All electric house copyThe announcement of an El Nino climate pattern a few months ago confirmed this summer will be hotter than the last three, with increased risk of drought and bushfires. More territory has already been burnt in fires now raging in Queensland and NSW, than in the Black Summer fires of 2018/19. And we know the worst is yet to come. Australians, especially regional Australians and our fire-fighters, are going to be tested like never before. 

That’s the sobering reality but given it seems there’s not much we can do about it, many of us just default to business as usual. Don’t. While we can’t stop what’s heading at us this summer, there’s still time to mitigate the frequency and intensity of future extreme weather events – floods and bushfires – if we take action now to reduce emissions to halt runaway climate change.

What’s more such action will also save you money.  [Illustration by ReWiring Australia}

Last year Ballarat Council endorsed a community-wide Ballarat Zero Emissions Plan to help meet the City’s ambitious net zero by 2030 target.  With electricity and gas prices going through the roof, there are considerable cost benefits in going solar and getting off gas. And, as the amount of renewable energy feeding into the National Electricity Grid grows – expected to be 82% by 2030 – just drawing mains power is far better than using gas. 

We’re very ‘gassified,’ in Victoria with 80% of homes connected. But with State government determination to meet our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions target, signalled by the ban on gas connections in new builds in Victoria by 1 January 2024, we do need to begin planning now for this transition. Home electrification can make a significant reduction in national GHG emissions, particularly as we ‘green the grid.’

The ‘electrify everything’ movement, backed by significant government incentives, makes financial sense on a number of fronts. New energy-efficient electric appliances like hot water heat pumps and induction cooktops use considerably less power than old gas hot water systems or cooktops – or even old electric ones.  If you are on solar, setting your heat pump to heat during daylight hours is another easy win. It’s estimated that going all electric can save consumers up to 60% off their power bills. In her recent announcement that the State Electricity Commissions (SEC) will offer a one-stop shop for home electrification, Victorian Premier, Jacinta Allan said: “We know that too many people have been put off electrifying their home because of the complexity and the cost.’ The SEC’s mission to ‘streamline’ this process also underlies other Council sponsored electrification programs across the state. 

A movement is underway but we need to accelerate it to make the difference we need. Engineer, Tim Forcey, the brains behind an electrification Facebook site with 106,000 members, wrote recently: “I started My Efficient Electric Home (MEEH) to spread the word about how people could save money by heating their homes with reverse cycle airconditioners … Watching what is posted we have evidence now that thousands and thousands of households have made good progress reducing their gas use.”

Even partial electrification, installing one or two reverse-cycle air-conditioning units to reduce your gas space-heating, is better than doing nothing at all and will still save you money, and also help keep your home cooler in summer. 

Change can of course, be challenging. However, home electrification should be seen as an opportunity. Getting off gas is something we must all plan for over the next few years. Pathways will vary according to obstacles encountered and how these are overcome. Fortunately, there is excellent information online for those who look for it – the State agency Sustainability Victoria is one of those worth visiting. 

Some myth-busting is also needed here. Ballarat is not too cold for hot water heat pumps, which are good for temperatures down to -10C. Replacing utilities isn’t cheap, of course, which is why forward planning is everything.  When old gas appliances die it’s important to be ready to electrify. Don’t be persuaded to just replace them with new gas ones. The hard truth is that current government rebates won’t last forever and reluctant adopters will pay a premium if they wait too long to transition. 

New solar system sizes this year are trending above 10KW, as householders go all-electric including transitioning to EVs – a ‘win win’ for the consumer and the environment. In Ballarat our domestic rooftop solar take-up languishes at a lamentable 17.2%, well below the national average of 30%. That seems likely to change as the cost benefits of generating your own electricity increase with retail rate rises.

Heat waves in the Arctic, wild fires across Europe, record Antarctic sea-ice melts, all tell us climate change is here and we need to make changes – for personal comfort and affordability but also for the environment and future generations. We each have a role to play as individual householders in a community, a state and a nation. The faster we collectively make these changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate anthropogenic climate change, the better chance we have of averting its most catastrophic consequences. In so far as we have a climate action policy, this is it – electrify everything. Let's do it!

