Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Membership of Lighter Footprints

This article outlines the ways in which one can participate in Lighter Footprints. We refer to participants as 'members' although there is no formal membership scheme or other requirements.

1. Lighter Footprints Action Group
Members of this group participate in a range of Lighter Footprints' activities. The Action Group meets monthly on the first Wednesday at a member's home.

As a member of the Action Group you are invited to join one or more of our Projects and Teams for 2009:
A. Federal Government
Local Members
2010 Elections
National CAG policy and campaign coordination
Submissions

B. State Government
Local Members
2010 Elections
Submissions

C. Local Government
Councillors
Boroondara Sustainability Network
Submissions

D. Community
1. Residential Householders
2. Business Operators
3. Community Organisations
4. Transition Towns
5. LF Organisation

'Lighter Footprints ACTION'
is our interactive email based discussion forum which keeps Action Group members informed of relevent events, up-to-date articles at the fore-front of research on climate change and actions aimed at changing the way that our community and our local, state and federal governments address climate change. It also keeps members in touch with each other through sharing issues and information.
More details on this forum are here.
You can subscribe by simply sending an blank email to this address: LighterFootprintsACTIONS-subscribe@topica.com.

2. Lighter Footprints News Group
This is an email based news group which broadcasts updates on the work of Lighter Footprints, provides articles of interest relating to climate change, sends information about relevent events and occasionally requests assistance for particular actions. News Group members can at any time join other members on projects of interest and attend events. This email broadcast service does not enable members to communicate with other members of the list.
More details on this news group are here.
You can subscribe by simply sending an blank email to this address: LighterFootprintsNEWS-subscribe@topica.com.

3. Lighter Footprints Website & Blog
Our recently rebuilt website is combined with a blog and supplements our communications with our Action and News groups as well as providing up-t0-date information to the public. If you wish to stay in touch with our work on an informal level, you can do so by visiting this website.

You are welcome to subscribe to either or both of the Topica based news groups.

For more information on Lighter Footprints and how to register your interest in the group. please contact us.

Monday, 29 December 2008

The end of patience on climate change

Just thought that this was such a good article that I'd post it for those who may not have caught it in The Age.

Carolyn.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

PATIENCE is a virtue, they say. And when it comes to climate change, voters are inordinately virtuous. Mums and dads, community groups and environmentalists have waited patiently for our modern political processes and leadership to produce some action.

They waited through Kyoto, Bali, Poznan. They waited at polling booths to elect a prime minister who said he would do something. They waited for Ross Garnaut and his several reports. They wrote submissions, went to public meetings. They waited for Treasury modelling and the federal green paper.

Then, two weeks ago, Kevin Rudd blinked. You could hear the anger at his carbon plan crackling over the airwaves. With its low targets, Australia had decided not to lead the way in the hope China and India may follow. The scheme gave cash instead of energy efficiency help for households, huge compensation to polluters and a get-out clause for Australia to buy overseas permits instead of making its own hard cuts. Then, to top it all off, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said she doubted a strong global agreement would be struck in Copenhagen next year.

In the past fortnight, something has dawned on people who care about climate change: perhaps it is time to acknowledge that too much faith has been put in the political process. If those who fought for the Franklin River acted like such compliant "stakeholders", the river would now be dammed.

Perhaps it is time to realise our democratic system has an entrenched inertia that makes it almost impossible to deal with a long-term crisis like climate change. It is partly a vacuum of leadership: the three-year electoral cycle means leaders have short-term vision. This is not new. But what the white paper process showed was how our system can be so thoroughly corrupted by lobbying — Garnaut described the polluters' efforts as "the most expensive, elaborate and sophisticated lobbying … ever in this country".

In the wake of Rudd's decision, some in the environment movement are talking about a return to people power. They are talking not just about individual action but national campaigns of "direct action": protests, civil disobedience, making life hard for coal-fired power stations. They are talking about moving out of the boardroom and back to front-line action. They know that they will be risking jail. But their patience has run out. "Until now the sentiment was to give Rudd a fair go to deliver. He's now had that time and hasn't delivered," one senior activist said. "I think there will now be a place for radical action, particularly among young people who feel their future is being taken away."

A similar shift is happening globally. As the Crikey website mentioned recently, a man managed to walk into a British coal and oil-fired power station and shut down a whole turbine. "No new coal" was on the note he left.

Much has been written about the groundswell of small, local climate groups. This movement, often led by concerned mothers, shows climate change is moving away from a traditional environmental issue to one that is fundamentally about morality, about not handing a crisis to our children. Rudd ignores this movement at his political peril, although Labor knows the Opposition is unlikely to outgun them on climate. But what should not be underestimated is the anger that will simmer among these groups when they are busting a gut to fight carbon pollution within their communities, only to see this undermined by the Government on the world stage and in cosy deals with industry.

This anger will boil over when the latest science starts to filter down. Garnaut's review, Rudd's decision and the Copenhagen meeting are all based on findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This science is now two years' old. For scientists, the biggest game in town is now the loss of Arctic summer sea ice. The domino effect of this development was described by Britain's Public Interest Research Centre in a report called Climate Safety, endorsed by a former IPCC co-chairman.

Several respected scientists believe the Arctic sea will soon be ice-free in summer. Their guesses range from 2011 to 2015, 80 years ahead of IPCC predictions. This could spark a series of events that end with Greenland's ice melting and many metres of sea level rise.

