Runway to calamity

The Sustainable Hour no. 511 | Transcript | Podcast notes


Our guest in The Sustainable Hour no 511 is Mark Carter, co-founder of Flight Free Australia.

Mark emphasises the importance of addressing aviation emissions and reducing air travel. He explains the limitations of sustainable aviation fuels and the need for a cap on aviation fuel burn. He also highlights the potential of rail travel and the importance of slowing down and connecting with the physical world.

The conversation concludes with a call to take action and be the difference in addressing the climate crisis.

Why an Australian ‘Sustainable’ Aviation Fuel industry is not good climate policy

→ Keep in touch: contact@flightfree.net.au
→ Stay grounded: flightfree.net.au/all-causes/pledge-to-be-flight-free
→ Flight Free Australia’ Facebook page: www.facebook.com/FlightFreeAustralia
→ Flight Free Australia’s website: www.flightfree.net.au

. . .

We also hear statements from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the Nationals’ leader David Littleproud speaking on 9News, sheep farmer Dimity Taylor interviewed by The Australian, U.S. President Jimmy Carter addressing the nation in 1979, Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson in a New York Times ‘The Interview’ podcast episode, Greta Thunberg, Dahr Jamail, and American NASA climate scientist Dr Peter Kalmus. Find more details and links in the transcript below.

“My message to listeners is that they shouldn’t be fooled by this new presentation on aviation emissions from the government. Sustainable aviation, well… First of all, stepping back a bit, really, on an angle that’s common to all kind of climate campaigning, is where the net zero 2050 pathway, which is the government’s Paris response, is, as we know, a pathway to calamity. Net zero emissions by 2050, given that we’re nudging 1.5°C degrees warming now and ongoing emissions to 2050, just to get to net zero, by then will push warming. There’s an unacceptable likelihood that it’ll push warming way beyond two degrees. And the net zero 2050 IPCC scenario was… everybody forgets it: It has one in three chance of not preventing, of not constraining, warming to below two degrees, a one in three chance.”
~ Mark Carter, co-founder of Flight Free Australia


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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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The key messages in Johan Rockström speech:

📉 1.5°C World Reality Check: We’ve already experienced the impacts of a 1.5 degrees Celsius world, costing us $300 to $600 billion in damages from extreme events globally. The toll on people everywhere is undeniable.

🌡️ Three Key Alarming Factors:

Shrinking Carbon Budget: Our global carbon budget has shrunk to just 200 billion tons of CO2, giving us only 5 years at our current emission rate of 40 billion tons/year. We must cut global emissions by half in the next five years to stand a chance, requiring a >7% annual reduction.

Accelerating Warming: Recent reports reveal that the rate of global warming is accelerating, nearly doubling compared to previous decades. This signals a faster approach towards dangerous climate thresholds.

Tipping Points Looming: Observations from regions like Brazil show we are perilously close to climate tipping points, beyond which recovery may be impossible.

🌍 Why This Matters:

We’re in the decisive decade for humanity’s future. Immediate, substantial action to phase out oil, coal, and gas is essential. Let’s unite to ensure a sustainable future for all.

→ Paul Gilding:
Carbon Crash Solar Dawn
“The ‘carbon crash and solar dawn’ is now inevitable. This is huge in its historical significance and the implications for climate action. However, we should recognise that this will not ‘fix’ climate change. Climate change is a genuine emergency and existential threat to global economic and geopolitical stability. This means speed is the overwhelming priority…” 



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Transcript of The Sustainable Hour no. 511

Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General:
Our world cannot afford to wait. We are at the moment of truth, but we have a breakdown of trust.

Jingle:
The Sustainable Hour. For a green, clean, sustainable Geelong: The Sustainable Hour.

Anthony Gleeson:
Welcome to The Sustainable Hour. This is episode number 511. We’d like to acknowledge that we’re broadcasting from the land of the Wadawurrung people. We pay tribute to their elders – past, present and those that earn that great honour in the future. We’re on stolen land, land that was never ceded, land that always was and always will be First Nations land. We also acknowledge the incredible store of ancient wisdom that they have accumulated by nurturing both their land and their communities for millennia before it was stolen from them. And we can’t hope to have any form of climate justice until we have justice for First Nations Australians. And especially this week, we want to acknowledge that this is probably the biggest week on the First Nations calendar in that it’s NAIDOC week. Started on Sunday the 7th and will go to next Sunday the 14th. And there’s lots and lots and lots and lots of invaluable resources that are circulating around the country in cyberspace this week and, yeah, I hope that you’re able to find some of those and tune into that ancient wisdom that was mentioned before.

David Littleproud:
If the Australian people give a strong message about having an energy mix rather than an all-renewables approach, I think they want us all to be the adults in the room and get on with what the Australian people decide.

Mik Aidt:
That’s the Australian politician and leader David Littleproud. He’s the leader of the National Party. Just 10 seconds. How much arrogance can you put into 10 seconds? And what are these new words that are beginning to come up? Now we’re not talking about fossil fuels anymore. No, no, we’re talking about an ‘energy mix’. That’s the new code for ‘fossil fuels’.

