Category Archives: News & Views

Ask your super fund what it is doing to manage climate risk!


Following the lead of a Brisbane man who is suing the REST superannuation fund over its failure to demonstrate that it is taking action to manage climate risk, Market Forces are calling on all of us to demand action from our super funds.

Market Forces is a terrific group that is successfully persuading businesses, local government and individuals to divest from fossil fuels.

You can take action and ask what is your super fund going to manage climate risk here.

YCAN Convenor wins Local Hero  in the Yarra Sustainability Awards

Our Convenor Kerry Echberg is the 2018 “Local Hero”.  The Local Hero award recognizes the achievements of an individual who has contributed significantly to sustainability.

 As a member of Yarra Climate Action Now (YCAN), over the last nine years Kerry has volunteered her time, energy and passion to bring about action on climate change. Whether writing submissions to Council; speaking at government hearings, such as the East-West Link panel; or chanting slogans and waving banners at rallies, Kerry’s efforts go far beyond YCAN. Her selfless dedication to establishing a safe climate for all deserves recognition.

Congratulations to the other winners and thanks to City of Yarra for showcasing so many positive contributions to sustainability.

Kerry couldn’t be at the awards night, but Gwyneth, Sarah, Adeline, Kevin and Carole were there to celebrate on her behalf.

Proudly Plastic Free Campaign Funded

We are very pleased to hear that the Proudly Plastic Free Campaign (encouraging take-away food outlets in Yarra to stop offering single-use plastics to customers) that YCAN initiated  has been funded in the budget for this financial year. In fact all unfunded actions in the Yarra Waste Minimisation Strategy 2018–2022 have been funded for the first year. YCAN has been pressuring Council to do this.

We look forward to the Proudly Plastic Free Campaign becoming a reality!

City of Yarra’s Food Waste Trial

Council’s food waste trial is powering along. Council officers are delighted with the enthusiasm for the scheme from participants, and with the low level of contamination in the single dwelling trial (virtually zero!).

A decision has already been made that a Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) system is best for Yarra with the material collected transported to a processing facility (eg the Veolia organic waste facility, located in Bulla).

Multiunit developments (apartments etc) did not do so well (almost 20% contamination) and the use of some sort of small on-site technology for food scraps will be trialled next.

The next phase of the single-dwelling trial will involve an additional 500 households in a FOGO trial. Officers will present their recommendations next year.

It’s been a long time coming, but it looks like Yarra will finally have a food waste collection as early as next year.

Andrews Government Extends Coal Licences

YCAN members where dismayed to learn earlier this month that the Andrews government has decided to extend the licences for Victoria’s two remaining coal-fired power generators. This will mean these polluting brown-coal generators will keep emitting greenhouse gases and endangering the health of workers and residents of nearby towns, not for years, but for decades – until 2051 for Yallourn and 2065 for Loy Yang. No limits to emissions were stipulated. So much for Premier Andrews target of net zero emissions by 2050!

Resources Minister Tim Pallas said this move would give “certainty” to the owners of the power stations, but did not mention the effect the decision would have on investment in renewable energy.

None of the environment groups has set up a petition with regard to this important issue. If you don’t agree with this decision, it is important to let the Victorian government know by writing to Premier Andrews daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.auand Minister Pallas tim.pallas@parliament.vic.gov.au

Suggested points to make are:

  • Victoria need to urgently decrease its emissions.
  • This will not happen if dirty brown-coal generators continue to operate without annual limits being set.
  • If, as they claim, the extension is only to make sure the companies will have time to ensure rehabilitation of the mines can be properly carried out, then a licence to rehabilitate only is all that would have been required.
  • Minister Pallas says the extension will provide “greater certainty around investment” for the coal companies. What he doesn’t say is it has added to uncertainty about investment to crucial renewable energy infrastructure in Victoria.

Find more information hereand here.

Proudly Plastic Free Campaign Part of Yarra’s New Waste Strategy

We are very pleased to see that the Proudly Plastic Free campaign that YCAN proposed (supported by a 300-signature petition) is part of the new Yarra Waste Minimisation strategy 2018–2022. It is not yet funded, however, and we will be lobbying council to ensure that the upcoming budget provides the $10,000 that is required to make it a reality.

You can read Yarra’s draft budget for 2018–19 online (it’s under Resources)and make comments. Obviously, we’d love you to support the funding of the Proudly Plastic Free campaign. Submissions close on 25 May.

