Monthly Discussion Group

The monthly BZE Discussion Group is an opportunity to hear from and question experts leading climate change solutions. Topics vary from renewable energy techincal innovations to social and political action. The event is generally held on the first Monday of every month at 6:30pm at the University of Melbourne.

Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth (FoE)

2013 - A win for community activism

Although state and federal governments have taken backward steps to stopping climate change, 2013 has seen many wins through community organised campaigns, proving that people power really can make a difference.

Cam Walker is Friends of the Earth (FoE) Australia’s campaigns coordinator and has been active on environment and climate justice issues for more than 20 years. Cam is currently working with communities on the issue of coal seam gas (CSG) and new coal proposals. He will tell us about the many community groups, including Lock the Gate, that are working to oppose the development of a CSG industry in Victoria.

Cam has lectured Environmental Politics and Change Theory at RMIT University. You can follow Cam’s Twitter feed @Cam_Walker

100% renewables - what's new? Patrick Hearps, Dr Jenny Riesz & Tim Forcey

100% renewables - what's new?


This discussion group will explore recent advances in modelling of 100% renewable energy scenarios for Australia, with three key researchers in this field. Since the ZCA Stationary Energy Plan was launched in 2010, two new studies have come out examining the feasibility of 100% renewable energy in Australia, both confirming that it is technically feasible and economically broadly comparable to business-as-usual in cost. One of these studies came from an academic team at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), while the other was completed by the organisation in charge of keeping the lights on for 90% of Australia’s electricity market, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), with input from CSIRO and some of Australia’s leading energy consultancy firms.

Speaker Presentaion Slides

Tim Forcey

PDF file (5MB)

Patrick Hearps

PDF file (2MB)

Dr Jenny Riesz

PDF file (2MB)


Dr Jenny Riesz is a postgraduate research associate with the Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets (CEEM) at the University of New South Wales. Jenny’s research examines high penetration renewable power systems, with a particular focus on the design and operation of electricity markets. Much of her recent work has been expanding on the UNSW and AEMO 100% renewable analyses to understand the cost implications and market changes required.  []

Tim Forcey is an engineer with extensive experience spanning several decades in the energy sector. Recently he was involved in the AEMO 100% renewable study managing the consultant teams undertaking the most detailed mapping yet of Australia’s renewable energy resources. He currently works with the Melbourne Energy Institute.

Patrick Hearps was one of the lead authors of the ZCA Stationary Energy Plan, and with both the Melbourne Energy Institute and Beyond Zero Emissions has examined the findings of all three 100% renewable energy studies, and the policy settings required to accelerate uptake of renewables.

Dr Matthew Rimmer ANU - The Fossil Fuel Resistance

The Fossil Fuel Resistance: Intellectual Property, Climate Activism, and Culture-Jamming

Slides from Dr Rimmer's presentation can be downloaded here.

Dr Matthew Rimmer, associate professor at the Australain National University (ANU) College of Law, will analyse specific stunts by The Yes Men, who impersonate big-time criminals to publicly humiliate them. They have created The Yes Lab which is devoted to helping activists use creative techniques to promote change. 

We look at the legal conflicts by exploring the work of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in the US, who defend free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights in today's digital world. Lawyers, policy analysts, activists, and technologists at EFF fight for freedom primarily in the courts, bringing and defending lawsuits even when that means taking on the US government or large corporations.

Anti-coal activist Jonathan Moylan faces up to ten years imprisonment over the Whitehaven Coal Hoax. Was it an act of civil disobedience? A spoof? Culture-jamming? Misleading and deceptive conduct? Or corporate fraud?

2013 has seen a series of similar battles over climate change, culture-jamming and civil disobedience, supported by the likes of fossil fuel divestment champion Bill McKibben. The courts have been forced to tackle complex legal questions involving climate activism and its place in the politics of climate change. Dr Matthew Rimmer will discuss international debates over civil disobedience, identity correction, hoaxes, impersonation, climate activism and culture-jamming. He joins us via Skype. 

Dr Scott Watkins CSIRO - printing Australia's largest solar cells

Dr Scott Watkins, Stream Leader, Organic Photovoltaics, Materials Science and Engineering at CSIRO, is developing next generation organic solar cells. He will talk about the new manufacturing facility in Melbourne printing solar cells at the size of an A3 sheet of paper, which are one of the largest in the world. 

The Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) has developed processes that use spray coating, reverse gravure and slot-dye coating as well as screen printing, and the technology that has gone from producing solar cells the size of a fingernail to 10cm square in three years. Dr Watkins says the new $200,000 printer has allowed the VICOSC team to jump to producing solar cells on sheets 30cm wide - right here in Melbourne! 

The flexible, organic PV cells have applications in consumer devices and small integrated electronics, and into the future, they could be coated onto buildings, into windows and on roofs. Dr Watkins will join us to explain organic PV technology and how the printing process works.

Slides from Dr Watkins' presentation can be downloaded here.

Dr Miriam Pepper - Divestment with the Uniting Church


Bill McKibben recently visited Australia on his global campaign for fossil fuel divestment. He is calling for institutions to immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies, and divest within 5 years. The Uniting Church in NSW/ ACT is one step ahead!

