Tag Archives: policy

Victorian State Election – climate change candidates forum report

A candidates forum on climate change was held on 22 October in Clifton Hill. It featured the four key candidates for the seat of Richmond in the upcoming state election. Richard Wynne (Labor), Kathleen Matzahn (Green), Steve Jolly (independent/Socialist) and Tom McFeely (Liberal).
Before we start a summary of what each candidate said, it is important to point out that the true test of climate policy is in whether it addresses what the climate science says is necessary to avoid runaway climate change. This gives a context by which to judge whether a policy is good or not. At this forum only the Greens and Socialist candidates addressed the climate science and showed an understanding of the urgency of the crisis.

Kathleen Maltzahn (Greens), Tom McFeely (Liberal), Richard Wynne (Labor) and Steve Jolly (Socialist)

Richard Wynne – Labor
Richard began by outlining the importance of tackling the climate crisis, and his commitment to this task. He then described current Labor policy. This policy includes a legislated cut in greenhouse gas emissions of 20% by 2020 on 2000 levels (already passed through parliament), a commitment to phase out 25% of Hazelwood within the next term of government and a 5% solar energy target by 2020 on top of the federal 20% by 2020 renewable energy target.
While to a lay-person these policies may give the impression that the Labor Party is finally taking the climate crisis seriously, as mentioned above, these policies are nowhere near sufficient to avoid catastrophic climate change – and if the whole world, or if all developed countries copied Labor’s policies, then we would still be facing runaway climate change with all its horrific impacts.
There was also very little detail as to how the 20% emissions reductions would be achieved, with what appeared to be a heavy reliance on federal government action.
What Richard Wynne also failed to mention, is that the Brumby Government has committed $50 million of our money towards a new coal/gas-fired power station – the HRL Dual-gas proposal. According to a staffer from the Energy Minister’s office, it is this new fossil fuel power station that will replace 25% of Hazelwood, thereby cancelling out the emissions saved.

Kathleen Maltzahn – Greens
Kathleen began by acknowledging the urgency of the climate crisis and the fact that we only have two electoral cycles to make significant reductions in our emissions. The Greens’ policies include a 40% emissions reduction by 2020 on 1990 levels, a phase out of all coal-fired electricity generation, including replacing all of Hazelwood by 2014 with renewable energy and a significant improvement in public transport.
Kathleen acknowledged that these emissions reductions were the very minimum that climate scientists were saying are necessary to give us a chance in avoiding runaway climate change. While this acknowledgment is good, we would like to see the Greens strengthen these policies so as to improve the odds of a safe climate future. There also needs to be far more detail in Greens policies related to how the emissions reductions will be achieved, by which date coal-fired energy will be replaced and what it will be replaced with.

Steve Jolly – independent (Socialist Party)
Steve started off by discussing the latest climate science, which shows that there is already too much carbon in the atmosphere to avoid runaway climate change, and so we need to go from around 390 parts per million (ppm) of carbon in the atmosphere today, to around 300-325ppm as a matter of urgency (280ppm being pre-industrial levels). This means getting to zero emissions and taking carbon out of the atmosphere.
In line with this his policy is for zero emissions by 2020. In the area of electricity generation, he seemed to be using the Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan as a basis for how to get to 100% renewable electricity – this plan advocates a roll out of wind and baseload solar thermal, which has been shown to be capable of replacing fossil fuels. He proposed a nationalisation of electricity infrastructure and public transport in order to achieve this transition. Unfortunately there were no further details provided on how zero emissions could be achieved outside the electricity sector.

Tom McFeely (Liberal)

Tom had only very recently been pre-selected to run for the Liberal Party, and although his lack of knowledge of Liberal Party climate policy can be forgiven, what cannot be forgiven is his obvious ignorance of the climate crisis. Tom did not add any value to the forum and was overheard by a YCAN member asking a Liberal Party volunteer what Hazelwood was. It is an insult to the voters of Richmond for the Liberal Party to put forward a candidate that knows so little about the most profound crisis currently facing humanity. We hope he makes an effort to get up to speed on it. We would gladly offer to brief him in order to improve his understanding.

