Friends of the Earth has welcomed the Andrews government's twin announcements of the Grampians New Energy Taskforce and funding for the Asia-Pacific Renewable Energy Centre at Federation Uni in Ballarat, yet the group has called for a planned approach for investment in climate change solutions from the state government.
"By making investments like these the Andrews government is acknowledging the importance of acting on climate change," said Act on Climate Vic coordinator Leigh Ewbank.
"To make sure Victorians are getting the most bang for buck the Andrews government can take the next step and establish a Victorian Climate Change Action Fund to address this critical issue."
With alarming melting of the polar icecaps underway, back-to-back bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, and Australia seeing a longer and more intense bushfire season, we have no time to waste when it comes to action on climate change.
Yet Australia's emissions are rising and funding for climate change initiatives has been slashed on the Federal Coalition government's watch. The policy failure leaves communities exposed to intensifying heatwaves, bushfires, droughts, and extreme weather.
It's time for Premier Daniel Andrews to push back on the Turnbull government and show leadership on climate change.
In 2017, the state Labor government established the $4.3 million Victorian Climate Change Innovation Partnerships (VCCIP) Grant Scheme to help community groups, local councils, businesses, and non-government organisations rollout innovative climate solutions.
But there's a problem... Demand for the climate grant scheme dramatically outstripped what was available.
The Act on Climate collective and community members took the case for climate action to the Victorian Parliament on World Environment Day 2018—presenting the government, opposition, and the Greens with a community statement calling for leadership.
The statement calls for party leaders—Premier Daniel Andrews, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, and Samantha Ratnam (Greens)—to consider the community's views and provide a response.
A few weeks earlier, on April 22, over fifty community members participated in a discussion about climate impacts, brainstormed positive solutions to the issue, and formed unanimous agreement on the need for Victorian political parties to take urgent action.
The ‘crowd-sourced’ ideas formed the basis of the statement which was handed over to Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio; Minister and member for Albert Park, Martin Foley; Greens MP for Melbourne, Ellen Sandell; as well as Liberal party shadows for energy and environment, David Southwick and Nick Wakeling.
The supporters who joined us to handover the statement shared powerful testimony about their concerns regarding climate impacts with the Parliamentarians.
Deputy Premier and Emergency Services Minister James Merlino has told a parliamentary inquiry that climate change is putting an increasing strain on Victoria's emergency services such as firefighting.
"Climate change is real and it's having an impact on our emergency services," Mr Merlino said.
In statements to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee, the Minister noted that Victoria's bushfire season is starting earlier, lasting longer, and becoming more intense from climate change. These factors are making it challenging to manage the aviation fleet of large tankers that are also used in the northern hemisphere.
Friends of the Earth commend the Deputy Premier for his frank comments about the real impacts of climate change.
"It's refreshing to hear Deputy Premier James Merlino's honest comments about the impacts of climate change," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth's Act on Climate coordinator.
"Mr Merlino's comments underscore the need for urgent action to tackle climate change."
Environment group Friends of the Earth says big ticket items to tackle climate change and protect Victoria’s environment are the “missing piece of the puzzle” in budget 2018/19—a disappointing one for the environment.
The Andrews government’s allocation towards climate change and environment is down from last year’s budget--from $798 million in budget 2017/18 to $266 million this budget cycle.
"With climate change impacts becoming more and more obvious, it’s disappointing to see the Andrews government’s 2018 budget fail to deliver big ticket items for climate change and environmental protection," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth spokesperson.
“The community is looking to the Labor government to have vision when it comes to our environment—such as by establishing the Great Forest National Park and championing the rollout of renewable energy.”
Friends of the Earth say the downward trajectory of environment-related expenditure is a sign the budget process is failing to account for climate change:
"While the government in planning ahead when it comes to education, health, and infrastructure, it’s failing to plan ahead for the great challenge of our time—climate change,” said Leigh Ewbank.
Over fifty community members from the City of Port Phillip and surrounds gathered in St Kilda on Sunday April 22, to celebrate Earth Day, break the radio silence on climate change, and call for politicians to act.
The event--organised by community environment group Friends of the Earth and supported by the Port Phillip Ecocentre--drew a strong crowd of locals who spent the day developing an Earth Day Statement calling on Victorian politicians to act on climate change.
The Central Goldfields town of Tarnagulla has been announced as the first recipient of the Victorian government's Climate Change Innovation Partnerships grant scheme.
Under the name of the Tarnagulla Alternative Energy Group, community members have received a $50,000 grant to help protect the community from the impacts of climate change.
The grant will fund a detailed investigation into local climate impacts, such as extreme weather, and resiliency measures.
"The study will give us a very clear picture of how climate change impacts people as a community and as individuals," said Linda Kennedy, Tarnagulla resident and initiator of the grant application.
"I would like to walk away from the project with a strongly connected and resilient community and a firm plan of future actions for our town."