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Our proposal for a Climate Ready Victoria

The summer of 2023/24 has already seen enormous impacts on the people and landscapes of Victoria. From early season bushfires in Gippsland to flooding across large sections of the centre and north of the state, it is clear that climate impacts are being felt across Victoria. As the premier Jacinta Allan noted in January, when she visited flood-hit Seymour 'climate change had resulted in more frequent flooding and extreme weather, underscoring the need to transition to renewable energy'. Across the country, severe heatwaves, floods, fires and storms are already being supercharged by global heating. 

Climate action is more important than ever, and Victoria needs to continue to lead the nation both on mitigation and climate disaster readiness that protects communities and ecosystems.  That’s why this year we have put forward our ‘Climate Ready Vic’ proposal to the Victorian State Government- it's a suite of policies that we think will make sure we put our best foot forward to face a new climate reality, and make sure no one is left behind as we transition from reliance on fossil fuels and adapt to the climate conditions of the 21st century.

Victoria needs to transition away from its current reliance on fossil fuels as soon as possible, and FoE continues to campaign for a rapid and full transition to energy efficiency, renewables and storage. We see enormous opportunities for Victoria as the state develops offshore wind projects.

We also have a range of short term specific proposals for the state government:

Victoria needs Bus Reform now

bus.pngFirst off the mark - we need to take action to reduce what will soon be the state’s largest source of emissions - transport.  Investment in low emission public transport now is critical - and buses are quick and affordable in contrast to larger public transport infrastructure projects like the airport rail proposal that have fallen by the wayside with recent state budget cuts.  

As Melbourne continues to grow, it is essential all communities have access to safe, accessible, affordable public transport.

We’re calling on the Victorian Government to back a pilot of a bold, transformational, accessible, ‘turn up and go’ bus network in the West, with electric buses running fast, direct routes on arterial roads every 10 minutes from 6 am - midnight, 7 days per week.  

A Better Bus service in the western suburbs is a great start in reforming our public transport system to reduce emissions and address inequity.

 

Protecting forests and improving bushfire response

VFF.pngThe 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires tested Victoria’s ability to defend communities and the places we love from catastrophic fires. It is clear that these climate-fuelled bushfires already present a huge challenge for Victoria’s volunteer and career firefighters.

Greater government support is needed to enhance Victoria’s firefighting capacity so firefighters are able to respond to and contain these bigger, more frequent blazes, especially through early intervention to stop small fires turning into large blazes.

That’s why Friends of the Earth Melbourne are calling for additional remote area firefighting crews within the state government agency (Forest Fire Management Victoria) to protect fire-sensitive ecosystems and to stop fires while they are small to protect townships, farms, and public lands. The potential economic benefits of avoiding large fires is enormous.  

We are also putting forward the idea of a volunteer remote area firefighting team within the CFA, which would be tasked with supporting professional remote firefighters in protecting public and natural assets in national parks. 

We propose a state government investigation into the state of fire sensitive vegetation communities to ensure they are protected during future fire seasons.

 

Restoring native forests under traditional owner management.

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With native forest logging ending on public lands in the east of the state on January 1, 2024, we need increased funding for ecological research, monitoring, and restoration across Victoria’s public land forests.

The end of native forest logging is a crucial opportunity for the Victorian Government to restore lands to Traditional Owners.  The State government needs to increase funding for existing First Nations land management programs and allocate new funds to enable Traditional Owners to re-establish management of their Country as soon as possible, as part of the transition process.

First Nations groups must be decision makers, not just stakeholders as decisions are taken about future managment of native forests.

Restoration programs such as the seed collecting program to assist the recovery of fire affected Alpine Ash forests must be retained.

Community groups could be assisted to be more deeply involved in the monitoring and restoration of forests that have been impacted by fire and logging operations.

Parks Victoria will require additional funding to manage the impacts of climate change, invasive species, and human visitation to the national parks estate.

 

A Victorian Community Climate Adaptation Fund

Fund.pngFor communities around Victoria, the climate crisis is already here and now. The catastrophic bushfires of 2019/20 and the floods of 2022 showed that as the risk and damages to communities from climate disasters rises, so does the cost of repairing and rebuilding communities after impacts hit. 'Compound disasters' - where multiple events happen in a limited period of time - make it harder for communities to recover. We need proactive adaptation and funding for local communities to prepare for and withstand climate impacts.

We are calling on the Victorian Government to establish a permanent Victorian Community Climate Adaptation Fund (VCCAF). The fund would distribute grant money annually to community groups to undertake localised adaptation and resilience projects.

 

Gas substitution and Home electrification

gas.pngLabor’s Gas Substitution Roadmap was revised this year, to meet emissions reduction targets and enable homes and businesses to access modern, electric appliances. But Victorians need more information and meaningful subsidies to help our lowest income families to get off gas as quickly as possible.

The Allan Government needs to fund a far-reaching public education campaign to show Victorians how to reduce or replace their gas use. This should include information about how to access the solar homes/businesses program and the Victorian Energy Upgrades program. 

We also need to increase subsidies for fuel switching and home electrification, by doubling the allocation of funds to expand the Victorian Energy Upgrades program.   Means-tested subsidies or zero interest loan packages can assist low income households and commercial buildings to switch to electric at minimal or zero cost.  The Allan government must also invest in retrofitting public housing to replace gas and reduce costs for our most vulnerable.

 

Support our vision

Funding decisions occur through the state budget, which will be released in May 2024.

If you support our proposals, please sign this letter which will go to the Premier Jacinta Allan.

It will help send a message to the Premier about the sort of projects the community wants to see funded through the state budget process.

 

You can find our full state budget submission here.

If you like our work, please consider making a donation or becoming a member of Friends of the Earth.

 

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