Climate in the Pub: SPEAKERS
CLIMATE IN THE PUB - SPEAKERS
Climate Change Balmain-Rozelle is possibly best known for its monthly Climate in the Pub meetings. On alernate months we have a guest speaker or two for the chosen topic. Subscribe to our Event Calendar, Newsletter or watch out for our Climate in the Pub posters in the area. For the full authentic experience ask us to let you help put the posters up!
We normally meet on the second Tuesday of alternate months.
Live meetings in the pub: join us from 6.30 for a 7pm start at the Merton Hotel in Rozelle. Come in good time for a drink and a chat beforehand (or maybe a meal), listen to the experts, ask questions and share your views. Now that COVID restrictions have eased, there is no need to register.
Meanwhile, don't miss our Climate in the Pub - Meetups, normally on the second Wednesday of the other months.
How much carbon can a forest hold? (14 March 2023)
Our native forests are valuable not just as ecosystems for native plants and animals, but as sinks for carbon. Drawing on recently published research, Wilson Harris, Forests Campaigner for the Nature Conservation Council, discussed the greenhouse gas emissions of native forest logging, and made suggestions for the policies that NSW needs to adopt to preserve these important areas.
View the Powerpoint presentation.
Going places, green spaces: Rethinking transport in the Inner West (13 Dec 2022)
Walk, ride or drive?
For the final meeting of 2022 we had two guest speakers, whose common theme was how we can organise our lives and neighbourhoods to reduce the universal dependence on cars.
The first speaker was Professor David Levinson, from the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Sydney, who specialises in transport networks. Professor Levenson introduced the meeting to the idea of “the 15-minute neighbourhood”. Ideally, it should be possible to reach “valued destinations” from your home within 15 minutes. Valued destinations would be shops, schools, recreation areas, transport links and so on. If people can reach these facilities within 15 minutes there will be healthy levels of participation, leading to more facilities in a positive feedback system.
However, encouraging people to participate in their immediate neighbourhood can lead to more car use and hence more CO2 emissions. What we need to do is cut back the transport component of CO2 emissions, which is currently 18%. The question is how to do that.
He explored a number of solutions. One is to get people closer to their work. More jobs could be moved to the places where people live – the western suburbs, for example. More housing could be provided in the places where there are jobs – like the eastern suburbs.
Another solution is to make roads friendlier for pedestrians and cyclists. We were shown an image of an Amsterdam street 50 years ago – choked with cars. It was quite startling compared to the quiet cyclists’ paradise that many of us have visited in recent years, and showed dramatically what can be achieved. Along with this, better public transport is required. Sydney is making a start (having returned to trams (or light rail) along George Street), but pre-Covid only 27% of our population were going to work by public transport. Ideally this should be more than 60%.
A startlingly simple way to improve public transport participation is to add staircases and entrances at many stations, making it faster and easier for people from surrounding streets to get onto the platform. In the Sydney train system, there are 44 stations which have an entrance at only one end. 43 per cent more people would be within a five minute walk to a train at Redfern station if it had an entrance at both ends of the platforms.
Other obvious requirements are better and safer biking, through many more dedicated bike lanes than are currently planned, and easier conditions for pedestrians, with pedestrian bridges and more favourable traffic lights.
The theme of bike lanes and improved conditions for cyclists was taken up by the second speaker, Fiona Campbell, who is cycling manager for City of Sydney, but was representing the Better Streets Alliance . She noted that the transport sector produced the second-highest rate of emissions, after stationery energy.
However, as we have been talking a lot lately about the virtues of EVs, it was challenging to see Fiona’s slide that argued against EVs for multiple reasons. She suggested that EVs weren’t so much about saving the planet as saving the car industry. Simply switching to EVs would perpetuate traffic jams, still create pollution especially from tyre wear and continue to use valuable resources. The new Rozelle interchange, for example, will use 640,000 cubic metres of concrete by the time it is finished at a cost of $3.9 billion; and being so vast it will make it harder for walkers and cyclists to get through that area.
What is really needed, Fiona argued, is reduced reliance on private cars (of any sort), more public transport, and more walking and cycling (including e-bikes).
Read: The 30-minute city: designing for access (David Levinson)
Visit: Better Streets
Energy Transition in Australia (Chris Briggs) (11 October 2022)
The guest speaker was Chris Briggs, a Research Director at the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures. Chris has over 20 years experience as a political adviser, policy maker, program leader and researcher at both State and Federal levels. He spoke about the planning process for transitioning away from coal. There are, he said, two key challenges: managing an orderly exit from coal, and the rapid set-up of renewable energy sources.
