Not good enough!
Three hundred people representing over 100 community climate action groups around Australia voiced their frustration over the failure of Australian governments to develop effective climate policy at the National Community Climate Action Summit in Melbourne in April 2011. They called for far more ambitious emission reduction targets and policies that will deliver large and escalating emissions reductions to achieve zero net emissions in the shortest possible timeframe.
Participants declared the current proposals being developed by the federal government‟s Multi Party Climate Change Committee for an interim carbon tax and subsequent emissions trading scheme as inadequate. They called for a comprehensive national climate policy framework that will deliver emissions reductions consistent with the science of climate change to avoid catastrophic irreversible global warming, as is predicted by experts if urgent emissions reductions do not occur.
This Communiqué was prepared using reports from each of the session at the Summit third national Climate Action Summit: From the Ground Up where community climate activists, concerned citizens, academics, professionals and young people met in Melbourne for two days in April 2011. The Communiqué was circulated to participants and then released with endorsements from climate action groups and individuals across Australia – see Appendix A.
Participants at the Summit heard from experts and peers about:
- the latest climate science including the role of black carbon, methane and other short lived greenhouse gases as significant climate forcing agents
- the opportunities provided by zero emissions technologies in energy, transport and buildings, and in sustainable agriculture and land use
- the risks posed by fossils fuels
- strategies for effective climate action, such as the creation of a “10 Steps for a Safe Climate” National Action Plan
- strategies for effective community engagement climate campaigning and communications
- the importance of engaging with local government
- the role of unions, faith groups and civil society in climate advocacy
- the under recognised role of women in the climate movement
- the links between population, addiction to growth and climate
- international climate action and negotiations and
- the strong links between forests and climate; and climate and forests.
The Summit Communiqué
The Summit participants agreed that:
- Recent extreme weather events demonstrate that climate change is happening much faster that has been predicted, and is happening now.
- Current climate policy options in Australia are inadequate and need to be brought into line with the speed and scale of changes demanded by the science of climate change.
- Too little is being done by Australian governments to raise awareness about the extreme immediate as well as future dangers posed to the Australian and global community by climate change. Governments that fail to do so are failing in their responsibility to protect their citizens from harm.
- The Australian community should be provided with information that articulates the climate emergency along with clear information about the positive practical steps necessary for transitioning to a sustainable safe climate future.
The Summit participants called on:
- the Australian Government to commit to developing climate policies that are consistent with the science of climate change, putting in place mechanisms that ensure a rapid transition to a zero emissions economy, protecting and restoring our carbon sinks and beginning work to draw down Australia‟s share of excess CO2 in the atmosphere
- all Australian governments to work together to develop integrated, complementary and effective climate policies
- all Australians to reject the denial of climate change science being promoted by media shock jocks, conservative politicians, those with vested interests and fraudulent “experts”
The key asks:
The participants of the 2011 Climate Action Summit called on the Australian Government to:
- develop and implement a comprehensive national climate policy framework that includes a national plan for transitioning to a zero emissions economy, with substantial reductions in energy use
- make polluters responsible by ceasing subsidies for fossils fuels use immediately, and not compensating polluting industries
- redirect subsidies from animal agriculture to sustainable plant-based farming and to just transition programs for affected workers and communities
- provide generous support providing a just transition for affected workers and communities via income redistribution and/or direct assistance, or other measures
- place a much greater focus on so-called “complementary” measures
Summit participants do not support measures that put an unfair cost burden on the poor and working people.
Summit participants agreed a carbon price would be a useful measure but it was not supported if it resulted in: the roll out of fossil fuels, particularly gas; or put the cost burden on the poor and working.
Also, a carbon price alone will be insufficient to deliver 100% renewable energy and poses a risk that gas power stations will be built that will become stranded assets, with owners that demand compensation and oppose the transition to renewables.