YCAN is broadly supportive of the waste strategy, which focusses on waste minimisation. Food waste trials continue throughout the term of the strategy. Hopefully by the end of the lengthy trial period, officers will have selected a strategy that will enable all residents to dispose of their food waste. YCAN will be keeping a close eye on developments.

The Waste Strategy is open for comment until 13 June. You can read it online (it’s under Document Library) and make comments via the Your Say Yarra survey.

 

 

 

Congratulations to Yarra Council for Support of New Wind Farm

 

A new wind farm is now under construction at Crowlands, north of Ararat thanks to a consortium of local councils, universities and other organisations who are part of the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project (MREP). Yarra Council is part of the consortium. It is the first time that a group of organisation have pooled their electricity purchasing power to enable the construction of a new renewable energy facility.

According to Yarra Councillor Misha Coleman, “We don’t have to wait for state and federal governments to deliver clean energy sources – by 2019 Yarra will be buying 100% of its electricity from a wind farm.”

It is great to see local government leading the way in creating new renewable energy infrastructure.

Sustainable Toothbrushes

In Australia alone 30 million toothbrushes are thrown out every year. In the US the figure is a billion.

When YCAN members were discussing the best alternative to plastic toothbrushes, no one was happy with the types they had tried. So we’re asking for your experiences.

Bamboo handles? Recycled plastic? If you’ve found a good sustainable toothbrush that had bristles that didn’t make your gums bleed, let us know!

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Review of YCAN’s Yarra Riverkeeper Event

YCAN’s riverside event with the Yarra Riverkeeper  was informative and inspiring. Here is YCAN member Ewan’s review.

The Yarra and Climate Resilience: Safeguarding our City and the Yarra Valley      On the 28 Feb, YCAN hosted this event at the Fairfield Amphitheatre with Andrew Kelly, the Yarra Riverkeeper. In a wide-ranging presentation, Andrew reminded us all just how significant the Yarra River is for the city.

The forested upper reaches of the river – the source of most of the city’s precious, high-quality drinking water – are in good condition, but water quality declines downstream because of agricultural and urban run-off. About 21 per cent of the catchment retains its natural vegetation, 57 per cent is agricultural and 22 per cent is urbanised. (All figures extracted from the excellent Yarra Riverkeeper Association website.

The New Legislation

Andrew was particularly pleased with the passing of the Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Act 2017; the Bill was passed unopposed and took effect on the 1 Dec 2017. In Andrew’s words: The Bill requires a Yarra Strategy Plan to be commissioned (from Melbourne Water as the lead agency) and this plan begins with building a 50-year community vision for our river … it includes traditional owner ‘caring for country’ management for our river in an urban context.

Key Challenges

While the Yarra will continue to play an important role in a warming climate (balancing the urban heat “island” effect), the ever-expanding urban infrastructure poses a significant challenge. “In the Lower Yarra the erection of huge apartment buildings is the most obvious problem, but just as damaging is the cumulative impact of many developments on single home sites.”

The planned NE Link road project (a six-lane connection between the Eastern Freeway and the M80 Ring Road) between Bulleen and Greensborough, passes just metres from the Bolin Bolin Billabong, a highly sacred site to the Wurundjeri people. Great ceremonies were held there between April and May with more than 1,000 people attending … Wetlands like the Bolin Bolin Billabong are incredibly important to the health of the landscape. More information available here and here.

Given that underground tunnelling for the NE Link will be required adjacent to this Billabong, the Wurundjeri people must be wondering how this route for the Link could ever have been justified.

Andrew also highlighted the need to address other problems associated with our expanding city; these problems included the litter accumulating in our waterways, and the damage caused by intense (off-track) bike use in the Yarra Environs.

In conclusion, this event was a most important reminder of the need for groups like the Yarra Riverkeeper Association, and for effective advocates for this significant resource; thank you Andrew. YCAN acknowledges that funding was received from the City of Yarra, and that the event was part of the National Sustainable Living Festival 2018.

What you can do for the Yarra River

  • Join the Yarra Riverkeeper Association
  • Tell the Victorian Government you oppose the NE Link on the grounds of its proximity to area of significance for the Wurundjeri.
  • Contact the City of Yarra and tell them they must bring forward the construction of Gross Litter Traps in the municipality, to reduce the amount of litter entering our waterways.

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