On Wednesday 10 April, Victoria’s Minister for Agriculture, Regional Development, and Resources Jaclyn Symes gave her inaugural address to the Rural Press Club.
Friends of the Earth’s Act on Climate collective was there to see how climate change would feature in the minister’s address. As it turns out, it was high on the agenda.
"We know that while there are parts of rural and regional Victoria doing well, there are other areas who are doing it tough," said Minister Symes.
"This is most prevalent in those areas dealing with drought and dry conditions… And that’s why climate change and drought are driving a lot of my thinking."
"It’s these factors that require me to not only think about my role over the next four years but helping our farmers and their communities set themselves up for the next forty years."
Elaborating on the impacts of climate change in Victoria, Minister Symes noted farming communities had seen drought, fire, flood, storm damage and frost in recent years and said she was “truly shocked” to see the impacts of drought in East Gippsland.
After a confronting summer in which we have seen record-breaking heatwaves across the continent and damaging bushfires in Victoria, community members are looking for governments to show leadership to tackle the climate crisis.
Environment group Friends of the Earth have welcomed news of a large-scale wind and battery hub proposed for a timber plantation in southwest Victoria, saying it could be a key plank of Victoria's efforts on climate change.
“After a confronting summer in which the community has witnessed serious climate impacts including drought, bushfires and flood," said Friends of the Earth's renewable energy spokesperson Pat Simons, "the need to transition away from coal and gas is urgent.”
If the Kentbruck Greenpower Hub gets the green light, the wind and battery storage project could be one of the largest in the country, with a generation capacity totalling 900 megawatts, helping to firm up the power grid while cutting pollution.
Environment group Friends of the Earth Melbourne are pleased to see an new wind farm proposed for the Latrobe Valley and say the project shows state efforts to tackle climate change are gaining momentum.
The group that led the community campaign for a Victorian Renewable Energy Target says the Delburn Wind Farm is a sign the state’s energy sector is in transition.
“Victoria’s energy system is shifting from polluting fossil fuels towards clean renewable energy and it’s good news for efforts to tackle climate change,” said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth’s climate spokesperson.
According to proponent OSMI, the Delburn Wind Farm would generate enough electricity to power 200,000 homes, cut Victoria’s carbon emissions by 980,000 tonnes of carbon per annum, and operate for 25 years.
The Federal Coalition’s last-ditch attempt to hit the reset button on climate change has been a flop with several dozen community members appearing at a snap rally at the Prime Minister’s press conference in Melbourne this morning.
“The Coalition has failed to review the science and adopt measures that are commensurate with the scale and urgency of the climate crisis,” said Leigh Ewbank, FoE climate spokesperson.
“An Emissions Reduction Fund that fails to keep coal, oil, and gas in the ground is a hoax.”
Friends of the Earth says the Coalition’s record of undermining action on climate change is not easily forgotten by the community.
“If the Coalition wants to be taken seriously on climate change it would apologise to the Australian people for actively undermining action since it formed government in 2013,” said Leigh Ewbank.
The Act on Climate collective is rested, recharged, and ready for another big year.
Before we fill you in on our priorities in 2019, it's worth noting our impact during the state election year.
Our sustained campaign to hold the Liberal party to account for a head-in-the sand approach to climate change had a huge impact. The absence of a climate policy is considered a key reason why the Coalition haemorrhaged votes in the November election.
In his first press conference, new opposition leader Michael O'Brien noted the need to engage with climate policy and has appointed the Coalition's first Shadow Minister for Climate Change.
In an acknowledgment that our call for investment in climate action is being heard by Labor, Minister for Climate Change Lily D'Ambrosio recently announced a $1 million grant scheme for regions to investigate change impacts. Yet a greater level of investment is needed.
Now the dust has settled from the state election we're returning our focus securing bold and ambitious climate action in Victoria.
The Andrews Labor government has announced a $1 million Community Climate Change Adaptation Grants program for regional Victoria, yet Friends of the Earth says the allocation "falls short of community demand."
"Every dollar the state government spends to help communities respond to climate change is a wise investment," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth climate spokesperson.
"Yet Victorian communities will need much more then $1 million to cope with the impacts of climate change."
The Federal Coalition government's failure on climate change has seen the country's emissions increase for three consecutive years. This failure leaves Victorian communities exposed to intensifying droughts, heatwaves, bushfires, rising seas, and extreme weather.
Regional Victoria is already experiencing climate impacts. For example, Cape Conran saw a winter bushfire last year and community members have sounded the alarm over the impact of rising sea levels in Apollo Bay and Inverloch.
"With the Federal Coalition failing to act on climate change, we need to see greater leadership from Premier Daniel Andrews and the Labor government."
Environment group Friends of the Earth Australia reject indications that the Morrison government will seek to use public funds to underwrite new coal and gas projects, and say they should be 100% focused on landmark renewable energy projects like the proposed Star of the South offshore wind farm instead.
“Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the federal Coalition have learned nothing from the Liberal party's drubbing in the recent Victorian state election” said Friends of the Earth climate spokesperson Leigh Ewbank.
The Liberal party's support for coal and gas was resoundingly rejected by voters in at the Wentworth by-election and at the November state election in Victoria.
“When community support for action on climate change is on the rise, the Coalition government's support for polluting fossil fuels will go down like a lead balloon” added Ewbank.
While time is running out to act on climate change, the Coalition's obsession with coal and gas only imperils Australia's future.
The United Nations' annual Conference of Party's climate change meeting is now underway in Poland. Seasoned climate activist and citizen journalist has the following report on Australia's performance at Katowice. Originally published here.
It just wouldn't be a United Nations Climate Change conference COP in recent years without Australia at the Fossil of the Day Awards. And this year does not disappoint.
The failure to rule out use of Kyoto carbon credits to meet it's low Paris Agreement 2030 targets while demanding robust accounting and transparency is just too galling. Even best buddy New Zealand reckons, Crikey, using Kyoto credits is just too much.
And watching the Australian ambassador for the Environment on the panel of the US side-event promoting coal the other day...
Friends of the Earth have welcomed the reappointment of Lily D’Ambrosio as Minister for Energy, Environment, and Climate Change, saying a steady hand will guide policy in Victoria while policy chaos continues at the Federal level.
“The reappointment of Lily D’Ambrosio as the minister for climate change and energy is good news for efforts to tackle climate change,” said Leigh Ewbank, FoE climate change spokesperson.
“With climate and energy policy chaos continuing at the Federal level under the Coalition, a steady hand is needed in Victoria to rein in emissions and help Australia meet its international commitments."
Election day is finally nigh, and it's time for a final coordinator update from Leigh, wrapping up the campaign so far. But before that, we have on-the-street interviews with Sam Hibbins, Greens MP for Prahran, and the Labor and AJP candidates for Prahran.
Please note, the opinions of Mark and Climactic are not representative of Act on Climate or Friends of the Earth. In conversation with a Liberal supporter, Mark expressed a willingness to have the argument about nuclear power. This is not representative of the opinion of FoE, and he does not speak as a representative for the group.