A range of complementary measures and a regulatory framework are required including:
- mandatory feed in tariffs for all scales of renewable energy
- direct public investment in renewable energy and public transport
- loan guarantees
- energy efficiency standards, including for fossil fuel power generation
- vehicle performance standards
- renewable energy targets, excluding use of material from native forests as biofuels
- initiatives to support a shift to zero emissions buildings and zero emissions transport
- initiatives to reduce emissions from land use and food production
- initiatives to encourage biosequestration
- mechanisms to prevent building of large scale coal or gas power infrastructure and coal or gas mining
Summit participants oppose any move towards an emissions trading scheme if it:
- locks in low targets
- creates property rights to pollute
- results in the purchase of overseas “offsets” and/or
- hinders rapid reductions in emissions within Australia
The participants of the 2011 Climate Action Summit agreed that:
- The failure of the current federal Opposition to develop evidence based and credible alternative climate policies is unacceptable.
- There is a need to build a people‟s power climate movement via community organizing, building of alliances and mass mobilization.
- The climate movement must combat one of the largest and most powerful disinformation campaigns in human history.
- Safe forests are both an important tool for drawing down atmospheric C02 to mitigate climate change and vulnerable to unmitigated climate change.
Other outcomes of the summit:
Building renewable energy: we call for
- a plan to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2020
- commitments for major investment in large-scale renewable energy projects
- consideration of the social and economic dimensions of distributed energy generation systems in rural, remote and urban areas
Sustainable communities: we call for
- a framework for planning laws that will lead to sustainable development
- support for communities to become resilient, self reliant, and interconnected through relocalisation
- settlement patterns that reduce the need for travel
- transitional assistance to communities to shift to carbon neutrality
- all Australian local councils to develop and implement zero carbon plans for their communities
- climate action groups to work closely with their local governments – equally as important as state and federal issues
Sustainable transport: we call for
- policies that prioritise and incentivise the use of public and zero emissions transport
- the development of high speed rail to replace domestic air travel, and switching to rail to replace long haul road freight
- the development of tourism industries that create sustainable regional economies and do not rely on unsustainable air travel
Sustainable agriculture, forestry and land use: we call for
- measures to address the role of food choices (particularly animal products) in emissions of short-term climate forcers such as methane and black carbon, and long-term forcers such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide and to encourage local food production and sustainable consumption for healthier and lower emissions diets
- initiatives to encourage reduction of animal products to reduce emissions and facilitate environmental adaptive capacity
- establishment of carbon accounting and pricing measures that include agriculture and emissions from logging native forests and recognise the biosequestration potential of altered land use, reafforestation, and existing carbon stores
- recognition of the links between land clearing/deforestation and choices made by consumers with particular focus on animal-based food products
- protection of the carbon stored in native forests and natural ecosystems and restoration of degraded ecosystems so they can grow and recover to their full age and carbon carrying capacity
- establishment of a green carbon fund (from funds raised by carbon pricing) that will help pay for the protection and restoration of Australia‟s native forests and natural ecosystems.
- a commitment to ruling out obtaining bioenergy, biochar and biofuels from native forests and other natural ecosystems.
Water security: we call for
- strategies to deliver water security, recognising the need to share water according to the best available evidence
- the delivery of 7600 GL to the Murray Darling for environmental flows
- strong regulation of water to prevent corporatization of Australia‟s water assets
- legislation to value and conserve water now and into the future
- support for irrigators and communities to transition as we move towards more equitable and effective water use
Sustainable consumption, growth and population: we call for
- greater consideration of the relationship of our economic system and social infrastructure to sustainability in Australia and act accordingly
- review of the viability of economic growth, consumption growth and population growth in the context of sustainability and well-being, and consideration of alternative measures to GDP, including measuring social aspects such as human development and wellbeing indexes
- development and implementation of mandatory waste and resource recovery standards
Climate justice: we call for
- a commitment to climate justice and climate literacy
- innovative climate financing mechanisms for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries, especially small island states in our region
- recognition of an obligation to assist adaptation and mitigation in developing countries, in addition to emissions reductions in Australia and in addition to the foreign aid budget
- increased funding for adaptation and mitigation in small island states
Rejection of nuclear power: we
- reject nuclear power as an energy option because of its unacceptable risks and because of the availability of a vast array of renewable energy options and energy efficiency and conservation measures
- call for a phase out of uranium exports
- support communities across Australia fighting the imposition of nuclear projects.
