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45 Years of Acting Up: Climate action to climate justice

Friends of the Earth podcast history series made in collaboration with 3CR 855 AM community radio show Acting Up! This show looks at the history of climate action, and how it moved to a a climate justice frame.

Presenters: Em Gayfer and Megan Williams.
Guests: Stephanie Long, Wendy Flannery, Tristy Fairfield, Anna Langford, Emma Sanford.

Since the 1970s Friends of the Earth has promoted renewable energy options for Australia. In the 1980s, we campaigned on global warming and carbon debt, working with Carteret Islanders and hosting tours for speakers from Nigeria, Nepal, and the Pacific talking about fossil fuels and the impacts of climate change in their regions. From the 1990s onwards, Friends of the Earth campaigns to reduce carbon emissions, stops coal and gas expansion and calls for a just transition towards renewable energy.  In 2020, Friends of the Earth continues to lobby government and business, support communities and collaborate with environment groups to act on climate change, resist new fossil fuel projects and promote renewables.  Keep reading to find out how you can win climate justice.

Key moments: Friends of the Earth climate action to climate justice

Friends of the Earth produces extensive work on renewable energy options for Australia.

Friends of the Earth tours international author of 'Tools for the soft path', Jim Harding, to raise awareness of alternative energy sources.

Friends of the Earth produces 'Soft Energy', a booklet on the benefits of renewable energy.

Clare Henderson and Larry O'Loughlan, prominent national advocates of Right To Know (RTK) legislation push for people to access information on the existence, quantities and effects of emissions from industrial activities.

Friends of the Earth’s Climate Change campaigning starts.

Friends of the Earth Melbourne campaigns to stop an oil terminal in Western Port Bay, Victoria.

Friends of the Earth Brisbane campaigns against coal and coal transport, and Coal Seam Gas (CSG).

Friends of the Earth hosts a tour by exiled Ogoni person Komene Famaa from Nigeria, highlighting the impact of Shell's oil operations on the Niger Delta.

late 1990s
Friends of the Earth’s Climate Justice collective works with Rising Tide on the inequitable impacts of climate change against the backdrop of the government’s carbon wars.

Friends of the Earth Melbourne's Climate Justice campaign launches, focusing on the human rights and equity dimensions of global warming and environmental justice issues.

Friends of the Earth hosts an international seminar on the themes of climate justice and globalisation. A series of street events, public meetings and direct actions are held across Melbourne. FOE combines the concepts of ecological debt into its work and advocates support for environmental refugees.

Friends of the Earth organises a Climate Justice tour, traveling the east coast of Australia to talk about the impacts of global warming on Nigerian and Pacific communities.

Friends of the Earth climate campaigners host a speaking tour featuring Ursula Rakova and Bernard Tunim from the Carteret Islands, holding forums in Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne to tell their story of climate-related dislocation and relocation.

PNG non-government organisation Tulele Peisa is welcomed as a Friends of the Earth affiliate. Tulele Peisa supports climate refugees from the Carteret Islanders migrating to Bougainville.

Friends of the Earth Brisbane supports Torres Strait and Pacific Islander elders to attend global climate negotiations.

Working with other green groups, Friends of the Earth Melbourne successfully campaigns against new coal allocations in Victoria.

Friends of the Earth organises The Big Melt tour on national climate change featuring speakers from Nepal.

Friends of the Earth Melbourne starts to track the approval of new unconventional gas exploration licenses across Victoria.

Friends of the Earth Melbourne ramps up its Yes 2 Renewables project, starting with a website that evolves into the Yes2Renewables community campaign.

Friends of the Earth Melbourne holds a series of forums across western Victoria at Warrnambool, Colac, Ballarat and Geelong, to highlight the threat posed by CSG. The CSG Roadshow featuring Drew Hutton of Lock the Gate, tours western Victoria to warn people about the problems in Queensland from the unconventional gas industry. Following the road show, a company withdraws four applications to explore for CSG in western Victoria. Campaigning then focuses on eastern Victoria, supporting the Toongabbie community against a coal proposal.  FOE and Quit Coal speak at community meetings in Gippsland opposing new Tight Gas applications supporting locals, especially at Seaspray.  

Friends of the Earth Melbourne calls for a moratorium on CSG and unconventional gas development pending an independent enquiry into land, water and community safety.

Friends of the Earth organises an east-coast speaking tour of Indonesian environmental activists, highlighting dodgy carbon offset schemes.

Friends of the Earth alerts the local Council and community to planned CSG exploration in Corowa Shire, north of the Murray River. Strong community campaigning causes the company to withdraw their proposal. 

