MDClimate Action and the Federal Election

With the Federal Election looming, BREAZE was quick off the blocks holding its Candidates Climate Forum on Sunday 1 May at Ballarat Tech School in Albert St, Ballarat Central. Four of the eight candidates standing for Ballarat accepted our invitation: the sitting member, Catherine King (ALP); John Barnes (Greens); Alex Graham (Independent) and Sherryn Sedgman (Federation Party). The Forum, which was well attended, was livestreamed on Facebook, and the video is still available there for those who missed it.  BREAZE also produced a Climate Score Card to inform voters about the candidates' climate policies. The scorecard can be found on the BREAZE website and on Facebook.

Read more: President’s Report May 2022

Safe Climate

The following was published on the Opinion page of The Courier on Saturday 14/5/22.

This election you'd be forgiven for assuming that the climate emergency – hardly mentioned in the leaders' debates – had been downgraded.

During their campaigning, political parties push issues for perceived electoral advantage. So national security, the economy, health and the cost of living have dominated. Climate has emerged only as a second-level concern. It's as if we've forgotten the 'natural' disasters our communities have endured – the Black Summer bushfires, the record-breaking east coast floods and the devastating drought of 2017-2020 that dried the Menindee Lakes, killing fish in massive numbers. Extreme weather events are exacerbated by climate change. It's a connection most Australians now accept, along with the need for immediate action, even if it costs, according to last year's Lowy Institute Climate Poll. As we've also been warned recently, by the IPCC, to stabilise climate and keep warming below 1.5C, emissions must peak by 2025 – meaning radical cuts now.

Those campaign issues – national security, the economy, public health and the cost of living – are all intrinsic to acting on climate.

Dealing with climate change is critical to our national security. Our neighbours, the Pacific Island Nations have indicated climate change is a bigger threat than any risk posed by China. Climate change, driving rising sea levels, will destroy their way of life, rendering them climate refugees. Indeed the projected surge in climate refugees from across the world – as whole cities and vast tracts of land are submerged, and as formerly productive farmland is rendered barren by extreme weather events – will pose a considerable national security dilemma for Australia. And as our coastal and agricultural communities are impacted by climate change, rising homelessness and food security issues will make our nation more vulnerable. 

Climate action is intrinsic to our future economic prosperity. Writing in The Age, Ross Gittins recently noted, 'Three-quarters of the 50 top economists surveyed by the Economic Society of Australia, nominated “climate and the environment” as the most important issue for the election.' According to new Australia Institute research, in 2021-22 Australians paid $11.6 billion in fossil fuel subsidies, an increase of $1.3 billion from the previous year. And public health experts at the University of Sydney, estimate the energy and transport sectors alone cost Australia at least $6 billion a year in health problems. With 70% of our trading partners committed to emissions reductions targets of zero by 2050 we face trade embargos unless we follow suit and abandon our commitment to coal, as former PMs, Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull recently warned. 

Of course, as we integrate more renewables into the national grid, the transition to clean energy will ultimately see energy prices fall, especially as more homes become all-electric. Australia, Ross Garnaut has noted, could be a clean energy superpower – exploiting our abundant wind and solar, creating clean energy jobs and producing clean exports such as green hydrogen, green steel and green aluminium.

Thirdly, climate change is also a leading public health issue. Pollution from emissions is a major health hazard. In the past century, heat waves killed more Australians than any other natural event. Other health risks linked to climate change include increased risk of: infectious diseases such as Dengue fever, Ross River virus; and food-borne infections due to increased growth of pathogens such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli. Air pollution – contributing to lung cancer, asthma, heart disease and stroke – triggers 3000 deaths annually. 

The COVID pandemic and its emergence in humans is widely attributed to bats, whose geographic distribution range has shifted with climate change, moving pathogens closer to humans. 

There's also a new wave of mental health problems related to climate change, psychological distress arising from extreme weather events and a rising tide of 'eco-anxiety.' 

Lastly, climate change is also a cost of living issue. Supply chains for locally produced foods and imports are impacted by extreme weather events, set to become more frequent and intense due to climate change, driving price rises. And increasing pressure on water supply will also pressure supply and prompt price rises.

Along with COVID restrictions, border closures and skill shortages, natural disasters exacerbated by climate change have impacted supply chains in the building industry. Businesses, home owners/renovators are being impacted by rising construction costs – steel prices have surged by up to 40%, and timber and electrical materials costs by up to 30%, while freight costs continue to rise. 