Progress has been better than you might think: 35% of our energy usage is already coming from renewables. But we now only have 5 to 10 years to achieve what was expected to take 15-20. In fact, he said, it’s quite overwhelming to consider how far behind we are. To get from here to a successful transition will require: 10,000 kilometres of transition lines; maintaining our current record pace of 1 new wind farm per month; and 60 million solar panels, all by 2030. At the same time, we can expect to double our electricity consumption by 2030. This will be the result of phasing out both gas and petrol.
However, we have cause for optimism. One scenario is that we could become a hydrogen super-power, in which case we could be using 100% renewables by 2024 – 2025. Our natural resources are good, and in fact we are the only country that can produce every element needed for the battery supply chain. There is already a strong willingness among energy suppliers to progressively shut down their coal generators, but without a coherent plan some of them are hanging back.
Of course, the other problem is that even now only 25% of the coal we mine is used in Australia. The other 75% is sold overseas, and we have no control over how that is used.
Chris described a “just transition” to renewables, in which our coal communities would be looked after and provided with alternative jobs, maybe even with equity in our new industries. Environmental quality should be maintained, and all social dialogue around transition should be inclusive. Although surveys have shown that current coal workers are sceptical about having access to new jobs, there should in fact be more jobs in renewable energy than there are in coal. First Nations people should also have opportunities, both as labour and in running their own renewable projects on their own land.
Climate, Energy, Mining: what NSW needs to do (Brad Smith) (9 August 2022)
The Nature Conservation Council has identified the top 10 goals for the 2023 election: targets for reducing emissions, adopting renewable energy and storage, moving beyond coal and gas, and more. Just what must we do, for instance, to electrify our transport, transition rural communities, protect our natural carbon sinks?
Climate Change Balmain-Rozelle has helped develop these policy asks. We will be working in concert with community action groups across the state to push our major parties on ambition in dealing with the climate crisis.
Dr. Brad Smith from NCC presented this policy platform in preparation for the NSW State election coming up next March.
Electrify Everything - and how one household did it. (14 June 2022)
Speakers Kate Minter (Rewiring Australia) and Will Reece (local resident).
Electrifying our cars and our homes is the concrete action Australians can make this decade that will save us money and save our kids' future. But what's involved?
Both speakers illustrated their talks with PowerPoint presentations: click on the images to view them.
Kate Minter surveyed the opportunities and benefits for all of us: installing a heat pump for hot water and for room heating (as well as cooling): replacing a gas stovetop with an electric induction stovetop; and switching to an electric car, all make for more efficient use of electricity, maximising the benefits of rooftop solar or other sources of clean electricity. Also, the local economy benefits from jobs (eg installation).
Will Reece has recently converted his house to all-electric as part of a renovation. He explained the planning and work involved in installing a heat pump for hot water, reverse cycle air conditioning and an induction cooktop, as well as rooftop solar panels. He also mentioned a couple of small things he might have done differently, and a couple of unexpected benefits.
From truth to truthiness: political spin in Australia with Sue Butler - former editor of Macquarie Dictionary. (12 April 2022)
Susan Butler was The Editor of the Macquarie Dictionary, Australia’s national dictionary, from its foundation and from its first edition in 1981 through to the seventh edition in 2017, when she retired as Editor.
In June 2018, she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia.
What is it to be 'un Australian', what are our 'Australian values', and what are 'vested interests'?
Thanks to Sue Butler for wittily shedding light on these and other elements of political spin- as politics in Australia goes from truth to truthiness. in an insightful talk at this months CitP. Sue spoke very sharply on the language of political spin - and its evolution in political Australia.
Ideas, slogans, utterances, have two sides: denotation - the literal meaning; and connotation - the values attached to the utterance. Half a century ago, Gough Whitlam said "It's time". A sentence that had a literal meaning, but also created a feeling.
Since then, right around the world, political slogans have become more and more focussed on image and feeling, and less on the actual denoted facts (if any). Our politicians are retailed to the market as celebrities rather than as possible leaders.
