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The urgent need for a Victorian Climate Change Action Fund

With alarming melting of the polar icecaps underway, back-to-back bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, and Australia seeing a longer and more intense bushfire season, we have no time to waste when it comes to action on climate change. 

Yet Australia's emissions are rising and funding for climate change initiatives has been slashed on the Federal Coalition government's watch. The policy failure leaves communities exposed to intensifying heatwaves, bushfires, droughts, and extreme weather. 

It's time for Premier Daniel Andrews to push back on the Turnbull government and show leadership on climate change.  

In 2017, the state Labor government established the $4.3 million Victorian Climate Change Innovation Partnerships (VCCIP) Grant Scheme to help community groups, local councils, businesses, and non-government organisations rollout innovative climate solutions.

But there's a problem... Demand for the climate grant scheme dramatically outstripped what was available. 

While the government received over 240 applications the $4.3 million scheme could only support 24 projects. Nine out of ten projects missed out on crucial support.

When we're facing a climate change emergency it's not good enough that positive solutions are missing out on start-up funding. 

This is why Friends of the Earth are calling on the Andrews government to ramp things up by committing to establish a Victorian Climate Change Action Fund of at least $100 million before the election.

Climate Policy in Victoria:

Since 2014, the Andrews government has strengthened the Victorian Climate Change Act, legislated a permanent ban on unconventional gasfields, extended the moratorium on onshore gasfields, and legislated ambitious Victorian Renewable Energy Targets. These actions contribute towards emissions reductions at the state level.

The Labor government has committed to a voluntary Emissions Reduction Target (ERT) of between 15 and 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. The Climate Change Act 2017 requires the state government to set interim Emissions Reduction Targets for 2025 and 2030 before 2020. These interim Emissions Reduction Targets will steer Victoria towards the legislated target of zero-net emissions by 2050.

Additionally, the Climate Change Act 2017 requires the state government to prepare Adaptation Action Plans for six “systems” of the economy—the built environment; education and training; health and human services; natural environment; primary production; transport; and the water cycle. Adaptation Action Plans will help each system adapt to climate change impacts and be updated every five years.

Strategic Investment Needed for Victoria to Meet Climate Goals:

Strategic investment is now needed to ensure Victoria can meet its Emissions Reduction Targets and enhance its capacity to adapt to climate change impacts.

Efforts to cut emissions and adapt to climate change impacts vary greatly between communities, sectors of the economy (i.e the stationary energy sector, transport, industrial processes, land use, etc.), and across regions. For some sectors, such as stationary energy, what is required to cut emissions is well understood and mainstream. Yet other sectors, such as industrial processes and agriculture, will be required to pilot new technologies, systems, materials, and processes to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.

The same variation occurs with adaptation and resilience to climate change impacts. For some communities it will be responding to rising sea levels while others must cope with heightened bushfire risk.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the challenges of climate change mitigation and adaptation, all communities, sectors, and regions would benefit from state government investment in innovative responses.    

State Government Support for Climate Solutions in High Demand:

The Victorian government has already shown a keen understanding of the issues and shown leadership on this front through the Virtual Centre for Climate Change Innovation

In 2017 the Andrews government established a $4.3 million Victorian Climate Change Innovation Partnerships (VCCIP) Grant Scheme to provide start-up funding to community groups, local councils, businesses, for the development of innovative solutions to the challenges of climate change.

The VCCIP grant scheme unearthed strong demand for state government investment in climate change projects. The scheme received more than 240 applications. The VCCIP grant scheme is dramatically oversubscribed. The 240+ applications represent a request up to $72 million yet the $4.3 million scheme could only support 24 projects. (The community of Tarnagulla was one of the lucky applicants).

Another state government initiative to enhance Victoria’s capacity to cut emissions in the electricity sector—the $20 million New Energy Jobs Fund (NEJF)—has also seen strong demand. Round one saw 24 projects receive funding of $5.9 million, and round two, 21 projects receive $6.8 million. The third round is currently underway.

Victoria Needs a Devoted Climate Change Action Fund:

Friends of the Earth have called on the state government build on the successful Victorian Climate Change Innovation Partnerships (VCCIP) Grant Scheme and New Energy Jobs Fund (NEJF) by establishing a Victorian Climate Change Action Fund (VCCAF) of at least $100 million.

The fund would provide funding for community, business, local government, and non-government organisation initiatives to cut greenhouse gas emissions and enhance resiliency to climate change impacts.

The Victorian Climate Change Action Fund could distribute grants in yearly rounds following the approach taken to the New Energy Jobs Fund.  

Looking for Govt Leadership on Climate Change:

Community members concerned about climate change impacts would welcome a public commitment from the Andrews government to a $100 million Victorian Climate Change Action Fund.

Friends of the Earth will be engaging with all political parties, community groups, and other stakeholders to build strong backing for a Victorian Climate Change Action Fund in the lead up to the November election.


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