Climate in the Pub - next meeting: 7pm June 14th
topic to be advised . . .
-previous meetings -
$7billion in fossil fuel subsidies: couldn't we spend it better?
Tues 12th April 7pm: Three Weeds, Evans Street, Rozelle
Climate in the Pub’s guest speaker in April was Reece Proudfoot, Climate Change campaigner at WWF, and lead organiser in Sydney for last November’s People’s Climate March.
The People’s Climate March, Reece explained, had been an opportunity for a wide range of groups and organisations – health professionals, trade unions, indigenous groups, faith groups, young people, as well as the traditionally involved environmental groups – to demonstrate their concern about climate change. This resulted in 140,000 people across Australia gathering to demand more action on climate: the largest numbers ever on this issue. (Reece spoke highly of CCBR's involvement in getting the numbers out in Sydney.)
Where to next? The movement is now looking for a campaign that can further interest these disparate groups. One campaign being developed by several groups and NGOs is around fossil fuel subsidies – which globally amount to more than is spent on health worldwide.
In Australia, the fossil fuel industry benefits from billions of dollars of government (i.e. taxpayer) money in various forms: a rebate on diesel fuel tax, direct funding of mineral exploration, and accelerated depreciation of assets among others. Estimates start at $7.7 billion per year, and rise to $20 billion depending what is included. This support goes to industries that are damaging the climate and our future. Reece noted annual figures in other areas of government expenditure and argued that the money could rather be used to increase expenditure on health, education (including retraining for jobs in a sustainable economy) and encouraging renewable energy.
The audience discussed the various forms of financial support, noting that some benefits were open to all industries, whether they were seen as beneficial or harmful to our society and environment. Agriculture, for example, also benefits from the diesel fuel tax rebate. Reece explained that their proposals would focus on fossil fuel mining, and allow agriculture to continue to benefit. We also considered how best to express this message – is "subsidy" too benign a word, or should we fit with the current popular sentiment against tax-dodgers, and talk about how these industries exploit “tax loopholes” or practise “tax avoidance”?
In passing, Reece also noted that the Federal seat of Grayndler, which now includes most of Climate Change Balmain-Rozelle’s home turf, with a strong Greens presence, was more likely to see climate change as a dominant issue in the forthcoming election than most other areas. A clear call to action for CCBR!
Community Renewable Energy
Tues 9th Feb 7pm: Three Weeds, Evans Street, Rozelle
Tom Nockolds of the Community Power Agency, spoke of the aims, challenges and prospects for community based renewable energy projects, especially the importance of delivering the energy transition in a way that is socially equitable.
He described the economic 'death spiral' process of the existing grid, the threat it poses to the poorest families, and how community renewables might play a part in the solution.
Louise Fitzgerald, a volunteer with Pingala, outlined the group's current projects, including rooftop solar at young Henry's brewery in Newtown and in a remote Indigenous community.
Oscar McLaren of Sydney Renewable Power Company explained his group's progress with providing solar PV for the new Sydney Convention Centre at Darling Harbour. They hope to start taking investments later this year.
Climate in the Pub - Christmas Drinks
Tues 8 Dec 7pm: Three Weeds, Evans Street, Rozelle
This meeting followed after the AGM, at which the committee was re-elected, and reports given. CCBR President Dominic Case started the ball rolling by presenting his annual report on CCBR activities, describing the most active year for a long time. (A summary of the report is here.)
Following this there was general conversation about the state of the climate change debate in Australia; the Paris talks; and of course the People's Climate March held a few days previously.
Climate in the Pub - How to Win Friends and Influence Policy
13th October 2015, at The Three Weeds, Rozelle
Numbers continue to grow for our meetings, and this was a record turn-out. The panel comprised
Ella Weisbrot, Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC)Phil Bradley, Climate Action Working Group, Greens NSW
Erin Watt, Labor Environment Action Network (LEAN)
and from their various contributions, and discussion afterwards, we learnt that a successful community group needed to:
- Focus on solutions
- In our case, focus on renewables
- Be a grass roots organisation
- Talk to people, one-on-one, and do it again and again
- At eco festivals, have models for people to play with so you can engage them in unthreatening conversations
- work hard and just keep going
- Form alliances with others
- Run specific campaigns - project focused work really attracts people.
