President's Report June 2020

The pastPhoto on 19 1 20 at 2.20 pm 2 month has been a good one for BREAZE. The announcement of the state government’s injection of $450,000 into rooftop solar for not-for-profit enterprises across Ballarat was very much welcomed. These funds, along with another $650,000 for solar on the EGHS hospital carpark at Ararat, have meant that various projects the BREAZE-hosted Ballarat Community Power Hub had already identified and assessed as ready to go pending funding, can now be implemented. Great to see money going where it is needed, reducing emissions and serving social justice. For further details on the projects see Juliana Addison’s media release. As a job creation initiative to help the COVID recovery, project timelines will be accelerated, with a December deadline for all of them. It means the members of the CPH Project Control Group—Jane Lean, Peter Reid, Ian Rossiter and Ross Irving from Sustainability Victoria—who have already put in countless hours of volunteer labour, nurturing these projects, will be overseeing their completion. On behalf of the BREAZE community the board thanks them for their generous commitment to the cause—social justice and zero emissions. We will be releasing more information about these projects as each progresses over the next few months. 

On 30 May BREAZE board published an Open Letter in The Courier. Signed by six leading figures from across different sectors of the Ballarat community, the board took this initiative with the objective of shifting the conversation on climate action away from the overtly political lines that have dominated in Australia to date. We thank those who signed the letter for their courage and commitment in taking this public stance. With media coverage of COVID-19 turning to talk of a renewables-led recovery and with the commencement of the Bushfires Royal Commission bringing further focus to climate change, it seemed an opportune time for publication of the Letter. The Courier also carried an article by Rochelle Kirkham on the thinking behind it, which is posted on the BREAZE Facebook page. 

On the policy front, last month saw the release of the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reductions Technology Investment Roadmap Discussion paper: A framework to accelerate low emissions technologies. While the discussion paper lists 140 low emissions technologies and makes many acknowledgements of the important role that renewables is set to play in the nation’s future the role already highlighted for gas remains problematic, particularly due to fugitive emissions. Writing in Renew Economy (2/6/20), Michael Mazengarb cites a CSIRO study that found fugitive emissions of methane of only 3% of gas extracted would erase any benefits of gas was deemed to offer as a transition fuel from coal. The discussion paper also fails to acknowledge the need to set a target of zero emissions by 2050. BREAZE will be making a submission.

Our May e-newsletter included details of four recently established Action Groups – Advocacy, Community Forum, Sustainable Living and Social Solar - that offer BREAZE members opportunities to get involved in BREAZE activities. These groups will continue the work BREAZE has been doing since its inception in providing community information and education, advocating for and delivering renewable energy projects along with initiating opportunities for community climate action. Each of the Action Groups has a BREAZE Board member as contact person. Please forward any questions, ideas or thoughts you have about what each should be doing, to that person. In coming months we will be providing more information about meeting times (most likely via Zoom) and planned activities for these groups.

May also saw the release of the Grampians Roadmap to Net Zero Emissions (GNet). The document can be downloaded from the GNet site - The Roadmap explores three potential paths: Business as usual, a Local action path and a Collaborative action approach. In its conclusion the last emerges as the only viable approach if we are to achieve the zero target in time:

‘Building on Local Action by working with governments, industries, and agencies outside the Grampians, it can bring the region’s emissions to zero by the year 2044. Driven especially by the potential for leadership in renewable and alternative energy, agriculture and land use, this approach can deliver year 2050 emissions that are reduced by 124% on their 2018 levels. In other words, the Grampians could serve as a global leader, by transitioning to an innovative Net Zero Emissions economy.’

The report, prepared by the Grampians New Energy Taskforce, draws on the research work of climate think tank, Beyond Zero Emissions, and the Strategy Policy Research consultancy group.

More good news is that the City of Ballarat has appointed two Sustainability Officers: one for managing the Urban Forest Plan and related issues—Daniel Siemensma; and the other to manage the implementation of the City’s Carbon Neutrality Net Zero Emissions Action Plan—Ching Tiong Tan. With a PhD in Environment and Development, expertise in assessing emissions and mitigation, and having served as a climate change consultant, Tan seems eminently qualified for the position

Please be aware that last month’s Smart Living Ballarat talk on Green Energy by BREAZE Inc. Treasurer Peter Reid, which was cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control, will run this month on 17 June via the Smart Living Ballarat Facebook page. We ask that you register to attend this free event.

With the pandemic still very much present across Victoria, the BREAZE board continues to meet via Zoom and is happy to consider any representations from the BREAZE community. Many thanks to those who have donated to our social solar program. Please be aware you can do this via our website or via the BREAZE Facebook page. And do stay safe as restrictions continue to ease in our new era of ‘Covid-normal.’

All the best


Mary Debrett
President, June 2020