Gippsland Climate News

Bass Coast CAN Winter Workshop

From the BCCAN Newsletter

With a captive audience at home, BCCAN hosted the first of our seasonal workshops on Sunday August 8th – BCCAN and the Climate Action Plan. With around 20 participants including council officers Benita Russell and Simon Woodland, and Councillor Leticia Laing and Michael Whelan, we were given a comprehensive picture of the efforts Bass Coast Council have made in reducing emissions and tackling climate change since declaring a climate emergency in August 2019, and how our zero emissions target is tracking for 2030.

Benita took us through the dynamic data sets on Bass Coast’s projected emissions and targets – I highly recommend people click on this link to find out more about emissions by sector. Hovering over any of the bubbles gives a detailed breakdown which helps us as a community to understand our role in reducing the emissions in the residential sector.

Leticia and Michael answered many questions put to them on a diverse range of topics such as vegetation and the biolinks project, growing food on verges and council owned land, affordable sustainable housing, community grants specifically targeting climate action projects, and charging stations for EVs.

We heard from our passionate BCCAN members on current projects. Jessica and Aileen gave an update on the Cosy Homes Project, which aims to help our community connect with energy efficient solutions at low or no cost, whilst building awareness of the need for climate action. Maddy and Sharon spoke about the Edible Gardens Open Food Garden Project for early 2022. Gardens showcasing a range of approaches to sustainability are being recruited. The weekend will include a community dinner hosted at BCAL featuring locally grown food.

Mary reported on TRPI’s transport initiative and interest in the Good Car Co., a group who import used EVs from Japan with low mileage through a bulk buy program in communities. TRPI will survey the Bass Coast community to identify how much interest there is in working with the Good Car Co. We will send the link to the survey to our mailing list when it’s ready.

Ed gave an informative report on the Infrastructure Victoria Review on domestic gas supply, asking that Council and individuals make submissions on Engage Victoria, closing August 16. More info here. We also heard about the Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty and will put in a formal submission to Council to endorse the Treaty, which has been signed by Moreland Council, the ACT parliament and internationally by Vancouver, Barcelona and LA amongst others. We heard from Jessica about The West Alberton Forest Protection Campaign, which has a number of our members protesting near Yarram.

If you are interested in further details but missed the Winter Workshop, the recording of the session is here, and the chat is here.

Gippsland Geothermal Update

More than ten years ago I was enthusiastic about the rapid adoption of geothermal energy in Gippsland. In particular, it was the idea that the coal beds would act as an insulator and the thermal energy resource beneath the coal would be high. The potential was there to replace the coal-fired generators with geothermal ones in the same or nearby locations, helping avoid some of the problems associated with a just transition. In my enthusiasm I ran as a climate independent in the seat of Morwell in the 2010 State election with geothermal energy adoption as my main policy, with far from satisfactory results.

In 2016 I noted “Most of Gippsland is still covered by geothermal prospecting licences which are best described as ‘inactive’. In East Gippsland Petratherm still holds the licence. This company, a ‘penny dreadful’, lingers at the bottom of the market and is obviously starved of capital.” Then there were at least two companies exploring geothermal options in Gippsland and one selling geothermal heat pumps for heating and cooling residences was located in Traralgon.

A recent article from Earth Resources Victoria reminded me of the potential for geothermal energy: “More and more economies around the world are exploring geothermal as a renewable energy source. Gippsland isn’t being left behind, with the Latrobe Valley Authority working with the state’s geoscience agency, the Geological Survey of Victoria (GSV), and the University of Melbourne to carry out geothermal mapping of the region…Dr Graeme Beardsmore, says it is coal that makes the area a prime location for harnessing geothermal power.”

The report noted that “The Latrobe City Council recently opened the Gippsland Regional Aquatic Centre in Traralgon, the first public aquatic facility in Victoria to incorporate a deep bore geothermal heating system.  The Centre taps into an aquifer more than 600 metres below ground where the water is above 60 degrees Celsius, heating the community pool naturally and cheaply…Earlier this year saw the announcement of the Metung Hot Springs after funding from the Gippsland Tourism Recovery Package and Local Economic Recovery program was confirmed in the wake of the bushfires.”

