Victorian Green Paper submission by Lighter Footprints

From Greenlivingpedia, a wiki on green living, building and energy

Revision as of 07:17, 18 August 2009 by Plantsnwater (Talk | contribs)
Jump to: navigation, search

Submission from Lighter Footprints Climate Change Action Group (working draft)


Victorian Government Green Paper on Climate Change


<Address 1>
<Address 2>


Lighter Footprints Spokesperson and Administrative Committee member

Lighter Footprints is a local climate change action group with 300 supporters from in and around postcode 3127 in Melbourne.

NOTE: This submission (when finalised) will be endorsed and authorised by Lighter Footprints and issued on behalf of our supporters.

This wiki article will be used to formulate the final Lighter Footprints submission to the Green Paper.

Members are encouraged to contribute to this paper as this is the only way we will get it prepared. Further discussion at next meeting in August.

Submission text follows.

Discussion of Vic Gov Green paper on Climate Change

The whole paper assumes that there will be a national CPRS which sets a price for carbon. This was seen as the major driver for change and that the Vic Gov could do little to set targets in it own right. It also seems that the state is positioning itself more at adaptive modes while the federal government with its revenue base is oriented to mitigation.

There is a strong argument for govt intervention – the market has failed!

It (the paper) outlines initiatives which are predominantly targeted at individuals i.e. encouraging solar power, energy reductions through voluntary measures etc which are unevenly distributed and only marginally effective in reducing state wide emissions.

In targeting the community, the govt is ignoring the huge contribution being made to climate change by the Victorian energy sector, specifically coal.

The green paper outlines a range of policy “levers” but fails to recognise that voluntary measures have allowed many industries and sections of the community to fail to address their contribution to emissions. As the paper itself acknowledges, climate change has now reached a point that catastrophic tipping points are very near or may have even been passed. There is no longer time to delay; action must be immediate and it must be effective. Therefore a strong instrument such as legislation to regulate emissions and treat CO2 as a dangerous and harmful gas is required. The negative aspects of legislative measures outlined in the green paper have no place in the consideration of measures when such urgency is required. Industries that have failed to prepare for a carbon cost have acted irresponsibly and must accept their failure to prepare to transition to low carbon economy was a commercial risk for which the consequences are their commercial reality.

The benefits of legislation are that it provides predictability for business; it provides guaranteed outcomes for the community (reduced emissions); it is an act of risk management for the state; and it promotes long term investment. It is fair, and it ensures accountability (provided it has strong reporting and auditing mechanisms included). Legislation also allows the govt to address any legislative inconsistencies that may interfere with compliance with the new regulations. An emissions reduction target is vital to provide long term climate certainty and certainty for investment in a low carbon economy. The advice to the govt from the premier’s climate change reference group outlined in the green paper appears to have been largely ignored. For example, the group advises the establishment of targets at the state level of: a peak in emission by 2010, emission reduction targets of 25-40% below 1990 by 2020, and 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. It also recommends the establishment of an aggressive energy efficiency strategy. The reference in the green paper to the global financial crisis only serves to underscore the importance of shifting our economy to a low carbon economy so we do not face another financial crisis when we reach peak oil, or when industries emitting CO2 are forced to suddenly due to global carbon trading. The modelling in the green paper does not take into account the potential for strong cuts as demonstrated by the recent Nous Group report. Demonstrating to the world the benefits of the new economy by investing in low carbon industries could lead Victoria and Australian out of the financial crisis and set us up as global leaders in low carbon technology. Leaders do not wait for others to act first, and you can’t get ahead of the pack by starting last. Victoria is extraordinarily vulnerable to climate change, therefore we should act swiftly. Levels of climate science literacy in the community are generally poor and govt needs to do a great deal more to explain the risks we face and the consequences of inaction, or inadequate action. Emissions reduction must be planned for here, regardless of national action – this is all part of accepting our historical carbon debt and addressing our fair share of carbon emissions reductions. With the insecurity of this or any CPRS getting up, the group decided to focus on those issues which are in the Vic government control, eg car emissions, registrations, etc. Pressing for changes to targets, such as the dropped election promise of 60% by 2050, would be less successful because of the unknown impact of any CPRS. Acknowledged that Vic should have a higher target than others because of our high brown coal dependence. Not sure how to pressure for separate emissions targets for Vic. The argument that the costs of targets are too high (p.30) just doesn’t wash – the costs will be much higher later.

The document addresses seven areas for discussion in part 3 of the green paper. These were outlined and the group looked at the ways that Government should be taking action.

