President's Report October 2020

 MDBudget Failure

The crushing disappointment of the 2020 Federal Budget will probably linger for a very long time for many of us. In failing to back the clean recovery that multiple think-tanks and clean energy NGOs, backed by leading economists had endorsed as a pathway to Australia becoming a renewable energy superpower, the Treasurer missed a rare opportunity to build back cleaner and better. In subsidising coal mines and funding a ‘gas-fired’ recovery when there’s a mere decade left to radically reduce emissions to contain global warming to 1.5C, the government has shunned common sense and current global investment trends. The $1.8 billion announced for the environment – wildlife protection, national parks and protection of mangroves and sea grasses – is but a drop in the bucket of what is needed. The tragedy – writ large – is the rejection of research undertaken by so many talented and knowledgeable people into how public money strategically invested in renewable energy technologies, energy efficient housing, electrification of transport, modernising/reinvigorating manufacturing plus other sectors, would leverage considerable market investment. Reducing energy costs, stimulating jobs and driving down emissions, a clean recovery would have set Australia up to become an clean energy exporter. While the market appetite and State governments’ enthusiasm for renewables will continue to drive decarbonisation of the economy, without the impetus that the budget could have provided, setting the trajectory for 1.5C by 2030 will by most estimates be a stretch.

Social Solar Success

On a brighter note, some great news this month for BREAZE’s Social Solar program – our application to the Victorian Government’s Renewable Energy Jobs Fund on behalf of the Ballarat not-for-profit, disability services provider Pinarc, was successful. As a result BREAZE volunteers will be project managing the installation of 68kW of solar PV across four Pinarc sites. This will mean considerable energy cost-savings enabling Pinarc to direct more of its funds to its core services, while also reducing emissions for the community, and bringing more work opportunities into Ballarat. With the Victorian Government providing the bulk of the funding, BREAZE social solar and Pinarc will chip in the balance. The BREAZE Social Solar program draws on donations made to the BREAZE Public Fund, our charitable arm which has ATO Deductible Gift Recipient status, and uses these as seed funding in applications to governmental and philanthropic agencies. The success of the Pinarc grant now means more work for our fund raising arm to enable us to continue the Social Solar program. For any BREAZE members considering volunteering, this is one way in which you can make a real difference in terms of social justice and climate change. Email if you want to know more about the Social Solar program.

September Member Activities

September Green Drinks Online was the Council Candidates Election Forum. Coordinated and hosted by BREAZE Board member, Tony Goodfellow on Wednesday 30th September from 7:30 – 9:00 pm, the Forum offered a platform for 15 council candidates from all three wards to share their views on questions about the environment, climate action and the Council’s Carbon Neutrality 100% Renewables Action Plan. Locals were invited to submit questions directly to Tony beforehand or on the night. Along with the Candidates Survey distributed via the BREAZE e-newsletter, the Forum helped to put climate change and the environment firmly on the election agenda.

The speaker for November Green Drinks will be confirmed shortly. We promise it will be a stimulating talk so please stay tuned for online updates via the Green Drinks and BREAZE Facebook pages.

September’s Smart Living Ballarat talk was Prepare Your Property For Fire: Retrofit, Landscape, Maintain by Hamish McDonald. 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. https://www.facebook.com/smartlivingballarat/

October’s Smart Living Ballarat speaker will be Anton Vikstrom from the Good Car Company talking about EVs under the winning topic ‘Making Electric cars Affordable.’ Make sure you register in advance via Eventbrite to get the Zoom link - Wednesday 21 October at 12:30

2020 AGM – 16 November

Our 2020 AGM will be a virtual meeting via Zoom due to continuing COVID restrictions on the size of social gatherings. Ordinary Board members and office bearers are elected at the November AGM. BREAZE members whose membership is active are welcome to attend and nominate for the Board, or to just logon to hear the guest speaker — Ballarat resident and researcher with climate think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions, Michael Lord.
Michael is the author of Beyond Zero Emissions “Million Jobs plan” – an economic stimulus package to boost employment and reduce emissions.
Michael was previously Head of Research at Beyond Zero Emissions. He was lead author of BZE’s Electrifying Industry report showing the benefits to manufacturers of switching from fossil fuels to renewable electricity. Michael also wrote Rethinking Cement – the world’s first report to show how to eliminate emissions from the cement sector, as well as ‘The 10 Gigawatt Vision – How renewable energy can power jobs and investment in the Northern Territory’.
Michael also works at the Energy Transition Hub at the University of Melbourne where he published ‘Mining to making: Australia’s Future in Zero Emissions Metal’. (BZE profile - https://bze.org.au/about-us/our-staff/)
BREAZE members wanting to logon to the 2020 AGM or to talk about what would be involved in being a board member should 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. Australia’s new budget feeds taxpayer fuel to an emissions monster
2. September breaks global and European records
3. Approval of the Narrabri Coal Seam Gas project

Three best

1. Clean energy group NextEra surpasses Exxon Mobil as world’s biggest company
2. China pledges to be carbon neutral by 2060
3. Australia/Germany green hydrogen deal

Looking forward to seeing BREAZE members logging on to the BREAZE 2020 AGM – 16 November at 5:30pm – to catch Michael Lord talking about BZE’s Million Jobs Plan.

All the best

Mary

Mary Debrett
President, October 2020