Pollie Watch: Govt, Opp, and Greens receive community statement on climate action as election nears

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.

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Deputy Premier says Climate Change is Impacting Emergency Services

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."

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Bulgana Green Power Hub demonstrates economic benefits of climate action: Will local Liberal MP support jobs & investment?

Friends of the Earth welcome the commencement of construction of the Bulgana Green Energy Hub near Stawell and say the project demonstrates the economic benefits of climate change solutions. But will the local Liberal MP Louise Staley support local jobs and investment? 

"Victorian climate change solutions such as the Bulgana Green Power Hub bring jobs and investment to regional communities," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth climate spokesperson. 

"The facility will contribute towards Victoria meeting its legislated target of zero net emissions by 2050--something the whole community can be proud of."
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Coalition's budget failure on climate change "no surprise," say Friends of the Earth

National environment group Friends of the Earth says the Federal Coalition's 2018 budget failure on climate change comes as "no surprise" and underscores the need for greater leadership from states and territories.

"Treasurer Scott Morrison used the budget speech to rule out setting the ambitious Emissions Reduction Targets needed to avoid dangerous climate change. And he did so without mentioning climate change," said Leigh Ewbank of Friends of the Earth.

"Mr Morrison's refusal to mention climate change in the budget address is a slap in the face of community members who are exposed to the intensifying climate impacts such late-season bushfires."

Despite climate change impacts becoming more obvious and demanding urgent attention, the 2018 budget papers show a steady decline in investment in climate change. Initiatives such as the well-performing Clean Energy Finance Corporation and controversial Emissions Reduction Fund taper off over the forward estimates.

"Given that we're seeing alarming melting of the polar icecaps, the decline of the Great Barrier Reef, record-breaking heat in April, and late-season bushfires, political leaders of substance would be making climate change a priority."

"Australia needs to arrest the declining investment in climate solutions if we're to make headway on international commitments to cut emissions."

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Climate and environment: Big-ticket items the missing piece of the puzzle in Vic budget 2018

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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.

 

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Community members gather in St Kilda to break the radio silence on climate change and call for action

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.

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Tarnagulla community secures grant to prepare for climate impacts

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."

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Paul Hawken weighs in on Victoria’s Emissions Reduction Targets

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Due to the
 Federal Coalition government’s continued failure on climate action, state and territory governments must step up and lead.

The Victorian government has the opportunity to establish itself as national leader on climate change by setting 
ambitious Emissions Reduction Targets (ERTs). The importance of these targets was articulated by renowned environmentalist Paul Hawken at the recent Climate Change Drawdown Summit in Bendigo.

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$2 billion Snowy windfall could help Victoria prepare for climate impacts

The Federal government’s purchase of Victoria’s share of the iconic Snowy Hydro Scheme will deliver a $2 billion windfall for the state.

Friends of the Earth say the rare windfall could fund Victoria’s first climate-focused state budget. 

“With the need to tackle climate change becoming more urgent, the state government must ramp up investment in measures to rein in emissions and protect communities from climate impacts,” said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth spokesperson. 

“The Andrews government could use the $2 billion windfall from selling Victoria’s share of the iconic scheme to prepare our state for the 21st Century challenge of climate change.”

The Snowy Hydro Scheme is regarded as a visionary, nation-building project that had a lasting impact on Victoria. Will the windfall be used to invest in similarly visionary project? The state government has the money, does it have the political will?

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Victoria’s Emissions Reduction Targets: A Primer

The Federal Coalition government’s failure to act on climate change is well known. Recently released data shows national emissions are increasing and that Australia will fail to meet emissions cuts it pledged under the Paris Agreement.

Regressive political forces at the national level have seen states and territories step up and lead on climate change. But they’ll have to make the most of existing initiatives to maintain the momentum and prevent the worst climate impacts from occurring.

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The Andrews government strengthened the Victorian
Climate Change Act in 2017 after winning the support of The Greens and crossbenchers. The Act legislates a target of zero net emissions by 2050 and requires governments to set interim Emissions Reduction Targets every five years.  

This year, the Andrews government committed to set Victoria's first two Emissions Reduction Targets for 2025 and 2030. An independent panel has been assembled to advise the government on targets to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Strong targets are essential to action on climate change and will set the trajectory for how quickly our state reins in emissions.

At Act on Climate we understand that policy processes can be complicated. It can be difficult to figure out how we can take part in these processes. Because of this, we have put together this FAQ to explain the process.

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