Victorian coal policy to be released soon


Coal_Policy_image_(3).jpgThe Victorian government is currently drafting a policy which will outline whether coal has a future in Victoria.

This is significant as it will outline the current government's attitude to previous support for experimental coal technologies (which are often held out as the 'saviour' for the coal industry as the power stations start to close, but which is based on untested and potentially unviable technology). Coal to gas proposals are one example of this type of technology.

We assume it will also outline the government's approach to carbon capture and storage (CCS), a technology which has not proven to be commercially viable at scale, but which is often suggested will provide a lifeline to the brown coal industry in Victoria.

The policy is due to be released shortly.

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Supply risks need to be met with Renewables, not fracking says Friends of the Earth

Seaspray_sign.jpegMEDIA RELEASE Friends of the Earth March 9, 2017

An assessment released this morning by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) warns that, without a swift response, Australia could face shortfalls in gas, and potentially in electricity from 2018.

Pro gas interests have seized on this as ‘proof’ that states need to lift moratoriums and open new areas to drilling.

However, this report underscores the need to transition rapidly to renewables, not entrench further gas production.

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We Won! Victoria is Officially Gasfield Free!

we wonWe did it! Today Victoria became the first Australian state to permanently ban the process of fracking to access ‘unconventional’ gas (gases like coal seam gas or CSG, and Shale and Tight gas). We also achieved an extension of the moratorium on onshore conventional gas drilling until 2020.

This is an amazing day. It is the result of more than five years of hard work and dedication by many thousands of Victorians. 75 regional communities declared themselves gasfield free during this process. By 2012 we had built enough collective power that we were able to stop all development of onshore gas drilling in our state. Today the ban on fracking was made permanent.

This is an incredible win for the communities in regional Victoria who fought for more than five years to gain this ban and their allies in Melbourne (short summary of the campaign available here).

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Gas Ban Win for Victoria! Thank you!

gasbanWe did it! Today Victoria became the first Australian state to permanently ban the process of fracking to access ‘unconventional’ gas (gases like coal seam gas or CSG, and Shale and Tight gas). We also achieved an extension of the moratorium on onshore conventional gas drilling until 2020.

Thank you to everyone who built and sustained this campaign. In a time of deep cynicism in politics, this shows what communities can achieve when they work together in a strategic and determined way. Drilling would be happening now in a number of places across southern Victoria if we all hadn’t got active.

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Betrayal of farmers a bad move for Coalition

final_vote_March_2017.jpgMedia release March 7, 2017

The announcement this morning that the Victorian Coalition will put forward an amendment which would see the moratorium on conventional gas drilling lifted has been met with anger from farming communities and environmental groups.

“The Coalition put the moratorium in place in 2012. It has constantly berated the ALP for changing it’s position on gas mining, yet has now performed a backflip of huge proportions” said Friends of the Earth (FoE) campaigner Ursula Alquier.

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Strengthened climate laws pass Vic parliament: Andrews govt can put a down-payment on climate action in budget

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MEDIA RELEASE: 23 Feb 2017

BREAKING--The Andrews government's push to strengthen Victoria's climate change laws has passed the upper house--winning the support of The Greens and crossbenchers Fiona Patten and James Purcell.

Friends of the Earth welcome the passage of amendments to the Victorian Climate Change Act. That enshrines a zero-net emissions target by 2050 into law. It also requires governments to set five-yearly interim emissions reduction targets and adaptation action plans.

"Community members who are seeing the impacts of climate change will welcome the strengthened climate change laws," said Leigh Ewbank, FoE climate spokesperson.

"We commend the Andrews government and all MPs who supported the bill which will help prevent climate change from worsening and prepare communities for the impacts that are now locked in."

The Climate Change Act was put in place in 2010 but was gutted by the Baillieu government a year later. Victoria lost almost five years in a decade when the world was running out of time to avoid climate catastrophe. 

"With the Act finally re-built to include greenhouse gas reductions, it is essential we get on with the task of rapidly transforming Victoria's economy away from its current reliance on coal. We do not have any more time to waste," said Ewbank.

Friends of the Earth says the Andrews government can make a downpayment in the upcoming state budget.

"The Andrews government can follow through on its commitment to climate change action with strategic budget allocations in May," said Mr Ewbank.

"Victorians overwhelmingly support action on climate change and want to see governments put money where their mouth is." 

Friends of the Earth say the passage of the strengthened climate laws is a positive indication for how legislation on Victoria's Renewable Energy Target will fare.

"Action on climate change means boosting jobs and investment in renewable energy," said Pat Simons, FoE renewable energy spokesperson.

"The Victorian Renewable Energy Target will create climate 10,000 jobs and is something crossbench MPs can support." 

The Matthew Guy opposition voted against moves to strengthen state climate policy, just one week after pledging to scrap the VRET if elected.

"Matthew Guy's decision to vote against climate policy and vow to scrap the renewables target could relegate the Coalition to the political wilderness," said Leigh Ewbank.

"Voters reward political parties that act on climate and grow renewables. It's a reservior of support that the opposition cannot tap with its current platform."