Rally to replace ALL of Hazelwood

Join us to put the heat on our politicians at this state election to Replace ALL of Hazelwood.
When: Saturday, 6 November 2010 @ 1pm
Where: State Library, cnr Swanston and Latrobe Streets, Melbourne

We’ve written letters, letterboxed our streets, door-knocked our neighbourhoods, held community meetings and met with our MPs to get them to act on Hazelwood. But now, in the lead up to Victoria’s state election, we’ve got to take the campaign up a notch.
So join us on Saturday, 6 November to make sure our politicians get the message – that Victorians want a commitment from all parties before the election to Replace ALL of Hazelwood power station.
We can repower Victoria with 100% renewable energy. John Brumby is currently offering to replace 25% of Hazelwood with new coal. He tries to spin his way out of trouble by saying Hazelwood will be closed down entirely while not giving a date. Everything will be closed down eventually! This is not good enough.
We need to see you, your family and friends, your workmates, neighbours, school teachers and even your local green grocer there on 6 November. Because we all want a safe climate future. And real action to replace Hazelwood is just the beginning.

Gillard: moving Australia backwards on climate

Yesterday Julia Gillard announced some of the Labor Party’s climate policies.

Debate amongst the YCAN team has centred on whether these are the worst policies ever, or the second worst.

The Labor Party cannot even pretend to care about climate change now. These policies will see Australia’s emissions continue to rise rapidly while the impacts of climate change keep worsening.

In summary, the policy announcements are:

1. A green light for new coal-fired power stations and existing ones to keep polluting indefinitely

Twelve new coal-fired power stations on the drawing board around Australia have been given the go-ahead. Any new plants beyond these will be subject to “emissions standards”, which will only block brown coal developments, but not black coal.

Further, all new coal plants (the phrase “new coal plants” shouldn’t exist in and of itself as we should not be building any) will need to be “carbon capture and storage ready” – something that is completely meaningless.

Existing polluting infrastructure, such as Hazelwood Power Station remain untouched.

2. More inaction and delay

The “citizens assembly”, due to report in over 12 months is just an excuse for inaction, when urgent action is desperately needed. Community consensus on climate action has existed for years, and scientific consensus has existed well before that. We want action, not more talk!

3. Money from solar energy to go to buying petrol cars

Money will be taken away from the solar infrastructure program to fund rebates for car owners to purchase a new car if their car is older than 1995.

For further information see the Vote Climate website.

And for further analysis, Bernard Keane from Crikey has expressed it well in his piece:

Citizen Gillard abandons basic leadership on climate change

It’s hard to describe just how truly wretched Labor’s new climate change policy is. It makes the CPRS, its dog of an emissions trading scheme, look like a model of best practice. It is a spectacular failure of leadership.

Julia Gillard’s “citizens’ assembly” has effectively outsourced responsibility for climate policy to “ordinary Australians”, on whose “skills, capacity, decency and plain common sense” Gillard will rely to tell her about the community consensus on climate change. In effect it institutionalises what is already apparent — this is a Government controlled by focus group reactions.

Labor has been playing politics with climate change for three years and it hasn’t stopped. But whereas for most of that time it used climate change to damage the Coalition, now it is having to defend itself against the issue. It will only be with the political cover afforded by this nonsensical Assembly that the Government will take any action on a carbon price.

Rarely has so much goodwill and political capital been wasted on such an important issue.

The consensus the Government insists it needs the protection of before acting already exists. It’s not just in the opinion polls, which show time and time again that the majority of voters want action on climate change and supported the Government’s CPRS. In 2007, let’s not forget, both sides of politics told Australians they were going to introduce an ETS. The 2007 election endorsed a community consensus on the need for action.

Instead, in 2010, neither party will commit to any sort of carbon price mechanism for at least three years. Instead, they’re offering excuses as to why they don’t want to take action. We’ve done anything but move forward on climate action.

Gillard’s interim actions are little better. The new emissions standard she proposes won’t even apply to four coal-fired power stations being built or brought back on line currently. They may not apply to two more, the massive Mt Piper and Bayswater projects in NSW, which will together add 4% to national CO2-equivalent emissions when they come on line. Holding the baseline for the CPRS at 2008 levels won’t give electricity generators any more investment certainty when it remains unclear whether there will ever be an emissions trading scheme in Australia. Nor does it change the simple fact that State Governments continue to drive Australia into a coal-fired future.

