Climate Politics

Climate Politics

Dr Stephen Bygrave

AN OVERVIEW OF THE WORK OF BZE OVER THE YEARS
To speak about such a topic, the guest was BZE CEO Dr Stephen Bygrave who is about to embark on a new challenge to join the Queensland government as executive director in the field of environment and climate change.

The work of BZE has encompassed such diverse areas as 100% renewable energy and how soon this may be viable, buildings, battery storage, agriculture including land clearing, industrial processes (such as alternatives in the production of aluminium), and transport to name just a few. In fact BZE has attained worldwide acclaim.

Transport in particular is responsible for 15% of national emissions but the ridiculous dependence on cars in Australia is badly in need of a "mode shift" in favour of public transport and electric cars not forgetting the movement of freight. It is so short-sighted by governments to move freight on the road in lieu of rail which had been achieved in the past. BZE has also written on the topic of high speed rail which has been utilised so successfully in other countries, in particular India and China where there are so many people to accommodate!

So Stephen will perhaps be involved in the different challenges that Queensland can throw up  - none bigger than the Great Barrier Reef and Adani and land clearing!

(Summary written by BZE volunteer Bev McIntyre 12/8/16)

Tim Forcey: 22 ways to cut your energy bills

How to save money on power bills

This is a headline which should be of interest to everyone!

Beyond Zero's Kay and Michael speaks to Tim Forcey, Energy Advisor, Melbourne Energy Institute, University of Melbourne talks about 22 things you can do to improve your home’s energy performance. And how to reach the ultimate goal of a home heated and powered by 100% renewable electricity. 

My Efficient Electric Home fb group - join us!

Tim has ideas on 22 ways of cutting power bills  and 38% off electricity and gas.  He said there is no economic reason for connection to the gas grid as gas has increased in price 75% over the last  5 years!  To make the production and usage of hot water  go further it is preferable to consider heat pumps and those with smart meters would find it simpler to trace one's usage regularly. It is possible to do this on line for the clever ones (my expression!)

But first on the list is to install LED lights  and thereby  using less power without heating and these are of course now being offered free of  charge. Next it is also a good idea  to ring retailers  to request what discounts are available ot to  threaten to switch if dissatisfied!

But before getting too technical adequate insulation is important  particularly hot water pipes and pressure release valves and a commonsense approach e.g. checking for draughts from old fireplaces and vents and the installatiom of old fashioned drapes and pelmets

Michael raised the question of showerheads which Tim said need not be either giving a satisfying shower or be saving hot water but could be both and if not satisfied could be returned! And that green power is provided by most retailers not only Powershop.

(Summary written by Bev McIntyre)

Further reading:

The Conversation: 22 ways to cut your energy bills (before spending on solar panels)

Presentation: Tim Forcey: How to cheaply and comfortably heat your home with renewable energy

Tom Quinn

Tom Quinn on the future of food 

Tom Quinn is Executive Director of the Future Business Council which represents innovative, sustainable and resilient businesses that will define our future economy. He has also worked in the Sustainability area at the  City of Melbourne. Tom joins the Beyond Zero radio team talking about his early upbringing on a farm which he attributes his interest in wildlife and his subsequent choice of occupation. His interests have broadened to include issues such as 'green' buildings, organic food production, health and nutrition, sustainable irrigation and afforestation, to mention a few.

Tom points out that Australia has a "unique opportunity" with the approach of the end of the mining boom in considering "what comes next". He stresses that there are numerous vested interests and lack of bipartisan support which result in "missed opportunities". However, "there are lots of smart people here" in Australia who are able to transform environmentally sustainable ideas into commercially viable projects. One of the important aims for the future is "carbon draw-down", i.e. taking carbon out of the atmosphere. There are many ways to do this, one of which is reforestation.

Tom announced an event on the future of food security in Hobart on 8th June in conjunction with the University of Tasmania Business School, and hopefully engaging with the Tasmanian community on issues of sustainability and productivity.

The Future Business Council has released The Next Boom report which has found compelling evidence that sustainability should not be seen as a cost, but a business opportunity. Tom also talks about the climate policies we would like to see for the upcoming federal election. 

BZE's Michael also mentioned the Coral, Coal and Climate Change forum on 16th June at Box Hill Town Hall which is sponsored by Lighter Footprints, an active local environmental organisation. Comedian Rod Quantock will be present, as well as local and other candidates, including Shadow Environment minister Mark Butler and local member Josh Frydenberg.

(Summary written by BZE volunteer Bev McIntyre)

Prof Kate Auty: Environment IS us

Professor Kate Auty, new Commissioner for Sustainability and Environment brings a wealth of knowledge and experience on Arts/Law, Environmental Science and Aboriginal Affairs. She enumerates similarities between these main areas. "Environment IS us" and climate change is pivotal to everything including water, transport, energy, bio-diversity etc. But leadership (seriously lacking) is important, not that of Napthine for example, who used the term "climate variability" which insinuates that climate change is a natural phenomenon that will right itself.  There is need for leadership such as demonstrated by Cathy McGowan in Indi who has shown a welcome propensity to listening and communicating, and one is reminded of the present Labor initiative such as the old-fashioned town hall meetings etc.

Kate tells us, our present ecological footprint is "outrageous" and 3 times the world average. We need more worlds! (Having a timley interview with the BZE radio team) the 22nd of April is also date for ratifying Paris agreements and Greg Hunt is participating (this accompanied by cynical laughter in the background by BZE interviewers present). 

Despite all this Kate says people should not despair, that BZE is a "standout organisation" and she enumerated some positive grassroots initiatives. We must look to the future with a new approach. One is reminded of Tim Flannery's comment that stress needs to be put now on adaptation rather than on mitigation.  

(Summary written by BZE volunteer Bev McIntyre)

Further reading:

Dr Sara Bice talks social licence

Need for understandable data on increasing prevalence of unconventional gas and its impact on sedimentary basins

The BZE team talks to Dr Sara Bice with a history of journalism, sociology and now research fellow at Melbourne School of Government, University of Melbourne. 

Dr Sara Bice spoke of the need to create a regulatory basis and need for management of underground resources considering sedimentary basins comprise to a great extent  Australia's primary energy and water for agriculture and general rural population needs - in particular relating to CSG. This will have major effects on environmental economy and communities.  There is of course a need for a baseline for the effects of CSG and fracking in particular and with a moratorium such as that in Victoria.  The growth in CSG wells in Queensland alone has amounted to possibly 40,000 from 3000 in 2003! There is in particular a need for a better connection between University research, industry and policy makers and for the use of social media to provide a strong platform and despite for example, AGL giving the reasons for withdrawal as being financial with no mention relating to the power of protests. Reference to  AGL and "the license to operate" was also made by Green's Jeremy Buckingham. Is "social license" controlled by companies?

(Summary written by BZE volunteer Bev McIntyre)

Further reading:

Coal seam gas debate is more than hot air: Did community opposition have a role in AGL’s decision to quit exploration of natural gas?

The Sustainable Sensibility - Blog by Sara Bice

Sara Bice on The Conversation

Do mining companies have a "social licence" to operate?

Dr Sara Bice Awarded Research Fellowship

Margaret Blakers OAM

Beyond Zero speaks to Margaret Blakers, the Canberra-based Convener of the Global Greens. Margaret is a passionate Environmentalist and Political adviser. In 2016 Margaret was awarded the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia for service to conservation and the environment.

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