David Littleproud:
If the Australian people give a strong message about having an energy mix rather than all renewables approach.

Mik Aidt.
And suddenly Mr David Littleproud seems to know that the Australian people thinks that we don’t want renewables. We don’t want an all renewables approach. And then on top of that, he thinks that he’s the adult in the room. I think they want us all to be the adults in the room. Which is just another way of saying ‘I know better’. ‘If I claim to be the adult in the room, then hopefully some more people will be listening to me and believing in my lies.’

Well, David Littleproud, I believe in the figures and numbers that come, among several others, from Australia’s official body of scientists called CSIRO. They published a survey in April, the most comprehensive survey of Australians attitudes towards the renewable energy transition where they had been asking more than 6,700 Australians in all states and territories and of course both capital cities and out on the countryside about the Australians’ feelings about this all renewables approach as Littleproud calls it. And surprise surprise, the researchers found that Australians show greatest support for moderate to high change energy transition scenarios. 87 per cent of Australians preferred either a moderate or high change scenario that they were presented to, which were all about transitioning to renewables.

Dimity Taylor:
My name is Dimity Taylor. I’m living here next to the Gullum Range Wind Farm near Cookewell. I’ve been living here for about 14 years and the Gullum Range Wind Farm is just coming up to its 10th year anniversary. We hear the turbines every now and again, but it’s not very often and when we do, it’s not annoying kind of sounds like the ocean. We can pretend we’re living near the seaside out here in the country. There’s been quite a few properties that have been sold that have been well within the two kilometre radius of the turbines and they’ve all sold for really good prices. So it’s really encouraging that land values near the wind farm are holding strong. I think a lot of the concerns that come from the community in regards to wind farms coming to the area have so much to do with how the project is communicated early on. And if people can feel empowered during that initial consultation process, it can just save people so much concern and worry and angst. I think there also needs to be a really good focus on making sure the whole community can really benefit from being in a region that’s hosting renewable energy.

Mik Aidt:
Thank you, Dimity Taylor and the Australian for giving us an example here of that it’s not the Australian people who give a strong message about having an energy mix, a fossil-fuelled nuclear-powered ‘energy mix’, rather than an ‘all-renewables approach’. That is untrue. Don’t believe the lie that that is the Australian way.

David Littleproud:
If the Australian people give a strong message about having an energy mix rather than all-renewables approach, I think they want us all to be the adults in the room and get on with what the Australian people decide.

Mik Aidt
Anyway, it’s time to look outside of Australia’s borders just for the next five minutes or so with Colin Mockett OAM, who’s always been scanning what’s going on in the big world, the global outlook. Colin, what do you have for us today?

Colin Mockett’s Global Outlook:
Yes, thank you, Mik. I’m another adult in the room, I think. And I should point out that David Littleproud is leader of the National Party, which culled 4 per cent of Australia’s votes last year. So when he’s talking about when Australia talks, he’s talking about when 4 per cent of Australia talks.

Now, there hasn’t been a vast amount of announcements that I can use in our roundup this week because the world has been pretty much diverted over the last week with elections in France, Great Britain, Iran and the election in America, the forthcoming election in America, they’ve dominated the media. But when you look between it and around it, you find that there’s still plenty going on, plenty of really nasty stuff going on as well. Because my roundup this week begins in the U.S., where California’s heat wave that began last Tuesday looks more intense and longer lasting than anybody expected.

It’s pushing the west coast of America into an all-time record territory. They’ve had two weeks of record-breaking heat ongoing across much of California, Oregon, and portions of Nevada. Already damaging wildfires have broken out, and the heat alone is life-threatening, according to the National Weather Service. The Thompson Fire in Oroville fueled a 40°C degrees plus temperature and strong winds has burned a number of homes and they’re still counting. The Weather Service laid the blame squarely at human-caused climate change, stating bluntly that burning fossil fuels like coal and natural gas is dramatically increasing the odds of heat waves as well as their intensity and duration. Across the west and south of the U.S., a total of 140 million people were under heat warnings and advisories last weekend. The heat wave, with highs in the mid-40s in many inland areas, is highly unusual for its duration and its intensity. Dozens of daily, monthly and some all-time records have been surpassed. Reading in California reached 50°C degrees while Death Valley tied its record for the hottest temperature reliably recorded on Earth. That was at 54.4°C degrees.

I’m not sure that really any of us will have seen this many days at this sustained level of heat, both daytime and most importantly, nighttime heat. That was said by the UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain in a media video.

Many locations haven’t gone below 20 degrees overnight for more than a week, making cooling access paramount. It cannot be stressed enough that this is an exceptionally dangerous and lethal situation, he said.

