The countdown to climate action has begun.
The Victorian government has until March 31 next year to set the state's first short- and mid- term Emissions Reduction Targets and we're not wasting any time.
Friends of the Earth's Act on Climate collective is fighting for science-based targets that will get us to zero emissions as soon as possible.
With Australia's emissions increasing on the Federal Coalition's watch, we need the Victorian Labor government to show greater leadership on the climate crisis to help put the country back on track and avoid runaway climate change.
Here's a quick update on our efforts over the last month...
The Victorian Labor government has licence to take bold and ambitious action on climate change.
New polling commissioned by The Australia Institute has uncovered a high degree of community acceptance of the urgency of the climate crisis as well as support for rapidly cutting emissions.
The poll's findings should embolden the Andrews Labor government which has less than a year to set the state's first interim Emissions Reduction Targets (for 2025 and 2030).
The Australia Institute polling found a massive 69 percent of Victorians polled agreed "we need strong government action to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transform Australia's economy to one that is zero-carbon."
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.Read more
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 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."Read more
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."
Matthew Guy and the Victorian Coalition announced their intention to build a new ‘baseload’ 500 MW power station if elected at the November state election.
Friends of the Earth say the Liberal party's decision to release an energy policy open to new gas and coal power fails the climate change test when renewable energy is the best option to cut emissions and deliver cheaper power for Victorians.
“We are pleased that the Coalition has finally released its full energy policy. But they have let the Victorian people down by proposing a policy which could have come from the 1950s,” said Cam Walker of Friends of the Earth.
“The energy of the future is renewable. It is extraordinary that the Coalition still intends to overturn the VRET – the state renewable energy target which is driving the uptake of renewables while creating thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of investment.Read more
On Saturday 10 November, around 100 community members have formed a human sign in the shape of the Liberal Party logo on St Kilda Beach to mock Matthew Guy and the opposition’s head-in-the-sand approach to climate change by doing just that: putting their heads in the sand.
Community members concerned about climate change are deeply frustrated that the opposition has failed to deliver a climate policy, with Victoria less then two weeks away from a state election.
"Despite having had four years to come up with a comprehensive policy, Matthew Guy and the Liberal opposition have no plan to rein in emissions and protect Victorian communities from climate impacts if elected on November 24," said Act on Climate spokesperson Anna Langford.
The Victorian election is a little over a month away and the campaign is heating up.
While climate change is an under-reported issue at the state level, one place where it could have electoral impact is the regional seat of Macedon where leadership on renewable energy and pioneering efforts to cut emissions are visible to the community.
The release of the IPCC's Special Report on the impacts of 1.5C of global warming has piqued the public's awareness of what's at stake if governments fail to rein in polluting oil, gas, and coal companies and drive emissions cuts across the whole economy.
The Federal Coalition's comprehensive failure to address the issue has left many in the community frustrated and angry—particularly when climate impacts such as drought and winter bushfires are becoming more and more obvious.
With environmental organisations calling for greater leadership at the state level and communities spearheading local efforts, political parties and their candidates are expected to demonstrate climate literacy, outline their plans to cut emissions, and help communities cope with the climate impacts that are now locked in (and set to get worse).