Enter Scotty from Marketing, and the idea that truthiness, the appeal to the public of what you say, is more important than truth. Sue Butler tracked expressions like "Aussie Battler" from its literal WW1 meaning though to John Howard's usage to include anyone who wanted to better themselves, and Scott Morrison's "if you have a go, you'll get a go". She noted that Scomo himself was unable to explain what that actually meant. Similarly phrases like "How good is that?" referring to anything or anyone from "Aunty Violet and her Welcome to Country" to "Mining", seem to have no literal meaning, but cumulatively build an "image" of the politician (in this case Scomo) who repeats them regularly.
As a dictionary editor, Sue suggested it was generally difficult to control changes in language or meaning, though The Guardian had revised its style guide to use words like Climate Emergency instead of Climate Change to communicate a greater sense of urgency about the topic.
This was a live talk actually "in the Pub" and so there is no Zoom recording. However, a recording of Sue Butler speaking to the Balmain Institute last year on "Weaponising Words" can be seen here.
Climate-friendly Independents: can they make a difference in the election? (8 Feb 2022)
Kylea Tink - Independent for North Sydney: former CEO of the McGrath Foundation and of Camp Quality
Penny Ackery - Independent for Hume: teacher and 30-year resident of Goulburn
Georgia Steele - Independent for Hughes and corporate lawyer
Ben Raue - Election analyst: Ben has written election analysis for The Guardian, Crikey.com.au and other publications, and appeared on radio, including Radio National, 774 ABC Melbourne, 2SER and FBI.
There's a rising number of independent candidates in the coming election: independent of party control, but united in their stand for integrity in government, gender equity, and action on climate change. Our Zoom meeting heard from 3 of them, plus an election analyst who explained the part that preference votes will play in election results. Click on the video to watch - or click below to see a one-minute clip of each candidate making a telling point about their climate policies!
Will fed-up voters really desert the major parties? Can they really unseat sitting Coalition members? Could they hold the balance of power in the next parliament?
Or will the major parties ramp up their climate policies to fight off the risk of losing votes?
Climate Fiction - a powerful voice: with author L.A.Larkin (Tues 14 December)
L.A. Larkin’s novels have won her fans all over the world. Praised by the king of crime, Lee Child, Louisa writes edge-of-your-seat stories with lots of plot twists and characters that surprise. Widow’s Island, and her latest crime-thriller, The Safe Place (published 9th November) are available at online bookstores in paperback, e-book and audio book.
The crime-thriller, Widow’s Island, was inspired by real events: climate scientists who are hounded by cyber trolls, their families intimidated. L.A. Larkin spoke about her background research for her novel, including her conversations with distinguished climate scientists such as Professor Michael E Mann. She described the highly organised work of troll farms, and the impact it had on the personal lives of their targets.
We were back live in the Pub for this talk, and it wasn't recorded: but she spoke about her book to Robyn Williams on ABC recently: that interview can be seen here on YouTube.
From Canberra to Glasgow - Richie Merzian (Tuesday 12 Oct)
Richie Merzian is the inaugural Climate & Energy Program Director at The Australia Institute. He is a former Australian Government representative to the UN climate change conference and worked at the Department of Climate Change and the Department of Foreign Affairs for almost a decade on both domestic and international climate and energy agendas.
Australia's emissions put it in the top 10 per cent of countries and that excludes Australia’s bronze medal as the third largest exporter of fossil fuels. Australia’s oversized carbon footprint contrasts to its modest climate targets.
Richie Merzian introduced the Australia Institute's latest Climate of the Nation report, showing the surge in concern that Australians are feeling over climate change, and their demand for more action. He noted the recent Murdoch publication "Green and Gold", and shared some insights into the shifts in News Limited's position, and probably those of the Morrison Government.
Greening human transport before 2050 Dr David Mills (Tuesday 10 August)
Dr David Mills OAM, was formerly a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Sydney, where he led research and development in a number of solar thermal technologies, and was the co-founder and Chairman of Ausra Inc., which built a novel solar thermal electricity plant in California. More recently he has turned his attention to EVs, having bought one of the first three Teslas to be imported into Australia.
David Mills surveyed the history and future of Green (mostly electric) transport, from early (c1910) electric cars to futuristic commuter aircraft powered by ducted electric fans.
Modern humans need transport.
At this time, we use Fossil-fuelled Cars, Trucks, Trains, Boats and Planes.
They are all deeply destructive.
We are on the cusp of switching to Electric Vehicles, a move which is deeply disruptive.
How did we get where we are, and what might rational transport look like as we approach 2050?
Tuesday 8 June 6.30 for 7pm
The Merton Hotel, Rozelle
Amanda Tattersall: Building a Powerful Climate Movement
How do we build powerful movements for social and climate change?