And as the impact of extreme weather events hits the insurance industry, we can expect higher insurance premiums. Homes in flood and bushfire zones may become effectively uninsurable. According to data from the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) the recent flooding in Southeast QLD and NSW is the most expensive Australian flooding event of all-time, costing $3.35 billion. Such extreme weather events also impact local governments financially, and will presumably drive rate rises in the future. 

If we are to give future generations a decent shot at a liveable environment, policy-making in defence, the economy and public health needs to embed action on climate. After the Black Summer fires which burnt 82 per cent of the magnificent Blue Mountains and destroyed nearly 3 billion native animals, after this year's east coast floods when whole communities were drowned in record breaking rains, after the IPCC's warnings, are we really just going to shuffle on as if everything is normal? Surely that's untenable.

Keep climate front and centre of mind this election. Cutting emissions, stabilising climate is the fight of our lives. Don’t leave things to chance, check the climate policies of candidates before you vote.

Mary Debrett
President, BREAZE Inc.

279847670 7596968707009712 4445789342220672767 nJoin us for our May session where we will be discussing all things trees with Colleen Filippa from Fifteen Trees! 🌳

Fifteen Trees are a Ballarat-based social enterprise who offer carbon offsets via local, and Australia wide, tree planting.
 
Their work not only offsets carbon emissions, but strengthens biodiversity, grows canopy coverage and helps to rebuild following bushfires and other natural disasters.
Join us live via Zoom or Facebook to take part in the discussion, or as always you can watch it afterwards as every Smart Living session is recorded and posted to the Smart Living Facebook page.
 
Tell your tree hugging friends! 🌳 

 

2022 enviro music prizeThe inaugural Environmental Music Prize –$20,000 AUD – the world’s first music prize that celebrates artists who are inspiring action on climate and conservation. has just revealed its first ever finalists - 24 Australian songs have been selected from over 200 entries. The full list of finalists is below and voting is still open to the public.
 
The organisers are partnering with Greenpeace, Wilderness Society, Australian Youth Climate Coalition and Ocean Impact Organisation. Their message is let's get the climate community to unite around the power of music! 😊
 
Part of the goal of the prize is to find a climate anthem to inspire change for the planet.
 
As a non-profit, the Environmental Music Prize goes far beyond traditional awards and is centred on impact. Core to the design is the desire to educate and empower artists to use their voice and influence, both on and off stage, and become climate leaders. The artists are Australian but voting to open to everyone across the globe. The prize looks to expand to a global stage next year.
 
Environmental Music Prize founder Edwina Floch recently spoke in a one hour Earth Day special on Outrage + Optimism, a podcast hosted by Christiana Figueres the Chair of Prince William's Earthshot Prize & one of the leading UN figures behind the Paris Climate Accord.
 
Read more: Environmental Music Prize - Voting still open


This year's Federal election on the 21st of May is an important opportunity to send  politicians a message about the urgency for Climate Action Now – to draw attention to the findings and advice of the latest IPCC Report, the final section of its Sixth Report, and the many encouraging reports on Australia's prospects as a potential renewable energy superpower. We must cut emissions and say no to new coal and gas facilities  – which requires radical changes to the status quo. 

IMG 7959 1Upcoming Ballarat Climate Action Rally - Sunday 1st of May 1-3 pm

Climate activist groups in Ballarat, including BREAZE Inc, will be holding a climate rally on Sunday 1st May to signal the importance we all place on a safe climate and need for government policy to recognise and work towards that.If you are will to be a marshals to assist the rally please get in touch with the organisers. There is a Rally facebook site that has more information. 

BREAZE Candidates Climate Forum
Following the Rally - 4-5 pm Ballarat Tech School, 136 Albert St, Ballarat Central

BREAZE Inc. is also holding a candidates' forum to give Ballarat voters a  chance to question candidates about their climate policies and how they plan to address the climate emergency. This is a free event that can be booked here

BREAZE will also shortly be publishing a Candidates' Score Card to assist voters in putting Climate first.

We will be updating BREAZE members shortly via our website, Facebook and Twitter and our e-newsletter, as soon as more details come to hand.

 

 

MDTwo recent key events – the federal budget and the IPCC's final instalment of its Sixth report – bring home the continuing and rising importance of what BREAZE stands for and what we seek to achieve. 

While not mentioned in the Treasurer's budget address to parliament, media analysis of the Federal budget has revealed millions cut from climate actions intended to cut emissions, while approximately $4 billion has been allocated to supporting gas. So more lost opportunities and not the news we want to hear.