It is partly because of these "tipping points" that two leading climate thinkers — NASA's James Hansen and Al Gore — say carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere should be stabilised at 350 parts per million. We are now at 385 ppm, so this means not just a zero-emissions economy, but sucking down existing carbon. Right now the world is struggling to agree on 450 ppm. It may be a virtue, but the time for patience has probably run out.

Melissa Fyfe is The Sunday Age's state political reporter.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Coal - still not 'clean'

New (humerous) ad from US based This Is Reality, which campaigns against the coal industry's greenwash (coalwash?). They "help make sure misleading articles and false statements about coal don’t go unanswered".



If you can't see the video, click here to download the Flash plugin for your browser.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Welcome to our new website

Today (Christmas Day 2008) we fully launch our new look website for Lighter Footprints.

It is built on Google's 'Blogspot' platform, so essentially it's a blog which has been adapted and customised to our needs. Thanks go to Peter Campbell for his vision.

This new site has a number of benefits, the primary one being that it's easy for members of the group to add and update content. This is important because it means we can improve our timeliness and ability to spread the word on climate change, sustainability issues and the actions we are taking.

Building a site on Blogspot also means that Google's search engine will rank us higher on public search results and provide a highly reliable service and best of all it's free. Google is also making efforts to become a 'greener' company, so we think it's good to use their technologies.

We are also in the process of launching three email discussion groups via lists.topica.com, the first one (Lighter Footprints ACTION) is ready to go live and taking subscribers. More details here.

These are key componants of our efforts to make 2009 a banner year for climate action by Lighter Footprints.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

A little less conversation . . .

"Silence equals acceptance. Speak Out"

Once again, Lighter Footprints took to the streets of Boroondara. This time, 5-6pm, 23 Dec at Camberwell Junction.

Again raising local awareness of climate change, this time with a message to contact PM Rudd and Minister Wong to express dissatisfaction with the government's climate change policies.

We handed out flyers to passers by which encouraged them to write (or call) and ask and the pollies some questions - we also supplied the contacts of the two politicians. Lots of positive responses from the people we talked with and supportive toots from cars passing by. We did have someone trying to convince us that climate change was due to sun spots "as confirmed by all the scientists". We think he meant all the skeptics.

To join Lighter Footprints in climate action, contact us here.

End of shift chit chat. Noticably lacking in doom or gloom!
(BTW - there are far more than 6 of us in the LF group . . . !)

Join our poll on Australia's 2020 emissions target

We've added a quick poll on the right hand side of our web page. Please take 15 seconds to add your vote.

Please also suggest questions and answers for future polls by adding your ideas to the comments at the bottom of this post.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Victorian Emissions Chart and Data

At the last meeting, we discussed the usefulness of knowing (like the water levels in our reservoirs) how the State is performing regarding current GHG emissions. Perhaps to ask the media to publish the information?

I promised to post information once I found the link again . . .

Please see below from The Climate Group's Australia Director, Rupert Posner. For more information and other States pls visit www.theclimategroup.org/indicator.

Victoria
This week's (12– 18 Dec) Victoria Indicator is 2.016 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, the breakdown is as follows:

In tonnes:
Electricity from coal: 1.283 million; 64%
Natural gas: 0.202 million; 10%
Petroleum: 0.530 million; 26%
  • Victoria’s emissions from energy were 1.5% or 30,000 tonnes higher this week.
  • Emissions from coal-fired generators, which accounted for 98% of Victoria’s generation, were 2.1% or 26,000 tonnes higher this week due to several units coming back into production.
  • Electricity demand fell by 0.9%, declining for the fourth consecutive week.
  • Emissions from gas grew by 2.7% or 5000 tonnes.
  • Emissions from petroleum products fell by 0.3% or 1000 tonnes.
  • This week’s Indicator is 11.8% higher than the same week in 2007 and total emissions to this stage of 2008 are 2% higher than the similar stage last year.
  • This week’s Indicator is 31.1% above the equivalent 1990 weekly average.





















Tony.

Spot the difference

GetUp - Action for Australia is campaigning against the 5% 2020 emissions target set by the Government. You can contribute to a new ad they are proposing to televise across the country.

GetUp say:

"We've worked with expert media and political strategists to craft a politically effective ad. Kevin Rudd made climate change one of his major points of difference going into the election. Yet as Howard's former Chief of Staff, Grahame Morris, said on Monday "he's not too far away from where John Howard or the Coalition would have ended up"".


Nature's numbers

"we think we live in economy, when in fact we live in an environment".

Quote from Background Briefing, a Radio National program heard Sunday 21 Dec 08

Nature's Numbers
Our economy may fall over, but it's not just about the financial meltdown. Nature is seizing up, and it's costing big bucks. Putting a dollar value on nature might help, but how much is a bacterium in a lake really worth?

Another great program on sustainability earlier that day . . . . Resilient cities and the crash.

The mental health impacts of climate change

Hope, despair and transformation: Climate change and the promotion of mental health and wellbeing

A debate article found in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems by Jessica G Fritze, Grant A Blashki, Susie Burke and John Wiseman.

Abstract of the article appears below:

Abstract

Background
This article aims to provide an introduction to emerging evidence and debate about the relationship between climate change and mental health.

