Over the past 6 months Friends of the Earth has been conducting Freedom of Information (FoI's) requests to a number of water authorities across Victoria. The goal of the FoI's is to better understand the levels of PFAS contamination in recycled water and biosolids. Our major concern is that PFAS is making its way onto land and crops where recycled water and biosolids are used. Results of most of the information is then uploaded onto the Australian PFAS map.
Image: Werribee South Irrigation District. Groundwater is contaminated with PFAS, with the source apparently being recycled water from Melbourne Water's Western Treatment Plant
Between March and April, Friends of the Earth conducted koala surveys in the Won Wron State Forest. Won Wron is located between Yarram and Sale and is approximately 6700ha in size. Recent genetic work by Faye Wedrowicz has shown that Won Wron koalas are part of the unique Strzelecki population, hence FoE’s interest in the forest. FoE’s work at Won Wron is almost now completed, with focus soon turning to nearby Mullungdung State Forest. Our goal is to complete 200 koala surveys by August 2021 and 400 by August 2022.
A stand of Mountain Grey Gum in Won Wron State Forest
MEDIA RELEASE - 2 MAY 2021
Friends of the Earth response to Victorian Emissions Reduction Targets announcement:
The Andrews government has announced Victoria’s climate strategy including Emissions Reduction Targets of 28-33 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and 45-50 percent by 2030.
The long-awaited announcement comes after a four-year community campaign for science-based targets and a year-long delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Responses to the climate crisis must be based on the best-available science. The litmus test for climate policy is whether it is consistent with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
The targets that have been announced by the Andrews government fall short of that test:
“We must acknowledge the gap that still exists between the targets that have been announced and what the best-available science tells us is necessary to avoid dangerous climate impacts,” said Friends of the Earth campaigner Leigh Ewbank.
“It’s clear that the Federal government’s refusal to tackle the climate crisis has held back Victoria from adopting a stronger target.”
“The gulf between climate policy and science is shrinking with recent announcements from the United States, United Kingdom and others.”
“Victoria has put its shoulder to the wheel with its climate strategy while the Federal government is sitting on its hands, and we urge both to do more.”
Pressure mounts on Morrison govt to increase climate targets
The Andrews government’s announcement intensifies pressure on the Morrison government to increase national ambition ahead of the critically-important COP26 climate summit in November.
“Victoria’s Emissions Reduction Targets will help Australia tackle the climate crisis while the Morrison government is missing in action,” said Leigh Ewbank.
“Victoria’s climate targets are half what we need, but twice as ambitious as the Morrison government’s commitment.”
“The United States and Victoria will reduce emissions by up to 50 percent by 2030 and it’s time for the Morrison government to match them or beat them.”
At a recent meeting with Friends of the Earth, Taungurung Nira-Balluck Elder, Uncle Larry Walsh highlighted concerns over clearfelling of his traditional country by VicForests. Several coupes have already been cut in the Snobs Creek catchment with another 20 or so planned to be logged over the next few years. "Its no good. The logging has to stop" Uncle Larry said.
MEDIA RELEASE: 23 April 2021
Communities look to Vic govt for climate leadership as Morrison fails to hit reset button at Biden Climate Summit
Friends of the Earth say that communities are looking to the Victorian government to show greater leadership on climate after Prime Minister Scott Morrison failed to hit the reset button at President Joe Biden's World Leaders Climate Summit.
The high-powered summit—which saw the United States announce an increased target to reduce emissions by 50-52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030—was seen as an opportunity for the Morrison government to make a course correction on climate and energy policy.
"Prime Minister Scott Morrison had a chance to leave behind the Coalition's ideological opposition to tackling the climate crisis, but he failed to show leadership when it mattered," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth climate spokesperson.
"The increased ambition we're seeing from the United States and other counties shows that momentum is building to take the climate crisis seriously."
"While a heavier lift is needed to align current Emissions Reduction Targets with climate science, these announcements are a welcome step forward and give communities hope."
If approved, the Delburn wind farm proposed by local developer OSMI will be the first wind project built in the Latrobe Valley, currently home to Victoria’s ageing coal-fired power stations. It will create local employment opportunities and economic activity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Friends of the Earth supports the Delburn wind farm for Gippsland, and we see this project as being part of Victoria’s necessary transition away relying on fossil fuels to meet the state’s electricity needs.
The 180-200 megawatt project is expected to generate an approximate 590,000 MWh of electricity annually using 33 turbines. This is enough renewable energy to power up to 125,000 average Victorian homes every year, equating to an annual saving of 590,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
As Victoria transitions away from fossil fuels, it's essential that clean, healthy and sustainable industries are established to provide communities the benefits of good, climate jobs. This is particularly true in the Gippsland region, which is in the midst of a largely unplanned transition away from coal and native forest logging.
South Gippsland Shire have recently issued a permit amendment on a 24 ha works authority area, on Council owned bushland on Lavers Hill part of the Hoddle Range. The site is located approximately 2.5km south east of the small Victorian community of Fish Creek.
The permit amendment allows for the existing quarry to be expanded into the Fish Creek water supply catchment. The plan, would allow clearing of all native vegetation on steep hill in the middle of the Cape Liptrap/Strzelecki Ranges biolink. The link is important for a variety of species including lyrebirds, koalas and other species. The site also allows for spectacular views of Wilson's Promontory and the Tarwin Valley.
Looking at the western side of Lavers Hill
This week we are joined by Anna Langford from Friends of the Earth's Act on Climate collective to talk about the People's Climate Strategy - a bold project that crowdsourced climate solutions from the general public.
Friends of the Earth is seeking a passionate, skilled and self motivated person to work in the Gippsland region of Victoria to empower local community members to build support for the transition to renewable energy in the Latrobe Valley and throughout Gippsland.
Victoria is beginning to undertake an unprecedented shift to renewable energy, a key solution to the climate crisis. The transition to renewable energy underway in Gippsland will shape the future of the state’s energy system, with the region currently home to the state’s three remaining ageing coal fired power stations. With the highly polluting Yallourn coal fired power station set to close by 2028, and action on the climate crisis becoming more urgent, it’s essential that governments deliver a fair and just transition to renewable energy that prioritises the needs of the community and workers.
This is a 3 days/ week position, being offered for 8 months.