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The Sustainable Hour no. 485 | Podcast notes

Our guests in The Sustainable Hour on 29 November 2023 are Rachel Hay, Research & Projects Officer at Australia reMADE, and Lisa Deppeler from Otways Coastal Environmental Action Network, OCEAN.

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Rachel Hay presents us to the new report ‘Care Through Disaster’ in which Australia reMADE in collaboration with Women’s Health Goulburn North East seek answers to two questions: “What does it mean for people to be cared for through disaster?” and: “What sort of support do communities need?”

Because of the damage already “baked in” to our Earth’s climate, extreme weather events are intensifying and are projected to get worse. So we need a new lens through which to approach disasters, says Rachel. It is not only a question of providing more fire trucks, evacuation centres or larger emergency funds. People need to be seen, safe and supported during and after a crisis, Australia reMADE’s research showed: Through a disaster, communities need to be seen both for their expertise and their vulnerabilities, by each other and organisations. They need to be safe – through prevention of disasters where possible, and through safe information and places where it’s not – and they need to be supported to prepare, respond to and recover from disasters. Establishing strong community connections before disaster strikes is essential.

→ Those who would like to have a closer look at Australia reMADE’s work, go to
where you among other things can read the “Care Through Disaster” report.

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Lisa Deppeler from Otways Coastal Environmental Action Network, OCEAN, tells us about OCEAN’s change of name and logo as well as their up-and-coming summer road trip, The Great Ocean Rescue, along the South West coast, where they will be educating people about the dangers and insanity of using seismic blasting to find a fossil product that the science is screaming out at the top of its voice we need to stop using.

This begins in Ocean Grove on 6 January with a street march, beach rally, and speakers at 11am beginning at Ocean Grove Park, then a ‘paddle out’ in Torquay on 7 January, and film screening of Surfrider’s ‘Southern Blast’ on 13 January 2024 in Lorne.

Seismic blasting – or seismic testing – is a method use to discover new gas fields under the ocean floor. The fossil fuel companies blast the sea floor with high-powered airguns every 10 seconds for weeks and months at a time, putting enormous stress on sea life, and causing many wildlife fatalities. With an enormous area in the Otway basin that a number of companies are planning to explore for oil and gas, it’s more important than ever that we as communities say ‘No’ to seismic blasting, and ‘No’ to Otway gas.

→ To find out more about The Great Ocean Rescue and OCEAN, Otways Coastal Environment Action Network, go to

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“Climate change is here, it is terrifying, and it is just the beginning,” warns United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in this week’s Sustainable Hour introductory statement.

Over 100 people got arrested blocking coal ships with The Peoples Blockade in Newcastle this weekend, so we open the Hour today with Maggi sharing her personal motivation for doing this.

Today Mik Aidt‘s rant focuses on the amount of taxpayers money that is used to prop up fossil fuel projects and products in our country. He shows his frustration and resentment that he, like many others, who are doing all that they can to reduce their carbon footprint, finds out that some of the taxes they pay are propping up projects that are directly contributing to the climate crisis. The Australia Institute has published a report where you can see the figures on the record-breaking fossil fuel subsidies in Australia.

Mik also rails against the government’s greenwashing – the “Save 1 Lose 7” tonnes of carbon emissions resulting from the Albanese/Marles Labor government’s climate policies. It is a “Win some, but lose heaps more”-policy, research by the Australian Conservation Foundation has shown.

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We play the youtube-video ‘Climate Science Translated NSFW’ where comedian Jo Brand helps Professor Mark Maslin spell out the actual risks of climate change, pulling zero punches, and using highly unscientific language throughout. The film is part of an ongoing project to help climate science cut through to the public.

The two songs we play are first: Louise Harris ‘We Tried’, and rounding off the hour: Missy Higgins‘The Difference’.

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Colin Mockett OAM‘s Global Outlook for the week begins in Newcastle in New South Wales where 1,500 protestors stopped coal exports from Australia’s largest port for 30 hours by paddling out in canoes to obstruct the shipping lanes. Among the 109 protestors arrested by police was a 97-year old church minister.

It’s estimated that the 30-hour protest stopped more than half a million tonnes of coal leaving Australia, giving a perspective to the huge cargoes, and vast amounts of money involved.

To Vienna, where a meeting of the OPEC+ group ended without any agreement except that they need to meet again. That doesn’t sound much, except that it shows the first cracks in Big Oil’s solidarity. Behind the disagreement was a failure to decide how the cartel’s members should respond to a slump in oil prices during the past two months.

OPEC+ is a group of oil-producing countries that meet regularly to decide how much oil should be put on to the world market and by which nations. They’re unofficially led by Russia and Saudi Arabia, but with significant inputs from Iran, Iraq and United Arab Emirates along with Angola and Nigeria. It’s the oil-rich baddies, if you like.

The group was essentially struggling with the fact that world demand for oil is plunging as the sales of EVs keeps rising. Big Oil has cut an aggregate five million barrels a day since this time last year, causing the world oil price to drop to just over $US81 a barrel after peaking at $US98 a barrel in late September.

Last week it was trading at $US77 a barrel and the Vienna meeting was expected to bring further production cuts of up to another million barrels a day to drive the price back up. But rescheduling to another date means that in essence, the big oil barons don’t know what to do in a market of free-falling demand and prices. There are several options open to them, and we, along with the world’s environmentalists, will be keeping a close watch to see which they will take.

To China, where figures released this week point to the nation’s target of net-zero carbon by 2060 which is likely to be achieved a decade earlier than previously assumed. They might even beat Europe to the target. They certainly will beat Australia which announced that it would narrowly miss its much smaller watered-down target.

