Climate Change Impacts Victoria: An Introduction

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Climate change is the challenge of our times. If global efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C are unsuccessful then we'll see intensifying impacts in Australia and abroad. 

Here in Victoria, the state’s electricity sector is transitioning away from polluting coal and gas towards clean renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and storage. Not only is the shift an essential first step towards reining in greenhouse emissions that cause climate change, but it's one that will create thousands of jobs, attract investment to our state, and help develop a new industry.

"When the winds of change blow, some build walls while others build windmills." - Chinese proverb

Unfortunately, some politicians are using this period of change for point scoring. Some Members of Parliament and their surrogates will take any opportunity to slow the transition no matter how spurious their arguments. Electricity supply and the distribution network is (intentionally?) conflated in public commentary, while renewable energy is blamed for any problem that occurs.

Despite all the noise generated by the #SpringSt debate, we must remember that #ClimateImpactsVic. Here's a brief introduction to the issue... 

BAD NEWS: CLIMATE IMPACTS ARE HERE & NOW

Climate change is driving unprecedented melting of the polar icecaps and bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef. More locally, parts of
Victoria experienced a record dry June in 2017, extreme rainfall in December 2017, and faces an increased bushfire risk in summer.

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Throughout our frequent trips to rural and regional Victoria, people have told us climate change is “changing the seasons.” We have heard community concern about the bushfire season starting earlier and lasting longer; intensifying heatwaves; and the impact of extreme weather (heavy downpours, etc). 

POLITICAL SITUATION: FEDS FAIL ON CLIMATE

Despite seeing worrying climate-influenced disasters across the world last year, the Federal government refuses to act on climate change. 

Since taking office in 2013, the Abbott/Turnbull Coalition has scrapped national climate change policies, attacked renewable energy, and come to the aid of coal and gas interests like the Adani coal mine.

More recently, PM Malcolm Turnbull and his team buried the findings of a climate policy review in the Christmas break. Adding insult to injury, recently released data shows national emissions are increasing and that Australia will fail to meet emissions cuts under the Paris climate agreement.


Policy failure at the Federal level has left Victorian communities exposed to climate change impacts—from increasing heatwaves, droughts, and bushfires.

GOOD NEWS: THE COMMUNITY IS ACTING ON CLIMATE

Communities across Victoria—from Portland to Yackandandah—are already rolling out climate change solutions. Solar and wind farms are popping up in the regions. And towns such as Donald and Charlton are investing in flood levies to protect vulnerable parts of the community.

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There is a growing chorus calling on Victorian political parties to show leadership where the Turnbull government has failed.

GOOD NEWS: PROGRESS IN VICTORIA

In 2017, the Victorian government strengthen state climate change laws, banned onshore gasfields (a potent source of emissions), and legislated ambitious Victorian Renewable Energy Targets. 

Victoria's renewable energy rollout will cut electricity sector emissions up to 16 percent, helping the state meet its legislated net-zero emissions target by 2050.

WHAT WE NEED FROM VICTORIAN POLITICIANS

It will take leadership from Victoria to rein in emissions and protect communities from climate change impacts.

The Climate Change Act 2017 legislates a target of net-zero emissions by 2050. The Andrews government is required to set interim Emissions Reduction Targets for the years 2025 and 2030. It is expected to set these targets in 2018. 

It’s essential Victoria sets science-based Emissions Reduction Targets to meet the global goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C. By adopting science-based targets, Premier Daniel Andrews can trump PM Malcolm Turnbull’s meagre offering. 

There's also a critical need to ramp up investment in climate change solutions with Victoria’s first climate-focused state budget. We’ve seen tens of billions invested in infrastructure and $1.9 billion to tackle the important issue of family violence. It’s time climate change received the investment it deserves. 

Lastly, Matthew Guy and the Liberal National Party has been quiet on the issue to date. Yet the community expects all parties to publicly release a climate policy well before polling day. With a focus on law and order, the opposition can easily commit to uphold the state's climate change laws (the Climate Change Act 2017). 

TAKE ACTION:

  • Sign our petition to call on Matthew Guy and the Liberal National Party to get serious about climate change. 
  • Print some copies of the Act on Climate infosheet and share them at your workplace, local library, and community centre. 
  • Get involved in the campaign by joining the Act on Climate collective. 
  • Make a donation to help keep Act on Climate's ongoing work to support communities and secure a climate budget.

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