Mary Debrett  18/11/2023
President, BREAZE Inc.

400505954 24343544031925583 3170864469430253288 nWhich is better - gas or induction?Come along to SLB November to find out!
 
Wednesday November 22nd 12:30-1:30pm
 
Barkly Square kitchen, next to Tegan Crosbie's Workshoppery 25-39 Barkly St, Ballarat East

For years we've heard (from the gas industry!) that gas stovetops are the best option - quicker, cheaper, more precise.But are they?

Come along to this demo and see for yourself!Hear about the dangers of cooking with gas and how and why you should consider switching to an induction cooktop.This session will be focused on cheap and accessible plug-in induction cooktops.Renter and budget friendly!This is a free session, all welcome but due to capacity limits of the kitchen you must register for a free ticket here.

This session will complement Green Drinks this month, where Sue Broadway and Ian Rossiter will be speaking about built-in induction cooktops and the science behind how induction works.

Smart Living Ballarat is a free monthly workshop, hosted by Ellen Burns and sponsored by the City of Ballarat and BREAZE.Join us on the 4th Wednesday of every month to learn how to save money and live more sustainably.

Warm regards
Ellen Burns

MD 2023It’s hard to comprehend how we got here, with less than seven years from the 2030 cut-off for setting the trajectory to halt runaway climate change, and Australia still approving coal mines, subsidising fossil fuels and exporting coal. Not healthy for humans, the environment or any life-form on the planet. As a wholly volunteer-run not-for-profit, BREAZE Inc. work continues to be firmly grounded in the region, our focus on grass roots activities – think global, act local – aligned with others elsewhere who are doing this too.

The City of Ballarat’s endorsement of the community-wide Ballarat Net Zero Emissions (BZE) 2030 Plan in October 2022 gave BREAZE a welcome new platform for advocacy and community engagement. The target is ambitious, which is good, and the Plan outlines five broad community outcomes with fifty specific actions. The BREAZE Board began this year with a January planning meeting at which we agreed to make the implementation of the BZE Plan our key goal for the year. 

In 2023 we also continued our various ongoing activities: monthly chats on Radio 3BA with Ballarat Today host, Brett MacDonald. Topics covered included the problems in communicating climate change in the media, green investments, CoP28 in the UAE, household electrification programs and more. We thank 3BA for this opportunity to reach the wider community and for confirming our fourth Friday of the month slot in 2024. Both our free monthly talks programs were also ongoing throughout 2023 and returned to in-person mode: Smart Living Ballarat, hosted by Ellen Burns and funded by the City of Ballarat on every fourth Wednesday of the month, and Ballarat Green Drinks, now being held every third Thursday of month at the Bunch of Grapes Hotel in Pleasant St South. We also continued our Social Solar program, undertaking project management of the installation of 58kW of rooftop solar across five properties owned by Woodbine Inc. a Warracknabeal NDIS provider, co-funded via a Victorian government New Energy Jobs Fund, Round 6 grant from late 2022. And the final output of the Grampians Community Power Hub (G-CPH), the BREAZE Regional Guide to Community Energy, was delivered, produced by our G-CPH partner Hepburn Energy in consultation with BREAZE. It’s worth checking out online if you haven’t already done so.

Read more: President's 2023 Report

November is Induction Cooking month. Ian Rossiter will go through the details of what you need to consider if upgrading to Induction Cooking. Are Induction cooktops cheaper to run and why swap from gas? Sue Broadway will talk about using the cooktop. Is it safer, what is it like to cook on Induction, are they easy to clean?
If your current cooktop is nearing the end of its lifespan, consider swapping to Induction.
 
Book for your spot at November Green Drinks,
16/11 at Bunch of Grapes Hotel, Pleasant Street, Ballarat.
 
 
 
 
Induction Cooking


BREAZE logoThanks to all who came to the 2023 BREAZe Inc. AGM on 20 November.