Discussion and Conclusion
The authors argue that:
  • i) the direct impacts of climate change such as extreme weather events will have significant mental health implications;
  • ii) climate change is already impacting on the social, economic and environmental determinants of mental health with the most severe consequences being felt by disadvantaged communities and populations;
  • iii) understanding the full extent of the long term social and environmental challenges posed by climate change has the potential to create emotional distress and anxiety; and
  • iv) understanding the psycho-social implications of climate change is also an important starting point for informed action to prevent dangerous climate change at individual, community and societal levels.

Courtesy of David Spratt.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Lighter Footprints in Action - Kew Junction

After such disappointing news about Australia's interim (2020) carbon reduction targets (5%), many of us felt we needed to let off steam. Inspired by Lynn's call to action, a number of the group met at Kew Junction in Boroondara for a one hour demonstration, starting at 3.30pm. We figured that would be a peak time for traffic through this very busy road junction with five major roads connecting through this one point.

We didn't have a specific message to send to the public - we just wanted to express our dissatisfaction and outrage at the Rudd governments policies, remind people that climate change IS STILL an emergency, show them they are not alone in their concern and perhaps inspire them to take action or join us. All that with one banner, a foam turtle and a few sandwich boards!

The response was heartening. Many drivers tooted horns and waved and passengers shouted their support. We had pedestrians coming over for a chat and information about the group. Of course there were a few who took exception and were less complimentary - one ute driver insisted we 'got off the dole and got ourselves a proper job'. As he sped by, we didn't have time to point out that we were not claiming money from the government (unlike big business which insists that tax payers subsidize their profits) and some of us had given up well paid work in order to try and do something about climate change.

In all, it was a fun hour in the sun and we agreed that we'd all do it again, next time at Camberwell Junction on Tue 23 Dec at 5pm. Come join us there or contact Lynn for more information.




Big business benefits from the CPRS (ETS)

Not only big business, but overseas owned big business . . .

A new report "The impact of industry assistance measures under the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme - White Paper update" from Innovest Strategic Value Advisors.

"In the first year of the CPRS, we estimate that $939 million in EITE assistance will go to companies in the aluminium smelting industry in the form of free permits, $297 million will go to petroleum refiners, $261 million to steel makers, $251 million to alumina refiners, $182 million to LNG producers, and $157 million to cement makers (see Table 1 overleaf). These estimates are based on reported 2007 output levels, 2004-2008 average commodity prices, emissions intensity estimates from the Green Paper, and a carbon price of $25."

ACF comment on the report is here.

The report details who gets what under the scheme by company, industry and country. You might find the results disturbing. We've copied a couple of the tables here for quick reference:

To Government IT technicians . . .

As an IT person myself, now dedicated to saving the world from climate change, I suggest the following demonstration to fellow technicians serving the Australian Government.

Change the anti-virus & security software (and firewalls etc.) on all PCs and networks so that while they detect and register 100% of viral and other security threats present in the system (and broadcast their presence to the world), they only fix 5% of them and they do that gradually up until 8.20pm (20:20) every night.

I wonder how the government's IT climate might survive under those circumstances . . . :-)

Thursday, 18 December 2008

What does a 5% reduction LOOK like . . .?

Artist Lloyd Godman produced this graphic to demonstrate how little 5% really is . . .

(not easy to see in this blog copy, but it's the band showing the red 95%).


Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Special Meeting of Lighter Footprints

Lighter Footprints is calling a special meeting for anyone concerned about how to respond to the government's extremely low target for reduction of carbon emissions - 5% by 2020 .

Some have already started to propose a range of possible actions, and it seems important to get together on a plan for action quickly.

Ken Coghill has booked the Chandler Room at the Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre in Union Rd at 7.30 pm on Wednesday night.

If this has hit you as hard as it has hit many of us ( some of whom had been faintly hopeful of significant government action and so are very disappointed - and more!) then please find a way to come tomorrow night.

We are in new territory.

Please try to make it.


Carolyn Ingvarson

9836 0925
0411 115 186

Monday, 15 December 2008

Shame, Shame, Shame!

Rudd locks in 5pc emissions cut

By Online parliamentary correspondent Emma Rodgers

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says Australia will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020, but could make a cut of up to 15 per cent if other countries also sign up to stronger reductions.

The Federal Government has also promised around $6 billion a year in compensation and a 2.5 per cent rise in pension rates to help households cope with expected price rises when the carbon pollution reduction scheme begins in 2010.

It is estimated there will be a one-off rise in inflation of 1.1 per cent with the introduction of the scheme, and growth will slow by just 0.1 per cent a year to 2050."

+++++++++end of excerpt+++++++++++


TAKE ACTION - TELL THE GOVERNMENT THAT 5% is NOT ENOUGH!


++++++++++++++++++++++++++

5% is totally unacceptable.

It's time for a class action by Australian citizens to make politicians (and their industrial influencers) see beyond their two year time horizons and take responsibility for the future of mankind.

Rowan McClean
Honorary Treasurer
Climate Emergency Network
P.O. Box 260
Kew, Victoria 3101, AUSTRALIA
Email:treasurer@climateemergencynetwork.org
Web: www.climateemergencynetwork.org

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

No great surprise here, but this is definitely disappointing

I have just sent the letter below to Petro Georgiou, and will forward a copy to Rudd and Wong. Contact your local MP and Rudd and Wong and let them know your views too. Peter Campbell.