Telling stories from across the world and based on first-hand experience in Sydney, Amanda will share cutting edge thinking about what it takes to build people power. From the organising of the Sydney Alliance to the 2019 Hong Kong Protests, this talk moves across a variety of urban battlegrounds: seeking to identify the core lessons about how to involve people in movements and make them powerful.
Dr Amanda Tattersall co-founded GetUp.org.au and founded the Sydney Alliance, which brought broad-based community organising to Australia. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Sydney University’s Sydney Policy Lab.
This event was fully booked, but also streamed live on Facebook .
If you prefer you can also catch it here on Youtube .
Jonica Newby: Beyond Climate Grief
Tuesday 13 April 2021
Jonica Newby spoke about her latest book Beyond Climate Grief, which includes practical advice from psychological and scientific experts, incredible accounts from everyday heroes and inspiring stories from the climate strike kids, as well as conversations with singer–songwriter Missy Higgins, comedians Charlie Pickering and Craig Reucassel and business leader Mike Cannon-Brookes.
Jonica spoke about a number of emotions, ranging from denial through fear to greed to acceptance and pride. She told how a medical emergency suffered by her partner helped her to understand denial; and then explained that her plans for researching the book were overtaken by the bushfire emergency. She read excerpts from the book where survivors described their harrowing experiences. She explained about acceptance: naming our emotions, changing what we can, and accepting what we can't. And said that ordinary people were heroes, doing what they could, and this was the source of her hope for the future.
We didn't record Jonica's talk: but she spoke about her book at a similar meeting promoted by local bookshop Roaring Stories: that event can be seen here on YouTube.
CLIMATE IN THE PUB (HOME DELIVERY)
During 2020 and early 2021 we held meetings by Zoom - and recorded them.
Meeting the Climate Challenge: Tue 23 February 2021
Brad Smith, Campaigns Director with the NSW Nature Conservation Council explained how NCC's new report Meeting the climate challenge spells out what's needed to reach 100% clean energy by 2030 and to create a safe, liveable climate for people and communities.
Key factors are a lower cost than business-as-usual, and better reliability. The report finds that both are achievable, but the fact that coal is actually going out quicker than anyone expected is among the risks that need to be managed.
Hydrogen & Renewable Energy: Consider the Possibilities Tue 8 Dec
Hydrogen is the earth's commonest element. When it is produced using renewable energy or processes, it can be compressed and stored or converted to ammonia, and shipped to where it's needed, for use when it's needed. When it's burnt, it produces just energy and water vapour. No carbon dioxide. But it requires energy to make it in the first place. Nicky Ison, Energy Transition Manager at WWF, and formerly from the Institute for Sustainable Futures, will explain the role of hydrogen in making the fullest use of renewable energy – and the things to watch for.
How Green is your Money? Tue 13th October
Australian banks, super funds and insurance companies play a major role in propping up polluting industries. How can we use our power as citizens, customers and shareholders to make sure money flows to companies and projects that are not destroying the Earth's capacity to sustain life?
Pablo Brait has dedicated his life over the past decade to speeding up the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. working on community campaigns in Victoria, NSW and Queensland against inappropriate coal and coal seam gas developments and in favour of renewable energy. Currently he is a campaigner with Market Forces, a group that pressures financial institutions to shift money away from fossil fuels .
The session was hosted by ABC Radio's Finance reporter Sue Lannin.
Solar Gridlock? Tue 11th August
The grid wasn't designed for input from millions of domestic solar panels. What needs to change so it can take advantage of this source of electricity?
Guest speaker Hugh Saddler is the author of a book on Australian energy policy, Energy in Australia and over 50 scientific papers, monographs and articles on energy technology and environmental policy. He is recognised as one of Australia's leading experts in this field. Hugh's talk showed the contribution of the various methods of electricity generation in Australia, both at present and in the options modelled in AEMO's latest Integrated System Plan. The graphs shown in this video may be viewed here.
Dual Crises: Covid-19 & Climate Change, Wed 10 June
Dan Gocher from the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility was a first for Climate in the Pub (Home Delivery). More than thirty people had Climate in the Pub delivered to their homes on Zoom. Dan's talk, complete with slides, went without a hitch and was very well received.
During 2020 and 2021, some of our meetings were online, and video recordings can be seen above.
Posters for all our meetings are displayed below.
Reports on our earlier meetings (back to 2015) are here.