Labor’s craven pandering to key outer-suburban electorates in its population and asylum seeker policies was bad enough. But abdicating executive responsibility for action on climate change is a new low in cynical politics, beyond the depths even reached by NSW Labor. Politicians are elected to lead. Deferring every controversial issue back to the electorate is a clumsy variant of leadership by polling and focus groups.

So blatant is Labor’s refusal to lead that it raises serious questions about its fitness for government. The only problem is that the alternative is an economically-illiterate party whose leader doesn’t believe in climate change at all, but who insists on wasting $3b on the most expensive possible means of addressing it.

What a choice, two major parties incapable of leadership and unfit to govern.

Saving civilisation is not a spectator sport

By Lester R. Brown (written for US audience)

Given the enormous environmental and social challenges faced by our early twenty-first century global civilization, one of the questions I hear most frequently is, What can I do? People often expect me to talk about lifestyle changes, recycling newspapers, or changing light bulbs. These are essential, but they are not nearly enough. We now need to restructure the global economy, and quickly. It means becoming politically active, working for the needed changes. Saving civilization is not a spectator sport.

Inform yourself, read about the issues. If you want to know what happened to earlier civilizations that found themselves in environmental trouble, read Collapse by Jared Diamond or A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright or The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph Tainter. My latest book, Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, can be downloaded free of charge from Earth Policy Institute’s (EPI’s) Web site, earthpolicy.org, along with complementary data sets and a slide show summary. If you find these materials useful in helping you think about what to do, share them with others.

Pick an issue that’s meaningful to you, such as tax restructuring, banning inefficient light bulbs, phasing out coal-fired power plants, or working for streets in your community that are pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, or join a group that is working to stabilize world population. What could be more exciting and rewarding than getting personally involved in trying to save civilization?

To continue reading, click here.

Gillard Government already disappoints on climate

Unfortunately, the Gillard Prime Ministership has gotten off to a very bad start.

Within 24 hours of her swearing in, the Federal Government was signing a deal to export brown coal – the world’s dirtiest, most greenhouse gas intensive fuel – to Vietnam.

The greenwash was coming in thick and fast from the Trade Minister Simon Crean, who said the technology used in this export deal would clean up the brown coal – when in fact it will make it as polluting as black coal – still a disaster in terms of emissions produced.

So far, Victoria has avoided the coal export curse, with all its associated health and environment impacts, which affects NSW and QLD. This deal is a step in the wrong direction. Australia is the world’s biggest coal exporter and this makes us one of the biggest pushers of the fossil fuel drug which is causing global warming.

We must stop exporting coal as well as burning it within our own shores. Not only will this help avoid catastrophic climate change, a transition to renewable energy will create more jobs than it destroys and in the medium and long term provide a massive boost to the Australian economy.

Luckily this grubby deal did not go unnoticed. A group of people gathered at the Southbank hotel where the deal was signed, after being given only a few hours notice. The media coverage can be see here – The Age, ABC

It is crucial that the Australian public cuts through the spin coming from the Labor Party and judges Julia Gillard on her policies.

The children of the Khapi Community in Bolivia, where glacier retreat has robbed the community of its water and its livelihood.

Volunteers needed – Replace Hazelwood

The campaign to Replace Hazelwood power station with renewable energy (and energy efficiency) is gathering strength. You may have seen the coverage in the media recently as well as Hazelwood’s owners’ outrageous attempt to sabotage energy efficiency programs.

Hazelwood brown coal-fired power station near Morwell is Australia’s most polluting power station. Replacing it with renewable energy and energy efficiency would reduce Victoria’s emissions by around 12% and Australia’s by 3%. If we want to reduce emissions, we must start by replacing Hazelwood.

To do this we need your help.

The state and federal Labor governments are now under pressure to act after Kevin Rudd’s backflip on climate change.

So, now is the time to get the message out in the community.


Over the next two months local community climate groups are going to be doorknocking in the key inner city electorates of Melbourne.

