On Wednesday 26 February, Friends of the Earth had the opportunity to present to the Victorian Parliament's inquiry into community action on climate change. Here's Act on Climate coordinator Leigh Ewbank's statement to the Planning & Environment committee:
In my time at Friends of the Earth, I’ve seen the incredible commitment of Victorian communities to tackling the climate crisis.
Friends of the Earth is a community-driven organisation formed in 1974. We have been a strong voice for environmental protection and social justice since then.
We have been engaged on the issue of climate change for over two decades and work towards cutting greenhouse gas emissions and building resilience through practical programs and advocacy.
Friends of the Earth’s Food Co-op & Café in Collingwood is a case in point. With produce from 150 farmers across the state, the café serves organic, seasonal, and vegan meals to our community every day.
The intentional use of local produce minimises the embodied carbon emissions from excessive transportation. Each year the café serves over 24,000 plates of food including to vulnerable people in the neighbourhood.
The co-op has also pioneered local organic waste composting to demonstrate ways to reduce methane emissions from food waste going to landfill and encourage low-carbon food production.
All compostable waste from the cafe is transported to a nearby primary school, which is only a couple of hundred metres away, where it is composted and used by the students to grow vegetables and educate them about the benefits of urban farming.
In addition to these practical examples, Friends of the Earth has been actively involved in advocacy. Each night of the week, dozens of community members work together on positive solutions.
In less than two months, the Andrews government will make its decision on the state’s first Emissions Reduction Targets for 2025 and ’30. And we’re not wasting a minute calling for ambition.
The summer bushfires and the impact they’ve had on communities, responders, wildlife and the natural world remind us what’s at stake if we fail to tackle the climate crisis.
Here’s a quick update on our efforts over the last month...
Victorian opposition leader Michael O'Brien has responded to surging community concern about the climate crisis by announcing a policy shift on the issue, accepting the need for state emissions reductions.
Friends of the Earth says the shift is a positive first step.
Mr O'Brien told The Age newspaper that state Emissions Reduction Targets were necessary in the absence of a "consistent national policy."
The Victorian Liberal leader also called on the Morrison government to set national targets for cutting emissions beyond 2030.
Do you want Victoria to be the national leader on climate action?...
Do you think climate policy should be based on science not political expediency?...
Do you want to show the Morrison government what real climate action looks like?...
There’s just ten weeks to influence the Andrews government's decision on state Emissions Reduction Targets for 2025 and ‘30.
It’s a decision that will set the pace of climate action in Victoria for the next decade and have major implications for energy policy, transport planning, forest protection, and more.
The window of opportunity to influence the decision closing fast so we have to make every day count.
With climate impacts occurring much faster than scientists predicted, the key litmus test for the government is whether the targets help keep global warming below 1.5°C.
Here's what we have in store to demonstrate to strong community support for climate leadership and counter the fossil fuel lobbyists who will be working behind the scenes for loopholes and low ambition.
We’re calling on all community climate champions like you join us on the campaign trail over the next ten weeks so that our call for science-based targets is one that cannot be ignored...
Industry is ramping up its campaign to have Victoria's moratorium on gas drilling ripped up, but Friends of the Earth says they will face strong community opposition.
"Communities fought long and hard to win a ban on fracking and moratorium on conventional gas drilling in Victoria, and will ," said Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth campaigns coordinator.
Between 2011 and 2017, hundreds of thousands of community members in rural and regional Victoria campaigned for a permanent ban on fracking and moratorium on onshore conventional gas drilling.
The unprecedented community campaign was so powerful that the government, opposition, and micro parties voted in support of protecting farmland from gas drilling.
"Has industry forgotten the unprecedented community campaign to protect farmland and water from risky gas drilling?," asked Cam Walker.
"Developers should respect the fact that Victorians revoked the social licence for gas drilling."
By Alex Kelly
As Australia’s horrific bushfire season continues Alex Kelly shares suggestions for people who want to take action. Alex has been involved in social justice media and art making for over 20 years. During 2014-2016 she worked as the Global Impact & Distribution Producer on Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis’ project This Changes Everything, supporting the development of movements of movements around the world. She currently has a speculative futures project – The Things We Did Next – and a number of films in development.
A lot of people have messaged me saying “the fires have really rocked me. I’m angry and I want real action on climate but what can I DO?” Here are some initial ideas to get you started.
Please note this article is not about how to respond to these immediate fires, it’s some more long term ideas. I also haven’t included divestment, eco transport, banking ethically, etc, but those kind of actions are fairly easy to find on campaign sites.
I think what we need now is twofold:
1. Strong community adaptation and resilience, and
2. Powerful movements of movements to challenge the planet wreckers and put an urgent end to fossil fuels and extraction.
Firstly, you don’t have to drop what you’re doing; you can start where you are with what you have; use your skills and influence your own networks, friends and workplaces. If we are realistic about climate change it’s clear we need to transform everything about our economy and energy systems so every industry and much of our infrastructure needs to change; you can influence the areas you know and care about.Read more
UPDATED: Sunday 5 January:
With fires devastating communities and landscapes in East Gippsland, north east Victoria, south west Victoria, southern NSW, and across many other parts of the country, it has been a sombre start to the year.
All those affected by the bushfire—the firefighters, first responders, community members, and wildlife — are front of mind for us.
The scale of these bushfires is unprecedented. It’s why we’re calling on supporters to give generously to the bushfire relief and recovery efforts.
Here is an initial list of ideas about how you can help affected communities:
The Federal Coalition is currently enjoying its third term in government. And yet, like Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull before him, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is seriously failing Australia on climate solutions.
The Federal Coalition has been under a steadily rising pressure from climate change advocacy groups since its ascension in 2013.
To date, the Federal Coalition still has not provided a policy agenda to mitigate catastrophic climate change by reducing emissions. Data released earlier this year reveals that national emissions are increasing rather than decreasing.
It is not simply a matter of ignorance or inaction on the part of the Federal Coalition but wilful environmental vandalism.
Many commentators have linked the Coalition's destructive climate policies to the climate effects that are increasingly experienced in Australia, for example coastal erosion and severe weather events like the recent bushfires, as well as abroad such as rising sea levels affecting the Pacific Islands.
Act on Climate has previously showcased some of the Coalition's climate failure highlights between 2013-18.
As we near the end of 2019, let's take a look at some of the 'highlights' of their climate vandalism and neglect over the last two years...Read more
Last month, the Victorian Labor Party met for its annual conference on November 16 and 17. During the conference, Victorian Labor passed motions backing climate science and offshore wind.
The Labor Environment Action Network (LEAN), a group of party members and supporters, called on the "next Albanese government" to '"rely on the best scientific advice when setting targets for emissions reduction and renewable energy generation" and stimulate new, sustainable, well-paying, unionised jobs through climate action & enviro protections’ (@LEAN_Victoria).
The backing of the Victorian Labor rank and file for climate and energy policy to be based on the "best scientific advice" sends a strong signal to the Andrews government in its upcoming decision on Emissions Reduction Targets.