These groups vary considerably in size and focus. For example, Darebin Climate Action Now, a group in the inner city Melbourne electorates, until recently represented by Martin Ferguson, has a strong focus on national and state issues.
Climate Action Moreland also is working to put the case for a fast transition to renewables, looking at climate heat impacts, promoting divestment from fossil fuels, and, along with other groups and organisations such Moreland Energy Foundation, has been very successful in working with the City of Moreland on climate action, resulting in Moreland instituting a city wide transition to zero net emissions.
Lighter Footprints, covering an area in the east of Melbourne consisting of safe Liberal voting electorates is involved in lobbying, community outreach and writing letters to the newspapers. Lighter Footprints also run large and incisive candidate forums prior to elections as part of their strong emphasis on political accountability and transparency.
BREAZE in Ballarat, work through on bulk purchases of solar panels, social solar and have just formed a social enterprise for funding, while Surf Coast Energy Group run a variety of regional climate action and sustainability campaigns, including sea level rise, renewables, sustainable food and have worked with Surf Coast Air Action and others to shut down Anglesea’s coal fired power plant and open cut coal mine.
Many groups run a Vote Climate campaign during state and federal elections, door-knocking, letter-boxing, running candidate forums, analysing policies, compiling and handing out scorecards which show how the parties compare on emergency climate action.
Pollution Free Politics is a new initiative from 350.org with a pledge for MP’s and Senators to end to fossil fuel donations and subsidies, calling out the worst climate blockers and encouraging grass roots campaigning to hold our politicians to account for their policies on climate.
Larger groups and coalitions
As well as local climate action groups, there are many other larger groups covering a range of demographics. These include the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, the Australian Student Environment Network, 350.org, the Climate and Health Alliance, the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, and a coalition of musicians and artists – Climarte.
An emergency perspective
Back in 2008, local authors David Spratt and Philip Sutton wrote a ground-breaking book, Climate Code Red outlining the need for emergency action to address climate change. Consequently many, but not all, Victorian climate groups have a strong emphasis on the need to make a rapid transition to a zero emissions economy. This perspective also nurtured the development of world-leading think tank, Beyond Zero Emissions, in Melbourne and a range of projects linked to rapid transition including Transition Decade, Safe Climate Australia and the Climate Emergency Network. Some formerly mainstream local environmental events, such as the Sustainable Living Festival, have also evolved towards a stronger climate emergency message.
Accelerated Temperature rises – latest reports
Global temperatures have soared in January and February 2016 to an unprecedented level, close to the “safe” target – 1.5ºC – of the Paris negotiations, in just two months. In other words, the current El Nino peak is a whole 0.5ºC higher than the last one in 1998. Given that the temperature rises in steps, we are looking a rapidly accelerated next step for the next decade or so – giving rise to an even more urgent call to immediate action for what can only be fairly described as a climate emergency.
Read David Spratt’s latest discussion of the Paris commitments, the real situation, and what can be done now, in his latest report Climate Reality Check.
Philip Sutton, from RSTI and co-founder of Safe Climate Australia, outlines the case for an emergency transition to zero emissions and describes a coherent roadmap to a restoring a world which is consistent with life, not widespread systemic disruption. Please read his report Striking Targets here.
In 2014, activists in Melbourne collaborated to hold Breakthrough, a National Climate Resoration Forum which aimed to be a catalyst for a social and political breakthrough for the urgent restoration of a safe climate. This has provided a focus for renewal within the local movement. There are a number of important presentations available on the Breakthrough website including an update on the climate science by David Spratt, No Carbon Budget Left.
In this presentation, David demonstrates that the earth is already too hot, and continued reliance on a target of staying under two degrees Celsius of warming is a recipe for disaster. In any case, even if we accept a two degrees target, and aim for at least a 90% chance of success, our remaining carbon budget is zero. We have no choice but to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to zero as fast as possible and draw down the excess emissions in the atmosphere to restore a safe climate – a task which is likely to take many decades.
Local climate groups are currently working on a strategy to disseminate information from the Breakthrough forum more widely.