Friends of the Earth (FoE) Melbourne is a non-for profit organisation working for a socially equitable and environmentally sustainable future. The international Friends of the Earth network is active in 77 countries with over 2 million members. Read more.
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."
Environment 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.
Media 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.
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.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Friends of the Earth Melbourne kicked off the first of our Summer Stalls at Stacks On Festival at CERES on Saturday 14 January. Over the summer, we’ll be visiting a number of festivals across Melbourne and surrounds to connect with new members and let people know about our new Act on Climate Campaign.