'Most prominent in the budget papers was an allocation of $50.3 million to "accelerate the development of property gas infrastructure". The Australia Institute analysis also includes investments in "low emissions technologies", which are allowed to go to gas, as well as investments in the National Water Grid, which includes water infrastructure for a gas hub, and patent concessions, mostly for "low emissions technology" that includes gas.The gas industry itself was pleased with what it saw, with the industry's lobby group noting in a press release: the "federal budget confirms gas central to the economy". Michael Slezak, ABC online, 3/4/22

In an article titled, 'A massive lost opportunity,' Nicki Hutley, Climate Councillor, and former Partner at Deloitte Access Economics, calculates that just 0.3% of total expenditure for 2021-2024 has been committed to climate change initiatives, falling even lower, to just 0.2% in 2024-2026. 

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis is similarly scathing: noting ''spending on LNG, gas, carbon capture and storage, and ‘clean’ but not necessarily ‘green’ hydrogen has increased.'

While Renew Economy offers another very damning summation of the budget's neglect of climate : 'Climate spending cut as Frydenberg delivers empty budget for clean energy and EVs.'

'The budget will see federal government spending on climate change measures decline each year for the next four years, just as the world faces a worsening threat posed by climate change and Australia faces mounting international pressure to pull its weight in global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.'

Released on 4 April, the third and final section of the IPCC's SIxth Assessment Report – analysed in this ABC report – shows the contrast between what we need to be doing to address climate change, and what we are doing, could not be more dramatic. Our failure to act could not be more clear. The 2022 budget doesn't just miss the mark, at this late point in time it betrays us all, and especially our youth, denying them a secure future. 

While noting that emissions, which are still growing, must peak at 2025 if we are to keep global warming to within 1.5C, this latest final section of the Report interestingly notes the emerging importance of non-state and sub-national actors:

'Increasing diversity of actors and approaches to mitigation. Recent literature highlights the growing role of non-state and sub-national actors including cities, businesses, Indigenous Peoples, citizens including local communities and youth, transnational initiatives, and public-private entities in the global effort to address climate change.' 

Last year the Ballarat City Council unanimously committed to an 'aspirational' community-wide emissions reduction target of net zero by 2030. While the word 'aspirational' might appear to provide compromising loop holes I suggest it is up to  us, the community, to make sure that this target – which is indisputably ambitious – is more than aspirational. The IPCC's final instalment of the Sixth Assessment Report makes clear we have no time to lose.  And the 2022 Federal budget has made clear that if the current federal climate policy vacuum continues, there will be no action from the top. Ballarat can be a model for other regional cities, just as Hepburn ZNet has been a model for smaller regional communities. It is up to those of us with the will to act to persuade others we can do it. Think global, act local.

Grampians Community Power Hub (G-CPH)

The Grampians Community Power Hub, one of seven established across the State in 2021, is now in the final quarter of its contract with Sustainability Victoria. Our Project manager: Sowmya Nagaraj, Comms/Admin Officer: Sam Rodgers, Hepburn partner: Hepburn Energy's Taryn Lane, and BREAZE volunteers, Peter Boadle, Paul Duggan and myself, have compiled a list of 40+ potential projects for feasibility studies and energy audits, which it is anticipated, will drive greater uptake of renewables, better energy efficiency and cheaper energy costs for not-for-profits across the region.  The G-CPH is delighted to be able to offer assistance to groups like Natimuk Community Energy, who have been investigating a community solar farm for some years, the St Arnaud Renewable Energy group who are pursuing a community energy hub to address energy security issues and the townships of Ballan and Pomonal who have indicated interest in community battery pilots, which are being pursued as part of the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance (CVGA) Community Sparks program, funded via the Victorian Government's Neighbourhood Battery Initiative. Lots of government initiatives and lots of acronyms  – but also hopefully lots of renewable energy for our regional communities. If you know of any organisations that might be potential clients for the G-CPH please register your interest via the G-CPH website - or email us at 

Smart Living Ballarat

With Smart Living Ballarat Coordinator, Sam Rodgers re-locating with family to Ireland, Jeremy Poxon is taking the reins for the next few months until a permanent appointment is made. Do keep your eyes on the SLB Facebook site for Jeremy's updates on coming events in April and May.

Last month's SLB talk on 16 March was Your Guide to Cloth Nappies and Reusable Sanitary Products and is now available online. Liz Wade from the Ballarat Cloth Nappy Library spoke about the cloth nappies on the market, and how to choose and how to use. Other reusable sanitary items such as menstrual pads, breast pads and menstrual cups. were also covered
Just a reminder: City of Ballarat is now offering Ballarat residents a rebate on cloth nappies and reusable sanitary items.