Meanwhile, Jamaica, the West Indies and parts of Mexico are still recovering from the damage wrought by Hurricane Beryl, which occurred well ahead of the recognized hurricane season. Usually the hurricanes occur around America in August or September. Particularly hard hit by Beryl were the St Vincent and Grenadines, where Prime Minister Ralph Gonzales told the BBC, particularly his country’s southern islands. In the case of the largest Union Island, he said, all of the houses are destroyed. It’s just mayhem. There’s no water. There’s no electricity. There’s public health issues. There’s security issues. The hospital is inoperable because it’s blown down. He said St. Vincent and the Grenadines are now in the phase of humanitarian relief, adding that his country’s disaster management system is stretched tremendously. Hurricane Beryl, he said, was clearly linked to climate change and some countries pay a lot of lip service to the net zero, but we don’t see the effect. We are on the front line and we are suffering,” he said.

And finally for this week is back home to Australia and a quote from the New South Wales Premier Chris Mims. He said last week that he was taking tough action because, I’m very fearful that it will lead to someone losing their life. Now he was talking about the protesters blockading coal trains from reaching the port of Newcastle. He didn’t clarify whether he also feared how Australia’s continued coal exports could lead to just about everyone on the planet losing their life. And that ends my roundup for the week.

Jingle:
Listen to our Sustainable Hour – for the future.

Anthony Gleeson:
Our guest today is Mark Carter. Mark founded Flight Free Australia in… or just before COVID, I think – 2019. So thanks for coming on, Mark, and giving up your valuable time.

Mark Carter:
Thanks, Tony. Thanks, Mik. Thanks, Colin. Yep.

Anthony Gleeson:
What makes a typical, ordinary Australian found an organisation like Flight Free Australia? What’s the genesis of that?

Mark Carter:
I’m not sure whether I’m typical. I think by definition I can’t be typical to have gone down this rabbit hole. Aviation emissions were – particularly for Australians – they were sort of the elephant in the room as far as climate action was concerned, the way I saw it, five years ago – and addressing aviation emissions, even though they might be only 6 per cent of global emissions, they’re particularly for Australians, given our location – you know, flights to Europe – a return flight to Europe adds about 50 per cent to an average Australian’s carbon footprint. So the emissions intensity, it’s per-hour and per-kilometre flying, it’s the most emissions-intensive warming-intensive activity we can undertake.

So while numerically they might be a small proportion, they are – for us here – a bit more of a critical issue.

And the nub of the issue in terms of addressing emissions from aviation is that there’s no technical fix. We can’t switch to electric planes. We could – down the line, maybe – in the next 10 years for short-haul flights. But by and large, there’s no tech fix. And the government has recently, as opposed to the Conservatives, they have started to address aviation emissions and giving the impression maybe to the public that they’re tackling emissions reductions for aviation. There’s an aviation white paper in the works. The recent budget announced $1.7 billion allocation to what’s called net zero innovations, including low carbon liquid fuels, which is another term for so-called sustainable aviation fuels. Swinging around, the issue is being presented to the public that sustainable aviation fuels is the way to reduce aviation emissions and sort of everything all flying will be green and eco-friendly and with sustainable aviation fuels.

My message to listeners is that they shouldn’t be fooled by this new presentation on aviation emissions from the government. Sustainable aviation, well… First of all, stepping back a bit, really, on an angle that’s common to all kind of climate campaigning, is where the net zero 2050 pathway, which is the government’s Paris response, is, as we know, a pathway to calamity. Net zero emissions by 2050, given that we’re nudging 1.5°C degrees warming now and ongoing emissions to 2050, just to get to net zero, by then will push warming. There’s an unacceptable likelihood that it’ll push warming way beyond two degrees. And the net zero 2050 IPCC scenario was… everybody forgets it: It has one in three chance of not preventing, of not constraining, warming to below two degrees, a one in three chance.

And we know the consequences of two plus degrees. So the aviation emissions reduction program from the government is based on their national net zero 2050 pathway. And they’ve just they’re released for discussion a consultation on transport and infrastructure, a net zero roadmap for transport and infrastructure. And I guess the specifics of what I’d like to sort of talk through today is how that roadmap is a roadmap to disaster.

Mik Aidt:
But Mark, tell us why is this so-called sustainable energy not sustainable? Because it would seem like that if they say it is, why shouldn’t it be?

Mark Carter:
There’s two angles on it. One, even if sustainable aeration fuels cut aviation emissions, which they don’t really. There’s the $1.6 billion is a allocation to a white elephant. There’s supply issues on feedstock for sustainable aviation fuels, taking land from food, you know, agriculture, food crop growing. There’s lots of biodiversity and allocating landscapes to corn and canola for sustainable aviation fuels. And even if the supply was available to make Australian domestic aviation supply enough and net zero 2050, the problem is that the sustainable aviation fuel feedstock is has to be mixed 50 50 with normal jet diesel. So claimed emissions reduction from sustainable aviation fuel that sort of the figures that are announced are double what actually happens because you’ve got to mix it with conventional diesel. They still, cetamellar aeosine fuels still create non-CO2 emissions, nitrous oxides and contra-alsiris which create twice the warming of CO2 alone. And the trick with the claimed emissions reduction with sustainable aviation fuels is that they, it’s an accounting trick. On the back of an envelope, they grab the CO2 that’s drawn down in growing the biofuel and then they subtract that from the CO2 that’s emitted when the plane burns the biofuel in flight, claiming that it’s therefore net zero, like, over its life cycle. But that forgets the other important point is that we’re atmospheric emissions now about 420 parts per million. Last time they were 420 parts per million, sea levels were 10 metres higher. So we can’t afford to just maintain our 420 parts per million, which is what this net equation does. We’ve got to draw down. So the growing crops and stuff, the carbon’s got to be sequestered rather than sort of traded to allow for further emissions.

