Yellow Box Dispatch — December 2016
A big year for the local environment
Let’s face it – every year is a big year for the environment because every win means a lot for future generations. Those future generations are not just us humans (and other animals who might be reading this) but also future generations of the biodiversity of the region.
A big advance in 2016 was that the three political parties in the local Legislative Assembly came together on climate change and renewable energy. ACT Labor, Canberra Liberals and ACT Greens all supported 100% renewable energy for electricity by 2020. The contracts are in place and it’s going to happen.
Now for zero net emissions by 2050 – at the latest. We have written to all parties to get support for creative engagement of the Assembly and the community to develop a pathway to reducing emissions to zero. What do we need to do, what are the options, how will Government do its part and how do we include all the community?
Please look at the events in this newsletter which show only some of the many activities of our member groups. We also try to advertise member group activity on our Facebook page.
We close the office Friday 16 December 2016 and reopen Monday 16 January 2017. The office is available for member groups who book before 9 December. Our next Yellow Box Dispatch will be February 2017 (so take two months to read this one).
We look forward to working with you in 2017 to advance our mission: Nature is respected, protected and embraced by an ecologically sustainable, socially just and economically viable society which lives lightly on the planet.
Have a break and have a good break.
Planning for 2017
Conservation Council Board members spent most of Saturday 19 November at a strategic planning day thinking and planning for 2017. The Board looked at our Strategic Plan and also discussed our election asks document and the priorities we had already identified. We decided to:
We have more work to do to flesh out practical campaigns and we have to keep an eye on how we provide resources to do the required work.
Board members have taken on various roles with Board committees and there will be further discussion of how our committees can better help the work of the organisation.
The Fundraising Committee will look at how to keep finding resources for the Conservation Council. Our funding from ACT Government has gone backwards against inflation since they stopped indexation in the 2012-13 Budget. We used reserves to maintain staff positions in 2015-16 to help organise the People’s Climate March and develop policies for the 2016 ACT election and have since tightened our belts. The Bank Australia partnership (see below) has provided some assistance and we would welcome more people signing up.
There was good energy at the Planning Day and it set a base for our 2017 work.
Help us out by transferring your loan
The Conservation Council has a partnership arrangement with Bank Australia whereby people can nominate us as they take out or transfer a loan and the Conservation Council ACT receives a one-off payment of 0.40% of the loan value.
We can recommend Bank Australia because they do not invest in fossil fuels and are a good way to go if you want to move away from institutions that continue to support fossil fuels. Bank Australia began in 1957 as the CSIRO Co-operative Credit Society then through mergers and changes became the Members and Education Credit Union (mecu) then bankmecu then Bank Australia.
Bank Australia gets your ongoing business for the purpose of the loan, and their contribution to the Conservation Council doesn’t affect your interest rate, fees or loan structure in any way.
“Bank Australia has not made any loan to the fossil fuel industry” and “Bank Australia has not and will not make any loans to finance coal and coal seam gas projects”.
Given that it is a member-owned bank you get a cheaper home loan, and Bank Australia will make a donation to the Council.
It is a reasonably easy loan conversion and the bank does most of the work. There is no money cost to you to move your home loan, just some of your time.
Contact the Executive Director, Larry O’Loughlin, if you want more details and for us to put you in touch with the bank. He has made the switch and lives to tell the tale.
ACT Container Deposit Scheme
Like it or not a Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) is on its way to the ACT by dint of an ALP election commitment and inclusion in the Parliamentary Agreement between ACT Labor and ACT Greens.
NSW has announced a scheme due to start July 2017 and the ACT scheme starting January 2018 is based on NSW arrangements with the ACT being treated as a region of NSW.
South Australia has had a scheme in place for nearly 40 years established when containers were mostly glass and were refilled (reused) rather than reprocessed as happens to almost all returned containers these days.
The deposit on containers will be 10 cents in NSW and the same in the ACT. South Australia would like to go to 20 cents to keep return rates high but will hold back in line with other states.
