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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

YCAN has a new website -

Yarra Climate Action Now has graduated from a blog to a website!

This blog will no longer be active.

Go to for all the latest climate action and news relevant to the inner-city.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Transition Town Yarra movie nights

Transition Town Yarra, a local group working towards a self-sufficient and sustainable inner-city, is hosting free movie nights on the third Wednesday of this month and next in Fitzroy.

Kindness House - level 2, 288 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Wednesday 15 September - Peak Oil - Imposed by Nature

Produced by Amund Prestegard, 'Peak Oil - Imposed by Nature' is an excellent introduction to the causes and consequences of the terminal decline of global oil production as we reach the global peak. In the documentary retired geologist Dr. Colin Campbell, founder of ASPO, the Association for the Study of Peak Oil, explains the aspects and consequences of oil discovery, the production increase and the subsequent decline on a local as well as on a world scale.

Wednesday 20 October - Film about food

To get in touch please see the Transition Town Yarra facebook page or email

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How much proof do the global warming deniers need?

"When you stare out over the wave of Weather of Mass Destruction we are unleashing, who looks crazy – the protesters, or the people who have yet to join them?"

Originally published in the UK Independent, by Johann Hari

Thank God man-made global warming was proven to be a hoax. Just imagine what the world might have looked like now if those conspiring scientists had been telling the truth. No doubt Nasa would be telling us that this year is now the hottest since humans began keeping records. The weather satellites would show that even when heat from the sun significantly dipped earlier this year, the world still got hotter. Russia's vast forests would be burning to the ground in the fiercest drought they have ever seen, turning the air black in Moscow, killing 15,000 people, and forcing foreign embassies to evacuate. Because warm air holds more water vapour, the world's storms would be hugely increasing in intensity and violence – drowning one fifth of Pakistan, and causing giant mudslides in China.

The world's ice sheets would be sloughing off massive melting chunks four times the size of Manhattan. The cost of bread would be soaring across the world as heat shrivelled the wheat crops. The increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would be fizzing into the oceans, making them more acidic and so killing 40 per cent of the phytoplankton that make up the irreplaceable base of the oceanic food chain. The denialists would be conceding at last that everything the climate scientists said would happen – with their pesky graphs and studies and computers – came to pass.

This is all happening today, except for that final stubborn step. It's hard to pin any one event on man-made global warming: there were occasional freak weather events before we started altering the atmosphere, and on their own, any of these events could be just another example. But they are, cumulatively, part of a plain pattern where extreme weather is occurring "with greater frequency and in many cases with greater intensity" as the temperature soars, as the US National Climatic Data Centre puts it. This is exactly what climate scientists have been warning us man-made global warming will look like, to the letter. Ashen-faced, they add that all this is coming after less than one degree of global warming since the Industrial Revolution. We are revving up for as much as five degrees more this century.

Yet as the evidence of global warming becomes ever clearer...

To continue reading click here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Green vote surge in Federal Election

While we still don't know who will be our Prime Minister, one thing is clear - the Greens have been the big winners in this election.

Adam Bandt, Sarah Hanson-Young, Bob Brown and Richard Di Natale. Photo: AAP

Here in the seat of Melbourne, Adam Bandt won his party's first ever lower house seat (in a general election) with a massive 13% increase in the Green primary vote (to a total of 36%) and a 10% swing from Labor to Greens two-party-preferred. Nationally the Greens gained about 11.5% of the primary vote, an increase of almost 4% from last election, by far the biggest gain for any party.

It also seems like the Greens will win 5 or 6 senate spots, meaning they may win one in every state. In Victoria Richard Di Natale has been elected to the Senate with a full quota of votes. The Greens will hold the balance of power in the Senate.

Both Labor and the Greens said that climate change was the biggest issue in the seat of Melbourne.

In The Age, losing Labor candidate Cath Bowtell said, "...clearly they [voters of Melbourne] want us to work faster on reducing carbon emissions and moving to a cleaner-energy economy.''

This result doesn't bode well for inner-city State MPs, who are facing an election in three months. The Brumby Government will have to vastly improved its climate policies if it doesn't want to lose seats to the Greens.