On 16 April 2013, the Uniting Church passed a resolution that it should divest from corporations engaged in the extraction of fossil fuels, turning this campaign into one of the fastest-growing protest campaigns in recent history.

The proposal was brought to the church's Synod of NSW by Justin Whelan, Mission Development Manager at Paddington Uniting Church, and Dr Miriam Pepper, a founding member of the church’s ecology network, Uniting Earthweb. Dr Miriam Pepper will join us via Skype.

Deborah Noller CEO - Switch Automation - Building data & sustainability reporting

Building energy efficiency solutions can deliver significant emissions reductions with payback times as fast as several months. Switch Smart Hub is an intelligent cloud-based platform specialising in sustainability and automation for buildings and organisations.

Switch CEO, Deborah Noller, and Business Development Manager Victoria, Mark Woodcock, will present an overview of the hardware, such as meters and sensors, and the software tools which identify cost and efficiency savings, with examples of real-time data from live sites. Join us to see how Australian innovation is taking on the world. 

Switch Smart Hub can access any building data on any web-enabled device - anywhere, anytime and in real time. The software control covers electricity usage, gas and water consumption, security, intercom, lighting, climate control, schedules, timers and also allows integration with other sustainability information such as transportation energy use, paper consumption, waste generation and more.

Switch Automation offers:

  • Energy Management and Environmental Reporting
  • Building Automation Services
  • Creating Smart Communities
  • Implementing Sustainability Programs

Vodcast Capture


David Robinson - Community Solar for South Melbourne Market

Download David Robinson's presentation here

David Robinson is the Project Manager of Locals Into Victoria’s Environment (LIVE) Community Power. He is planning Australia's first community solar project to install up to 3000 solar panels on the roof of South Melbourne Market, adding to about 150 already in place.

In March 2013, the South Melbourne Market solar project passed an important milestone. The feasibility report commissioned by the City of Port Phillip and LIVE was released. David will present on the funding model process and an update on the project. 

David's 40 year career was spent in Information Technology in a range of technical, marketing, communications and sales roles. He is well known for his environmental campaigning, mainly through LIVE, the group of which he is now the Convenor. During 2013 David is focussing on CORE (Community Owned Renewable Energy) projects. LIVE Community Power is the first of these projects, and he expects many more to follow in the years ahead.

Tim Gatt from Moreland Energy Foundation Limited (MEFL) and the Moreland community solar project will also provide an update and answer questions.

Ian Mack from YCAN's (Yarra Climate Action Now) Yarra Community Solar will also provide a brief update on another community solar project in Melbourne.

Patrick Hearps & Gerard Drew - Zero Carbon Australia Transport Plan & High Speed Rail project

Patrick Hearps, Project Director and Research Fellow in Energy & Transport Systems at the University of Melbourne's Melbourne Energy Institute, presents an update on the Zero Carbon Australia (ZCA) Transport Plan. He will be joined by BZE's Zero Carbon Australia Transport Plan Research Director, Gerard Drew.

The aim of the Zero Carbon Australia Transport Project is to provide a complete scenario analysis of what a zero-emissions transportation system would look like in Australia. The ZCA High Speed Rail project is a collaboration between Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) Institutes of Vehicle Concepts and Transportation Systems, and the University of Melbourne’s Energy Research Institute. Researchers have analysed high-speed rail route options for Melbourne to Brisbane to arrive at a significantly lower cost figure than the Phase 1 AECOM study for the government, released in 2011. The BZE-DLR joint study will be released in time for the May 14 budget.

With the ZCA Transport Plan scheduled for publication later in 2013, come along for the exciting preview of over 12 months of research. People outside Melbourne are especially encouraged to tune into the live webcast. Join the discussion and find out how you can help. 

Do You Know What Your Home is Doing Right Now?

  Thermal Imaging Secrets Revealed!

As a volunteer with the Bayside Climate Change Action Group, Tim Forcey has conducted energy assessments on over 30 homes, many with a thermal imaging camera

Tim will reveal the many thermal secrets that our homes have been keeping from us – until now!  Vermin in the roof, 42 degree bedroom walls at 11 AM, electrical equipment gone mad, the deep dark inner workings of heat pumps!  Roll up, roll up!

David Spratt & the Climate Emergency

David Spratt — Climate Code Red

Download David Spratt's presentation here

Co-author of the ground breaking Climate Code Red, David Spratt, will present the latest climate science and its links to increasing extreme weather events worldwide. Australia has experienced record high temperatures, heatwaves and bushfires already this year with the Bureau of Meteorology adding two new colours to its weather forecasting chart to take the highest temperature up from 50 to 54 degrees.

2012 climate science observations saw a record summer Arctic sea ice melt, record Greenland ice sheet melt, record permafrost warming, as well as increasing floods, cyclones, droughts and heatwaves. With climate scientists predicting more extreme events, David also shows what we can expect at the 2 and 4 degree warming scenarios.

David is also an experienced activist and will talk about the urgent action we can take to tackle the climate emergency.

View 31 minutes of David Spratt's presentation in HD720 on our YouTube channel bzeTVchannel.

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