mik Aidt starts off by calling out the advertising industry for continuing to ask us to consume toxic products as a distraction while the world disintegrates in the face of extreme weather events around us.

Towards the end of the Hour, we listen to Christiana Figueres Olsen‘s youtube-presentation titled ‘Overcoming Paralysis’. Christiana is a Costa Rican diplomat who is often referred to as the architect behind the Paris Agreement in 2015. She was appointed Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2010, and during the next six years she worked to rebuild the global climate change negotiating process under the COP-framework, leading to the 2015 Paris Agreement.

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Mik uses Christiana’s phrase “Stand up and begin to engage” to segway to the very unique independent movement of women in politics in Australia, the Teals – and the potential of these independent politicians to create a real parliamentary revolution in this country – one that could change everything at the coming elections, at all levels of government, local, state and federal over the next three years.

Mik continues with an appeal for people not to wait till elections are called but to start preparations, volunteer mobilisation, networking and getting organised already now.

Mik also references an important local public meeting coming up on Monday 21 August 2023 at 7pm at the Lara Golf Club. It’s an opportunity for people in Geelong and district, in particular in Lara, to be informed about the concerns about a proposed toxic waste-to-energy project in Lara.

The company Prospect Hill International plans to build a waste-to-energy facility, a so-called Incinerator, to burn some 400,000 tonnes of waste every year and generate electricity in that way – more or less the same amount of electricity that we could get from putting up six wind turbines.

Speakers at the meeting will include residents and a panel of leaders in public health, waste management and climate change. Keynote speaker is Dr Peter Tait, a Senior Clinical Lecturer at the Australian National University. City of Geelong Councillor Sarah Hathway and Victorian member of parliament Dr Sarah Mansfield have confirmed their attendance.

So here is a place where you can make a difference simply by showing up and being informed about the hazards of this toxic proposal. Armed with this information, residents can stand together and show people power in action as they begin to engage and be heard. As always, this is all about the numbers. If you agree with the concerns about this proposal, at the meeting you’ll be given suggestions about how you can get involved in stopping it. There’s also a petition you can add your name to.

→ Bookings required via Eventbrite for this free event

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The song we play excerpts from three times during the hour is Keb Mo‘s ‘Put A Woman in Charge’.

We also play a short statement by British climate revolution activist Roger Hallam, who talks about what you do when you see a house on fire.

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Colin Mockett OAM‘s Global Outlook this week begins in Belem, Brazil, where last week the presidents of the South American nations that contain the Amazon rainforest met to try and chart a common course to protect the bio-region which has been called ‘the lungs of the world’.

The Amazon stretches across an area twice the size of India, and two-thirds of it lies in Brazil. The seven other countries involved in the talks, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, Ecuador and French Guiana talked for three days — they were only scheduled for two. They were told that the massive destruction of the Amazon forest is a climate disaster and it must be addressed urgently. Not the least because all the countries at the summit had ratified the Paris climate accord which set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But they couldn’t come up with a satisfactory agreement other than to ask for money from wealthy nations to help them police the Amazon to stop land-clearing which is illegal, unchecked and almost all in the hands of organised crime.

That usually would involve the United States, as the world’s wealthiest nation, but American president Joe Biden faced some pretty complex climate problems of his own last week. Quite apart from ongoing heatwaves and the deadly wildfires in Hawaii, a ‘Washington Post’ poll found that 71 per cent of Americans know nothing at all about the $800 billion Inflation Reduction Act, which is the centerpiece of the Biden administration’s efforts to slash planet-warming emissions. That $800 billion is being spent on initiatives to boost clean energy and reduce emissions.

‘The Post’ piece said that this was not the fault of the White House, noting that “the president and his aides have made roughly 120 stops in nearly 40 states and territories to promote and tout their climate work.” They said the fault lay with the U. S. media which is not covering the story enough.

Today, on 16 August 2023, the act’s one-year anniversary, is a perfect opportunity for journalists to examine how well this legislation is delivering on its goal of cutting U.S. emissions in half by 2030.

Speaking in New Mexico, President Biden said the IRA act had sparked “a clean energy and manufacturing boom” that was creating jobs and putting the US on the path to slash emissions dramatically in the next decade. ‘The Post’ said that reporters, especially local reporters, should be scrutinising these claims and asking how many green energy projects have begun in their regions? and: How many jobs have been created? How many emissions will be avoided over the lifetime of those projects? But apparently they are simply ignoring the whole subject.

It’s probably important to note that like here, the majority owner of U.S. media is Rupert Murdoch’s News International which tends to set all other media’s agenda.

About Hawaii and its fires… Climate scientists reported that the Island state went from lush to bone dry and thus more fire-prone in a matter of just a few weeks — rainfall that brought lush undergrowth, then drought that made it tinder-dry, then hurricanes that arrived once the fires were sparked. These were key factors that combined and made the wildfires’ destruction particularly damaging. Experts said that climate change was increasing the likelihood of these extreme weather events occurring and combining — and warned that they were likely to occur elsewhere in the world, including Australia.