2022 Federal Election:

The BREAZE Board will be discussing how to put climate policy on the local agenda for the upcoming federal election, at our next meeting on 11 April. We will keep you posted re our decisions. We know there are many other important issues, including COVID, the health system, asylum seekers, and cost of living pressures, but believe that the IPCC report, and what we know about the diminishing opportunity for climate action, makes climate policy our most important issue for this election.

Board Business

BREAZE Board members, Pat Hockey (BREAZE Inc. Secretary) and Sally Missing represented BREAZE Inc. at the Buninyong Smart Building and Living Expo on Sunday 20th March. Thanks for all those who came along and thanks to Buninyong Sustainability and Andrea Mason for making it happen.

Board Meetings

If you have a passion for climate action and ideas about how you can help BREAZE achieve its mission, please note BREAZE members are welcome to attend monthly Board meetings. Any member interested in attending should email me – 

All the best

Mary                                                         

Dr Mary Debrett
President, April 2022                                                  

                                                                                     

 

 Wednesday afternoon in Term 2 is all about Creating a Sustainable School. This workshop series is essential for schools commencing the sustainability journey and covers policy development, goal setting and generating interest and excitement among students, staff and parents. On Thursday afternoon we will focus on Energy Efficiency. This workshop series includes topics such as conducting an energy audit, options for reducing energy consumption, and engaging the local community. The workshops are designed as two complete courses, and build on lessons learned in earlier sessions, however they also work if you have gaps in knowledge and/or limited time availability.

Creating a Sustainable School Workshop Series - Every Wednesday afternoon in Term 2 (3.45 - 4.30 pm)
Pick the topic(s) that interest you. Attend one or attend them all.

27 April: Developing a School Sustainability Policy
4 May: Tracking your School Resource Usage
11 May: School Resource use: Comparisons, Targets, Benchmarks and Baselines
18 May: Developing a School Environmental Action Plan
25 May: Embedding Sustainability into the Curriculum
1 June: Creating an Environmental Leadership Team (Staff and Students)
8 June: Communicating your sustainability achievements - Social Media, Newsletters
15 June: Drop in - Questions regarding Core Module Submission
Register for the Sustainable School Workshops now via EventBrite
 
Developing Energy Efficient Schools Workshop SeriesEvery Thursday afternoon in Term 2 (3.45 - 4.30 pm)
Pick the topic(s) that interest you. Attend one or attend them all.

28 April: Setting Goals for your School's Energy Consumption
5 May: Completing an Energy Audit for your School
12 May: Energy Audit: Troubleshooting
19 May: Developing an Energy Efficiency Action Plan
26 May: Making your School Energy Efficient
9 June: Energy in the Curriculum and Creating Sustainable Students
16 June: Engaging the School Community in becoming Energy Smart
23 June: Committing to Reducing Energy Consumption.


Register for the Energy Efficiency Workshops now via EventBrite
For more information about ResourceSmart Schools please contact: Debbie Rovere,  Team Leader (Vic West) via email  

Screen Shot 2022 03 29 at 2.25.06 pm
 


 

 

MD

The catastrophic flooding on Australia's east coast in southern Queensland and northern NSW has brought home once more the horrendous cost - human/emotional, financial, and environmental – that we will all pay for governmental failure to act on climate change. Even as the window of opportunity for effective climate action is closing, reactive short-termism prevails. 

Particularly disconcerting is that as the cost of petrol has risen – exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine –  rather than noting this as a sign that we must end reliance on fossil fuels and cut GHG emissions, media focus is fixed only on fuel excise cuts. The opportunity to discuss EVs as the solution, to look at what is being done in Norway which leads the world on EV take-up, or to press governments for charging networks and incentives to drive EV take-up, is ignored. Our eyeball hungry mainstream media instead encourage consumers to think through their wallets – not their brains. While several national public opinion surveys have indicated growing public awareness of the urgency for climate action – suggesting an openness to doing things differently – media organisations, driven by search engine optimisation (SEO) and digital analytics, are more inclined to chase eyeballs. And so our impulsive and absent minded clicks incrementally dictate media reporting hierarchies, reinforcing the stale destructive trends of the past.

Of course it is hard to know how much the mainstream media does influence how the public thinks. Given the amount spent on advertising in the media we should probably assume that some influence does persist. It remains, however, a good argument for diversifying one's media consumption - and fortunately small independent media organisations now abound. There is really no reason to keep supporting mainstream media organisations that persist in obfuscating what is happening to our climate and the environment, and what we can do to fight it. 