Colin Mockett:
Mark, you’ve clearly done an awful lot of research in this. I’ve got two real questions for you. Number one is: If you were being really frank and candid, would you describe the government’s approach with its liquid biofuel as greenwashing? And the second question is: Quite apart from the plant-based biofuel, is there any other alternative that could keep planes in the air without putting huge amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere?

Mark Carter:
Your first question, first query, Colin: Yes, it is greenwashing. All of these sustainable aviation fuels proposals are couched in as sort of eco-friendly and green when they’re not. When you burn them, the same amount of carbon is put into the atmosphere as when you’re burning jet diesel. As far as alternatives go, there’s possibilities down the track, and to the degree that they might be viable down the track, that shouldn’t allow us to think that flying on jet diesel in the meantime is therefore safe.

I’ve referred to electric before. Short haul battery powered flight with the batteries charged by renewable electricity is possible, but they’re sort of just for short haul flights, not even sort of Melbourne to Sydney – but regional flights might be possible in sort of 10-15 years.

The other fuel that’s discussed is they’re called e-fuels. They’re sort of synthetic. They create the hydrocarbons synthetically, but they require huge amounts of electricity, and presumably you’d want it to be renewable electricity. And the demand for renewable electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen and then use renewable electricity to capture direct air capture of carbon – and then combine that carbon you’ve captured with the hydrogen you split from the water to create a sort of a synthetic hydrocarbon – they still create non-CO2 emissions as well.

So there’s no emissions-free [solutions] – short of that short haul possibility down the track. And this is where the government is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, or is really in a spot. Because there’s no… the only effective emissions reduction pathway for aviation is reduction in flights, capping the amount of fuel that can be burnt and reducing it year on year and at emergency speed. And that’s, for us down here in Australia, we’re wanting to visit our friends and family and weddings, et cetera. It’s throws, it brings up the… allows a discussion on the restraint that our current predicament is calling for – we can’t do any sort of tech fixes.

Mik Aidt:
So what’s your suggestion?

Mark Carter:
Well, Flight Free is suggesting that we… I mean, it’s a long… It’s a hard ask, but that the flights – domestic and international – be capped. Actually the fuel that’s burnt be capped, which would lead to fewer flights. The amount of… the litres of fuel be capped on the basis of a calculation of how much CO2 they emitted and that at CO2 cap be reduced each year – in the same way that others, acknowledging the climate emergency, are calling for rapid emissions reductions in other sectors.

A massive challenge for Australians because we’re in this… the world we’re living in is we’re a long way away from our… from Bali, from London, from Los Angeles. We feel entitled to visit, and it’s fair enough, we feel, to visit our family and stuff. So it’s only really when, I think, if people can understand the climate emergency that we’re in, that the decisions we’d normally make have got to be seen in a different context. And we’re being asked to… the current climate situation is telling us that we’ve got to restrain ourselves – and in this case, restrain the need to fly, given it’s the most warming thing we can do.

Mik Aidt:
So what you’re saying, Mark, is ‘Fly less’. You’re not saying we completely have to stop flying, because, like, also there are funerals. It’s not only for fun that people travel. Sometimes they need to go to put their parents in the ground or something. And, you know, another aspect: If you’re 18 or 19 years old, I remember when I was that age, And, you know, we have a saying in Denmark, it’s actually, I think it was H. C. Andersen, a famous Danish writer, who said: ‘To travel is to live’. And it’s very important for young people to get an understanding of the world we live in, the cultures and everything, and that they have that opportunity to get out from the nest and see the world, just like our generation has done. However, it’s difficult then to tell them, ‘but you can’t fly!’

Mark Carter:
Well, it’s… I take your point, and yeah, travel has… you know, we have all our stories, our cultures are, heaps of them are based around journeys and travel and discovery and self-actualisation and a whole range of positive human outcomes from travel. But when the travel is dangerous and threatening life as it is, then there’s other forms of travel. There’s local travel. I mean, how many of us really know our region as well as… Some of us might even know overseas places a bit better than our region’s. It is a difficult request, but I think, and the key is the challenge of realising we’re in an emergency situation.

Like, you know, when the fire’s coming over the hill and approaching our house, we don’t keep playing the game on the iPad or do those things that are kind of normal. We accept that we’ve got to, for the term of the emergency situation, to get to safety. We accept that we’ll do things that we’d otherwise not do. And it’s that sort of framing that’s the challenge for people to sort of think about with flying.

