Alternatively, download the document via the following direct link -
David Blore, BSFG Vice President
for BSFG Committee
Benalla Sustainable Future Group Submission to Benalla Rural City Council Climate and Environment Strategy - 11 July 2023
Alternatively, download the document via the following direct link -
David Blore, BSFG Vice President
for BSFG Committee
Only a few seats were left at the Benalla Town Hall on Friday 26 February when two very experienced Climate Scientists, Dr Lynne Bettio and Dr Leanne Webb, addressed the subject of Climate Change. They presented facts relating to rising temperatures in Benalla and the world at large, as well as future projections, especially for our local region. Their projections for where we will be if we stay on the same course weren't pretty! However, they also presented alternative solutions which require massive change around the world, including moving to renewable energies, electric vehicles and developing new technology to reduce the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
MP Helen Haines, who attended the meeting, updated the Benalla community about introducing a new bill, the Local Power Plan, to Parliament House that week. The Local Power Blan is a blue print for everyday Australians to benefit from the coming renewable energy boom in their local area. Helen's passion for renewable energy is contagious. “In the 21st century we can build a new generation of prosperity by catching the suns rays and surfing the prevailing winds.”
Lastly Jenny O’Connor, the Mayor of Indigo Shire, addressed the gathering with a motivating speech about her commitment to implementing strategies to create a greener future.
Photographs and story - Heath Whiley
This is a reminder that starting this Tuesday 13 October at 8.30pm on ABC and iView is the new series Big Weather, https://iview.abc.net.au/show/big-weather-and-how-to-survive-it.
Join Craig Reucassel in this three-part series, Big Weather delivers an urgent and entertaining message of how our weather is changing and what we can do to survive it.
With unique access to Australia's emergency services, first responders and local communities, Big Weather (and how to survive it) is an emotionally gripping series filmed over one intense summer.
What a year it has been. Big Weather is a reminder of how much of Australia was feeling the effects of widespread bushfires before the Covid pandemic.
National Climate Emergency Summit - Melbourne 14th, 15th Feb 2020
The Melbourne Town Hall was filled to capacity last Friday and Saturday, as 2000 people, representing all age groups, all walks of life, most States of Australia, and across the political spectrum, attended both plenary and workshop sessions, over the two days. Delegates included representatives from Benalla Rural City Council and Benalla Sustainable Future Group
They were addressed by over 100 speakers - climate and other scientists, business leaders, social justice advocates, health professionals, lawyers, engineers, journalists, economists, indigenous leaders, student climate leaders, and politicians - both past and present, Liberal, ALP, Greens and Independents.
The key messages that came through to all delegates at the Summit, were that the World, and in particular developed countries, and most essentially Australia, must urgently tackle the existential threat of climate change, with a government of national unity, and a Cabinet of experts who can utilise all the resources of knowledge and materials that we have to defeat this "enemy of climate change", rather like the free world did to mobilize itself in the world wars.
Why? Because, as the science has been showing us for decades, the Earth has been warming at an increasing rate, principally due to human activity, and it is rapidly approaching critical climate "tipping points", from which it will be impossible to prevent a human and ecological catastrophe.
All speakers were extremely critical of Australia's weak emission reduction target of 26-28% by 2050, describing this as just "kicking the can down the road" for future generations to deal with the problem. The reality is that Australia contributes over 5% of the Earth's greenhouse emissions through its own domestic activities, and its exports of coal and gas overseas - not just the 1.3% claimed by the government. This makes Australia the fourth highest polluting country in the world, with just 25 million of the 7.5 billion people who live on Earth!
Setting targets of zero net emissions by 2050 were also described as hopelessly inadequate - climate scientists warned a few years ago that we have until 2030 at the latest to reach that target.
If the world continues on its present path of burning fossil fuels and releasing even more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, it will not meet the Paris Climate Agreement objective of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, but will instead heat up by 3 to 4 degrees by mid to late this century, making life impossible for billions of people through drought and famine, diseases, rising sea levels, and resulting in the mass extinctions of much of the Earth's flora and fauna.
This is not the future that the 2000 delegates want to see inflicted on our planet. The urgency of the crisis has been demonstrated quite clearly to Australians this summer and in recent years through prolonged drought, catastrophic bushfires, severe hailstorms and flooding rain events - and all of these have been exacerbated by just one degree of warming!
So what solutions did the Summit propose?
Of primary importance, Australia must be a world leader in rapidly restructuring its economy, away from its reliance on fossil fuels, as it is blessed with the natural resources of sun, wind and waves to power its entire economy, and export surplus power to Asia. Communities that currently rely on fossil fuel industries must be financially and socially assisted in this transition. The electricity network grid in Australia requires enormous upgrades to cope with the influx of renewable energy, and part of this upgrade is the installation of large-scale battery storage facilities. The transport sector must be redeveloped with electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles. Agriculture must play its part too, as there are serious ramifications for the Earth if vegetation clearing continues unabated, and soil degradation leads to decreasing food production.
The Summit was told that not only do we need to stop emitting more greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, but we need to draw down carbon dioxide which we have already sent there. Various speakers from science and engineering fields detailed the techniques that are already available, or that could be utilised in the future, in order to do this draw-down, so that the Earth could cool again.