Petro,

The 5% emission reduction target announced by the Australian Government is totally inadequate.

The latest science, apparently ignored by the Government, indicates we are now in the midst of a climate emergency, which is likely to see global average temperatures increase by more than 2 degrees, drastic reductions in rainfall across much of Australia, and the loss of summer ice at the North Pole within 6 years.

A target of 40% reduction on 1990 levels by 2020 would have been appropriate.

Could you please convey my views, as my local MP, to the Australian Government.

Could you also ask in Parliament why, in setting this 5% target, the Australian Government is prepared to sacrifice the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu wetlands, most of the Murray Darling basin, and snow in Australia?

Regards

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Join the 'Step-In' Campaign TODAY (Tue 16) at your local MP's office:

When
On Tuesday 16th of December, please join with people all around Australia as we STEP-IN to the offices of Federal Parliamentarians, to STEP-UP the campaign for real action against climate change.

The Friends of the Earth Climate Justice Collective are organizing simultaneous community actions at 4 Electoral offices at 10.00AM, Tuesday 16 Dec.

More info here.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

There is a protest rally in town today at midday for everyone to join. Several of us will be at the rally at Spring St and Collins and Macarthur St. - 12 pm.

Some may be able to get to the visit to Jacinta Collins afterwards - you may recall her at our Senate debate.

We are discussing a meeting of Lighter Footprints members for tomorrow night, and will tell you where shortly.

Carolyn

Australia Brings Forward A$500 Million Green Energy Fund

Story from Reuters . . .

"SYDNEY - Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called for a "solar revolution" on Sunday as he unveiled plans to bring forward a A$500 million (US$329 million) fund to promote renewable energy in a bid to stimulate the economy.

Speaking just a day before a key announcement on Australia's greenhouse gas emissions targets, Rudd said the fund's timescale would be brought forward from the original six-year plan to the next 18 months."It's good for jobs. It's good for stimulus. It's good for acting on climate change," Rudd said of the move. "It's time for Australia to begin a solar revolution, a renewable energy revolution and we've got to fund it for the future.""

full article available here . . .

Sunday, 14 December 2008

For effective climate change policies, ask the right questions

This is such a good letter that I can't help but forward it to you. They are just the right questions to be asking. Thanks to Deb Hart (of LIVE) for all the hard work she has done.

Carolyn Ingvarson
Convenor
Lighter Footprints

-------------------------------------------

Dear Prime Minister,

AUSTRALIAN diplomats have been accused of helping turn UN climate talks in Poland into "groundhog day" by failing to support a proposal that rich countries look to the advice of climate scientists when setting greenhouse targets. (The Age, 10/12/2008)

I am following up regarding my recent telephone call to your office. Please note that following my conversation with your courteous receptionist, I was transferred through to Penny Wong’s office to ask these same questions and, along with my colleague Terrie Hamilton-Smith, am awaiting your earliest response:
  • Under your Government’s proposed carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS), when do you foresee Australia’s spiralling greenhouse gas emissions to start falling?
  • Given that the Government’s stated aim is to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, why is it not introducing a national, gross-metered feed-in-tariff to stimulate zero emission energy technologies, like nearly 50 other nations have done so far?
  • Does it concern you that the creation of pollution permits (which resulted in the EEC’s model failing to reduce emissions) to be given away via the CPRS to the 1,000 largest polluters will result in conscientious households and businesses who use less energy and create less pollution simply generating permits to allow other families or other businesses/industries to increase their own emissions?
  • What is going to make your ETS work when the EEC system has failed to reduce emissions? Where is the incentive to reduce emissions below the cap? Where is the stimulus/regulation for those not governed by the CPRS to reduce emissions and be rewarded for this?
  • Do you understand the ramifications of losing the Arctic sea-ice? Do you understand that you will not get a second chance?
  • Do you understand why NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies’ Director, Dr James Hansen, and other eminent climate scientists, have concluded that we must reduce the current atmospheric CO2 level (387ppm and rising) to at most 325ppm to have a hope of restoring Arctic sea-ice and therefore a climate capable of sustaining life on earth as we know it? Do you appreciate that these figures are not negotiable and cannot be adjusted for political expediency?
  • Do you accept eminent scientists’ views that in order to stabilise the climate we must take heed of the short term advantage of the in-built delays (aka slow feedbacks) in the climate system and take emergency action to achieve near-zero emissions as soon as humanly possible while actively drawing down atmospheric carbon with techniques such as biochar?
  • Is your Government really planning to use CPRS funds to prop up coal-fired power stations?
  • Given that zero-emission electricity generation technologies such as concentrated solar thermal and wind are available now and are being deployed on a massive scale in Germany, Spain, Denmark and parts of the USA, why are Australian taxpayers funding the oxymoronic "clean coal", or rather the newly branded (at massive expense) "NewGenCoal"? Do you not view Government support and funding of private multi-national vested interests as inconsistent with and totally counter-productive to the Government’s policy objectives?
  • Given your Government’s stated aim is to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, have your advisors considered refuelling our existing coal-fired power stations with natural gas – which would nearly halve their emissions within a few years, and then progressively shutting the stations down, starting with the most polluting first, over a period of say ten years while replacing their capacity with a massive roll-out of wind and solar, and societal energy efficiency programs?
  • Does it interest you that energy intense multinational corporations will be urgently seeking stable countries capable of providing large scale low emission energy sources, such as concentrated solar thermal, which would enable them to stay competitive as the world enters a low carbon era?
  • Since the challenges of climate change, peak oil and the financial crises require an integrated solution, why did you not tie in the $10billion stimulus package to “low emissions” spending (eg requiring such monies to be spent on energy efficient appliances/water tanks/solar panels etc,) thus saving pensioners, families and businesses money on their energy costs in the long term whilst at the same time reducing emissions and stimulating job creation and sales in sustainable industries?
  • Do you see the dire warning signs for our climate and our economy in remaining in a quarry; propping up old industries and old technologies when our country is ideally placed to deliver valuable, sustainable zero emission energy on a large scale?
  • Just over a year ago your Government was given a mandate to act on climate change. Do you really want to adopt policies which will see Australia sink further into the quarry and lose what remaining hope is left to avert catastrophic climate change under your watch?
  • Do you realise that, as our climate becomes less conducive to sustaining our vast global populations (which are now all inter-connected, as the recent global financial crisis clearly demonstrates), the financial system/economy as we know it will become unworkable and ultimately collapse? Do you appreciate that a safe climate and a healthy economy are intimately connected?
  • Just because others persist in engaging in human slavery, does that mean it is ok and we should also engage in it? Hasn’t history proven countless times that leadership requires bold action, particularly at times when others are not following suit?
Please consider your answers to these questions carefully as a growing number of Australians are becoming aware of the great divide between what your Government says it is doing about climate change compared to what it is in fact doing. It’s a simple equation, there will be no economy on a dead planet.