We’re not calling for all absolutely all flights. Obviously, we’ve got to acknowledge that a whole range of emergency situations where flight is emergency flights are necessary, you know, for, you know, safety and stuff. But it’s everything but emergency flights really is the challenge that we need to sort of think about. Yeah.

Anthony Gleeson:
Mark, we’ve mentioned that the government’s contribution or lack of, like throwing money at the problem that there’s no solution to at the moment. There’s another component in that: the airlines themselves. What are they contributing? Are they taking it this seriously, do you think?

Mark Carter:
Their response could be… yeah, it’s really greenwash. They have, as listeners would know… they have offset flight, offset options, for passengers wanting to pay a fee to on the misrepresentation that the fee will cover the costs of drawing down an equivalent amount of carbon as what their individual contribution to the flights carbon emissions which are pretty much unregulated and yeah, not really an effective response.

And they’re also talking about ‘sustainable aviation fuels’, but even their schedule of uptake of sustainable aviation fuels is they’re only talking about the Qantas is only talking about 50 per cent sustainable aviation fuel by 2050. It’s a tricky thing because they’re wanting to look as though they’re doing something in addressing the issue. But industry insiders themselves admit that the sustainable aviation fuel push is not going to get aviation emissions to net zero by 2050 because of feedstock shortages. I mean, if Australia, the production of enough biofuel to provide for Australia’s aviation needs would likely require an area in the order of that needed currently to grow our total wheat crop – around 11 million hectares. So it’s a massive amount of land and whether that’s possible, I mean, it’s a huge ask. And as I say, it doesn’t even reduce aviation emissions.

Colin Mockett:
Mark, aviation emissions are something that we take for granted as if they’ve always been there. But our position in the world hasn’t really changed. We’ve always been an outflyer. But we always used to go to Europe by ship before. And ships are becoming far more emissions-friendly, let’s put it that way, as are trains. And we all know that the largest number of… The busiest air route that we have in Australia is between Melbourne and Sydney. I mean, would you… It strikes me as just being plain obvious that the best thing we can do is put a fast train between Melbourne and Sydney and then connect all of the other capitals with bullet trains and then perhaps put a sustainable ship-link to Bali. And suddenly we’ve got a huge amount cut in the amount of flying that’s going on. But of course that will be fought tooth and nail by the aviation industry and the airlines. That’s the real thing that… they are, if you like, it strikes me, they are the fossil fuel fools in this equation. They don’t really want to cut anything back, do they?

Mark Carter:
No, and they… The whole sector, airlines and airports. We’re facing a third runway at Melbourne Airport. There’s the new Badgeries Creek, the Western Sydney Airport. There’s expansions. Recently the Brisbane Airport expanded with all the noise impact consequences that hit the electorates back in the last federal election.

Shipping has the potential, mainly because of the weight problem that aviation has in terms of electrical battery powered stuff and from wind – the potential with wind for sales for shipping. Shipping has a far greater immediate opportunity to reduce its emissions.

And on the railway one, where the federal government is dragging its feet, well arguably dragging its feet in setting up its high speed rail authority. Albo had, under his department, his ministry back under the Rudd-Gillard government, he promoted the East Coast fast rail, high speed rail, new infrastructure, but put out a report and they ditched it, because it was going to cost too much. They’ve reinvigorated that idea with a new high speed rail authority. But unfortunately, the timelines they’re working on, it’ll be decades before or a decade or two before…

They’re starting, they’re talking about going from Sydney to Newcastle as the first leg. And even talking about even a shorter leg is to start it off. So it’s going to be just a little bit by little bit.

And there’s also a discussion about the pros and cons of brand new high-speed rail infrastructure like new track, new route and brand new rail stock and everything, because the track is cambered and everything for really high-speed rail, and the time that would take, versus the arguably shorter time it would take to improve the existing track shortening and straightening it in spots to bring the, say for example, the Melbourne-Sydney 11 hours down to kind of six to seven hours. Whereas a high speed rail option, they’re talking like three hours.

Colin Mockett:
That’s the sort of thing that they do in China and Japan. And that is technology that is achievable. We know that because it’s there elsewhere in the world. So why aren’t we even exploring it, I ask myself?

Mark Carter:
Well, that, yeah… To be fair, they are arguably exploring it, up the east coast, but I think I mean particularly with China you know the commander-concentralised sort of economy they can make decisions more quickly they don’t have to allow margins of cost to private contractors to end up increasing the cost.

Colin Mockett:
Well, they’re also in France, Germany and the UK.

Mark Carter:
Yeah, well they’re probably arguably slightly more stronger public policy governments than here in terms of giving the private sector the balance of public good out of private sector investment, if you know what I mean.

Jimmy Carter, 1979:
First of all, we must face the truth. And then we can change our course. We simply must have faith in each other.

Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson:
There are actual fossil fuel and big ag and advertising executives and politicians who are enabling all of this. Like, there are individual humans, actually a quite small group of them, who are making these decisions that are impacting life on this planet for the eight million or so species that share it. And like, that should make you mad, because who are they to decide the future of life on Earth? And to be so callous and so short-term thinking and so quarterly earnings profit shareholder dividend-driven, that they are jeopardising biodiversity and quality of life for all of us.

Greta Thunberg:
To solve this problem we first need to understand it. It has its roots in racist, oppressive extractivism that is sacrificing people and nature to maximise short-term profits for a few fortunate.

Dahr Jamail:
Is it a given that the human species goes extinct? No. Does it look like that’s what’s going to happen? Very, very, very likely. It’s really hard to see that this does not end that way. But we don’t know for sure. And so, I don’t add the ‘but we don’t know for sure’-part to give false hope. I add it just because I think we have to have enough humility to say we’re this tiny little speck of life on Earth. We’ve never been here before. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We know things are going to get extremely hard and bad. And I think it’s a given that billions and billions of people are gonna die. Does that mean all the species goes? Who knows? But it means here we are in this moment where we can still love the Earth, we can still love each other, and we can still take care of each other, and the Earth – as the best we can. And I think it just brings all of that into focus right now.

Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson:
If we think about just how much we’re losing, that can be really hard. Yeah, that can be really hard to deal with. And as a scientist, I mean… I look at all these projections and I could cry looking at a graph because I know the amount of suffering and ecological loss that these numbers imply. But honestly, I feel quite lucky to have been born with a brain chemistry that’s not prone to depression, because given the amount of bad news I take in every day, that would be really hard to deal with.

Jimmy Carter, 1979:
In the struggle for an energy secure nation, it is time for us to join hands. Let us commit ourselves together.

Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson:
The ways we’re experiencing the horrors of environmental destruction are motivating people to get in the streets. But it’s also like: We love nature. We love clean rivers. We love all of these things, like, the caesaurus of aspen leaves. Why would you not want to keep that around? And it’s just a matter of, like, what do you do with those feelings?

Wanting to secure a good future for your children. This is the number one thing that drives people to do something about climate change. It really does come down to love as an enormously powerful motivator. I don’t have children, but if I did, I would want to be able to look them in the eye and say, ‘I did everything I could to secure your future.’ And I think most parents feel that way. I feel that way about my godchildren, for sure, feel that way about children that I barely know at all. And so I feel like, whether it’s fear, anger, or love, anxiety, like, all of those can lead to us further rolling up our sleeves. That’s the inflection that needs to happen for everybody. I mean, I guess perhaps it’s worth saying, ‘It’s OK not to be hopeful.’ I feel like there’s so much emphasis in our society on being hopeful, as if that’s the answer to unlocking everything. I’m not a hopeful person. I’m not an optimist. I see the data. I see what’s coming. But I also see the full range of possible futures. I feel, like, there’s so much that we could create. It’s not gonna be perfect, but yeah, how can we each be a part of getting it as right as possible?

SONG (40:16)
Oscar Stembridge: ‘Dont Lie to Me’

Extreme climate events are happening all over the world.
They’re becoming more common and more severe.

Sick and tired
Of you’ll be fine
You say that it’s gonna be alright
When the world is on fire
Go to sleep, but I can’t fall
You say that it’s gonna be alright
But it’s not at all

Looking through the cracks of a broken phone
Livin’ in a town full of broken homes
Don’t lie to me, lie to me
Don’t lie to me, lie to me
I know everything you don’t want me to know
It doesn’t make it sweeter when you sugarcoat
Don’t lie to me, lie to me
‘Cause your beautiful smile doesn’t mean anything in hell

(Oh-Ohhh)
Don’t lie to me, lie to me
(Oh-Ohhh)
Don’t lie to me, lie to me
(Oh-Ohhh)
‘Cause your beautiful smile doesn’t mean anything in hell

Don’t lie to me, lie to me
(Oh-Ohhh)
Don’t lie to me, lie to me
(Oh-Ohhh)
Don’t lie to me, lie to me
(Oh-Ohhh)

And my skin starts to crawl, the pain you caused
I’m drowning but you wouldn’t know
So who should I call?
Don’t keep me safe
Can we meet in the real place
Well life’s tough, love sucks
Shit happens and it hurts

Looking through the cracks of a broken phone
Livin’ in a town full of broken homes
Don’t lie to me, lie to me
Don’t lie to me, lie to me
I know everything you don’t want me to know
It doesn’t make it sweeter when you sugarcoat
Don’t lie to me, lie to me
‘Cause your beautiful smile doesn’t mean anything in hell

(Oh-Ohhh)
Don’t lie to me, lie to me
(Oh-Ohhh)
Don’t lie to me, lie to me
(Oh-Ohhh)
‘Cause your beautiful smile doesn’t mean anything in hell

Don’t lie to me, lie to me
(Oh-Ohhh)
Don’t lie to me, lie to me (Doesn’t mean anything in hell)
(Oh-Ohhh)
Don’t lie to me, lie to me
(Oh-Ohhh)
‘Cause your beautiful smile doesn’t mean anything in hell

Jimmy Carter, 1979:
First of all, we must face the truth. And then we can change our course. We simply must have faith in each other.