Whilst these advances are interesting, it is disappointing that this huge and sustainable energy resource remains untapped. Instead, our region remains stuck with the declining energies of the past and the criminal exploitation of our most valuable carbon store – native forests. Perhaps the Earth Resources mapping will assist the transition from old to new in some small way.

This Government and Climate Change by Tom Moore Part 2

Note that, despite the government’s protestations that the fossil fuel industry is not subsidised, the latest G20 report shows that since the Paris agreement in 2015, fossil fuel subsidies in Australia have increased by 48%! Amongst the G20 countries, Australia tops the list in this respect.

Note that we recently learned that businessman Geoff Cousins and his good friend Bob Carr had to by-pass the Morrison Government when they successfully petitioned the Chinese Ambassador to ensure that China’s Banks refused to finance Adani. They did it again when they convinced the Ambassador to prevent insurance companies covering Adani’s operations in Australia. This government was not happy with Cousins and Carr.

There are so many examples of this Government’s total disdain for action on Climate Change – I purposively have not included some of the most publicised examples – and it is obviously its inaction is designed to extend the lifetime of fossil fuels and therefore to stand in the way of reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

And that’s without any reference to a Deputy Prime Minister and those in the National Party that appear unable to take the appropriate steps to ensure that those it purports to represent are assisted to make a just transition to an inevitable low emissions future.

In the meantime, Scott Morrison’s good friend Rupert Murdoch is getting involved again. Less than 24 hours after the Grattan Institute released a policy document calling for Australia to follow in the footsteps of the EU and effectively ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035, the Murdoch Media came out blazing. “It’s another hoax,” said Sky News commentator Alan Jones.

In the meantime, this Government has just released the Intergenerational Report. This report about the future of young people in Australia does mention climate change, but it appears that the government pressured the authors to ensure that this section of the report contains no projections. Fits very well with the Federal Environment Minister, Susan Ley taking legal action to challenge the Federal Court’s decision that she owes a duty of care regarding climate change to young Australians.

John Hewson, you were indeed a leader and you still are. I salute you in calling out one of your own.

*The author is a member of the Metung Science Forum – a forum for progressive science and evidence-based discussion of climate change and related issues for the people of Metung and surrounds.

This Government and Climate Change by Tom Moore Part 1

I recently read John Hewson’s article in the Saturday Paper. Hewson, a former federal leader of the Liberal Party seriously criticised Scott Morrison as someone whom he believes, “simply doesn’t understand leadership (which) involves strategic thinking, being proactive, and acceptance of responsibility and accountability”.

Whereas the article concentrated on the Pandemic, the traits called out by Hewson (and previously by Malcolm Turnbull) can clearly be levelled at the Federal Government’s handling of anything Climate Change. For those of us who endeavour to keep up with policy in this area the evidence that this Federal Government’s policy pronouncements on climate change (particularly those made by the PM himself and his energy minister Angus Taylor) are just empty words that do not reflect the reality of what is actually being pursued by this Government. The evidence that this Government will continue to appease the fossil fuel industry and its supporters and lobbyists is overwhelming.

Recall the words spoken in the lead-up to the last election that electric vehicles cannot pull a caravan or power a four-wheel drive and will therefore spoil your weekend and tradies will be left without their utes – words that it is almost impossible now to back-track from even by a prime minister who is famous for back-tracking. The promotion of electric vehicles is still recorded as part of the Coalition’s so-called Technology Backed approach to emission reductions which, when asked they trot out, but we know there has been no effort expended in this area and apparently never will be.

Recall the numerous appointments of current and former fossil fuel executives to advise Government on energy issues and their appointments to government bodies such as the Clean Energy Regulator.

Recall Angus Taylor trying, and still trying, to force through regulations to redirect to fossil fuel initiatives, the funds held by ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) under its charter to support renewable energy projects.

Recall that when Daniel Westerman, the chief of AEMO (Australian Energy Marketing Organisation), stated that he wants the country’s main grids to be able to handle 100% “instantaneous” renewables by 2025, the Federal Resources Minister, Keith Pitt called this “absolute nonsense”. Of course, we know that Pitt is a climate denialist from several other decisions and statements he has made whilst in this portfolio. This is just one example of the Morrison Government distancing itself from those with genuine expertise in the energy system.