At last count there were 300 local climate change action groups working tirelessly to bridge the divide between what is known by climate scientists about global warming and what is known by policy makers and the general public. Please view LIVE’s numerous submissions.

It would not be wise politics for any government in the 21st century to underestimate the community’s deep and growing concerns about climate change. You must listen first and foremost to the climate change policies presented to you by highly qualified progressive economists and policy analysts who understand the science of global warming and the economically viable solutions available here and now, not as has been the case for too long, those of vested, private interests whose profits are under threat.

Yours faithfully,


Deborah Hart and Terrie Hamilton-Smith
Campaigners, LIVE


Climate Change Action Groups - why we do it

A good article on this grassroots movement which explains to others (and perhaps to ourselves) why we do it:

"Power from the ground up" by Michael Green, Insight 5, The Age, 13 Dec 2008.

"Around the country, small groups of ordinary but passionate people are banding together, lest they succumb to despair, to force action on global warming".

Politicians and proponants of business as usual (BAU), beware!

Social action and changing beliefs

For those interested in extending their thinking on how to change beliefs, the following is a very eclectic list of readings I have found useful in thinking about social action and beliefs.

I have chosen writings that by and large do not delve into the minutiae of cognition and social psychology and have a degree of readability.

Beyond Public Education Campaigns Spring 2008 No. 33
This is an easy read on basic social marketing. ‘Marketing’ is a term that is laden with negative meaning for many professionals in public health and the social sciences, as well as people working in the broader community sector. Marketers are often thought to be driving consumption and chasing the pursuit of profit above community good – using clever psychological tricks to make people want to buy things they don’t need. But public health could benefit from a better understanding of marketing principles to help in the quest to shift public policy, to influence organisations outside of the health system to introduce health-promoting practices, and to encourage behaviour change in individuals.

The Powell Memo
How the Right won the war of ideas from the 1970's till now.

Don't Think Of An Elephant!/ How Democrats And Progressives Can Win: Know Your Values And Frame The Debate: The Essential Guide For Progressives
The book that got the American Left galvanised into action. By George Lakoff - Political Science - 2005 - 144 pages Author George Lakoff has become a key advisor to the Democratic party, helping them develop their message and frame the political debate.

The Framing Wars - New York Times Magazine
The effects of this book, and a bit of criticism of Lakoff (which incidentally I do not share - the author of this attributes spin and lack of real political ideas to a Lakoff approach. I have read a good deal of his other stuff and disagree because of that and also because the political ideology of the broad left and right have long histories which cannot be obliterated by criticism of lack of immediate ideas about implementation.)

Mad Travelers: Reflections on the Reality of Transient Mental Illnesses
By Ian Hacking - Psychology - 1998 - 239 pages. The book might look like an outlier. It isn't.. It follows the same theme of frames and categories as the structure of beliefs..Ian Hacking is a great philosopher of whom I regret not yet reading more.

Hacking uses the Dadas case to weigh the legitimacy of cultural influences versus physical symptoms in the diagnosis of psychiatric. He traces four preconditions for weird beliefs about illness to take hold.

Worth thinking about in the light of other beliefs about the workings of the world.

Made to Stick - Why Some Ideas Die and Others Survive
The book Razia bought on Sticky Ideas also belongs in this odd collection. Written by two brothers who are far more into marketing than any of the above, it contains some interesting ideas, although I have not read a full copy yet.


Julia Thornton

Lobby your politicians on Climate Change

Here is text for a letter you can edit and write to Federal politicians (Ministers, local MPs).

Here is a list of federal ministers -including email addresses (or web contact forms).

You could send a letter about the climate emergency to every one of them. I just finished sending mine last night.