At the final plenary session on Saturday evening, delegates were addressed by 3 speakers. The first was 14 year old schoolboy, Zel Whiting from Adelaide, reporting on the student workshop that had been held during the Summit, at which it was determined to continue fighting for action and justice on behalf of future generations. One could not help but be moved by the clarity of thought, and the desperation of the message that these young people bring to the world. The second speaker was Cr. Trent McCarthy from Darebin City Council in Melbourne, the first Council in the world to declare a Climate Emergency in 2016. Over 100 delegates representing 77 local government jurisdictions in Australia met on Saturday morning, and resolved to "commit to work together as a partisan group" to find solutions to the climate emergency.
The final speaker was Ian Dunlop, former chair of the Australian Coal Association and CEO of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Mr Dunlop, along with Dr John Hewson (former leader of the Liberal Party), Carmen Lawrence (former WA Premier), Dr Kerryn Phelps (former head of AMA and Independent MHR for Wentworth), and Tim Costello (former CEO of World Vision Australia), co-authored a Declaration of Climate Emergency to the Parliament of Australia, calling for a government of National Unity to tackle the climate crisis, and outlining a course of action that will be required if we are going to save the world from a looming humanitarian and ecological disaster. It is a rallying call to all Australians to confront and overcome the enemy that is climate change.
"First, governments and energy ministries could remove fossil fuel subsidies, or redirect those subsidies towards renewables and low-carbon energy. At the same time, they could encourage decentralized energy production and storage. These efforts would erode the advantages that current policies afford to fossil fuels, and hasten the day when low-carbon energy production is more profitable than fossil fuels.
Second, governments could build carbon-neutral cities or other large-scale demonstration projects, while grass-roots efforts could help existing towns and cities move toward being carbon-neutral. These actions would help spread information and build consumer interest in fossil-fuel-free technologies, until they become the first choice for new projects.
Third, divestment from fossil fuel assets and withdrawal of insurance support for fossil fuel projects would help burst the ‘carbon bubble,’ making it unprofitable to develop remaining fossil fuel reserves.
Next, activists and opinion leaders could emphasize the moral implications of fossil fuels – that is, the idea that burning fossil fuels in ways incompatible with the Paris climate targets is immoral. This has the potential to shift societal norms and, consequently, widespread patterns of behavior.
Fifth, a massive climate literacy campaign to strengthen education about the climate in schools and universities, resulting in a generation of workers and leaders who are focused on stopping climate change.
And finally, better education of the general public by disseminating information about the carbon impacts of consumer and lifestyle choices – basically the climate equivalent of nutrition labeling."
Extract from an article by titled Here are half a dozen nudges that could bring about rapid decarbonisation in Anthropocene January 21, 2020 which draws from recently published research by Otto I.M. et al. “Social tipping dynamics for stabilizing Earth’s climate by 2050.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2020.
This media release was prepared for and published in Benalla's 'Ensign' on 15 January 2020.
"Benalla Sustainable Future Group (BSFG) wrote to Benalla Rural City Council last week, asking them to exercise their discretion to allow the image of Greta Thunberg to remain on the window of the Council Customer Service Centre.
The group wrote: "We view this painting as a powerful statement that here is a community that cares, not only about the present wellbeing of its citizens, but the future as well. Greta is a beacon of hope for millions of people, both young and old, around the world, and a hero for them as she challenges the world's leaders to take immediate and urgent action to mitigate climate change.
Climate change action is not a political issue, as some would have us believe. It is an environmental, social, economic and ethical issue, and we are right now experiencing one of the most devastating effects predicted long ago by climate scientists, as a result of the warming and drying of our part of the Earth.
We need to take a stand on the issue of climate change, and what better way can there be for Council to demonstrate their support for action, than to leave Greta's image on the window."
BSFG President, Peter Holmes, says the group is extremely disappointed with Council's response, in which they simply reiterated that the painting was part of the Window to Window Festival, and would be removed this week. He noted that none of the reasons BSFG offered in the letter to Council were addressed in their response, and hoped that this is not indicative of Council's attitude towards addressing the issue of mitigating climate change.
"Seven years ago, I was part of a community consultation group, organised by Council, to develop a Climate Change Adaptation Plan. Back then, we were probably thinking that the world had until about 2050 to make things right! Well, things have changed drastically, even in that short space of time, with temperature records being broken virtually every year, rainfall decreasing significantly, and now Australia is in the grip of a wildfire crisis that has cost at least 26 lives directly, burnt over 10 million hectares of forest and farmland, destroyed over 2000 homes and many more buildings, and killed an estimated 500 million creatures, many to the point of extinction," Mr Holmes said.
BSFG says that there is no longer room in our parliaments or local governments for debate about whether climate change is real. The discussion and the action must now be about urgently mitigating the causes of climate change, and not about "papering over the cracks" every time we experience another disaster. This discussion must be bipartisan, and above party political motives.
Mr Holmes indicated that BSFG believes, along with many others in the community, that an excellent way for Benalla Rural City to respond, is to declare that there is a Climate Emergency (as have 85 other local government councils in Australia). BRC should then convene a group of community leaders from business, health, energy, transport, environment, and most importantly, youth sectors, to work with Council officers to develop and implement initiatives that will rapidly make BRC a zero emissions community, and therefore make a major contribution to the mitigation of the worst effects of climate change."
"Happy New Year!
The Climate Council has been putting out some great stuff lately, including New Year's resolutions on climate change; the 8 biggest moments in climate change and 'talking energy' a summer bbq guide.
8 New Year's resolutions on Climate Change
2018: The 8 Biggest Moments in Climate Change
Summer Barbecue Guide - Talking Energy
Wheeler Centre in Benalla! Raimond and Katerina Gaita 'A Climate of Change' Wednesday 12 September 7.30 pm BPACC