We hope this result encourages some soul-searching in the Labor Party. With both big parties offering no leadership to tackle the climate crisis, more and more people will keep turning to the Greens. We hope all parties heed the signs at this election and greatly improve their climate policies.

Yarra Climate Action Now is proud to have been a part of the Vote Climate campaign in the seat of Melbourne. Our work helped make a difference in this seat and helped the party with the best climate policies win! Well done to everyone involved.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Costs of the climate crisis multiply in lives and dollars

Two excellent articles in today's Age describe the increase in natural disasters caused by global warming, and the economic cost of last year's bushfires.

The calamities are upon us as the world warms

THEY are the extreme weather events that climate scientists have been warning about - the simultaneous catastrophes of flooding in Pakistan, wildfires in Russia and landslides in China.

Many scientists say these events are all unprecedented and that such disasters, taken together, are proof of climate change. They warn that widespread and devastating flooding will become more frequent and could be considered normal by the middle of the century.

Almost 14 million people have been affected by the torrential rains in Pakistan, and more than 1600 have died, making it a greater humanitarian disaster than the south Asian tsunami and recent earthquakes in Kashmir and Haiti combined, the United Nations says.
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In Russia, firefighters and soldiers were battling to stop wildfires from engulfing key nuclear sites while Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took to the air in a water-bombing plane to join the effort. Morgues in Moscow are overflowing as officials estimate 5000 have died in the worst heatwave in 130 years.

To continue reading click here.

Climate change will cost us all

You don't have to be Lord Stern to see how the costs of climate change are already compounding and spiralling, out of control.

Some costs are relatively benign - such as the devaluation of waterfront properties in Byron Bay as sea levels rise - a process starting in earnest whether estate agents like it or not.

Other costs are terrible, such as the conservative $4.4 billion figure put on last year's Black Saturday fires by the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, including insurance claims of $1.2 billion (property and vehicles), $1.1 billion spent by the Victorian Bushfires Reconstruction and Recovery Authority, $658 million in destroyed timber, 173 lives lost worth $645 million according to established formulae (not counting injuries) and about $593 million spent on firefighting (not counting volunteers).

Climate change features minimally in the Commission's final report, handed down a fortnight ago. That is interesting in itself, because when he announced the inquiry the Premier, John Brumby, said everything would be on the table, including climate change.

To continue reading click here.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A new coal plant for Victoria?

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the planet has just come through the warmest decade, the warmest 12 months, the warmest six months, and the warmest April, May, and June on record.

Despite this, and despite releasing a white paper with a 20% emissions reduction target (YCAN will be analysing the white paper in more detail after the Federal Election) John Brumby's Government is still supporting a new coal-fired power station to be built in the Latrobe Valley.

Despite the spin (the company that wants to build the plant, HRL, says that it is clean technology, although it would have the same emissions as a black coal power station) this new power station would increase Victoria's emissions by 3%, thereby cancelling out the State Government's policy of closing 25% of Hazelwood Power Station.

Effectively, instead of replacing one quarter of Hazelwood with renewable energy, Brumby's policy is to replace brown coal with......more coal.

The 600MW HRL plant will receive $150 million of taxpayer money to subsidise its construction if it is to go ahead. It would have 36% less emissions than a conventional brown coal power station, but that is still infinitely more than the zero emissions from baseload solar thermal and wind power - both of which are commercially available now. We would prefer if our money went towards those technologies.

A solar thermal power tower. These are being constructed in the USA and Spain. With heat storage they can replace baseload electricity from coal.

HRL is now working on a plan to submit to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval. If it can slide under the extremely lax emissions standard of 0.8 tonnes of carbon per megawatt hour of energy produced (average globally for rich nations is 0.45, wind and solar are zero), then it is presumed it will get a tick of approval, unless we can stop it politically.

The message just doesn't seem to be getting through to the Labor Party. We have to urgently transition out of coal. Building new coal-fired power plants is insanity. We can go to 100% renewable energy if we wanted to.

If John Brumby and his inner-city ministers that are under threat from the Greens want to be taken seriously on climate change, then this new coal plant must be stopped before the State Election in November.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Vote Climate

Many of us are doing what we can in our homes to cut carbon pollution and save water, and now the government must do its part.

Bush fires, floods, sea-level rises and drought — climate change is already harming us all and will get rapidly worse, unless we take urgent action.