Regards, Peter
greenlivingpedia.org

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

How much do we consume?

Our rapidly increasing consumption of energy, water and 'stuff' is part of the story behind the sustainability crisis facing us today. Becoming more sustainable includes reducing our consumption.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) publishes how much we consume (by Australian suburb) in a really nice website. It's fascinating.

Is your consumption above or below the average household in your area? Calculate your footprint and impact.

pls. click on the picture

Energy Use

Australia's guide to environmentally sustainable homes

The use of energy in the home is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from Australian households.
The average household's energy use is responsible for about eight tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, per year.


Many of these emissions can be abated through more efficient use of energy in our homes.

Take a look at the Australian Government Technical Manual Fact Sheets: http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/yourhome/technical/fs40.htm

Greenhouse gases from home energy use (based on AGO 1999).

Greenhouse gases from home energy use (based on AGO 1999).

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Kriskindl Stand

Lighter Footprints likes to spread the word on climate change, the environment and other sustainability issues. Most importantly we offer information and encouragement on solutions and action we can all take.

One way we do this is through support of and participation in public events such as the recent Surrey Hills Sustainability Expo and last night's Maling Road 'Kriskindl' (Christmas Festival). We set up our table, banners, flyers and merchandise and welcome all enquiries.

The stand and volunteers are organised by Lynn Frankes and Debbie Sparkes. Please contact them through the group, if you'd like to volunteer to help in the future.

Last night's Kriskindl was good fun and a great success. We focused on three campaigns:
  • Stop logging of old growth forest in Brown Mountain - we had a stack of personal 'ready to sign' letters of objection addressed to Premier John Brumby. Once signed we immediately sealed, stamped and posted them. We had a great response to this campaign with people shocked and dismayed by the destruction as illustrated by our picture (see below). We encourage you to lobby the Victorian Premier or local politician to stop this happening. More information available at Greenlivingepedia.
  • Promotion of Accredited GreenPower - the fastest and easiest and most cost effective way of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions currently associated with your household. Caveat - regardless of the source, you should also seek to cut your electricity consumption, which will actually save you money and help save the planet! One call to your current electricity retailer will have your home running on electricity generated by renewable resources. It's a vital step in addressing climate change that we stop generating electricity by burning highly polluting coal. Look here for independent assessment of different GreenPower products available from various retailers.
  • Join Lighter Footprints - please contact us, if you'd like to join. We are about to relaunch our mailing lists to keep you updated and informed on our activities.

Stump of Brown Mountain old growth tree logged in November 2008 - by Jill Redwood of EEG.

Tony

Friday, 5 December 2008

So called 'Clean Coal'

In reality, there is no such thing as 'clean coal', just a lot of hot air from the industries and associations with a vested interest in continuing business as usual. The following videos take a humerous look at the issue . . .





More videos on 'clean coal' can be found here

If you can't see the video, click here to download the Flash plugin for your browser.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Meeting - last one for 2008

A reminder that our last meeting for the year is next Wed Dec 3 at 7.45 pm at Carolyn's house 15 Faversham Rd Canterbury.

This will also be our Xmas do, and so you may like to bring something nice to share. The intention for the evening is to welcome everyone and introduce new people. There may be a few announcements of events such as the January Summit in Canberra, and other events between now and early next year. We'll then ask for reflections on the highlights of the past year, as each of us sees it, and then time for ideas about the way we might approach the coming year.

This is not our strategic planning time. This is to put out on the table the possibilities for us to work on next year. We will be determining when we will take that half day to focus ourselves for the next year, and it should be February sometime. If you have a particular item you'd like to raise which is not really part of the above process, then let me know and we'll work out when to do that.

I'll have the remaining teeshirts here for anyone who'd like to buy one ($20 as a discount for Xmas) I will attach here the events Calendar from Monique and the action and publications report from David Spratt

The article circulated by Ben from George Monbiot is an awful reminder of why we keep plugging away - there is no choice.

Hope to see on Dec 3rd. Would be helpful if you could let me know if you a can come.

regards


Carolyn
9836 0925

MYTH-BUSTERS!!! Concerning energy use, GreenPower, reducing greenhouse gas emissions . . .


As an individual, does it make much difference what I do when it comes to electricity usage in terms of greenhouse gas production?

Yes, it really does make a difference! Approximately 50 per cent of your household-generated greenhouse emissions come from electricity. This is because most of our electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels such as coal and gas.

These emissions are rising rapidly, by 66% since 1990. We can reduce them by conserving energy, becoming more energy efficient and by switching to renewable energy. Changing the way that our electricity is produced is one of the actions that we can take to help avert dangerous climate change. At present, only about 8% of our electricity comes from renewable sources, despite Australia having excellent wind and solar resources.

So I’ll sign up for renewable energy…There, I’ve made a big difference already!!
Look closely at the “renewable energy” product before you sign up for it. Make sure that the renewable energy you are purchasing is accredited GreenPower. This means you can reduce your emissions by up to approximately 50% (depending on the percentage of accredited GreenPower that you buy). For an average household, this could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 7 tonnes per year. Buying GreenPower means you increase the amount of renewable energy in Australia over and above any mandatory targets.

But GreenPower will increase my power bill by a huge amount, won’t it?
You will pay extra for most GreenPower products, but you need to “do the maths” just to see how much more it may be. The cost to the average household for 100% GreenPower is around $6.00/week. A couple of coffees!

