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What's being done in Australia Edit

Climate change is on the agenda for most environmental and social justice non-government organisations (NGOs) in Australia. There has also been significant action at a State Government level, although the Federal government has been slow to act with the PM only recently changing rhetoric on the issue. PM John Howard, until recently, has called himself a 'climate change skeptic', now he brands himself a 'climate change realist'. The Four Corners investigative TV program in 2004 investigated how Australia's "Greenhouse Strategy" is being run by a self-styled "Greenhouse Mafia" of senior public servants and coal mining companies[1], and the Australia Institute has recently published an analysis "Scorcher: The Dirty Politics of Climate Change" [2] which show how Australia as a result has systematically set out with the USA Federal Government to sabotage the Kyoto process. With Uzbekistan, Australia is one of three nations that have not committed to the Kyoto Protocol.

The state of Victoria, in particular, has been proactive in pursuing reductions in GHG through a range of initiatives. The other states, all with labour governments, have taken a more proactive stance than the (Coalition) federal government. One of particular interesting initiative undertaken by the Victorian Government is:

The Greenhouse Challenge for Energy Policy package, which aims to reduce Victorian emissions through a mandated renewable energy target. Initially, it aimed to have a 10 per cent share of Victoria’s energy consumption being produced by renewable technologies by 2010, and 1000 MWh being produced by wind energy by 2006. However, this target was not reached. The government recently legislated to ensure that by 2016 electricity retailers in Victoria purchase 10 per cent of their energy from renewables. The State Government also made an election promise, at the 2006 election, to increase this to 20 per cent by 2020. By providing a market incentive for the development of renewables the government helps foster the development of the renewable energy sector.

On May 6, 2007, the Premier of Western Australia, Alan Carpenter announced the formation of a new Climate Change Office responsible to a Minister, with a plan that included:[3]

  • a target to reduce emissions by at least 60% below 2000 levels by 2050
  • a $36.5 million Low Emission Energy Development Fund
  • a target to increase renewable energy generation on the South West Interconnected System to 15% by 2020 and 20% by 2025
  • a clean energy target of 50% by 2010 and 60% by 2020
  • State Government purchase of 20% renewable energy by 2010
  • a mandatory energy efficiency program that will require large and medium energy users to invest in cost effective energy efficiency measures
  • tripling the successful solar schools program so that over 350 schools will be using renewable energy by 2010
  • a new $1.5 million Household Sustainability Audit and Education program that will provide practical information to households about how they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • investing 8.625 million to help businesses and communities adapt to the impacts of climate change
  • the development of new climate change legislation
  • a commitment to establishment of a national emissions trading scheme

This plan has been criticised by Greens MP Paul Llewellyn who stated that short-term programmatic targets rather than aspirational targets to greenhouse gas emissions were needed, and that renewable energy growth in the state was still being driven entirely by federal government policy and incentives, not by measures being made by the state government[4].

Community organising Edit

  • The Australian Youth Climate Coalition [3] was founded in November 2006 by the Australian Student Environment Network[4], GetUp!, the United Nations Youth Association and OzGreen with a summit involving 65 young people aged 15-30 representing 30 different youth and youth-friendly organisations. The Coalition plans training sessions to develop young leaders in the climate movement.[5] In February 2007, AYCC members organised to deliver their climate change declaration [6] to members of the Australian Parliament around the country.
  • In the Hunter Valley, alliances are being developed between unionists, environmentalists and other stakeholders [7]
  • The Anvil Hill Alliance includes community and environment groups in NSW opposed to the expansion of coal mines in his high conservation value region. Their ‘statement’ has been endorsed by 28 groups. [8]

Community engagement Edit

  • WWF has recruited companies to participate in Australia's first Earth Hour on March 31st. [9] Participating companies will turn off their lights for one hour from 7.30pm. Cities across Europe turned off lights on public buildings including the Eiffel Tower and Colloseum during January 2007 to mark the release of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report [10]. Householders were also encouraged to switch off electrical appliances.
  • With support from the Uniting Church and Catholic Earthcare, ACF and the National Council of Churches Australia have produced a brochure, Changing Climate, Changing Creation, which is being distributed to churches across the country.[11] The brochure encourages Australian Christians to: write to or visit their federal MP and ask what they are doing to address the threat of climate change; find out more about reducing energy and water usage and waste at home; and take action on climate change within churches and small groups.
  • Janette Hartz-Karp writes that "to deal with the complexity of climate change and oil dependency, we need a radical rethink of how to engage citizens in meaningful, influential dialogue"

[12] Deliberative democracy presents a wide range of strategies to involve communities in these important decisions.

Legal action Edit

  • Groups including Rising Tide [13] and Queensland Conservation [14] have initiated legal challenges to coal mines under the Commonwealth EPBC legislation. In late 2006, Queensland Conservation lodged an objection to the greenhouse gas emissions from a large coal mine expansion proposed by Xstrata Coal Queensland Pty Ltd. QC's action aimed to have the true costs of the greenhouse gas emissions from coal mining recognised. The Newlands Coal Mine Expansion will produce 28.5 million tonnes of coal over its fifteen years of operation. The mining, transport and use of this coal will emit 84 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Queensland Conservation aims to have reasonable and practical measures imposed on new mines to avoid, reduce or offset the emissions from the mining, transport and use of their coal. The Land and Resources Tribunal ruled against the case.[15]
  • Peter Gray’s win in the NSW Planning and Environment Court pushing the state government to consider climate change impacts in its assessment of new developments – in particular in relation to its failure to do so with Centennial Coal’s proposed Anvil Hill mine.[16]

Movement building Edit

  • The Rainforest Information Centre plans a road show of Eastern states in the first half of 2007. The workshops will comprise a brief summary of the problem and forty minute presentation on despair and empowerment before encouraging participants to consider how to get active at a neighbourhood or community level. The intention is to establish new climate action groups and, where they exist already, to provide support, direction and connections.[17]
  • The Climate Action Network of Australia (CANA) coordinate communication and collaboration between 38 Australian NGOs campaigning around climate change.[18]
  • ClimateMovement.org is an initiative of the NSW Nature Conservation Council. The website includes online surveys and promotion of community events including a renewable energy forum. The project encourages people to start and register new climate action groups.[19]
  • Walk Against Warming: annual community event supported by several NGOs. Drew 40,000 in Sydney in November 2006.[20]
  • Friends of the Earth’s Climate Justice campaign and work with Pacific Island and faith-based communities.[21]

Online organising Edit

  • GetUp! Organised online action around nine key campaigns, including climate action. Promoting five policy asks. Regular email updates to subscribers.[22]

Direct Action Edit

  • Rising Tide, a Newcastle-based crew, have organised some excellent actions to build pressure for a shift from coal dependence. In February 2007, more than 100 small and medium craft, including swimmers and people on surfboards, gathered in the harbour as well as on its shores as part of the peaceful demonstration. No-one was arrested even though the group attempted to surround a large freight ship as it entered the port.[23]
  • In 2005, Greenpeace activists chained themselves to a loader in a Gippsland power station's coal pit.[24]

Policy advocacy Edit

  • WWF Australia's 'Clean Energy Future for Australia' outlines a range of policy recommendations for meeting electricity needs sustainably. [25]
  • The Climate Institute is a newly-formed policy think tank and advocacy NGO.[26]

Social justice groups Edit

  • TEAR Australia has joined with other aid and development organisations on the Climate Change and Development NGO Roundtable.[27]

Related topics Edit

References Edit

  1. [1]
  2. Hamilton Clive (2007) "Scorcher: the dirty politics of climate change"
  3. [2].
  4. Sydney Morning Herald


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