Mik Aidt: (43:14)
So Mark, tell us how it’s going with your organisation and the push to get people grounded?

Mark Carter:
We’re still just a small group meeting once a week, Monday nights, three or four of us. As has been implied by our earlier discussion, it is a challenging task and a lot of people are probably understandably working on emissions reduction, climate action in other sectors where emissions reductions are maybe more easily grasped.

We’ve got 120 people who’ve signed our commitment to be either flight free for a 12 month period and then renewing each sort of 12 months as they choose, but probably more than half of them are people who’ve committed not to fly until it’s emissions free. So sort of, not an annual thing.

And our work, just being the three or four of us in Tassie, in Sydney, in Melbourne, our work recently has been mainly concentrated on putting in submissions to, like as I mentioned, up the top, the white paper on the future of aviation in Australia, the Climate Change Authorities request for input on nationally what the government’s redefined nationally determined contribution to Mission Directive B – and we’re putting in a submission to this new transport and infrastructure Net Zero consultation roadmap, which is only two percent of it’s it’s the paper that’s put out for consultation only two percent of it of its length, it talks about aviation. It’s mainly talking about active travel, public transport, cycling, electric vehicles, and ground-based travel. And there’s a little bit more on marine shipping, but aviation doesn’t really get addressed to the degree that the points I’ve been making are a serious and warrant concern that… The roadmap that the government’s putting out is pretty, dodges the issue a fair bit.

Colin Mockett:
In that regard, Mark, isn’t it a bit odd to have a roadmap for aviation routes? But if you were magically transformed to become the Transport Minister of Australia, tomorrow, what would be the first thing that you would do to address the amount of emissions from the aviation industry?

Mark Carter:
I would – if I was in that fortunate position – I would do two things. One: address aviation emissions by announcing a cap on aviation fuel burn per year that would reduce annually at emergency speed to cut aviation emissions from all non-emergency flights to as close to zero as we could in the next five to 10 years, 2030 preferably. Announce the upgrading of our rail infrastructure to reduce travel time from up the East Coast and fast track the development of renewables powered battery electric short haul flights for regional Australians traveling back on aviation specifically, they’re currently getting a, whichever way you want to put it, a 90 per cent fossil fuel subsidy compared to road transport. The fuel tax they pay is 10 per cent of what road transports pay for fuel tax. I’d bring that up into parity to reduce the subsidy to aviation and other more interesting policies would be to, in the same way we introduced constraints on harmful to health activities, which we argue flying is, being the most warming thing we can do, to constrain frequent flyer programs, which are really just the promotion of fossil fuel emissions and announce a ban on airport expansions. The third runway at Melbourne Airport is probably about to be announced – to be approved – by Minister Catherine King in the next few weeks. And also consider banning advertising for flying.

Colin Mockett:
Well, that’s all positive stuff, and that can be done free of charge when you think about it. It’s just decisions that need to be taken by our politicians. Mark, we’re just about out of time now. We’re going to have to close, but I’d like to thank you very much for a really interesting discussion in this show. Have you got something, a final word for our listeners?

Mark Carter:
If they’ve got the time, it’d be worth going to flightfree.net.au, our website. At the top of the page, we’ve got a link to our briefing note, which covers in more detail reasons why the government’s so-called sustainable aviation fuel industry proposal is not a good thing for climate policy. Also on the website, there’s the form that if people feel they want to take sort of a personal approach to aviation emissions and sign on to our commitment to not fly for either a year or until it’s emissions free, there’s a form on the website as well. And contact@flightfree.net.au is our email address if you want to get in touch with us.

Mik Aidt:
I think the perspective we all need to also remember is that we are all together about this. The flying emissions is only bad because so many of us fly so much. And we could all do our bit in cutting down on our use of flying with airplanes. There’s actually been some studies done that show that the amount of emissions that come out from flying three times back and forth between London and Melbourne – three times back and forth – is the equivalent emissions to one death. One person dies every time an airplane has gone three times back and forth. If you want to read how the researchers reached this conclusion, all the maths of that, you’ll find that on climatesafety.info. There’s an article there. It’s high up in the ranking. And a lot of people are shocked to hear that, you know… If you’ve done three trips to Europe, you are complicit in the murder of one person. However, we just…

Colin Mockett:
What kind of a note is that to end with?

Mik Aidt:
I know!

Colin Mockett:
And you’ve ended up in London!

Mik Aidt:
I think the cheerful note we need to end on is that we can… we talked about degrowth in our Sustainable Hour last week, and we can also talk about slowing down, that we don’t need to rush when we travel. You know, we can take the train sometimes, even though it’s not a fast train, we can still take it. My sister, used to fly very often from France to Denmark. And even her, and this is a big thing in my little family, she has decided to take the train because she found out there was a night train that was actually quite convenient. It does take a lot longer, but it’s not more expensive and she feels a lot better.