Discussion highlighted the need to look at some of the work already done to show what would be feasible – like the McKinsey Report – eg it says that for a Gov expenditure of $300 per household, 30% reduction in emissions could be achieved. May revisit this report in writing up our response.

Transport (3.3)

This is described as having no simple solution which seemed to be quite wrong. It offers nothing in terms of modal shifts to trains which could achieve big changes. Concern that our lack of work in building rail means we’ve lost the skill. Other states esp WA, Qld are building rail so the skill is still in the country. Highlight that Vic must build more lines, and more rolling stock. They are doing this to some extent for freight, but have a long way to go for public transport.The green paper claims there is no simple solution to reducing transport emissions (p. 37) – this is untrue, California has done it very successfully and remains a thriving economy.


Need pressure to move through short term hybrid to electric. One mechanism that is easy to use and has not yet been proposed is differential registration of vehicles based on emissions levels – very much reduced for electric. Weight of car could also be a factor in registration. This can apply to freight vehicles as well –electric vans now available. Buy back scheme for old vehicles.

Clean Energy Industry (Stationary Energy Sector 3.1)

The energy sector is responsible for 67% of Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions – therefore this is a good place to start cutting emissions. The CPRS will not reduce emissions as it currently stands. Want to see more action to take up solar and in particular wind energy, but also more local community co generation projects- keeping generation of power closer to communities that use it. Could refer to Boroondara and its trial for co-gen for pools. Need emphasis on Smart Grid for renewable energy. Are looking at smart meters for houses, and this should be an associated project. Must keep up pressure on getting out of coal as the biggest energy provider, and supporting alternatives.

Look at freeing up provision of permits particularly for wind power.

The govt should be focussing on the opportunities offered not procrastinating and delaying.

Transforming the energy sectors over several decades (as proposed on p. 34) will not avert dangerous, irreversible climate change. The Green paper has failed to document the consequences of excessive carbon emissions.

We may have to just walk away from coal.

Energy Efficiency (3.2)

Needs to be beefed up. Most powerful contributor is insulation and double glazing and draft stripping (back to McKinsey). Support for house audits, and commercial as well and local communities assisting. Need more incentives.

Built environment (3.4)

Address expanding city boundaries and re-iterate need for denser living esp along transport corridors and around rail for activity centres. The issue of building standards for both houses and other buildings must be addressed - currently unacceptable.

Go beyond 5 star, and insist that they address passive solar issues of aspect as well as insulation and other fundamentals.

Planning of the built environment is poor – innovative options exist but are not being utilised, but must include strong regulations of emissions standards.

Introduce a 5 star rating for landscapes: streetscapes, shopping & commercial zones, parks and private gardens. This must be done not only to combat temperature increase from climate change but also to avoid the full 5 degrees of temperature increase associated with the urban heat island effect. The greater the number of people Melbourne is expected to house the greater the heat generated and the more important it is to use the landscape to insulate the environment as much as possible. This can be done by (1) shading built structures - with trees, vines, plant walls, screens and covered walkways, (2) planning and planting for transpiration and evaporation to maximise the cooling potential of our landscapes (3) avoiding overuse of both plants and built materials that contribute to the Albedo effect. In addition,architects should be encouraged to work with garden designers to incorporate the effective use plants for shade and insulation into building design, and to allow sufficient area for water capture and storage.

Forest policy (3.6)

To be discussed further.

Land use

Need to consider land use (p. 44) for emissions cuts (e.g. carbon sinks). Need to see significant investment in planting trees, improved land management, stopping deforestation.


Waste management – need to mandate recycling; tax non-recyclable materials; subsidise recycling of all materials. Need to look at cradle to grave product regulation.

Green jobs

Carbon leakage is unlikely because: the costs of relocation are very high; there will be lack of skilled labour; will only delay the onset of carbon price for short time. Need more funds for innovation (and implementation) research. Need more incentives for businesses (p.56) to cut emissions. Shifting to renewables is the best thing we could do for the Latrobe Valley (p. 58)in terms of long term job security.


Water security is already a huge problem, making action on climate change mitigation even more important for Victoria.

The Government should be aware of research by Clive McAlpine et al. linking deforestation on the Eastern Coast of Australia with loss of rainfall. This research has impacts both for rural and urban land use.