*The author is a member of the Metung Science Forum – a forum for progressive science and evidence-based discussion of climate change and related issues for the people of Metung and surrounds.

The Benefits of Eating Seasonally by Krista Mountford

From the Baw Baw Sustainability Network Newsletter

If our parents or grandparents were to cast their mind back to what fresh food they ate, they would never have experienced eating a bright red tomato in winter or broccoli in summer. This quite modern phenomenon has only existed for the last 50-100 years due to the ability for food to be transported from all over the country or world with ease.

Eating seasonally offers immense benefits including greater nutrient density, far superior flavour and freshness, and from a sustainability perspective, a much lower carbon footprint. If you’ve ever tasted produce from a farmer’s market you will know what we’re talking about!

Seasonal produce spends less time in cold storage as it usually comes straight from the farmer to the market. Less pesticides are usually used as it’s grown at the correct time of year and in the right conditions, and less food miles occur as the produce is usually grown locally.

Produce that is flown or trucked in from other parts of the country or world, are often picked when they’re underripe, so that it will last the trip and won’t bruise during transport. This effects the taste and quality of the fruit or vegetable as it hasn’t been given the chance to ripen naturally or fully develop its flavour. Vitamins can also break down over time, so produce that has sat in cold storage for weeks or sometimes months, will lose nutrients.

So, it’s now currently Winter in Gippsland, Victoria, what should we be eating? This time of year is usually reserved for brassicas, alliums and umbellifers.

BRASSICAS: Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kale and radish

ALLIUMS: Leeks, onions, garlic and shallots

UMBELLIFERS: Parsley, fennel, celery, carrots and coriander

And what about fruit you ask? Well, it’s not the time for watermelon or pineapple (although thanks to transport you have access to these any time of year). Winter is all about citrus, so think oranges, lemons and mandarins. This makes a lot of sense as these fruits are full of Vitamin C, perfect to keep the winter cold and flu bugs at bay!

The vegetables above are also able to play a seasonal recipe role, as they’re perfect for warming soups and casseroles, and garlic is a huge immune booster. Although eating seasonally may limit the variety of vegetables and fruit you consume, there are still many recipes you can create!… So, head down to your local Farmer’s Market or grocer and get cooking! Your body and the planet will thank you for it!

The Delburn Wind Farm Part 2 by Wendy Farmer

The Delburn site has several advantages. It is located close to high voltage transmission lines, which will facilitate connection to the electricity grid and minimise connection costs. This contrasts with the connection problems found by other wind farm developments in the west and northwest of the state where connections are congested. The site for the Terminal station is close to high voltage transmission lines; there have been other renewable energy and community energy projects proposed in Gippsland that have not gone ahead because of the prohibitive cost of connecting to the grid.

The wind farm is planned for pine plantation in the Strzelecki Ranges south of Morwell, making use of an existing industrial site, which helps to minimise any ecological impacts of the project. As building the project will require upgrades to access tracks within the plantation, it’s anticipated it will improve fire management on site. It would not take productive farming land out of use as coal mines have.

The company behind the project OSMI has made a commitment for local business procurement and employment opportunities. There is a generous community benefit scheme proposed with this project with $1 Million per annum going back into the local economy.

People in the Latrobe Valley have lived with a legacy of health issues from burning coal. In contrast, wind farms have a clean bill of health. While anti-wind campaigners often like to claim that wind energy causes a range of different health issues, successive reviews have found there is no scientific evidence of health impacts from wind power.

Often when new projects happen in an area it will bring with it other future possibilities and opportunities for the area. 

With the Yallourn coal fired power station set to close by 2028, the Delburn wind farm is an exciting opportunity for the Latrobe Valley to export clean renewable energy. A chance to do energy differently.

We encourage everyone to Make a submission today (this is the last day) here supporting this important project.