Denial and delay are dangerous and inexcusable.

On Saturday August 21, we urge you to send a message that you want immediate and strong action on climate change.

To make your vote count for a safe climate get informed on the different policies of the parties, and pass this information on to family and friends. Below is a scorecard put together by a coalition of independent community groups, the full analysis is here (click on the scorecard to see it more clearly).

You can also check out a more comprehensive analysis looking at more issues and parties here, or the Australian Youth Climate Coalition scorecard here.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Gillard: moving Australia backwards on climate

Yesterday Julia Gillard announced some of the Labor Party's climate policies.

Debate amongst the YCAN team has centred on whether these are the worst policies ever, or the second worst.

The Labor Party cannot even pretend to care about climate change now. These policies will see Australia's emissions continue to rise rapidly while the impacts of climate change keep worsening.

In summary, the policy announcements are:

1. A green light for new coal-fired power stations and existing ones to keep polluting indefinitely

Twelve new coal-fired power stations on the drawing board around Australia have been given the go-ahead. Any new plants beyond these will be subject to "emissions standards", which will only block brown coal developments, but not black coal.

Further, all new coal plants (the phrase "new coal plants" shouldn't exist in and of itself as we should not be building any) will need to be "carbon capture and storage ready" - something that is completely meaningless.

Existing polluting infrastructure, such as Hazelwood Power Station remain untouched.

2. More inaction and delay

The "citizens assembly", due to report in over 12 months is just an excuse for inaction, when urgent action is desperately needed. Community consensus on climate action has existed for years, and scientific consensus has existed well before that. We want action, not more talk!

3. Money from solar energy to go to buying petrol cars

Money will be taken away from the solar infrastructure program to fund rebates for car owners to purchase a new car if their car is older than 1995.

For further information see the Vote Climate website.

And for further analysis, Bernard Keane from Crikey has expressed it well in his piece:

Citizen Gillard abandons basic leadership on climate change

It's hard to describe just how truly wretched Labor's new climate change policy is. It makes the CPRS, its dog of an emissions trading scheme, look like a model of best practice. It is a spectacular failure of leadership.

Julia Gillard's "citizens' assembly" has effectively outsourced responsibility for climate policy to "ordinary Australians", on whose "skills, capacity, decency and plain common sense" Gillard will rely to tell her about the community consensus on climate change. In effect it institutionalises what is already apparent -- this is a Government controlled by focus group reactions.

Labor has been playing politics with climate change for three years and it hasn't stopped. But whereas for most of that time it used climate change to damage the Coalition, now it is having to defend itself against the issue. It will only be with the political cover afforded by this nonsensical Assembly that the Government will take any action on a carbon price.

Rarely has so much goodwill and political capital been wasted on such an important issue.

The consensus the Government insists it needs the protection of before acting already exists. It's not just in the opinion polls, which show time and time again that the majority of voters want action on climate change and supported the Government's CPRS. In 2007, let's not forget, both sides of politics told Australians they were going to introduce an ETS. The 2007 election endorsed a community consensus on the need for action.

Instead, in 2010, neither party will commit to any sort of carbon price mechanism for at least three years. Instead, they're offering excuses as to why they don't want to take action. We've done anything but move forward on climate action.

Gillard's interim actions are little better. The new emissions standard she proposes won't even apply to four coal-fired power stations being built or brought back on line currently. They may not apply to two more, the massive Mt Piper and Bayswater projects in NSW, which will together add 4% to national CO2-equivalent emissions when they come on line. Holding the baseline for the CPRS at 2008 levels won't give electricity generators any more investment certainty when it remains unclear whether there will ever be an emissions trading scheme in Australia. Nor does it change the simple fact that State Governments continue to drive Australia into a coal-fired future.

Labor's craven pandering to key outer-suburban electorates in its population and asylum seeker policies was bad enough. But abdicating executive responsibility for action on climate change is a new low in cynical politics, beyond the depths even reached by NSW Labor. Politicians are elected to lead. Deferring every controversial issue back to the electorate is a clumsy variant of leadership by polling and focus groups.

