The community campaign to secure science-based Emissions Reduction Targets for Victoria has entered a new phase.
Tuesday March 31 was the deadline for Premier Dan Andrews and Cabinet to make its decision on the targets for 2025 and ’30.
The waiting game for the announcement has begun. The government must table the targets in the Parliament within ten sitting days of March 31, so the decision is expected some time between May 5 and June 18.
When the time comes we will be ready. But for now, it’s worth acknowledging the incredible community effort that took a niche policy issue and made it the focal point of climate campaigning in Victoria.
It has been a long campaign.
Friends of the Earth’s push for science-based targets started with the formation of the Act on Climate collective and a postcard petition in the summer of 2016/17.
A quick-start campaign in January and February 2017 helped secure the upper house votes needed for the strengthened Climate Change Bill to become law. The passage of the Climate Change Act 2017 would set the movement up to influence the pace of emissions cuts over the next decade.
When the Climate Change Act took effect on 1 November, a rally on the steps of Parliament and a briefing for MPs presented the Climate Budget and science-based targets as essential next steps for our state's response to the climate crisis–an opportunity to bend the emissions curve towards zero (as quickly as possible).
The process for setting the targets kicked off in early 2018 with the appointment of Greg Combet to advise the government on the level of ambition. The Act on Climate campaign managed to muster over 250 submissions to the Combet Review.
Our ability to build momentum was curtailed when the government deferred its decision on the targets until after the 2018 state election. We held the government to account for not living up to its commitment to set the target that year with an eye to the future.
It was in 2019 when the push for science-based targets resumed and really took off.
We raised the public profile of the Emissions Reduction Targets by releasing analysis to The Age.
Thousands of people emailed key the Premier and key Cabinet ministers to put the issue on their agenda. We mobilised supporters to flood the government with over 2,500 submissions calling for ambition—a tenfold increase on the previous year’s total.
We brought fresh voices into the debate by working with community members in Inverloch (which has seen 50 metres of coastal erosion since 2012) and organising a delegation of School Strikers to meet the Victorian Minister for Climate Change.
We put the Climate Blockers on the backfoot with a walking tour of their corporate offices, snap rally at EnergyAustralia HQ, and surprise delivery of coal for Christmas.
And we implored Labor MPs to “lead the drive for less than 1.5°C” in dozens of meetings and surprise visits during a Week of Action with Environment Victoria.
The new decade marked the final push of the campaign, though the COVID-19 pandemic would interrupt campaigning as usual.
In the weeks before the lockdown, we facilitated over 1,500 conversations across the state via our postcard petition, brought the Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action into the debate, and organised two memorable human signs at Monash University and Hepburn Wind farm.
When physical distancing and self isolation kicked in we cancelled our Week of Action (with events across the state) and made our final push on social media. Big hitters of the wind energy sector supported us in a joint statement to the government.
So what comes after that epic community effort?
It’s time to set the scene for the government's announcement.
A donation to our campaign will ensure we're on deck and keeping the issue on the agenda.
In coming weeks we will release University of Melbourne modelling on how Victoria can deliver the emissions cuts needed to meet a 1.5°C trajectory and the jobs that come from ambitious climate action, and more.
Importantly, we will be preparing for the announcement. Our response will depend on whether the targets that are based on science or political expediency.
Will the day be remembered as a celebration of Victorian climate leadership or for a protest registering discontent at a missed opportunity?...
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That's all from us for now. See you on the campaign trail...