Congratulations to the new 2023-24 BREAZE Board elected at our AGM at the Royal Mail Hotel, Sebastopol.

• President: Campbell Mercer
• Vice President: Sally Missing
• Treasurer: Vandna Chawla
Secretary: Pete Morison
 
Ordinary Board Members: Sue Broadway, Lydia Mzondo, Cathy Oakley, Sue Nunn, Mary Debrett, Vany Gunaratnam, Simon Reid.
 
The Board is looking forward to another year of working with the Ballarat community, driving our Ballarat Zero Emissions (BZE) 2030 target. Want to help? Get in touch.

 You can Read the President's 2023 Report here.

 

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2023 10 09 at 2.22.27 pm

Stephanie Davison has worked in science education and outreach in schools and university, volunteers with the CoB Indigenous Plant Nursery, is an active member of the Wattle Flat Pootilla Landcare Group and a founding member of Gardens for Wildlife Ballarat. Her talk is based on the practical experience of growing and observing indigenous plants in gardens and natural landscapes in and around Ballarat.

Venue: FedTAFE Horticulture Campus, Corner Gillies and Gregory Streets, Wendouree.
Enter via the front door facing onto the Gillies Street carpark.
Free Parking: Off-street carpark on the corner Gillies and Gregory Streets. Carpark entry is via Gregory Street very close to the intersection. If the carpark is full, use on-street parking in Gregory Street and then walk to the main campus entry via the carpark facing Gillies Street.

Optional Nursery and Gardens Tour (max. 1.5 hours): If your time permits, join us after the talk for a visit to the neighbouring City of Ballarat Indigenous Plant Nursery. We will then carpool to view the indigenous garden bed at Ballarat Botanical Gardens and return to Gillies Street to continue our afternoon explorations with a guided walk through the mature indigenous plantings at North Gardens Wetland. Come along for any or all of the tour.

The presentation will also be streamed live to Facebook and posted for later viewing on the Smart Living Ballarat Facebook page. No need to register, everyone welcome.

Smart Living Ballarat is a free monthly workshop series looking at all different topics around sustainable living. It is made possible through a partnership between BREAZE and the City of Ballarat.

Join your host, Ellen Burns, on the 3rd Wednesday of every month!

MD 2023

CLIMATE IN THE NEWS

Last week, ‘Gobsmackingly bananas,’ an article by The Guardian’s Environment Editor, Damian Carrington, documented continuing record-breaking temperatures across the planet. Quoting a tweet by climate scientist, Zeke Hausfather, the article made the following grim observations:

Conditions have now rebounded to an El Niño event, which releases ocean heat and drives up temperatures. It’s all but certain that 2023 will be the hottest on record and 2024 may even exceed that, as the heating impact of El Niño is felt most in the year after it begins.

In ‘Meet the Hustlers’  in this week’s The Saturday Paper, Polly Hemming, Director of the Australia Institute Climate and Energy Program, provides a chilling analysis of how Australia’s representatives continue to game international climate talks. Noting that we’re apparently very good at it, she observes ‘Australia gives more aid to the fossil fuel industry than it does to the Pacific region’–  the nations arguably most at risk from climate change, as global warming dirves rising sea levels.

In The Conversation, 2 October, Judith Brett’s Too hard basket: Why climate change is defeating our political system,’ is the first in a series on climate change and the energy transition. This is a terrific, succinct overview of recent local developments, from the Intergenerational Report to the climate and security analysis ordered by the Albanese Government from the Office of National Assessments (ONI) and delivered in 2022 – but yet to be released – and various commentary and analysis on government obfuscation/inaction.

The final paragraph no doubt speaks for many of us:

As governments around the world, not just ours, are failing to reduce carbon emissions fast enough to prevent catastrophic climate change, we still have to live from day to day, week to week and year to year. 
I don’t want to live in dread of a dystopian future, or consumed with anger at go-slow governments, or in a state of depressed apathy because of my powerlessness, so I go about my generally enjoyable life accompanied by the drone of doom in the pit of my stomach.