The International Energy Agency says China accounts for 60 per cent of all new solar and wind power being installed across the world both this year and next. This rollout has combined with a drastic slowdown in China’s rate of economic trend growth.

Lauri Myllyvirta, co-founder of the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, says China has reached a structural tipping point where the rollout of renewables is outpacing the rise in electricity demand. “A drop in power-sector emissions in 2024 is now essentially locked in,” he said. “We’re likely to see a fall in total CO2 emitted in the first half of next year.”

That’s because China is building a network of clean energy bases in its deserts and arid wastelands of the northwest. Solar and wind parks run along an arc from Inner Mongolia to Qinghai on the Tibetan plateau.

The scale is staggering. The Golmud Solar Park in Qinghai is already the world’s largest solar project with 2.8 gigawatts of installed capacity, drawing on seven million panels stretching across the sands. The plan is to enlarge it six-fold within five years.

China is also approving two new coal plants a week. This doesn’t mean what many in the West think it does. China is adding one gigawatt of coal power on average as backup for every six gigawatt of new renewable power. The two go hand in hand.

“The more renewable energy used, the more the need for coal peaking capacity,” Chinese coal expert Li Ting said. “Most of the nation’s coal-powered generating units will be idle for most of the time.”

The coal plants will be used to buttress for wind and solar rather than as baseload, he said. They would avert a repeat of blackouts that traumatised the nation in 2021-2022.

Coal companies will be paid a subsidy under a capacity price to remain on standby. S&P Global predicts that Chinese coal capacity usage rate will fall by 75 per cent over the next two decades.

Meanwhile here in Australia, Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen said that we are on track to narrowly miss our target to cut our emissions by 43 per cent on 2005 levels. We’re likely to make a 42 per cent cut, when he releases the latest figures tomorrow. So to put this into perspective, while China and Europe are talking about when they will reach net zero emissions – we are still talking about how we can reach targets of much less than 50 per cent of theirs.

Here in Victoria, the Japanese-owned wind power developer Flotation Energy is in the early stages of preparing to build Australia’s first offshore wind farm. It’s called The Seadragon Project, will cost $6.5 billion and will power a projected 1 million homes. It’s proposed to be in the Bass Strait off Gippsland.

Flotation Energy is one of 37 companies vying for a feasibility licence to develop in Victoria after the Albanese government last year declared the ocean bed 20 kilometres off the coast of Gippsland as the country’s first designated zone for offshore wind generators.

Some of the world’s biggest renewable companies are now lining up and awaiting licensing decisions from our governments. Again, to put things into perspective, the UK has 44 offshore wind farms producing 13 per cent of the nation’s power. Vietnam has 96 offshore projects producing 15 per cent but the world leader is of course China, with 105 offshore wind farms producing 11 per cent of the nation’s demand.

We’ll keep you all up to speed on how our very first one proceeds.
Finally for this week to the United Kingdom where the world’s only carbon neutral sports club Forest Green Rovers played a 0-0 draw away at Walsall at the weekend, while their women’s team beat Frampton away 2-0.

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That’s it for another episode of The Sustainable Hour. As we are sometimes tempted to wallow in the doom and gloom associated with the climate crisis, we are once again fired up by both of this week’s guests in Rachel from Australia reMADE and Lisa from OCEAN. Both their groups are at the forefront of the solutions to the climate crisis. We’ll leave you with the term that Rachel used so fondly: “Disasters as a portal to paradise”. A different world is coming. It is going to challenge us severely, but it doesn’t have to destroy us completely.

#WhatsItGonnaTake? #HowManyDeaths? #HowMuchDestruction? We’ll keep asking.

“It’s really easy to talk about the crisis and all the bad things that are coming, but I want to talk about our positive futures and what we can build together in these moments. That’s really what Australia reMADE does. We focus on the world we want, rather than just accepting the one we’ve been told might happen, or focusing on what we are against. The “Care Through Disaster” project is a really good example of that. In the context of disasters we’ve seen, from strangers picking up people in a flood to neighbours just asking if they are okay. That care is really a revolutionary act which is changing a system from the ground up.
~ Rachel Hay, Research and Projects at Australia reMADE

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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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Source: The Australia Institute

“The science is clear that in order to limit warming to 1.5°C, there can be no new fossil fuel infrastructure or projects, and there needs to be a rapid phase-out of existing fossil fuels. Yet countries such as Australia are continuing to approve new fossil fuel projects.”
~ Dr Julia Dehm, Senior Lecturer, La Trobe Law School

“Fossil fuel infrastructure is very energy-intensive: transports, refineries, pipelines. If you want to get gas to your house, you’re going to have to connect to a pipeline which is part of a national gas infrastructure, itself part of an international energy infrastructure. All of this costs capital to build and run, which is why developing nations are forced into partnerships with Western countries in order to exploit these natural resources.

Renewable energy is a bit different: it could be done on mammoth scales, as being proposed, or it could be done more locally. Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy can be decentralised. A community can raise the capital for their own wind turbine; individuals can install solar panels on their own homes; developing nations are even rolling solar out to off-grid areas. Unlike fossil fuels, such communities don’t need to be hooked up to the main grid. Once the parts are delivered, they could technically enjoy the fruits of a closed circuit.

Boy oh boy does this threaten the political world order, not just run on but run by fossil energy.”

~ Rachel Donald, Planet: Critical podcast

Mark Maslin and Jo Brand: Climate Science Translated NSFW

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Louise: “We’re already at Number 4 on iTunes… All proceeds donated to climate causes. Keep buying this on iTunes for 79p! In the words of Chris Packham, ‘can we get it to Number 1 in time for Christmas ?’

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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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