People within the urban area of Melbourne should be encouraged to transform the landscape into 5 star landscape to insulate the environment. This means using plants for shade and transpiration, treating the soil in such a way as maximises its capacity stay damp, including water features and pools, particularly in multistorey living areas, avoiding the use of unshaded built surfaces in landscape, avoiding paving that drains into the stormwater, and being aware and limiting the use of of plants and built surfaces that contribute to the albedo effect. To maximise the potnential of the soil to remin damp for as long as possible over the summer will require the use of mulch and water (tank/grey/water from BlueGen units). The Government should consider a sliding scale of tank rebates to encourage homeowners to install tanks/BlueGen Units where the water is for garden use only where it is too expensive to adapt existing plumping to tank or BlueGen water supplemenation.

The barriers to people changing their behaviour to address climate change in your community and across Victoria? (6.1)

The Government needs to treat climate change seriously if the people are to do the same

People will only treat climate change seriously if they are shown a serious example by Government. That means Government should do everything it can to change its behaviour and publicise that it is doing so.

Adoption of Micro Measures – Cheap, Cost Reducing or Same Price Options that Involve a Shift In behaviour

The Government needs to act in respect of ‘micro’ measures as well as bigger picture items – not because they will fix climate change but because it sends the message that climate change is so important we are prepared to do everything possible. Because to do the small things 1) has a small impact which is better than no impact 2) involves shifting the way government thinks about its behaviour 3) involves altering its behaviour. The more the government can change its behaviour and alter its approach to ‘business as usual’ the stronger the message to the people that they can and should do the same. (See answer to 6.2 Government leading the way for examples of such behaviour).

The Government sends a bad message when it sets aside climate change issues

It sends the message that climate change isn’t really that important and you don’t really need to change the way you act every time the government dismisses an environmental impact statement, or frames the terms of reference in such a way as to hamstring the effectiveness of the impact statement.

It reinforces the message that climate change isn’t important every time the government announces a major project and does not refer to any energy saving measures included in the project. An example is the Building in Schools Project: there has been no information as to whether the 6 building plans available to Government Schools are 5 star energy rated, better or worse. This example is a particularly disappointing one because Government Schools are used by most families in the community, and these buildings could have showcased passive energy efficiency and other energy saving measures. This would have sent the message that this is a normal consideration when building. Instead the message sent was: it is more important to build quickly than to adapt to climate change.

Government School Newsletters Government Schools have weekly Newsletters. Many of these are online. The Department of Education could provide a few paragraphs of green living hints, altered on a weekly basis for Schools to include in their Newsletter. Green living hints are about living more cleanly and with less impact on the planet which is desirable even without the prospect of climate change.

The Government needs to consider a new range of advertising campaigns to target particular behaviours.

The black balloons campaign has had a result. However, there are many other areas that could also be addressed. Here are 2 examples.

1 The ‘bargain shopper’. Marketers know that individuals tend to follow certain sets of behaviours in their shopping habits. One set is the ‘bargain shopper’ for whom a only a cheap product or bargain is a smart buy. But even within this class of shopper you can prompt change. Here is an example of an advertisement:

Advertising Campaign aimed at Bargain Shoppers A Dad, in very white and clinical kitchen, is unpacking goods from plastic bags: brown and white packages with labels such as ‘tinned fruit 100,000+ food miles’ ‘special high salt and phosphorus washing powder’ ‘extra packaged biscuits’ ‘ordinary water in a bottle’ and ‘bug spray’. Small child ‘Look Buggy’ points to a digitally enhanced and very beautiful butterfly. Dad picks up the bug spray and zaps it (butterfly dies cartoon style death). Pause White screen, sound effect of child starting wailing. Comment ‘Green choices aren’t dumb’.

2. Cleaning Product use within the home.

It is unfortunate, but true, that many people believe that if a little cleaning chemical is good then more is better and so they use more than the recommended amount to wash clothes, dishes and surfaces within the home. They empty they excess water and chemical, and rinse cleaning cloths soaked in neat cleaning product into the sewage. The result is water the water that arrives at the treatment plants is laden with unnecessary chemicals and costs more for everyone to treat.

What is needed is a campaign to turn put people in a position where they regard their use of cleaning products from a different viewpoint. Here is an example of such an advertisement

A different perspective on cleaning products and waste water Visuals show the inside of a factory while a voice over delivers this message: ‘How would you feel about a factory that used twice as much chemicals as it needed to in its processing unit? (Visual shows employee with exaggerated lack of concern measuring out chemical and then adding a good dollop (at least as much again more) How would you feel if the cost of removing those chemicals was born by the whole community in sewage treatment costs? (visuals show bubbling water gurgling down the pipes) How would you feel if that factory could use environmentally safe chemicals for the same price or less but was unwilling to make any changes to the way it always did things? How would you feel if you lived next door? How would you feel if you lived in it?’ (vision of factory spins into picture of suburban home and cleaning equipment) ‘Your home is your factory. Do you use the recommended amount of cleaner and no more? Are you aware that because Melbourne has soft water you only need to use ½ the recommended dose of clothes and dishwashing powder? If you are willing to make changes please visit..... (website) for information. Because our decisions add up.’ (Pan out moving up from overhead view of one house to full screen of city roofs.)