Meanwhile, as reported by Giles Parkinson in Renew Economy on 9 October,  the clever team at the Clean Energy Council (CEC) have been warning that Australia will miss the 100% renewables grid 2035 target unless we ramp up development with better policies soon. The CEC has produced The Power Playbook, which calls for :

A Clean Energy Transformation Investment Package of around $10 billion over the next decade to boost Australia’s Australia’s international competitiveness.
It also calls for a “Renewable Energy Superpower Masterplan”, including extending the large scale renewable energy target from 2030 to 2040, including new national targets for rooftop solar and distributed energy storage, a national offshore wind target and support for home batteries and green hydrogen and green minerals.

The CEC warns there is a ‘global race for capital and supply chains’ and missing out is on the cards if we can’t match what other nations are investing. It’s a call that resonates with this month’s Ballarat Green Drinks talk – see below. 

MONTHLY MEMBER/SUBSCRIBER EVENTS

19 October: Ballarat Green Drinks – every third Thursday of the month
Tom Quinn: ‘The Clean Energy Transition, the IRA and How Australia Should Respond.’Tom Quinn FB post

Ballarat local, Tom Quinn who is also former Head of Policy and Research at climate think tank, Beyond Zero Emissions will be talking about the clean energy transition this month at Bunch of Grapes Hotel from 7-8pm.

Tom is currently leading combined work to secure a $100 billion Australian response to the US Inflation Reduction Act (2022).
This is a remarkable joint effort by the unions, environmental and business sectors to establish a significant program to decarbonise industry, establish a massive green commodity export industry and in the process aim to cut global emissions by 6-9% (more than Australia's 1% direct contribution). You can read more about this in this article in The Guardian

With the window for action on runaway climate change rapidly shrinking, we know we have to accelerate the clean energy transition. Dumping fossil fuels is our most immediately effective action to stabilise climate. Don't miss this very timely talk. Tom is a great speaker and eminently qualified on this topic. 

6:30-8:00pm, Bunch of Grapes Hotel, 401 Pleasant St, South, Ballarat 
Join us for drinks/dinner and great talks and conversation.  
 

To read more about Tom - https://www.linkedin.com/in/tomdquinn/.  Register via Trybooking.com/CEXYC

25 October: Smart Living Ballarat - Fourth Wednesday of the month

12:30-1:30 pm – Getting to know your native plants – Stephanie DavisonScreen Shot 2023 10 09 at 2.22.27 pm

The forests, grasslands and wetlands around Ballarat are home to many beautiful and important indigenous plants. Discover what makes Australian plant life unique and precious; get to know some local treasures and favourite places for wildflower walks; find out about the growing number of local community groups promoting native flora and fauna; and consider how and why you might grow indigenous trees, shrubs and groundcovers in your patch.

Stephanie Davison has worked in science education and outreach in schools and university, volunteers with the CoB Indigenous Plant Nursery, is an active member of the Wattle Flat Pootilla Landcare Group and a founding member of Gardens for Wildlife Ballarat. Her talk is based on the practical experience of growing and observing indigenous plants in gardens and natural landscapes in and around Ballarat.

Venue: FedTAFE Horticulture Campus, Corner Gillies and Gregory Streets, Wendouree.
Enter via the front door facing onto the Gillies Street carpark.
Free Parking: Off-street carpark on the corner Gillies and Gregory Streets. Carpark entry is via Gregory Street very close to the intersection. If the carpark is full, use on-street parking in Gregory Street and then walk to the main campus entry via the carpark facing Gillies Street.

Optional Nursery and Gardens Tour (max. 1.5 hours): If your time permits, join us after the talk for a visit to the neighbouring City of Ballarat Indigenous Plant Nursery. We will then carpool to view the
indigenous garden bed at Ballarat Botanical Gardens and return to Gillies Street to continue our afternoon explorations with a guided walk through the mature indigenous plantings at North Gardens Wetland. Come along for any or all of the tour.

As always, the presentation will also be streamed live to Facebook and posted for later viewing on the Smart Living Ballarat Facebook page. It's not the same experience as being there live though, so get along in person if you can!

