Vertical gardens, learning to lobby, green trains, offshore wind, local climate emergency action - ideas flowed freely in the discussion groups in our event at the Balwyn Library on October 5th, featuring presentations from Jane Stabb, Leigh Ewbank and Lucy Strang.
Eastern Melbourne Climate Alliance was delighted with the audience engagement, and welcomed people as far away as Eltham. Thanks to you all for your contributions and commitment to local climate action, the climate emergency declaration campaign, MP lobby visits and supporting raising Victoria's climate targets.
Why does Yallourn matter? For some of us, learning that local children so close to Melbourne were suffering entirely preventable health impacts from toxic pollution that could be at least improved with the addition of filtration systems that most other Australian power generators are using came as quite a punch.
Mercury as well as NOx and SOx? In Victoria? And they haven't even put on simple bag filters while Yallourn spews out the highest amounts of mercury of any Australian power station? Jane Stabb, Environment Victoria's Organising Program Director, explained that Energy Australia was the second highest carbon emitter in Australia, and emphasised that Yallourn was now our dirtiest power station - well most of us knew that at least, but doing something takes more commitment.
So where do we get that commitment from?
Leigh Ewbank, Friend of the Earth's Act On Climate Director, talked about the vast difference between a 1.5°C world and a 2°C world. Victoria's climate targets are up for review, with an announcement due in March, and Leigh asked us all to help join in EV's and FOE's push for higher ambition, for science based targets rather than those just based on expediency. Displacing coal would be required, not just new build renewables.
The vast 2GW Star of the South offshore wind project has attracted a lot of interest - 10,000 jobs, many in coal affected regions like the Valley, and revitalising our engineering and port sectors. The federal government has been offering delays. With enough support this is just the kind of bold move that the Andrews government has become known for.
Lucy Strang, an astrophysicist, spoke movingly about the impact of climate generation on her generation. Many of her university peers are wondering about the value of higher degrees if our civilisation itself is under threat. Lucy talked about building resilient communities through a solidarity network - local trading and service exchange - resisting consumer pressure - decreasing dependence on a system which produces excessive emissions in the name of profit.
The audience raised many questions about the future and the potential for change. There is a lot of concern about climate change impacts. In particular Tam An also provided us with insights on how climate change is impacting the people of Vietnam, with forty thousand being displaced yearly in the areas she grew up in. This practical example brought home to the audience the fact that climate change is already upon us.
Following the panel discussion we split into four groups addressing the issues of:
- 100% renewable generation in Victoria by 2030
- Victoria’s emission targets
- The Boroondara Climate Emergency Declaration
- Getting to net zero emissions in Victoria by 2030
Thanks so much to everyone who came, and contributed and noted suggestions for follow up.
Please check out Yes 2 Renewable's tweet string, our own @EasternClimate's tweet string, hear our speakers again on our Facebook live and check out our Facebook album.
We will look forward to seeing you in our follow up event - the entertaining hypothetical "The year is 2030 and we got to zero emissions. How did we go it?" with contributions from our Energy Transition Group members and an expert panel. We would love you to RSVP here and support us our our Facebook event page too!
We would love you to sign up on our Volunteer page - check box options include lobbying, working to raise State targets and joining to shift coal out.