Climate in the Pub - Climate and Human Health
11th August 2015, at The Three Weeds, Rozelle
Three leading doctors spoke persuasively on the threats from climate change and fossil fuel use.
Dr Peter Sainsbury points out that air pollution kills more people than the road toll in Australia: think asthma, emphysema, chronic lung and heart disease. An excellent report on coal and health in the Hunter released in February describes the effects of coal mining, transport and burning. "We don't need to be passive victims," observes Dr Sainsbury, "We need to fight in the Hunter, and elsewhere, to maintain jobs in agriculture and to create new ones in renewables."
Dr Sujata Allan lists among direct effects of climate change a rise in extreme weather events such as heat waves, "a 'silent killer', already causing 1100 deaths per year in Australia." Indirectly, climate change affects food security and disease distribution. Ross River and dengue fevers are moving south as the climate changes. "Children are particularly vulnerable - the early effects on their immune systems of exposure to pollutants can affect their lifetime health, and they are more at risk from extreme heat, infectious diseases and water shortages"Dr Helen Redmond notes that behaviours which create high greenhouse gas emissions are also bad for health directly - lots of driving of fossil-fueled vehicles, air travel, and a diet high in fat and processed foods. "The stomach has a big footprint. A low carbon lifestyle, including active transport, is both healthier and more sustainable."
Climate in the Pub - Solar Citizens
9th June 2015, at The Three Weeds, Rozelle
At our first Climate in the Pub meeting, we welcomed about 29 people, and introduced Jason Lyddieth and Alex Soderlund from the Solar Citizens organisation.
Jason and Alex talked about their organisation and campaign Solar Citizens - an opportunity for those with solar, or who want to install solar, to join together to ensure that the rights of solar owners are protected from attack either by governments or by the established fossil fuel energy companies. They mentioned several instances of how the united voice of many thousands of solar owners had pushed state governments on particular points.
While Australia's large-scale solar capacity is very low in international terms, it has quite a high domestic rooftop solar profile, and it is still growing fast, despite the federal government efforts to wind back renewable energy.
They talked about their efforts in promoting solar on private residences. We were told the take-up on private residences, whilst slowing, is still growing. In particular, Solar Citizens had argued strongly for the domestic part of the Renewable Energy Target (S-RET) to be preserved at full strength, which the Federal Government has agreed to.
They invited attendees to visit their website standupforsolar.org.au and sign the pledge as a Solar Citizen, or to go a stage further and become a Solar Neighbour (signing up friends and family) or a Solar Champion (contacting or meeting the local MP).
Jason also spoke of Solar Citizens' next big activity - a nationwide series of "Solar Shindigs", to take place in neighbourhoods in the 2nd last week of July). There will be more information about organising an event or joining one, on the Solar Citizens website very soon.
There was general discussion around the issues of solar panel financial viability (getting better all the time) and installing batteries (will be extremely viable within a year).
What About Paris
30th April 2015 at Balmain Town Hall
CCBR and Balmain Institute's joint meeting with The Climate Institute's John Connor was a great success with a packed meeting room, a lively introduction by John Doyle, and a very informative talk by John Connor, tracing the path of international climate negotiations up to and including the Paris talks due at the end of this year.
John Connor pointed out that Australia was well-placed to take an influential role as Chair of the UNFCCC Umbrella Group. (Although there is no formal list, the Group is usually made up of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Kazakhstan, Norway, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the US.)
We are really grateful to John for giving his time to us for this talk - immediately after a full day in a round table meeting with Climate Minister Greg Hunt and other leaders.
Climate Change Balmain-Rozelle - PO Box 890 Rozelle, NSW 2039