Door knocking is easy, fun and one of the most effective ways of getting our message into the community and having an impact on politicians.

Here is how it works. We start at 1pm and do about an hour of training, we knock on doors for less than two hours (in pairs) and then get together for a cuppa or a drink and talk about how it went.

It’s easy! Residents are friendly and usually very happy to take some information or sign the petition.

No prior experience or detailed technical knowledge about Hazelwood necessary – we will provide training and materials. Doorknocking will be done in pairs.

YCAN will be hosting two doorknocking sessions:
Saturday 19 June in Fitzroy, 1-4pm
Sunday 4 July in Richmond, 1-4pm

There is also doorknocking happening in Brunswick, Kensington, North Melbourne and Westgarth/Northcote.

So please join us on a coming Saturday or Sunday by clicking on the link below and registering to doorknock. There is also a video showing how it works below.


To find out more about doorknocking and the Hazelwood campaign go here http://www.climateactioncentre.org/replacehazelwood

A YCAN Investigation – State Government Green Jobs Package

Just under two weeks ago many of us at YCAN received a media release from Peter Batchelor, the Victorian Minister for Coal Industry Profits, trumpeting the recent Green Jobs Action Plan released in the State Budget on 4 May. As some environment groups had praised the plan, one of our members decided to investigate to see if the Brumby Government (as opposed to current form) had actually put forward a decent policy to tackle the climate crisis.

The State Budget announced several proposed water and energy efficiency measures. Most if not all of these initiatives are grouped under the heading ‘Jobs for the Future Economy – Victoria’s Action Plan for Green Jobs’. Outside the ambit of the ‘Jobs for the Future Economy’ package Peter Batchelor proudly trumpets the hosting of the World Geothermal congress in 2015. Yes that’s right a conference, in five years time.

The package allocates modest amounts to training and research but the proposed actions generally promote modest energy efficiency and water saving measures at the point of end use, the benefits of which are self-evident. These initiatives can be divided between limited term programs that last until the money runs out and a few driven by regulatory change and training programs that could be expected to have ongoing benefits. Modest but positive aspects of the package are the changes to landfill fees which seem likely to strengthen the recycling industry and the Green Door package from Planning Minister Madden which both tightens the climatic requirements of new housing and provides some training for builders relevant to the new regulatory regime. The rest however appears to be little more than pork barrelling. The total cost to government is projected to be $175 million and according to the Premier, “The program will achieve cost savings of more than $7 million per year through reduced energy and water consumption and save 130,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year”. Judging from the premier’s media release the package is projected to create ‘up to 700 (green) jobs’.

So how significant are these reductions in greenhouse gas emissions?

If we take the projected cost ($175 million) and divide it by the projected annual greenhouse gas emissions reduction (130,000 tonnes) we find the projected cost of mitigation is a staggering $1400/tonne.

If we compare the projected annual greenhouse gas emissions reduction (130,000 tonnes) to Victoria’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions (121.9 Mega tonnes) the projected reduction is about 0.1% of current total annual emissions. For Victoria to achieve its share of Kevin Rudd’s pathetic 5% emissions reduction using these measures would (by the Government’s own figures) cost $8.7 billion!

So to summarise – the major climate change policy of the Brumby Government in the latest state budget will reduce Victoria’s emissions by 0.1%!

Another example from this material is the seductively named ‘Solar Hubs’ program under which the Brumby Government proposes to allocate $5 million for the establishment of up to 10 ‘solar hubs’ around regional Victoria with grants of between $250,000 and $1 million. As these solar hubs are simply arrays of conventional domestic PV solar collectors the same as some of us have on our roofs it is not hard to do the sums. Approximately $15,000 buys about 1.6 kilowatts (kw) of generating capacity. Assuming that the government gets a good price from its suppliers perhaps $100,000 would buy 16kw of generating capacity. Scaling this up $1 million would buy 160kw and $5 million would buy 800kw of generating capacity. Allowing for 4 hours of collection this array of installations collects around 3.2Mw-hr daily. Multiply by 365 to get annual generation and we find that annual generation from this array would be around 1168 (say 1200) Mw-hr. Annual residential energy use in Victoria is around 164 Petajoules.

