The Victorian government has opened up a public consultation for community members to have a say on what Emissions Reduction Target it will set for 2035. How high do you think Victoria should aim on climate? Continue reading for our guide on how you can have your say...
Background and Context:
Under the Climate Change Act 2017, the Victorian government is required to set interim Emissions Reduction Targets every five years to chart the path to its legislated target of net-zero emissions by 2050.
We know that when it comes to tackling the climate crisis, the deepest emissions cuts must be made well before 2050 to avoid global warming beyond 1.5°C. That is why Friends of the Earth will be calling for a science-based target of net-zero emissions by 2035.
With the impacts of climate change already hitting frontline communities around the state, it is vital that the government hear from community members about what level of climate policy ambition they expect.
How to have your say: Public Survey
The Victorian government has a survey open for the public until June 5, 2022. As a guide, we have provided suggested answers below for you to use as survey responses and elaborate on however you want.
Suggested Answers to Survey Questions:
1. What do you think is most important when setting a Victorian emissions reduction target for 2035?
A list of options is provided for you to rank in order of importance to you.
SUGGESTED RESPONSE: Put option 9 - ‘Other’ - first, and then rank others as you see fit. Our suggested extra point for the ‘Other’ option is below.
2. If you selected 'Other' in question 2, please specify:
SUGGESTED RESPONSE: Adopt a science-based Emissions Reduction Target in line with staying below 1.5°C (net-zero emissions by 2035).
3. What emissions reduction target do you think Victoria should set for 2035?
You are asked to place a marker anywhere on a spectrum between 50% and 100% (reduction by 2035).
SUGGESTED RESPONSE: 100% emissions reduction by 2035.
4. What three things do you think will cut Victoria’s emissions the most in the period 2031-2035?
- Accelerating the rollout of renewable energy and storage, and the complete phase-out of fossil fuel electricity generation.
- Tackling Victoria’s growing transport emissions by facilitating modal shifting from primary reliance on cars to public transport; shifting freight to rail; and ensuring that all private vehicles are electric.
- Electrify Victorian homes, businesses, and industry to get them off polluting and expensive fossil gas.
5. What benefits can you see in a low emissions economy for Victoria in 2031-2035?
Reduce Climate Risk: Setting a science-based 2035 climate target will decrease the long-term risk of climate disasters.
Economic Benefits: Victoria is competing on the global stage for investment in zero-carbon technology and industries. A science-based 2035 target will help Victoria secure investment to roll out new technology and ramp up clean tech manufacturing. Strong targets will create an incentive to further develop Victoria’s essential care economy, which will strengthen the resilience of communities around the state.
Job Creation: Pursuing deep emissions cuts will require the rollout of renewable energy, new clean technology, and upgraded infrastructure and services - all of which will create excellent local job opportunities.
- Public Health: Eliminating emissions by 2035 will eliminate the pollutants from fossil fuel combustion and other polluting industries. This will deliver proven public health benefits.
6. What challenges might Victoria face in reducing emissions in the period 2031-2035?
- Pace of Reduction: If we don’t make deep emissions cuts before 2030, our remaining carbon budget will be severely restricted in the period 2031-2035. This will require much steeper cuts to be made in a very short period of time (See graph opposite - graph source here).
- New Technology: An ongoing challenge for Victoria will be keeping up with the pace of new clean technologies and deploying them in local industries and communities.
- Stranded Assets: Relics of our current high-emissions economy such as petrol cars, coal-fired power stations and gas network infrastructure risk being dumped on the public to foot the bill for their clean-up.
- No one left behind: disadvantaged communities will need support to adopt new low-emissions technologies, rather than their rollout being left to market forces.
Climate disasters: Victoria is already seeing the impacts of climate-fuelled disasters. The Victorian government must plan for the challenge of continuing to rapidly decarbonise the economy while simultaneously responding to climate-fuelled disasters.
7. How could Victoria overcome potential challenges to reducing emissions in 2031 - 2035?
Prepare now: Forward preparation will be required this decade to roll out the new technology, infrastructure, and services needed to deliver deep emissions cuts. The state government should be commended for current efforts to do this, such as the Victorian Renewable Energy Target, the Offshore Wind Target, and the Renewable Energy Zones. The government will need to take this same forward-thinking approach to other sections of the economy such as agriculture and transport.
Climate Budget: When it comes to tackling climate change, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Greater public investment will be needed this decade to prepare Victoria for delivering deep emissions cuts and coping with intensifying impacts. A Climate Impact Statement with the budget papers to outline expenditure on direct mitigation (i.e: renewable energy); indirect mitigation (i.e: public transport infrastructure); adaptation (i.e: installing sea walls/groynes); and disaster response (i.e: firefighting and recovery). The impact statement would bring greater transparency to climate-related expenditure and allow departments, key stakeholders, and the community to track trends over time.
Make polluters pay: Companies which have been the source of historic and current emissions in Victoria need to take responsibility for their contributions to global warming. Many of these companies have traceable histories of lobbying against strong emissions reduction policies, going back decades. These companies have a responsibility to contribute to the costs of the broad-scale transition needed to cut emissions in Victoria, and to the costs of responding to future intensifying climate disasters.
8. What can be done to make sure the benefits and costs of climate action are fairly shared?
Make Polluters Pay: polluting companies must contribute to the costs of transitioning our economy and communities, and the costs of responding to ongoing climate disasters which will ravage communities.
Social Justice: The Victorian government can implement policies and targeted programs to assist disadvantaged communities in the economic transition. This can be planned through the upcoming Climate Change Strategies that the government is required to write every five years under the Climate Change Act 2017. Climate policy should always have the core goal of furthering social justice.
- Public Investment: The Victorian government can initiate decarbonisation with strategic investment in programs, infrastructure, and services. The Andrews government invested a record $1.2 billion in climate and energy initiatives in the 2020-21 state budget. We will need to see this level of investment repeated in future budgets to drive the rate of decarbonisation needed to stay below 1.5°C of warming.
- Community Resilience: Establish a $100 million Victorian Climate Change Action Fund (VCCAF) to retrofit public libraries, schools, community centres, neighbourhood houses, and sporting clubs to become Climate Emergency Refuge Centres in times of crisis. This would involve installing rooftop solar, battery storage, air-conditioners, appropriate air filtration (in light of the pandemic) and other energy efficient equipment at those sites. Communities most at risk from bushfires and heat waves would be prioritised in the rollout.
As the majority of the submissions period has been during the federal election build up, awareness of the process will be low as the elections pulls full focus. Stay tuned for further updates from Friends of the Earth's Act on Climate collective on how we can continue to push for a science-based 2035 target this year by signing up for campaign updates here.
I'll be stepping up to lead the charge on this work for the rest of 2022. If you're interested in being involved, please get in touch below through my contact details. There'll be plenty of opportunities for action and we'll need all hands on deck!
Anna Langford - Act on Climate Vic coordinator
0478 031 771