Delburn Wind Farm Part 1 by Wendy Farmer

The Latrobe Valley has long hosted Victoria’s ageing coal plants, but could it soon be home to its’ very first wind farm? Power generation based on coal is in decline and the only real question is when will the existing power stations cease operation? The Latrobe Valley, however, continues to be the centre of transmission and distribution infrastructure and thus a significant place where newer forms of power generation should be located.

The development of the Delburn Wind Farm is one of a suite of renewable energy projects in the Latrobe Valley that will complement the rooftop solar arrays found on individual dwellings, businesses and public buildings along with proposed solar farms across the region. As the Latrobe Valley’s first wind project, the Delburn wind farm is of state significance. If it goes ahead, it will overlook the retired Hazelwood coal burning power plant and mine and power 135,000 homes with clean renewable energy.

Help secure the Latrobe Valley’s first wind farm – make a submission today. The Delburn wind farm has a number of advantages for the Latrobe Valley. It will build on the tradition of energy production in the Valley.

The Valley has been the centre of the power industry for decades and has suffered severe economic and social consequences as the industry has restructured and declined over the last three decades. The establishment of a wind farm would be a way of preserving and transforming skills of the current workforce. The siting of renewable energy facilities in the Latrobe Valley makes good use of existing transmission and distribution infrastructure which was built to distribute power from centralised generation. Wind energy is part of maintaining energy security as coal-fired power stations are inevitably wound down and closed and has a role to play in the transition of the Latrobe Valley energy sector.

We encourage everyone to Make a submission today here or direct to supporting this important project.

Submissions close Wednesday 18th August 2021. If you write a submission or discuss feel free to contact

My 2013 Poll Declaration Speech

(Sale 2pm 26.9.13)

A thousand years ago King Canute demonstrated the limited powers of rulers by having his throne placed on the shore to show – that powerful as he was – he could not stop the tides. Tides, of course, are governed by the gravitational pull of the moon and gravity also holds our atmosphere – a natural law. Without atmosphere there could be no life on earth as we know it. Within the atmosphere we have another natural law – the Greenhouse Effect.

The Greenhouse Effect was discovered by Fourier in the 1820s. He calculated quite accurately that without the Greenhouse Effect the Earth would be about 30 degrees colder – a permanent ball of snow and ice. Without the Greenhouse Effect there could be no life on earth as we know it.

In 1857 John Tyndall identified the two main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide and methane – in effect these trace gases are the earth’s thermostat.

In 1895 Svante Arrhenious calculated that if carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was doubled the temperature would increase by 4-6 degrees.

Since the beginning of the Industrial revolution in 1750 mankind has increased the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from 280ppm to 400ppm – about a third – by burning fossil fuels. This has caused the average temperature on earth to rise by about a degree with as much as another degree warming still in the pipeline. Man has been unknowingly turning up the earth’s thermostat and continues to do so, despite the warnings from science for more than 20 years.

So our new government has a huge problem. Like Canute it cannot alter natural laws. It can ignore them – business as usual – but if we keep on with business as usual the problem then gets much worse. Business as usual means a dominant fossil fuel lobby and risks low level runaway global warming. This will mean the end of life on earth as we know it.

Prof. Steven Sherwood of UNSW recently stated  “… if we fully ‘develop’ all of the world’s coal, tar sands, shales and other fossil fuels we run a high risk of ending up in a few generations with a largely unliveable planet”.

The new government therefore needs a price of some sort on carbon. Since the carbon tax and emissions trading are both unpalatable to them they might consider the fee and dividend proposal of James Hansen. The fee is collected from all fossil fuel producers at the mine or well head. The dividend is this fee [that is] then paid to every citizen of the country. You can find a brief video about this on my twitter page.

Finally I am prepared to talk to any group, small or large, about climate change and the emergency actions required, including members of the National party.

*this brief speech was prepared on the assumption that Darren Chester, the Nationals sitting member would be present, but unfortunately he did not attend. Slightly edited and some of the science has since been modified, for instance the chances of low level runaway global warming now appear unlikely.

