Strengthened climate laws pass Vic parliament: Andrews govt can put a down-payment on climate action in budget
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."
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 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.
Record global warming in 2016 as Matthew Guy opposition block Vic govt moves to strengthen Climate Change Act
New analysis released by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) over night has found record global warming in 2016 as the Matthew Guy opposition block the Andrews government's moves to strengthen the Victorian Climate Change Act.
The NASA/NOAA analysis once again confirms the longterm warming trend and found "Earth’s 2016 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern recordkeeping began in 1880."
In a statement, the organisations note 2016 is "the third year in a row to set a new record for global average surface temperatures."
The worrying climate change data comes just weeks after the Matthew Guy opposition voted against as the Andrews government's moves to restore the Victorian Climate Change Act -- which was gutted by the Baillieu government in 2011.
"We're in dangerous territory when it comes to global warming," 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 Bailleiu government gutted the Climate Change Act," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth's climate change spokesperson.
Friends of the Earth say the opposition's vote against steps to restore the climate change legislation was a failure of leadership that exposes Victorian communities to climate change impacts.
"Preventing climate change from worsening is something all political parties can support. Failure to restore the state climate change act will expose communities to increased drought, heatwaves, and bushfire risk," said Leigh Ewbank.
Friends of the Earth -- the organisation that coordinated successful community campaigns for a permanent ban on unconventional gas and a Victorian Renewable Energy Target -- said the opposition can redeem itself on the issue by supporting the amendments to the climate act in the upper house.
"Opposition leader Matthew Guy failed his first test of climate leadership by voting against the Climate Change Act in the lower house," said Leigh Ewbank.
"The opposition can redeem itself and be on the right side of history by supporting passage of the act in the upper house."
"The community would welcome Liberal and National party support for the strengthened climate legislation and ambitious Emissions Reduction Targets for the state."
Friends of the Earth are closely monitoring the passage of the Victorian Climate Change Act. An upper house vote is expected early in 2017.
Friends of the Earth has welcomed the Andrews government's plans to modernise and strengthen the Victorian Environmental Protection Authority in response to an extensive review of the body--the first since 1971.
"We welcome the Andrews government’s moves to strengthen the EPA," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth campaign coordinator.
"These reforms will help bring the EPA into the 21st Century and equip it to protect communities and environment from emerging issues such as decommissioning coal mines and power plants."
Friends of the Earth say the EPA reforms come as the state grapples with climate change.
"Victoria needs a strong EPA to tackle climate change. The Federal government's policy failure on climate change requires leadership at the state level."
"An strengthened EPA will provide additional tools for the state government to cut greenhouse gas pollution and prevent climate change from getting worse."
Friends of the Earth look forward to seeing the planned restructure of the EPA this year paying dividends into the future.
The group will closely monitor the passage of amendments to modernise and strengthen the Environment Protection Act.
"An effective Environment Protection Authority is something all political parties can support. We look forward to seeing support from the opposition and crossbench so these reforms are implemented swiftly."
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