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Libs ideological attack on affordable renewable energy will lead to power price rises

884wind-turbine11.jpgEnvironment group Friends of the Earth reject Matthew Guy Opposition's threat to cut the Victorian Renewable Energy Target, saying the Liberals ideological attack on affordable renewable energy will lead to power price rises.

“Matthew Guy's ideological opposition to the Victorian Renewable Energy Target is a threat to jobs, investment and affordable renewable energy,” said Pat Simons, Friends of the Earth's renewable energy spokesperson.

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Victoria’s gas ban a win for environment, farmers and democracy

sheep_sign.jpgMedia release February 8, 2017

Today the Lower House of the Victorian parliament is debating the Resources Legislation Amendment (Fracking Ban) Bill 2016, which will permanently ban fracking in the state.

This debate is unusual, because the ALP, Greens, Coalition and minor parties have all announced their support for the ban. “This highlights the massive community opposition to onshore gas drilling in Victoria” said Friends of the Earth co-ordinator Cam Walker.

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Approval for coal expansion at odds with Andrews govt ambition to lead climate fight

MEDIA RELEASE: 30 Jan 2017

Approval for coal expansion at odds with Andrews govt ambition to lead climate fight

Approval of an expansion to the Loy Yang B coal power plant has been met with criticism from Victoria's environment groups and is at odds with the Andrews government's ambition to lead on climate change.

In a case of embarrassing timing, the Victorian Environment Protection Authority approved the coal project just a day after the Daniel Andrews government claimed a national leadership position on climate change--committing to emissions reductions of up to 20 percent by 2020.

"Expanding coal power undermines the Daniel Andrews government's ambition to lead on climate change," said Leigh Ewbank, acting campaigns coordinator for Friends of the Earth.  

"It's deeply irresponsible to prolong coal power generation with the urgent need to rein in emissions."

"When you're in a hole you stop digging. This decision does nothing to protect Victorian communities from the impacts of climate change."

Friends of the Earth say the timing of both announcements could lead to confusion in the community. The group says the government's forthcoming coal policy must include measures to secure a safe climate.

"The Andrews government can articulate its commitment to leading on climate change in its forthcoming coal policy."

"Misalignment between state climate and energy policy can be resolved. It's why we need the upper house to pass the Climate Change Act and a smart coal policy from the Andrews government."

Friends of the Earth say a smart coal policy for a safe climate would commit to: 

  • No new mines or power generation.
  • A rapid phase out of existing coal power plants. 
  • No coal exports or public funds for "clean coal" technology. 
  • And end to political donations and lobbying by coal companies.  
  • Transition plans for coal workers and communities.

Friends of the Earth is closely tracking the passage of the Victorian Climate Change Act and development of the Andrews government's coal policy. 

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Emergency Management Vic's climate impacts program underscores need to restore state climate act

Emergency Management Victoria, the body responsible for our state's emergency management system, has launched a new program to help Victoria prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said climate change presents a challenge to the sector in Victoria.

"As the emergency management sector, we must acknowledge and prepare for the impact of climate change, on all aspects of emergency preparedness, response and recovery," said Commissioner Lapsley. 

"Responding to the impacts of climate change, and helping communities be better prepared for the risks and affects, is at the heart of our shared responsibility and is essential to building resilience." 

Friends of the Earth welcome Emergency Management Victoria's initiative and say the program underscores the need for the state parliament to quickly restore the Climate Change Act which was gutted by the Baillieu government in 2011.

"We're in dangerous territory when it comes to climate change," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth's climate change spokesperson. 

"Victorians have been left stranded with an impotent climate change policy since 2011 when the Baillieu government gutted the Climate Change Act," said Ewbank.

"Resolute action to tackle climate change and protect Victorian communities is needed now more than ever."

Efforts to restore the Victorian Climate Change Act 2010 are now underway, with the Andrews government seeking to implement the recommendations of an independent review of the legislation. 

The Matthew Guy opposition voted against restoring the Climate Change Act in the final parliamentary sitting week of 2016. An upper house vote is expected early in 2017.

Friends of the Earth -- the organisation that coordinated successful community campaigns for a permanent ban on unconventional gas and a Victorian Renewable Energy Target -- are calling on upper house MPs to show political leadership by supporting the Climate Change Act

"Preventing climate change impacts from getting worse is something all political parties can support. Failure to restore the state climate legislation will leave communities exposed to increased drought, heatwaves, and bushfire risk," said Leigh Ewbank.

"Upper House MPs have an opportunity to show leadership on climate change by supporting the strengthened climate legislation."

The group says the state opposition can redeem itself on the issue by allowing the Climate Change Act to pass the legislative council. 

"Opposition leader Matthew Guy failed his first test of leadership by voting against steps to restore the climate change act," said Leigh Ewbank. 

"Leader of the opposition in the upper house, Mary Wooldridge, can redeem the Coalition by allowing the climate change legislation to pass the upper house."

"The community would welcome Liberal and National party support for restoring the climate change act."

Friends of the Earth are closely monitoring the passage of the Victorian Climate Change Act

TAKE ACTION:
  • Send a message to Premier Daniel Andrews and opposition leader Matthew Guy to call for strong action on climate change in Victoria. 
  • Contact acting FoE campaigns coordinator Leigh Ewbank to get involved in our work to tackle climate change: leigh.ewbank@foe.org.au
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