Colin Mockett:
And if you take the night train, you can sleep.

Mik Aidt:
Yeah. And it’s like, you know, in the old days when we had sail ships, it took three months to travel from London to Melbourne, didn’t it? But I think we need to understand that we can still travel, we just travel slower and that’s not a bad thing.

Mark Carter:
Yeah! On that, that’s the thing about rail travel and ground travel is that, okay, it’s slower, but it connects us with the landscape in which we live, our physical location and the physical world where it’s flying only accentuates that distance and separation that I would argue often in our modern world that separates us from our physical reality. I mean, so many of… You started off the show with all the news from around the world and stuff, and… Our government in aviation and other things is in a mental reality where we’ve got a keep running the economy, et cetera, a growth economy the same way, whereas our physical reality is telling us: ‘Hey, things aren’t working out!’ So that connection with the physical reality is accentuated by traveling over land, whereas the flying keeps us in this little sort-of mental bubble that everything can keep getting faster and faster.

Mik Aidt:
And: ‘It’s not my problem. I can’t fix it, so I will just do what everyone else does.’ So it really begins with, and this brings us to how we end the Hour today, we’ll have to, to the good old slogan we’ve set for 10 years when we end the program where we say, you need to dare to be the difference.

Colin Mockett:
Yep. And stay grounded.

Mark Carter:
Dare to be grounded. Yes. Grounded in reality.


SONG (53:51)

Carmen Modjito: ‘House is on Fire’ (2020)
My house is on fire,
will you call the fireman?
Will you break down the door
And help me out?
There’s no escape
The world outside’s on fire too
And the firemen aren’t coming
They’ve run dry today
Defunded just like health
And science and education
All the kinds of innovation
we really need
Smoke is rising
And we’re rising

Make a light
The house is on fire
Make a light
The house is on fire
Make a light
The house is on fire

Money, by only organic and fair trade, honey
better yet: save the bees, save the trees
do something to pay off your meaningless degrees
cause we’re all come to nothing
if we don’t start holding
the powerful accountable
for letting our husband down
while they sit counting their green
Instead of acting on the science
that keeps coming and coming
and coming and coming and
coming and coming

Make it like
the house is on fire
Make it like
the house is on fire
Make it like
the house is on fire

Age of the millennial in Gen Z too.
We’re on fire for our future, it’s on fire too.
We’ve been prepping, now we’re judging.
Age of the millennial and Gen Z too.
We’re on fire for our future, it’s on fire too.
We’ve been waiting, we’ve been watching,
we’ve been prepping, now we’re judging.
It’s our turn now, it’s our turn now, it’s our turn now, it’s our turn now!

Make it like
the house is on fire
Make it like
the house is on fire

Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General: (57:34)
Time is short. The clock is ticking.

Yellow Dot Studio video:

I’m Dr. Peter Kalmas.
I’m Dr. Peter Kalmas.
I’m Dr. Peter Kalmas.
I’m Dr. Peter Kalmas.

I’m a climate scientist. For decades, we’ve told you that we’re all in grave danger due to our planet overheating.
This overheating is effectively irreversible.
And it threatens everything.
It threatens food and stability.
And civilization.
It threatens forests and reefs.
It threatens our lives.
And it is caused by the fossil fuel industry.
Fossil fuel industry.
Fossil fuel industry.
This summer we’ve seen the oceans overheat.
We’ve seen sea ice disappear.
We’ve seen unprecedented fires and smoke.
We’ve seen crazy off-the-charts heat.
It’s even worse than we thought.
The climate crisis is here.
It’s getting worse fast.
Humans caused this.
Humans caused this.
Humans caused this.
Every day we wait to act,
we lose more, irreversibly.
But this means that humans can stop it.
And yet the politicians and corporate leaders and governments around the world continue to expand oil, coal, and gas.
They’re expanding the very thing that’s causing this emergency.
They make money while we experience floods, deadly heat, fires, the destruction of our homes, livelihoods, and ways of life.
We’re headed to a level of warming in the next handful of years that will create immeasurable suffering and death.
But just how bad it gets depends on what we do right now.
Our leaders are absolutely dropping the ball. They are.
They are fucking this up.
They are fucking this up.
They are fucking this up.
Earth has been around 4.5 billion years.
And our leaders today are causing the sixth mass extinction.
What we are doing today ranks in the top six worst things to happen on Earth.
Including the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs.
I’m Dr. Peter Kalmas.
We need to end fossil fuels.
We need to end fossil fuels.
We need to switch to clean energy.
We need to get money out of politics.
Become a climate activist.
And use your time to help climate scientists make their point.
Our only chance is to wake up the public to climate urgency.
The faster we can join together and do this, the more we will save.



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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

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

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Live-streaming on Wednesdays

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The Sustainable Hour is streamed live on the Internet and broadcasted on FM airwaves in the Geelong region every Wednesday from 11am to 12pm (Melbourne time).

» 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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Podcast archive

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