No need to register, everyone welcome. Smart Living Ballarat is a free monthly workshop series looking at all different topics around sustainable living. It is made possible through a partnership between BREAZE and the City of Ballarat.  Join your host, Ellen Burns, on the 3rd Wednesday of every month!

27 October, 10:15am - BREAZE TALKS ON RADIO 3BA Screen Shot 2023 10 09 at 2.54.15 pm


BREAZE Board member, Sue Broadway, will be talking about induction cooktops with Brett McDonald on Ballarat Today – don’t forget to tune in!


Sue has done quite a bit of research on the topic and is hosting our final Green Drinks talk for 2023 on 16 November, when former BREAZE President, Ian Rossiter will be giving a user’s perspective and what to look for when purchasing an induction cooktop. 

BOARD MATTERS

BREAZE Board member, Sally Missing, Coordinator of the Building Better Homes for the Future forums made a submission on behalf of BREAZE to the City of Ballarat’s Housing Policy, currently in review. The submission will be available on the BREAZE website when it is back online. A major system crash of our website platform, Joomla, in Texas, has left our site offline since early October. We apologise for the inconvenience and hope to have it back up soon.

BREAZE Inc. was recently invited by Re-Wiring Australia to be Expert Community Partner in their Electrify My Community program. We look forward to working with other communities and sharing experiences and resources with Re-Wiring Australia – the organisation founded by engineer and entrepreneur, Saul Griffiths, author of The Big Switch plus many other achievements.

BREAZE Inc. Board meetings are held on the third Monday of the month and alternate between Zoom and face to face meetings over dinner at the Royal Mail Hotel in Sebastopol. If you are a paid up member of BREAZE Inc. you are welcome to join us. If you would like to volunteer with us we would love to hear from you. Please email and I will forward you link/details. 

Mary

Dr Mary Debrett
President, October 2023

 
Tom Quinn FB post
 
 
At October Ballarat Green Drinks, local renewable energy consultant Tom Quinn, former Head of Policy and Research at climate think tank, Beyond Zero Emissions, gave the audience his insider's view on a multi-partner lobbying group endeavouring to boost the nation's chances of reaching clean energy super power status. Tom is currently leading combined work to secure a $100 billion Australian response to the US Inflation Reduction Act. Read about it in this article in The Guardian.  
 
This remarkable joint effort by the unions, and the environmental and business sectors, to establish a significant program to decarbonise industry, establish a massive green commodity export industry and in the process aim to cut global emissions by 6-9% (more than Australia's 1% direct contribution), began in July. Tom's talk was a whirlwind tour through the hopes and possibilities of his work in navigating the corridors of power, nudging politicians to move, on what looks like Australia's only chance for prosperity in the tumultuous period ahead, as the rest of the world transitions to clean energy and green steel and our export markets dwindle.

You can download Tom's presentation here.
 

You can read more about Tom here - https://www.linkedin.com/in/tomdquinn/

 

 

 MD 2023Climate in the News this month

Last week the Australia Institute’s Climate of the Nation Report was released– it’s Australia’s longest continuous survey of community attitudes to climate change and certainly didn’t get the coverage it deserves, so worth a look.

This latest report on public attitudes to climate change and climate action indicates widespread ongoing confusion and ignorance, even as the devastating effects of climate change are hammered home around the world on a daily basis. Read the Report here

"In 2023, Climate of the Nation asked for the first time about Australians’ concerns regarding the impact of climate change on the cost of living. Three in four (75%) say they are concerned about more expensive insurance premiums, and the same proportion (75%) are concerned about disruptions to supply chains making it harder to buy necessities.

The top three climate impacts of concern are more droughts and flooding affecting crop production and food supply (80%), more bushfires (79%) and the extinction of animal and plant species (79%).

Australians oppose new gas, coal and oil projects and fossil fuel subsidies"

Just two lines down the summary also notes: ‘56% of Australians know that opening new coal, gas and oil projects will make it harder for Australia to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030’ – which indicates that 44% of Australians do not yet realise this.

Read more: President's September Report