How should Government lead the way in reducing its own emissions and adjusting to a carbon price? (6.2)

There are so many things at a micro level that the Government can do, and just as importantly, publicise that it is doing:

1)Follow the lead of the NSW government and ban the sale of bottled water. Of course, to have the desired effect which is to have people choose to drink tap water, jugs of drinking water & clean glasses will need to be available, as done in cafes and bars to allow people to feel tap water is a desirable and acceptable choice of drink.

2) Use recycled office paper & toilet paper.

3) Use fairtrade/locally grown tea and coffee.

4) Ensure that any government canteens have an appealing vegetarian selection. Also ensure that there is a choice of healthy, high fibre breads and salads.

5) Go a step ahead of the NSW Governemnt and only sell soft drink that is mixed on site - it is much more efficient to only transport the syrup rather than the pre-mixed drink. Syrups do not have to be limited to commercial soft drinks - cordials can also be mixed with carbonated water.

6) Set the air conditioning and heating to a range outside that in which it is comfortable to wear a suit. If the Government doesn't do this it sends the message that wearing a suit is more important than conserving energy. People don't only apply that to the work envrionment: they take that message home with them and adjust the heating/cooling in their home instead of their clothing.

7) Use environmentally freindly inks.

8) Turn off all but essential lighting at night. This should include tourist lighting - if the government considers some icons are important enough to be lit they should be lit with 100% green energy.

9)Keep the workplace informed: put New Scientist, Sceintific American, Nature & the CSRIO mags in their office lunchrooms along with the newpapers and the Financial Review.

10) Use environmentally safe cleaners in their workplace.

11) Ensure all toilets are water efficient.

In which areas can Government use its significant expenditure on goods and services to drive Victoria’s green economy? (6.2)

As above: purchase recycled tiolet and office paper, use environmentally friendly inks, fairtrade/locally grown tea and coffee, water efficient toilets...

Other points

Insurance projections and liability risks are not being considered inGreen Paper .

Some sectors are completely ignored in Green Paper – all are important in reducing emissions, including transport, manufacturing, IT, logistics, food, health, education tourism, and the arts. Govt must outline policy for each sector and identify the responsible government department. Climate change requires cross sectoral, cross departmental responses.

If Government is serious about climate change adaption it needs to be prepared re-assess the cost of population growth. To develop Melbourne to house more people is going to cost more: whether in terms of structures (eg proposed multi-level buildings along transport routes) or in terms of infastructure and new public transport(new suburbs). No attention has been paid to the role of landscape in insulating the urban enviroment nor to the cost of adapting landscape use to allow for this to happen. In addition, building is going to become more expensive because of the need to include water and energy saving devices.

It is often an (apparently) cheap, quick option for the Government to import skilled workers rather than train them here. This does not necessarily reflect the desire among Australians to work in those occupations. For example many students want to do medicine but there are so few places, and we keep importing Doctors. Students are aware of this and it does nothing for their morale to know that the Governemnt would rather rely on migration than educate more of our brightest students in medecine. How much work has been done on assessing whether, for example, the intake could be doubled by having medical classes run in shifts? Hospitals run on shifts, afterall.

If the Government can predict where there will be a demand in jobs in 6 years time it needs to be communicating this to schools, so that when students enter high school they can have an idea about what subjects are going to lead to jobs. The degree of enthusiasm, and consequent achievement, in a subject varies with the perception of its relevance amongst students. Many students will have discounted science as a pathway before they reach upper high school: by that stage it is too late because students attidudes and view of their achievement in science are already set.

Overall the idea of talking to the community about Climate Change needs more attention. Look at US precedence here. (Peter Campbell to follow up). Also we will revisit the ClimateCare proposal as part of our response to this issue for the green paper.

There was a view that Victoria could become the advocate for the rest of Australia.

In addition a proposal for a climate change bill will be worked on. This may be broad and consist of a vision and principles but may also include some of the points raised here. This element is being worked up separately at this point ( in conjunction with FOE and CEN) but will come together before we finalise out response in September.

Personal tools