The mainstream media was complicit in the three-decade-long faux climate debate in which celebrity deniers were given equal time with climate scientists, all in the name of 'balance' – a spurious journalism ethic that equates impartiality and journalistic independence with giving equal time to all sides no matter how well qualified they are to speak, or which vested interests might be funding them. Fortunately we have moved on from that – in no small part thanks to Greta Thunburg's School Strike for Cimate movement. Now, however, we also need the media to proactively support the interests of all life on this planet, in sharing/discussing/debating how best to reduce greenhouse emissions and stabilise climate.

Grampians Community Power Hub (G-CPH)

On 24 March from 7-8 the G-CPH is holding its 4th community energy forum:  Microgrids: A Community Energy Webinar The Microgrids webinar is free but you do need to register via the Trybooking link which can be found above, on the BREAZE website and on our Facebook and Twitter sites.

BREAZE Inc. volunteers and G-CPH staff are continuing to discuss projects across the region within the not-for-profit sector. The projects identified to date range in scale from  4kW-900kW  and vary in type from community batteries to solar systems and energy audits. We are pleased to be working with a number of social housing providers and regional health services, partners in Grampians Health.  If you know of any organisations that might be potential clients for the G-CPH please register your interest via the G-CPH website - or email us at 

Smart Living Ballarat

This month's SLB talk on 16 March at 12:30 is Your Guide to Cloth Nappies and Reusable Sanitary Products  - Liz Wade from the Ballarat Cloth Nappy Library will discuss what cloth nappies are available, how to choose a type and how to use cloth nappies. We will also be talking about other reusable sanitary items such as menstrual pads, breast pads and menstrual cups.This talk coincides with the City of Ballarat’s recent decision to offer Ballarat residents a rebate on cloth nappies and reusable sanitary items.

This event will be presented via Zoom and streamed live onto the Smart Living Ballarat Facebook page. A recording of the event will be available on the Smart Living Ballarat Facebook page instantly after the event. Register via the link above.

Board Business

BREAZE Board members, Pat Hockey (BREAZE Inc. Secretary) and Sally Missing will be representing BREAZE Inc. at the upcoming Buninyong Smart Building and Living Expo on Sunday 20th March. If you are going, and we do urge you to, please take the opportunity to chat with Sally and Pat and let us know what you like about BREAZE and what you think we should be doing. It's also a good opportunity to join BREAZE if you haven't already, and to learn about our various activities.

Board Meetings

If you have a passion for climate action and ideas about how you can help BREAZE achieve its mission, please note BREAZE members are welcome to attend monthly Board meetings. Any member interested in attending should email me – 

All the best

Mary

Dr Mary Debrett
President, March 2022            

The Grampians Community Power Hub is holding a community energy webinar on Microgrids 24 March from 7-8pm.
 
Back in 2021 the Wimmera Development Association commissioned a report – Local Communities and Energy Reliability. The Report identified energy poverty issues across the region and discussed microgrids as a potential solution.
 
'Taking smaller communities and farmhouses “off the grid” offers many benefits
including self-sufficiency, reduced emissions and reduced reliance on the aging pole
and wire infrastructure. Developing microgrids in small, isolated communities offers
the opportunity to reduce energy costs, improve reliability and increase resilience for
local communities including reducing bushfire risk...
 
Energy reliability was identified by Infrastructure Victoria as one of the key
contributors to disadvantage in the region. They found households have limited
access to affordable energy, with energy sector growth limited by grid capacity,
regulation and poorly integrated development.'
 
 Later the Report notes:
 
'Opportunities are available to switch industrial and individual users of fossil fuel energy,
particularly gas, to renewable energy such as onsite solar or local wind-generated power, 
and for community-based microgrids to deliver reliable, affordable, off-grid power to small communities.'
 
The Grampians Community Power Hub would like to start conversations in communities across this region about how to address energy reliability issues, along with the clean energy transition. Microgrids face some complex hurdles including regulatory challenges.  These are currently being explored via a feasibility study and several microgrid pilots across regional Victoria – none in the Grampians region. As one of the solutions to regional energy reliability, microgrids have  come to the forefront of the national discussion following the impact of the east coast floods – and the 2019 Black Summer bushfires.  Microgrids can also bring wider community advantages via grid firming.
 
This free Webinar on the topic will bring together several experts with knowledge of the Victorian pilots – which are still in their exploratory stages – to share their experiences, insights and expertise. As complex community energy projects, microgrids require carefully-guided staged-development over a number of years. The Commonwealth funding agency, ARENA has a matched funding grant for microgrids – RAMPP -https://arena.gov.au/funding/regional-australia-microgrid-pilots-ramp/

Microgrids Webinar Poster