CDS will require a centralised counting facility and a number of depots – NSW expects they will need a depot for every 20,000 people. Given ACT is metropolitan not regional we will probably have one depot per 25,000-30,000 people with 12-18 depots. The ACT depots are expected to also take other materials such as batteries and metal.
In SA the industry handles over half a billion containers a year. The Scouts have about 15% of the industry and the remainder is mostly family businesses. Industry receives an income of between 2 and 5 cents per container.
Reverse vending machines might be used but they are limited in what they can process and would only be in secure places to reduce likelihood of vandalism and theft.
The ACT has long resisted calls for CDS because the comingled yellow-top recycling bins have done a good job and container litter has been a relatively small problem. Litter rates might actually increase with CDS given that some people might go through the recycling bins and discard the other materials. It will be interesting to watch the NSW experience to see how they manage the issues just like they did with greyhounds.
Now climate change gets (more) interesting
Climate change has not stopped because all the parties elected in the 2016 ACT Legislaticve Assembly election agreed on 100% renewable energy for electricity by 2020 and zero net emissions by 2050 at the latest.
It does mean that in our part of the world we have moved from fighting about the need for action on climate change and our targets.
Now we need to work together to build ways to reach those targets. We need to maintain the shared tri-partisan approach of Labor, Liberal and the Greens so that the people those parties represent – the community – can be part of the work ahead.
The Conservation Council has suggested to party leaders that the Assembly has a Select Committee to look at how we get to zero net emissions (reduce our emissions as far and as fast as possible then look at what we need to do to absorb unavoidable emissions).
The next steps might be hard so we need to engage with the people affected – all of us – to get the best outcomes. Elected representatives should be the ones to engage with us and help lead the way. We need to hear all views and consider many solutions and the Assembly should use creative and inclusive engagement methods to get the best outcomes.
The Assembly sits 13 December and it will be worth watching to see the processes they propose to fulfil the policies they took to the election.
We get ACT Smart Business recycling cred
Conservation Council has been reaccredited for ACT Smart Business recycling. It’s easy(ish) for us because part of our core business is to think about and advocate for better waste management across the whole community.
Basically we have separate containers for waste to landfill (aim for zero!); comingled recyclables; compostable materials (which go to domestic compost or to the Food Co-op’s system around the corner or up to one of the rooftop garden’s compost bins); batteries (mostly for visitors (we get batteries of visitors) which we take to accredited recyclers), and photocopier toner cartridges. We even put some of our ‘waste’ water on the tree at the front (it’s taller than its neighbours – that’s Plane to see).
We need more businesses to engage in waste reduction and we will be saying more on this in 2017 based on the work of our intern Zhiyan from the College of Business and Economics.
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Eco elves night market 2 December
What: Eco Elves Night Market is a chance to pick up Christmas gifts in a stress-free, family-friendly, kelpie-friendly atmosphere. Come along and celebrate things local, handmade, eco-friendly and fairtrade with live music and plenty of good food and drink.
When: Friday 2 December, 5pm-9pm
Where: next to Canberra Environment Centre, Corner Lawson Crescent and Lennox Crossing, Acton, Act 2601 (where the elves go)
Who: Canberra Environment Centre
WABA members exhibition until 4 December
Canberra Indian Myna Action Group AGM
What: CIMAG AGM with talk by Dr Richard Major from Sydney-based Australian Museum Research Institute who is working with scientists from Newcastle & Queensland Universities on analysis of DNA from Common Myna populations, sampled from throughout the species’ range in Australia. Questions being investigated are: The number of separate introductions; Origins of populations; Are some populations more invasive than others? Is native vegetation a barrier to dispersal? Are populations evolving to become more invasive?
Where: Southern Cross Club, Catchpole Street, Macquarie
When: 7.30pm Monday 5 December. Light refreshments provided
Frogwatch ACT AGM and celebrations
What: Annual Christmas party and AGM. Aim is to share some stories, praise everyone’s efforts and patience with our webpage and share a few drinks and scrumptious food (our shout).