And it is relatively easy to increase the energy efficiency of your home, thus reducing your power consumption. Buying GreenPower is an investment in further development of renewable energy sources, helping to reduce our reliance on coal-generated electricity. The cost of buying accredited GreenPower will vary, depending on the amount of GreenPower in the product, and also the source of the energy,.eg. if you buy a product that is 50% accredited GreenPower, it will cost less than 100% ; solar is more expensive than wind.

How do I know that it’s accredited GreenPower that I’m buying?
Because these products carry the ‘tick’ label, which also says “GreenPower Accredited Renewable Energy”. The people behind GreenPower are representatives of several state government agencies and departments plus a number of non-financial members. The National GreenPower Accreditation Program sets the rules for GreenPower products and independently audits GreenPower retailers’ sales and purchases and generators’ operations to make sure they are meeting the accreditation criteria.

NB. We would like to know whether our 100% GreenPower Campaign has been effective. If you decide to take up 100% accredited GreenPower please let us know by emailing ci@the.inter.net.au.

Thankyou.

Material sourced from www.greenelectricitywatch.org.au and www.greenpower.gov.au

The GreenPower Accreditation Program – You can be sure it’s Green

What is GreenPower?
Established in 1997, GreenPower is a national accreditation program that sets stringent environmental and reporting standards for renewable electricity products offered by energy suppliers to households and businesses across Australia. Suppliers who sell accredited GreenPower products buy electricity generated from accredited renewable generators on your behalf and feed it into the National Electricity Grid.

What qualifies as ‘eligible’ renewable energy?
Renewable energy never runs out, and is derived from sources that cannot be depleted or energy that can be replaced, such as solar, wind, biomass (waste), wave or hydro. Renewable sources don’t produce greenhouse gas pollution.

What is accreditation?
In GreenPower’s case the renewable energy product is endorsed by a collection of state governments that manage the GreenPower program. To gain endorsement from the GreenPower program it must be generated from:

1.Eligible renewable energy sources that meet strict environmental standards
2.A new renewable energy facility that was built since January 1997 (Other renewable energy exists, but it may not be accredited because it was built before 1997, and was already contributing energy to the electricity grid)

Accreditation ensures that companies are producing renewable energy of the same standard, making it easier for customers to choose between different renewable energy products. Accreditation means that GreenPower retailers’ sales and purchases are audited annually.

Accredited GreenPower versus non-accredited GreenPower
Generally non-accredited products source their renewable energy from old sources that were established decades ago, such as large hydro-electric projects. Purchasing products from old renewable energy sources does not contribute directly to new investments in renewable energy.
In some cases the same electricity being offered to customers as ‘green’ (but not GreenPower accredited) is being counted towards electricity retailers’ mandatory requirements. The federal government already requires that energy companies buy a small percentage (2-3 percent) of electricity from renewable energy sources. Accredited GreenPower purchases involve additional mandatory requirements on electricity retailers to purchase renewable energy, which increases overall demand for renewable energy.

The same strict guidelines and other independent audit processes may not exist for non-accredited renewable energy products so it cannot be guaranteed that purchase of these products will contribute to further investment in clean renewable energy in the future.

What does the GreenPower label mean?
An accredited GreenPower product will always carry the ‘tick’ label. This accreditation label is supported and managed by governments throughout Australia. These labels tell you the amount of accredited GreenPower your energy retailer is purchasing on your behalf, as a percentage (10% – 100%) of your household’s electricity consumption.

Why switch to Green Power?
Traditionally, electricity on the central grid is mostly produced by generators that burn coal, which is the most greenhouse intensive form of energy production. In New South Wales and Victoria for example, more than 90 per cent of electricity comes from burning coal. GreenPower helps make it easy to significantly reduce your impact on climate change by:

1. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
2. Driving demand for investment in renewable energy
3. Helping to reduce water consumption (renewable energy generation uses much less water than coal and gas powered stations)

Sourced from www.greenpower.gov.au

On becoming a loon

A couple of weeks ago some of us helped to spell out a human sign in the Alexandra Gardens. Thousands of people dressed in red made up two words - CLIMATE EMERGENCY. Where is this emergency you might ask? Surely an over-statement, from a bunch of self-interested crackpots, loonies with little connection to the rest of us.

But there I was, sane and sensible, along with thousands of others like me. So what has got us ordinary people worked up enough to be signing emergency when things appear to be chugging along pretty much the same really?

Well, the problem is that when you really take a good look, the impact of climate change is turning out to be significantly greater and faster than predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change. The rate of the melting of polar ice and Greenland ice, as well as mountain ice is well beyond that expected at the current .8 degree rise in temperature that we have experienced so far. Extreme weather patterns are becoming the norm world-wide. So with a prediction of at least a 2 degrees rise within a few decades, the impact associated with increased greenhouse gas means we will be facing changes we can’t even imagine properly, ones that can’t be reversed. The kinds of actions necessary to halt the ever-rising levels of greenhouse gas driving this rise, (and don’t try wriggling out of that one – the science leaves you no-where to go,) are of a magnitude and speed that is associated with the word emergency.

And yet there is a kind of disconnect between our day-to-day lives - business as usual - and this fear that we are living on borrowed time here. We are suspended in a false state of calm by doing our little bit, while watching the governments - federal, state and local - squander opportunities to pull back the levels of emission this country is continuing to make. Do they realise what they are doing? What is really going on here?

