President’s Report September 2020


 As Victoria settles into the struggle to flatten the curve of the second wave of COVID-19, it seems life is increasingly centred on the small screen, with web-conference platform Zoom now omnipresent. For BREAZE, and for all who are aware that it’s not just the next few months but the next few years that are critical, there are plenty of online events to motivate and incentivise actions to flatten that other curve – global warming.

August Member Activities

Eighteen participants logged into the first of the Green Drinks via Zoom on Wednesday 26th August to hear Environment Victoria’s senior climate campaigner, Taegen Edwards talk about her experiences on the front line of climate action. With BREAZE Board member Tony Goodfellow facilitating, Taegen began with a video about the work of Environment Victoria and the environmental threat that triggered the organisation's formation. A video of the talk is now available for viewing online. There is an article about the talk by Rochelle Kirkham of The Courier -

 August’s Smart Living Ballarat talk, ‘Garden Design and Management’ from BREAZE’s John Ditchburn on how to get the most out of your vegetable garden proved an overwhelming success, drawing 500 attendees. For those who missed it you can still catch up – the talks remain available on the SLB Facebook site - just click on the ‘videos’ link on the left. Please register for Smart Living Ballarat talks on Smart Living Ballarat Facebook.

The Advocacy Action Group met via Zoom on 20 August to discuss how to raise awareness of ecologically sustainable design. With Sustainable House Day looming on 20th September, Ballarat sustainable home owner, Jeff Dobell offered to make a selection of homes likely to interest people living in the Ballarat region. Jeff’s selection and comments are being featured on the BREAZE website and Facebook sites. The work of the Advocacy Group and Sustainable House day was also the focus of a story by Rochelle Kirkham in The Courier on 5 September – thanks to  Jeff Dobell and Advocacy coordinator Therese Footner.  If you would like to log on to the next Advocacy Group zoom discussion please contact

September's Upcoming Events

BREAZE Green Drinks online - Council Election Forum: This is a great opportunity to put the environment and climate on the election agenda. The date is 30th September and the time 7-9pm. Attendees who wish to ask questions of the candidates should email these to the Forum coordinator, Tony Goodfellow:   Go here to register

Smart Living Ballarat – Prepare Your Property for Fire. Permaculture designer, firefighter and home builder Hamish MacCallum presents a free Zoom webinar on Wednesday 16th Sept at 12.30pm for BREAZE Inc. on how to best prepare your property for the fire season. This presentation is also in association with Sustainable House Day. Book your free tickets here:

Social Solar Action Group – This group has its first zoom meeting this month on Monday 28 September at 6:00 -7:00 pm. The group aims to support the work of the BREAZE Public Fund, which administers donations to BREAZE Social Solar - adding value to these through applying for grants in order to install rooftop solar, solar hot water systems and/or batteries on the buildings of not-for-profits–with a particular focus on social housing. This means fewer GHG emissions for all of us plus reductions in energy costs, for those who need it most. Those interested in volunteering with the group should register at -

Webinars on Zero Carbon Communities, Climate Change, Electric Vehicles etc.

It’s quite hard to keep up with the wealth of knowledge now being offered freely online on the topics that engage those of us committed to the BREAZE mission. In the past month I logged onto:

Cities Power Partnership webinar – Re-energise Australia: A clean jobs summit for local government – began with Helen Haines, Independent Federal MP for Indi, talking up the need for a better deal on renewable energy for the regions — where those resources originate would probably resonate with Ballarat locals. Among the impressive line-up of speakers was Mark Watts from C40Cities—a global network of 96 cities committed to sharing knowledge on addressing climate change. Declaring a need for a green and just recovery, Mark endorsed Kate Raworth’s concept of Doughnut Economics – putting public services at the heart of the recovery. Shared solutions ranged from reducing car parking to fast-track cycle paths (Sydney) green bonds (Auckland) and the 15 minute city where all basic services are within 15 minutes for everyone. Another speaker, Zoe Whitton, an Environment and Social Governance (ESG) expert from Citi spoke on the shift in investor thinking on climate change, which she said had moved on from risk management to ‘how can we get transition to happen,’ the new field of taxonomizing activities into those that contribute to the transition and the Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative. ‘Climate financing is now a thing.’ 

The Australia Institute’s Electrifying our roads: Norway's way – began with Christine Bu, Head of the EV Association in Oslo talking about how her country has forged its global leadership in EV uptake, in a discussion that outlined the rational and thoroughly sensible way in which policy is managed in Norway – where 70% of new vehicles sales are EV/hybrid with a mandate all new vehicle sales to be zero emissions by 2025 – in comparison to absence of policy in Australia where lack of any incentives has resulted in a lamentable range of EVs on offer to Australian consumers. 

The Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute’s – The Case for Urgent Action – chaired by Don Henry, which featured the always impressive Climate Councillor and former Australian of the Year, Tim Flannery and UNSW climate scientist and ACT’s 2019 Scientist of the Year, Sophie Lewis. Flannery suggested three lessons we could learn from the government’s COVID response regarding possibilities for climate action: 1) It was possible to go hard and fast on; cutting emissions, just as went into lockdown to control virus transmissions, and there was still time – just! 2). We need to create enough emergency capacity to cope – evoking COVID contact tracing failures – with CC effects such as heatwaves, coral reef die-offs, rising sea-levels eroding coastal habitat, and extreme weather events. And this must be front and centre of government priorities. 3). We must accelerate our search for solutions for drawdown to take back control – the equivalent of a COVID vaccine – it will be hugely expensive, with success uncertain. In addition to all the investing we need in renewable energy and emissions reductions, we also need massive investment in research into drawdown technologies – enhanced rock weathering—spreading crushed silicate rock on farmland which could drawdown up to 2 gigatons p.a. and the cultivation of seaweed to capture CO2 and store it in the ocean. Noting our window for action was very small, 3-4 years, and the colossal scale on which such ventures would need to be undertaken, Flannery was not optimistic. He conceded however, that the drop in renewable energy costs had eliminated many barriers to investment.


Volunteer Vacancies

As the climate crisis deepens there is always much more that can be done in raising civic awareness of the steps that need to be taken, than our current Board can deal with. Our call for expressions of interest from members who would like to work with us on the BREAZE Board remains open. Board members are elected at the AGM in November. We invite any member who has ideas about what BREAZE should be doing, or would just like to find out more about what’s involved, to get in touch and log in to one of our monthly board meetings. Contact:

Climate/Environment News

Some devastating initiatives for the environment in Canberra this past month. My take on the three worst and three best–in no particular order–below:

Three worst
1. 'Recipe for extinction': why Australia's rush to change environment laws is sparking widespread concern:
2. Government to fund gas and carbon storage via clean energy programs:
3. WWF report finds 71% decline in koala numbers across northern NSW bushfire-affected areas
Three best
1. Class action to stop planned coal mine extension filed by climate action-focused Australian teenagers
2. Green hydrogen breakthrough uses energy from the sun, water from the air
3. Energy storage “Lego blocks” offer missing piece to 100 per cent renewable grid
Any members interested in joining our monthly board meeting should email for the Zoom link to log on.

 All the best


Mary Debrett
President,September 2020