Friends of the Earth Melbourne's Quit Coal collective launch an alliance calling for a moratorium on new coal and gas operations, supported by 70 community organisations and 6 local Councils. Councillors from South Gippsland Shire unanimously support a motion calling for a moratorium on coal seam gas after a spirited community campaign. Four members of the Quit Coal campaign climb onto the roof of Parliament House in Melbourne and unfurl a giant banner message about coal’s impact on climate change. Nine others lock on to the pillars at the front of the building. Friends of the Earth achieve an environmental victory under the Coalition government in Victoria. Then Premier, Ted Baillieu, announces a moratorium on the process of fracking and bans dangerous BTEX chemicals used in the gas drilling process.

Friends of the Earth Brisbane activist, June Norman, is joined by a growing number of people during her 29 day walk of almost 500 kms from Kumbarilla to Gladstone in Queensland, to highlight the impacts of the CSG industry, following the route of a proposed gas pipeline.

Activists from the Quit Coal collective, scale a large cooling tower at the coal-fired Yallourn Power Station, Latrobe Valley and remain there for 30 hours, the longest occupation of a power station in Australia's history. 

Friends of the Earth Melbourne helps to establish Lock the Gate in Victoria. Friends of the Earth works with more than 14 communities concerned about new coal and gas proposals, helping to organise more than 50 events across Gippsland. 

The Victorian government signs off on the National Harmonised Guidelines on gas production, and maintains the ban because of sustained community hostility to new gas. The government extends the moratorium on fracking until at least June 2015, but with exploration activity continuing, community resistance continues to grow.

Friends of the Earth hosts two members of Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI) who travel to Australia to raise awareness about the push to expand export coal mining in Central Kalimantan.

Friends of the Earth Melbourne Yes 2 Renewables launches its Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET) campaign engaging with communities in Macedon and South Barwon.  Yes 2 Renewables investigates the adverse impact the Baillieu era anti-wind farm laws have on jobs and investment, recommending re-introduction of VRET to drive investment in renewable energy projects. Yes 2 Renewables partners with the Australian Wind Alliance to host a public Renewable Energy & Jobs Forum.  Yes 2 Renewables publishes findings of a survey of renewable energy jobs in Melbourne, noting one in ten jobs had been lost during 2013-2014. Yes 2 Renewables fact-finding road trip to the Hepburn Wind farm, the first stop of an 11-week trip to understand the impact the Renewable Energy Target has had on communities in south-eastern Australia.

Friends of the Earth Melbourne hosts Wyoming rancher John Fenton, to talk about the damage caused by unconventional gas drilling in his community in the USA. 

Friends of the Earth Melbourne increases work with Gippsland communities directly under threat of new ‘greenfield’ coal mines, in the Latrobe Valley and South Gippsland.  Boolarra declares itself coal and gas field free, the first community to do so in the Latrobe Valley.

Friends of the Earth Melbourne’s ‘Just Say No’ campaign in response to State government consultation over unconventional gas, helps to mobilise hundreds of people to attend and participate.  By the end of 2014, 44 gas field free communities declared across Gippsland and western Victoria.  FOE Melbourne puts the issue of unconventional gas on the political agenda, and makes renewable energy a significant issue in the lead up to the Victorian 2014 election.  Victory is celebrated as the moratorium is extended to all onshore gas exploration in Victoria.

Friends of the Earth activists and allies hit the road for a seven-day tour of the Galilee Coal Basin in Queensland as coal companies plan to build nine new mega-mines in the Basin.

With the State inquiry into unconventional gas coming to a close, more than 1,300 people rally, including many from the 67 communities declared coal/gas field free. The Federal Coalition announce that if re-elected it will support extending the current moratorium until 2020, winning support of the Greens and ALP representatives.

Yes 2 Renewables participate in a roundtable hosted by the Victorian Energy Minister. Yes 2 Renewables helps build a coalition for VRET ambitions including unions, renewable energy industry players, community and environment groups to lobby government.

On the first day of State parliament, 250 people gather on the steps of parliament house to express support for a permanent ban on onshore gas drilling, to strengthen Victorian Renewable Energy Targets and call for renewable energy project investment.

Farmers in western Victoria make a giant 'Ban Gas' sign with the help of almost 2,000 sheep, while the Knitting Nanas visit the Premier, Daniel Andrews, to make the point that 'Only a Ban will Do'.  Gas field free communities visit Representatives and gain support of Independents for legislation to enact the gas ban through the Upper House.

In June, the Andrews government announces Victorian Renewable Energy Targets of 25 percent by 2020 and 40 percent by 2025, enshrined in legislation.  The VRETs double wind energy capacity by 2020 and triple renewable energy capacity by 2025.  At the end of August, the Premier of Victoria announces a permanent ban on fracking and unconventional gas drilling in Victoria, the first in the country, and announces a four-year extension of the moratorium on onshore conventional gas drilling in Victoria.

On 7 March, Victoria became the first Australian state to permanently ban the process of fracking to access unconventional gas, including CSG, Shale and Tight gas.

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