More CARE Exhibitions in Gippsland

CARE opening last year (Lisa Roberts)

Following on from the successful exhibition of CARE (Concerned Artists Resisting Extinction) at the East Gippsland Art Gallery last year the show, or part thereof, has now moved to five other galleries in Gippsland – at Briagolong, Maffra, Gippsland (Sale), Orbost and Swifts Creek. Founder of the CARE movement, Dawn Stubbs of Munro, opened the exhibitions with a speech at Briagolong on 31 July. Brief extracts from her speech follow.

“The Orbost Exhibition is looking fantastic and is being extended …Without the steady direction of Ros Crisp who has taken on the Orbost Exhibition with gusto and enthusiasm this one just wouldn’t have turned out the way it has. And her right hand woman our dear Di Deppeler who is travelling somewhere in the great outdoors at the moment. Please fill your cars up and travel to see this exhibition at Orbost, especially to hear fire expert Phil Zylstra when he is allowed out of Sydney. We will update everyone as things unfold. All five exhibition spaces are really worth the visit. I will be at the Maffra Exhibition space on as many days as I can spare.” 

“Right now what is needed is leadership, unfortunately it’s sadly lacking in nearly every tier of Government. We have crises on our hands our ecosystems are collapsing and Australia’s unique animals are on the brink. If I was overseas right now I would be ashamed to call myself Australian, not two weeks ago the same environment minister that met with us in Canberra fronted the media and was more concerned about tourism than what her portfolio represents the Environment in regards to the Great Barrier Reef one of the greatest wonders on our Planet. One can measure the greatness and the moral progress of a nation by looking at how it treats its animals.”

“Unbeknown to us over 10,000 of those years the average temperature never fluctuated more than one degree Celsius. Until now, it is no coincidence that deforesting our world and Climate breakdown are happening at the same time. I’m afraid the two go hand in hand what people may not realise is that the animals that also lived in these deforested areas are also contributors to the symbiotic relationship that is needed for a healthy ecosystem.”

Unfortunately the pandemic has delayed the original plan by 18 months and another Coronavirus lockdown has now intervened, but hopefully everyone will have the opportunity to visit and view at least one of the exhibitions.

A New Offshore Wind Project for Gippsland

A Scottish offshore wind company Flotation Energy has a project on the drawing board for Gippsland. It joins the Star of the South as the second major offshore project for the region. The company website notes that this “is a 1,500MW energy transition project. It will be located in the Bass Strait, off the Ninety Mile Beach coastline. The electricity will be exported to the Latrobe Valley, where there is a strong electricity grid, due to the presence of ageing coal power stations.”

Flotation Energy is a major offshore wind developer in the UK working on 9 projects around the globe promoting the advantages of offshore wind, and in particular floating offshore turbines. They note that “Floating offshore wind is a simple concept with a big future. It means that you can take wind turbines into deeper waters, where the winds are stronger and more reliable. Further offshore, the wind turbines have less environmental and visual impact. This means that floating wind is popular with politicians and local communities. It has a very big role to play if governments are to achieve their net zero targets. The global potential for floating wind is enormous.”

Their website emphasizes the need for climate action. “The threat of climate change is the biggest challenge facing our planet. Urgent action is required, from governments and business as well as from local communities and individuals. We have seen the growing extremes of climate change having a huge impact, with lives being lost and many communities threatened by worsening storms and floods, heat waves and droughts. The poor, disadvantaged and vulnerable often suffer the most. Now is the time for bold action.”

The company predicts the rapid expansion of offshore wind. “This rapid expansion has been driven by the increasing need for de-carbonisation to tackle climate change and achieve net zero targets. Energy security, job creation and economic growth potential are also major considerations. The cost of offshore wind has fallen dramatically, aided by stable energy policy, technology innovation including larger turbines, economies of scale and less expensive finance.”

With Star of the South they could replace two of the remaining Latrobe Valley coal fired generators. The ocean they would occupy would appears to be further east that the Star of the South and perhaps further offshore in deeper water. Both the construction phase and ongoing maintenance will be a huge boon to local economies.

Unfortunately neither our local members (State and Federal) or the media have little to say on these projects (see blog on delays here). The delay on these projects appears deliberate and due to the influence of the fossil fuel industry. Climate action now requires offshore wind enabling legislation in Federal parliament and for all governments to put these projects into fast forward mode.