One petajoule = 277,778Mw-hr therefore annual domestic sector energy consumption, (164 petajoules) = 45,556,000 Mw-hr. The reduction in domestic energy demand resulting from the implementation of this program (1200Mw-hr) is miniscule. Given a projected annual rate of increase in domestic energy consumption of about 2.5% the solar hubs program would have to be multiplied by roughly 1000 to just cover the growth in energy demand! To follow this exercise in the absurd just one step further, just covering the projected annual increase in domestic (residential) energy consumption by expanding the Solar Hubs program would cost $5billion! These figures look incredible but we’ve checked several times.

The Brumby government is adopting a time-honored pre-election strategy of throwing money (as little as possible) at very carefully selected targets to give the misleading impression that they are addressing a problem that they think might impact on them electorally but which they have in reality chosen to avoid. Of course it can be argued that the primary intention of this package is the creation of environmentally responsible jobs. It is hard to judge whether $175 million spent on the creation of ‘up to’ 700 green jobs in regional Victoria is good value for money but as an exercise in emissions reduction (surely the primary measure of the ‘green-ness’ of a proposal) or as a demonstration of the government’s ability to extract best value from green dollars invested, this package is very uneven.

In any case it is hard to take any policy seriously that proposes to reduce Victoria’s emissions by 0.1%.

Replacing Hazelwood Power Station with clean energy would reduce Victoria’s emissions by around 12%. It’s time Brumby committed to this.

Federal Budget funds fossil fuels more than renewables

The Federal Budget, handed down yesterday by Treasurer Wayne Swan, contains no significant climate change initiatives, and reduces funding for several existing programs such as the water tank and greywater system rebates, water recycling and stormwater harvesting programs, Landcare and the Natural Heritage Trust.

The much reported $652 million for renewable energy represents a tiny proportion of Australia’s electricity consumption. This is so low as to be almost insignificant and pales in comparison with the call by over 40 organisations, including YCAN, for renewable energy funding at least as high as the national broadband network of $22 to $42 billion.

Funding for the fossil fuel industry is still higher under this budget than funding for renewable energy.

Below is a press release from the Victorian Climate Action Centre with some further information.


Kevin Rudd’s back flip on climate has not been addressed by Wayne Swan’s Budget, the Climate Action Centre said today.

“Australian’s angry and disappointed by Kevin Rudd’s recent back flip on climate change will not be mollified by this Budget,” said Damien Lawson, coordinator, Climate Action Centre.

“Labor has again failed to take an opportunity to make polluters accountable by putting a price on carbon and cutting subsidies to the coal industry.”

“While there is some new money for energy efficiency and renewable energy in the Budget, it is only $652.5 million over four years, well short of what is needed.”

“The money does not really start to flow until 2012 and there is little detail on how it will be spent.”

“And there is still more money in the Budget for the fossil industry than for climate change, in fact those chasing the clean coal pipe dream still get about as much as the renewable energy sector.”

“Elsewhere the government has slashed $200 million from its Green Car Fund, and failed to put any money into the electric vehicle revolution this country needs.”

“There is no vision for a zero carbon economy in this Budget just more of the same quarry vision that we had under the Howard government.”

“The public will see through this attempt to green wash the Labor government after a hit in the polls because of its climate back flips.”

100% renewable energy for Australia

YCAN took part in yesterday’s launch of the 100% Renewable Energy campaign by adding our voice to thousands of others via this photo of some of our members at the iconic “Fitzroy” sign on Johnston Street. Photos were taken by community groups all over Australia.

This new campaign is calling for an urgent transition to 100% renewable energy for Australia.

Is this possible? Is this affordable? The answer is yes and yes! Just one example of how we can do it is here.

Visit the campaign website for more information and to get inolved, or contact us at YCAN.

Rudd’s Hypocrisy

The Rudd Government now officially has no practical policy to tackle the climate emergency (just like the Howard Government).

This video is an excerpt from a recent ABC report. It speaks for itself.

GetUp is asking people to vote on the following no confidence motion:

“We the people have no confidence in Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s leadership on climate change. He has failed to deliver action to address the greatest moral challenge of our generation.”

Click here to add your vote.