That is why we get together in Lighter Footprints - to get to the bottom of questions that have us puzzled; to pull together researched submissions that focus on the sorts of things our governments should be acting upon; to work together on local projects that address our household efficiencies and reduce our own consumption of energy from the mindless patterns to which we had become accustomed; to go on marches and sign petitions and spell out words in parks. We have to do something.

Trouble is, the more you look at the size of what has to be done, the more you want to get radical; to rattle politicians till they look beyond immediate vote-catching to being leaders; and the more you want to throttle those who give false hope through ignorance. Whatever happened to the ordinary nice people we used to be?

That’s what understanding that this is an emergency does to you. You become an activist, a loony, even in the nicest suburbs.

Carolyn Ingvarson
Convenor
Lighter Footprints

Lighterfootprints looking ahead to 2008

In December last year, 15 members of Lighterfootprints met with Boroondara Council officer Lisa Wilkins to discuss the preparation of “Our Boroondara- our city our future” – which is to guide policy for the next 20 years.

The main comments from the group were that the current strategic plan was missing the opportunity to focus, right now, on a determination to become ‘carbon neutral’ within the next few years, not to mention the next twenty. Members offered to work with the Council explore what that approach might mean for both the Council, and for the community. The experience of other Councils in various parts of the country in reaching carbon neutrality showed this to be do-able.

The environment statement needed to adopt ecological sustainability principles and practices, said the group, which has implications for every part of the strategy, meaning that equal weighting needed to be given to environment, economy and social well being of the community.

Overall the group was conscious that the Council was showing increased interest and concern in sustainable approaches, but interestingly members had noted that Boroondara Council documentation and its website did not reflect this approach, unlike Whitehorse which pushes it right upfront. (This is not to say that each Council’s practices reflect their rhetoric, but it is worth noting the difference.) Lisa Wilkins took the comments back and the group will be interested to see if the ensuing documentation and approaches will reflect these concerns.

In the meantime the group has been pursuing local action. After running two successful forums on climate change with candidates for both the Lower House and the Senate, we are looking to focus our strategic plan on post-electorate issues for this year. At the next meeting of Lighterfootprints, on February 6th a planning day for Sunday afternoon September 17 will be confirmed. That session is planned to be at Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre. Everyone is welcome.

At least one of our actions for next year will include the canvassing of our local area for interest in solar panels. We have negotiated a scheme which means we are seeking 50 homes to make use of the current Government subsidy. It is not clear how long this scheme will be available and the current subsidy of $8000 for I kw of solar panelling (6 panels) offers very good value.

We are supporting the first of the Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre meetings organised by its Sustainablity Committee, which is from Angela Crocombe who has written a book called ‘A Lighter Footprint’, based on practical help for those seeking ways to apply a less heavy impact. This is on Tuesday Feb 27 at 8 pm, at the house at SHNC. Please come.

We continue to collect information and research from around the world which shows the speed with which climate change is impacting, and that it is induced by the rising levels of greenhouse gas. Our concern is that this has now reached crisis levels and our actions this year are likely to reflect this growing level of concern.

Join our emailing list if you would like copies of relevant research, and our events.


Carolyn Ingvarson
Convenor
Lighterfootprints

Too little too late?

If you have been reading these reports from Lighter Footprints over the past year or so, you may have wondered if we are a growing group or just a small declining rump. The group has in fact grown, by cementing relationships across what were independent groups previously. The Coalition of Climate Change Action Groups that came together to run the Kooyong forum in the Hawthorn Town Hall in September last year, (where representatives of four political parties discussed their climate change positions prior to the last election,) has stayed together. We have kept the name of Lighter Footprints but the group has expanded significantly with the merging of these other groups. This has been the driver that has enabled us to focus on the wide range of projects we have in hand.

A brief update of these projects may entice some like-minded local residents to join us. We are limited in what we can work on, by the numbers we have to work with. More hands would be very welcome

1. Energy efficiency projects:
- clothes drying innovations;
- household energy research and audits;
- case studies of changes in two households.

2. Automotive - research and writing of submissions on new approaches to transport.

3. Greenpower - what does it mean and how can we promote it.

4. Trees/Water/Carbon - how are they linked and what do we know about them - and what positions should we be promoting as best for limiting climate change.

5. Local government - preparing submissions for Our Boroondara - Our City Our Future, and attending workshops and seminars seeking community views on actions concerning climate change, in both Whitehorse and Boroondara. Working with SHNC on the up-coming Sustainability Festival.

6. Political Strategy - working with other climate change groups around Melbourne and across the country in building a coherent strategic approach to federal and state governments, and other appropriate organisations.

All of us work on local issues - we try first and foremost to limit our own footprint on this earth and to find old and new ways to do this. Many of us also work at translating our sense of urgency for action to our governments at the three levels. The more our network of climate change action groups taps into the research, the more concerned we become at the level of general complacency over the rate that we will experience this change. There is a time imperative that we cannot ignore.

If you share our concern that our government is showing too little leadership in limiting our race towards global warming and its consequent perils for this earth, and you’d like to participate in the actions Lighter Footprints think are needed to push for changes, then join us. We need you.

Carolyn Ingvarson
Convenor
Lighter Footprints