When: 5 December 2016. AGM at 5.30pm ending with 20 min talk on achievements then celebrations from 7pm
Where: Kippax Tennis Club
Census news: 2016 Census has proven to be another smash hit and is shaping up nicely, with surveys still trickling in. So far 597 received surveys over whole year, with 267 done in October of which 196 done during Census week. We might come close to the 2013 number of annual surveys. Pobblebonk.
A story about Frogwatch
Who: Friends of Jerrabomberra Wetland
What: Friends’ monthly first Tuesday activity will start at 9.00am. Please wear sun protection, long pants and enclosed shoes, and bring water. We’ll finish with a coffee or lunch at the nearby cafe if anyone is keen (and we usually are).
Where: Wetlands Office, 2 Dairy Road, Fyshwick. It is a small group of low buildings on the left. You need to go past the 2 big Wetlands Foreshore vertical signs with Entrance 1 and Entrance 2 on them (an industrial estate) and continue down Dairy Rd 300m or so to a gate and green mailbox on the left. If you get to the end of the road by the public carpark you’ve gone too far. We’re up the ramp of the building on the right.
When: 9am, Tuesday 5 December
‘Demain’ — community film screening
What: When in 2012 the journal Nature announced the possible extinction of a part of humanity before end of 21st century a small film crew carried out an investigation across ten countries to figure out what may lead to this disaster and above all how to avoid it. They met pioneers re-inventing agriculture, energy models, economies, democracy and education. Joining concrete and positive actions already working, they began to figure out what could be tomorrow’s world… a bright new future.
All welcome, but seats are limited. Organised by SEE-Change and A Chorus of Women, with the support of ANU Film Group.
Where: Building 8a, Fellows Rd, ANU
When: Thursday, 8 December, 6.30 for 7pm
More details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1781635802102257/
Before the Flood
What: Join 350 Canberra for our end of year party – enjoy some FREE FOOD and watch Before the Flood. Before the Flood captures a three-year personal journey alongside Academy Award-winning actor and U.N. Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio as he interviews individuals from every facet of society in both developing and developed nations who provide unique, impassioned and pragmatic views on what must be done today and in the future to prevent catastrophic disruption of life on our planet.
Where: Manning Clark Lecture Theatre, ANU
Who: 350 Canberra is ACT chapter of 350.org, the global grassroots climate movement working to preserve a liveable climate and bring CO2 in the atmosphere back to 350 parts per million.
When: Come along Wednesday 14 December and learn how you can join us in driving action on climate change. 5:30-6:30pm: Pre-film Red Carpet end of year party. Get dressed up in your best Red Carpet digs (or come as you are), and enjoy some free food and drinks. 6:30pm: Free screening of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Before the Flood.
Bookings: RSVP now before spaces fill up! And don’t forget to invite your friends!
Canberra Ornithologists Group field trips
What: COG field trips visit various places with a Field Trip Leader. Visitors welcome but COG has a policy to give preference to members when numbers are limited. Each participant must sign a COG Field Trip Registration Form, which acknowledges the participant’s responsibilities.
When and where: 8am, Sunday 11 December Australian National Botanic Gardens; 8am, Sunday 18 December Aranda Bushland NR; 8.30am, Wednesday 21 December Wednesday Walk to Urriara East and Stoney Creek Nature Reserve
Twitter: No, COG doesn’t tweet (cheep joke) so go to the Canberra Birds website.
Weekly Cycle Jam
What: Cycle Jam is a free weekly bicycle workshop that runs out of the Recyclery, next to the Environment Centre. Jams are open to anyone who wants to learn how look after your bike, whether that’s changing tyres or stopping leaks. All that is needed is your bike and a willingness to learn in a hands-on session. Look for the bike on top of the roof to find the Recyclery.
Where: Recyclery, next to Canberra Environment Centre, Corner Lawson Crescent and Lennox Crossing, Acton, Act 2601
When: Every Wednesday 4-7pm