Community engagement: we call for
- initiatives to improve community understanding of climate change
- an acknowledgment that it is important to target communities of interest in order to engage specific groups on climate change
- the use of creative means of communication informed by psychology
- strategies to promote public mass mobilisation that draw in all the layers of our society eg. churches, environmentalists, labour, unions, green groups
Summit participants also expressed their support for important climate campaign initiatives including:
- campaigns for a moratorium on new coal and new gas
- the Lock the Gate campaign (LTG) including support for:
- landowners to lock their gates against coal and CSG mining companies
- a moratorium on CSG until all social and environmental issues are properly evaluated
- a Royal Commission into coal seam gas
- a ban on coal seam fracking
- support for LTG to facilitate communication and resource sharing on CSG
- a national day of action to support the LTG Tara blockade
- forest protection initiatives such as “Ethical Paper”
- rallies and vigils marking the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl Disaster on April the 26th
- networking with Pacific climate action groups
- the Union Climate Action Network model motion support the BZE Plan
- called on environmental NGOs to oppose gas as a transition fuel
- supported strategic non-violent direct action on fossil fuels
- called for dialogue with Landcare groups to bridge the rural-city divide
- called for a national “March for Survival” at the end of summer to demand climate action in response to extreme weather events
- committed to transforming climate movement culture to better recognise and support the work and leadership of women.
Summit participants called on the rest of the Australian climate action movement to support this Communiqué, and to campaign on the issues it raises, and urged the climate movement to consider including support for these initiatives in their climate advocacy agendas.
Appendix A: Endorsements
As received at May 22. If you or your group missed the deadline to add your endorsement, we can publish an updated list later; email us at email@example.com
A GRAND STAND for the Environment, Inc.
Bayside Climate Action Group
Brimbank Climate Action Network
Brimbank Climate Action Network
Climate Action Hobart
Climate Action Now! Wingecarribee
Dandenong Ranges Renewable Energy Association Inc
Darebin Climate Action Now (DCAN)
Environmentally Concerned Citizens of Orange
Geelong Youth For Climate Action
Healesville Environment Watch Inc
Mount Alexander Sustainability Group
Orange Climate Action Now
Social Justice Group of the Banyule Network of Uniting Churches
Sustainability in Stonnington
The Wilderness Society Victoria
Tweed Climate Action Now
West for Climate Action Now
WiserEarth Australia Network
Angelo Indovino, LIVE
Aron Micallef, Socialist Alliance
Ben Courtice, Climate Emergency Network
Brian Phillips, Orange Climate Action Group
Dave Kerin, Eureka’s Future (Communique errata: Dave Kerin asks that supporters of the Communiqué actively help their public campaign to build the Eureka’s Future Workers Cooperative which will manufacture solar hot water systems in Morwell, as part of a Just Transition)
Dr Kerry Wardlaw
Dr Kerry Wardlaw
Fiona Armstrong, Climate and Health Alliance
Gary Ryan, International Volunteers for Peace (IVP) & People for a Safe Climate (P4SC)
Jana Gerovska, BZE
John Hermans, Gippsland Environment Group (GEG)
Kerry Echberg, YCAN
Lorraine Leach, C4, Healesville
Mary Stringer, A GRAND STAND for the Environment, Inc.
Shaun Pollington, Climate Action Newcastle
Sue Plowright, LIVE
Vivien Clerc Langford
Vivienne Benton, The Australian Living Earth Centre
Yasir Assam, Tweed Climate Action Now