So blatant is Labor's refusal to lead that it raises serious questions about its fitness for government. The only problem is that the alternative is an economically-illiterate party whose leader doesn't believe in climate change at all, but who insists on wasting $3b on the most expensive possible means of addressing it.

What a choice, two major parties incapable of leadership and unfit to govern.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

YCAN Event: 100% renewable energy for Australia: What are we waiting for?

As heard on Radio National and seen on ABC News Breakfast...

Come along to hear Beyond Zero Emissions present their detailed blueprint for how Australia can be powered by 100% renewable energy within a decade. The Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Plan is essential knowledge for all Australians.

When: Wed 28 July, 6.30pm - 8pm
Where: Level 2, Kindness House, 288 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Please RSVP to: yarracan -at-

...and bring $5 if you want to go in on some pizza

Monday, July 19, 2010

Federal Election Called - help make climate the key issue‏

The election has been called and the circus begins.

Amongst the sea of spin and annoying catch phrases, it can be hard to find some substance - and sometimes, the best thing to do is to create it!

We need you to help with the Vote Climate campaign.

YCAN, together with several other local community groups will be running the Vote Climate campaign for the next five weeks.

This will be a non-partisan campaign, which aims to educate the public on the different climate policies of the three main parties.

We want to inform voters and encourage them to vote for action on climate change. With your help we can ensure that the climate crisis stays on the election agenda.

Can you help? We need volunteers to letterbox, attend stalls and attend pre-poll and polling day booths.

If you are interested in helping out then please fill out the web form here.

To donate to the Vote Climate campaign and fund the printing of the Vote Climate leaflets, you can direct transfer to the following account:
Account Name: Yarra Climate Action Now
BSB: 803 140
Account No. 23196790

Don't let the polluters, deniers and delayers bury climate change in this election - sign up to volunteer for Vote Climate.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Zero Carbon Australia Plan available - 100% renewables can be a reality

The Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Stationary Energy Plan was launched to a packed out auditorium at the University of Melbourne on Wednesday.

To download the full Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan click here (8.4MB).

Hard copies can be purchased from the Melbourne Energy Institute.

Don't miss out on this cutting-edge research, which shows how Australia can reach 100% renewable energy within a decade, using technology that is commercially available right now.

Great news for all Australians!

See media coverage on ABC Radio National PM and ABC2 News Breakfast.

YCAN is pleased to be hosting a presentation on the Zero Carbon Plan by Beyond Zero Emissions - come along to see how 100% renewable energy is possible!

Wednesday 28 July
Kindness House, Level 2, 288 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

RSVP to Yarracan -at-

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Replacing 25% of Hazelwood is greenwash

Big news on the front page of The Age today, with the Brumby Government considering replacing one quarter of Hazelwood Power Station, Australia's most polluting, with a mixture of fossil fuel gas, energy efficiency and renewable energy by 2014. Our campaign is succeeding in getting this issue on the agenda!

However, this current plan is nothing but a hollow attempt to appease the growing community concern over the support the Brumby and Gillard governments are giving to the coal industry and the increasing emissions from the Victorian coal sector, which are worsening the climate crisis. It is rumoured that one of the eight generator units at Hazelwood is broken down anyway, in which case only one unit would actually be replaced.

While the Brumby Government has finally recognised the problem, i.e. our reliance on dirty brown coal for energy, they have yet to come up with a real solution.

Allowing 75% of Hazelwood to continue to pollute indefinitely is not a solution. Replacing one polluting fossil fuel (coal), with another (gas) is also not a solution. The whole thing needs to be replaced with clean renewable energy and energy efficiency as part of a complete phased transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Hazelwood Power Station - John Brumby wants to allow 75% of this pollution to continue

This transition is possible with existing technology, and is affordable too - as long as the big polluter corporations aren't allowed to rort taxpayers by getting massive "compensation" payouts as coal-fired power stations are replaced. We hope the Brumby and Gillard governments are able to do the right thing and spend money on compensation and training for laid-off workers, rather than wealthy shareholders, and on price support policies for renewable energy technologies.

So well done to all the people that have been writing letters, doorknocking, leafletting and spreading the word on the Replace Hazelwood campaign. We have gotten it on the political agenda in a big way! We need to keep going, making it clear that we won't accept anything but the replacement of Hazelwood with clean, renewable energy.