Climate in the pub:

Meetups

NEXT Meetup:  WEd 10 July

at the Merton Hotel, Victoria Road Rozelle, from 6.30pm for a 7pm start

Climate in the Pub Meetups provide a regular opportunity to meet others in Inner West Sydney who share your concern for the climate, find out what's happening to promote change and see how you can help take action on the climate crisis. Or we may have a quiz, or a film screening. We generally alternate these meetings with our Climate in the Pub series where we have a guest speaker. 

We meet at the Merton Hotel, 38 Victoria Rd, Rozelle. 

Come from 6.30 for a friendly drink. The meeting will begin at 7pm, and you are welcome to join others for a reasonably priced meal at the completion of the meeting about 8.15. 

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The enemy within . . .

Our most recent CLIMATE MEETUP was on Wed 13 March: Lots to talk about as we reviewed new challenges to the campaign for renewable energy.

We discussed this: groups at each table were given a selection of recent reports on the ‘Reckless Renewables’ rally; on movements for and against wind and solar farms on farming land and offshore; on gas pipelines; and on offshore gas exploration.  Here are some of our conclusions.

Renewable energy and farmers

Some farmers claim that renewables – including new transmission lines - are taking away "prime agricultural land".  In Victoria, a potato grower said she would be prevented from expansion by a transmission line corridor. "You can't have anything metal underneath, even a fence, because if you touch it you'll get zapped." She would prefer the (much more expensive) option of running the lines underground. Another farmer said transmission lines and towers would hamper modern agricultural practices, including the use of drones and aerial farming techniques, such as seeding and spraying.

But another Victorian farmer says, "there's certainly a lot of claiming that you can't farm under transmission lines ... but we regard farming around it the same way as farming around trees".

Solar farms do seem compatible with farming – sheep grazing, for example, is improved by the solar panels providing extra shade and better grass growth, and farmers report better quality wool. Meanwhile grazing keeps down weeds and grass down around the panels.

Cost or reward to farmers?

Jeremy spoke of his research at Queensland University of Technology which found 5% of surveyed farmers say they don't like solar and wind - but 60% said they were not concerned.

One problem is that some farmers who have wind farms on their property benefit from incentive payments while neighbours may not - and yet they will see the turbines. A few find windfarms ugly, but others may even find them majestic or inspirational.

Non-renewables?

As for non-renewables, farmers in the Liverpool Plains food bowl area of North-Western NSW are refusing access to survey for a gas pipeline.  In Queensland, a pipeline "in a remote location" recently caught fire, and farmers are also concerned about erosion and soil impact of the underground lines.

Offshore power: wind or oil

The issues the opposition picks on - whales, dolphins, fish - are not a problem (though another group called for more research).  Birds are the problem, particularly migratory birds.

More research is needed on bird movements, the threat from turbines off the NSW coast, optimal siting, and mitigating technologies.  Overseas experience is not necessarily a good guide.

Some level of harm should be acceptable since global warming is a threat too, but calculating the trade-off between a clear short-term impact and a vaguer but potentially far worse long term one is tough.

Onshore wind is much more a known quantity and doesn’t have the same blade speeds, but doesn’t provide the reliability either.

Who is slowing down the renewable energy rollout?

In different ways, it is traditional climate change deniers, and Landholders and environmentalists as well as poor communications from government and developers?

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is not sufficiently effective. It needs to be properly resourced and given the power to negotiate transfer of land for renewable energy production and distribution purposes. Delay is an issue.

Poor community consultation alienates people. Local people need to be convinced that there is a benefit to them personally as well as the community as a whole.

Corporate capitalism is the problematic context. Profits from the renewable energy process can’t currently compete with the entrenched profit points in fossil fuel production and use.

Community Energy is a solution but there are regulatory barriers that need to change.

A decentralised model for electricity production and distribution would solve many problems. For example, rooftop solar feeding community batteries and a local distribution system – which would also build communities.

Previously . . .

As well as a report from our working group on Electric Vehicle policy, about our recent stall at Orange Grove markets, reports from the Better Streets Coalition and from Move Beyond Coal, and plans for a Candidate Forum in March. Then we movd onto the highlight of the evening - Dirty Dozen Bingo! featuring little- (or well-) known facts about Australia's 12 biggest  greenhouse gas polluters.  A lot of fun was had by all!

We don't have formal speakers at our Climate Meetups . But at the January meeting we invited retiring State MP for Balmain Jamie Parker to join us  and reflect on his two decades as Leichhardt Councillor, then Mayor, and  then MP for Balmain, and in particular in campaigning for action on Climate Change.

Climate Change Balmain-Rozelle is the group behind Climate in the Pub, a regular gathering to hear excellent speakers in a social setting. But we do much more to promote action on climate change at local, state and national level. In 2018, we won Most Outstanding Environment Group in NSW, an award presented by the Nature Conservation CouncilClimate MeetUps are open to all from the inner west and beyond.