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Victorian State Election 2014

What are the policy priorities?

This year’s Victorian State Election on 29 November provides opportunities for us to seek commitments from candidates for strengthened and expanded climate policies and actions.  MEFL has identified our key priorities for climate action in Victoria. We have been highlighting these priorities with the relevant MPs in the lead-up to the election:
  • Continuing and expanding support for renewable energy, including support for community-owned solar, and ensuring a fair price for solar-generated electricity
  • Continuing and strengthening the existing Energy Saver Incentive scheme, including specific support and targets for low-income households, rental housing and small-medium businesses.

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Climate change impacts on the Reef

Beautiful setting underlines urgency

To state the obvious: Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef is a beautiful place to spend the weekend. At the end of May, MEFL CEO Paul Murfitt participated in ‘Camp Earth Hour’; a workshop on Heron Island which brought together community representatives from around Australia to build on the “Lights Out for the Reef” campaign from earlier this year.

The workshop was the next stage in the rollout of a new look Earth Hour which will involve year-round community action on climate change. MEFL is one of the community groups working with Earth Hour to (re)build climate change as a major political issue, through community action and alliance building.

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Climate change: global and local

The recently published IPCC report Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerabilities, makes for sobering reading. The report says that the impacts of climate change are already being felt all around the globe, and it’s going to get worse. The report warns that it’s time to start adapting to climate change.MEFL and local councils in Melbourne’s north are already taking action. Through the Northern Alliance for Greenhouse Action (NAGA), they are collaborating on the Integrated Regional Vulnerability Assessment
project.The project combines “big-picture” expertise on climate change with local knowledge about who is most vulnerable. This will enable the nine NAGA councils to better understand common needs and how to address them on a joint basis.

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Heatwaves 2: Local action

Climate change is here

Climate change is already making hot days hotter and heatwaves longer and more frequent. Heatwaves pose a risk to the health of everyone, especially the elderly and chronically ill, and increase the demand for health care services. Arecent analysis of the vulnerability of urban populations to extreme heat events found that most of Moreland and particularly Coburg, Coburg North, Hadfield and Glenroy have extremely high vulnerability to heat-related illness and morbidity. This largely reflects the presence of urban heat island effects, higher numbers of older residents, people with disabilities and migrant communities as well as increasing urban density.
MEFL has been active on this issue before, partnering with Merri Community Health Services in 2011 to conduct research and provide free retrofits and advice to vulnerable housholds.

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Climate science updated

The IPCC report

On Friday 27 September climate scientists from around the world gathered in Stockholm to launch the latest IPCC report. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest Assessment Reportprovides the world with an authoritative and comprehensive update on the physical science of climate change, the impacts, and mitigation strategies.

Assessment reports are released every 5-7 years; the latest report details with scientific certainty the changing climate, the human causes of this change; and the current and future impacts.  Scientists are now unequivocally pointing to the evidence for the human cause of climate change, the impacts (many of which are already being experienced) and the urgent need for wide-ranging action.

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Putting Energy and Climate back on the agenda

It’s time to ‘up the energy’ of the federal election

Australia is in the “critical decade” – what we do now, including who we vote for, is really important for the future of Australia’s energy and climate.

The critical decade means voting with energy and climate in mind.

We want a safe climate future

Bold climate policy involves transforming our economy and giving greater certainty to individuals, community, business and industry in respect to direct and meaningful action on the challenges posed by climate change.

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Carbon price package – The basics

So, after all the waiting, we now have the carbon price package laid out before us. In short, MEFL believes that the policy is an excellent start to reducing Australia’s emissions, and to transforming Australia’s economy to take advantage of clean energy opportunities. See ourmedia release for our full response.

Over the next few weeks, we will post updates on this blog, with detailed analysis of each element of the package. But for starters, here’s a quick rundown of the basics.

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Climate Action – what you can do

Climate action in Australia depends on Federal MPs, who will be watching carefully over the next few months to see where public opinion is heading.

If you’re one of the majority of Australians who support climate action, contact your Federal Member of Parliament and/or the members of the Multi-party Committee on Climate Change (MPCCC) to tell them you support putting a price on carbon pollution.

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Confused about carbon pricing?

Though most details of the Gillard Government’s proposed carbon pricing policy are yet to be decided, public debate is well and truly under way. Activist group Getup is planning a demonstration this Saturday outside Julia Gillard’s offices at Treasury Gardens in Melbourne, to show support for climate action and a clean energy future (see details here).

With all the political posturing on this issue, it is hard to get a clear idea of the actual issues. Here’s our 30 second run down of the key points.

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Gillard eyes carbon price but loses sight of complementary policies

The most worrying aspect of Julia Gillard’s announcement last week of potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in funding cuts for climate change policies and programs is not the loss of the programs themselves. Greg Combet has since said that the programs targeted for cuts are ineffective. Even if this is true, it would not justify removing funding from climate change initiatives completely. Instead, the funding should be reallocated to programs that are effective.

Apart from the clear paradox of taking money away from climate change programs to fund recovery from extreme weather events of the very kind that are predicted to increase in frequency with climate change, our worry is that these cuts may reveal an attitude within the Gillard Government that carbon pricing is the silver bullet, and complementary climate change policies are unnecessary.

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