“It’s leading to these unpredictable or unforeseen combinations we’re seeing right now that are fuelling this extreme fire weather,” said Kelsey Copes-Gerbitz, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of British Columbia’s faculty of forestry. “What these catastrophic wildfire disasters are revealing is that nowhere is immune to the issue.”

Finally, some good news from the United Kingdom. Britain’s biggest supermarket chain. This week Tescos became the first big global retailer to have its net zero science-based targets validated by scientists themselves. The company had outlined ambitious plans for emissions reduction across its operations and supply chains. The targets will see Tesco committed to become carbon neutral across its own operations by 2035, and supply chain by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement’s aim of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

The retailer has set out its emissions reduction priorities through an agenda across six areas: 1) Improve Products; 2) Decarbonise Transport; 3) Reduce Store Emissions; 4) Support Sustainable Consumption; 5) Eliminate Waste; and 6) Protect Nature.

Its activities will include the scaling up of deforestation-free feed sources; a roll-out of agricultural innovations such as low carbon fertiliser; and the continued decarbonisation of Tesco’s store and transport networks which already have heavy-duty electric vehicles and delivery trucks. It will also encourage its customers to eliminate waste and emissions. And its net-zero, science-based targets have all been validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), the official UN body that validates climate targets. And that good news, which I might add, we should be publicising and urging our own supermarket giants to adopt, ends our round-up for this week.

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That’s it from The Sustainable Hour for another week. What a joy it was to listen to Julie Lyford today. She has such a dynamic personality. She started out as a concerned Gloucester citizen, joined her local council and became mayor. After her local political career had run its course, she led the community in its fight to stop the expansion of a local coal mine and then they took on international heavyweight fossil fuel company AGL’s plans to frack the area. Their fight has inspired many other communities to fight to protect their communities from similar attacks. And through WELA, Julie is now encouraging, mentoring and inspiring young women to stand up and get into politics on a platform of love and kindness. “It’s about your voice being heard,” as Julie tells us.

Also, if you live in the Geelong region, as Colin suggests: look up and join WILD Geelong, Women in Local Democracy.

We’ll be back next week with some more inspiration to find your role in the climate revolution. To fight back against the industries that have shown they are prepared to sacrifice life on our planet in its quest for profit.

All our concerns about the climate emergency we are facing must be heard by the people we elected to represent our interests at all levels of government.

As the Labor party gathers in Brisbane for its annual conference this weekend, let’s hope that sanity prevails and they decide to listen to the science and start to take real action on climate. We’ll be reporting on that next Wednesday.

Be the kind difference!

“We need to concentrate on uplifting and empowering women, because they’ve been left behind, and ignored, or not empowered. So that is the most important thing. I think [concerning the problem with increasing polarisation and aggression] we need to respond to it with kindness. When a person is being aggressive, they are frightened. They are fearful. They feel like they are losing their power. So how do we bring them into a conversation where we aren’t patronising, but we acknowledge their fear and try to land on the page together somehow? And even if we don’t, we still treat them with respect anyway. Come back to them and say ‘Let’s walk together’. It’s about love and kindness.
~ Julie Lyford, Chair of Women’s Environmental Leadership Australia, WELA 

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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 millennia before they were invaded. Their land was then stolen from them – it wasn’t ceded. 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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Christiana Figueres Olsen is a Costa Rican diplomat who is often referred to as the architect behind the Paris Agreement in 2015. She was appointed Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2010, and during the next six years she worked to rebuild the global climate change negotiating process under the COP-framework, leading to the 2015 Paris Agreement.

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Scientist James Lovelock, who 40 years ago originated the idea that the planet is a giant, self-regulating organism – the so-called Gaia theory – shares the basic message from both Christiana Figueres and Greta Thunberg: Community education is a huge and important task ahead of us for all of us. Here’s what James Lovelock told BBC’s Hard Talk.

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→ The New Daily – 14 August 2023:
‘Our luck will run out’ as Australia barrels into bushfire season
“An expert warns “our luck will run out” without increased investment in disaster preparedness. Warnings that 80 per cent of the Northern Territory could burn by March.”

350 branches of the Labor party have proposed formal motions calling for greater action on climate change from the Albanese Labor government, urging, among other things, the winding back of land clearing and native forest logging.

→ Sydney Morning Herald – 14 August 2023:
Thousands of Labor members take climate challenge to Albanese
“Thousands of Labor members have thrown their weight behind a challenge to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to take stronger action on climate change and develop new policies to respond to mammoth subsidies for renewable energy in the United States.”

→ Courier Mail – 13 August 2023:
AGL Energy dumps fossil fuel lobby group
“AGL Energy has pulled out of two lobby groups, including a major fossil fuel advocate, as the Mike Cannon Brookes-backed power giant reworks its image to reach ambitious green goals this decade.”

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“Lots of people could give up their car. Most people could give up flying. Pretty much everyone could give up meat & dairy, fast fashion & mindless consumption. Individually we didn’t cause this crisis, but we only get a survivable future if we’re prepared to change how we live.”
~ ClimateDad, 12 August 2023 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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