Welcome to our last issue of the Yellow Box Dispatch for 2018. This is our monthly summary of some of the environmental issues and events in the ACT and region. We include links to more information and to documents where available.
Our next issue will be released in February 2019. The office will be closed for general business from 20 December and resume 14 January 2019. Have a great break and we will see you in the new year!
This month’s Dispatch talks about the following news, campaigns and events:
- Welcome to our new Board
- We are recruiting!
- Walk the Border – Light wrap up
- School Strike for Climate Action a great success!
- Transport emissions the next challenge in the ACT
- Phase out of gas
- Cat containment update
- Waste-to-energy consultation period extended
- Planning Strategy confirms Central Molonglo protection
And we have some events listed below and many more listed on our Facebook page under events.
Interim Executive Director, Conservation Council ACT Region
Welcome to our new Board
The Conservation Council Annual General Meeting was held 13 November 2018 at the Conservation Council office. The annual election of the Conservation Council Board was conducted and the following were declared elected:
President: Rod Griffiths
Vice-President: Peter Ottesen
Vice-President: Marcus Hassall
Secretary: Helen Sims
Other Board members:
We are recruiting!
As some of you may already know, Larry O’Loughlin’s resignation as Executive Director took effect in November. As a result, we are looking for a new Executive Director.
The Executive Director reports to a Board and will lead the organisation to deliver the vision and strategic direction of the Conservation Council ACT Region as it continues to tackle the effects of climate change and protect the environment that underpins our unique and special Bush Capital.
An Expression of Interest (EOI) closes Friday 15 December and full applications on 11 January 2019. Potential applicants are strongly advised to submit an EOI first.
See the position description for further information.
Walk the Border – Light wrap up
Sunday 25 November wrapped up our 2018 Walk the Border – Light!
We had a great start to the program with a walk from Woods Lane to Hume. In fine weather, the walkers took in lots of history and some big views.
It was a mild and sunny day for the second walk. Participants got to experience the views and history of the zig zag section of the ACT’s border in North Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve. A big highlight was the sighting of a small number of golden sun moths, a nationally endangered moth species found only in grasslands.
The third walk brought together a big group of 32 walkers, who explored ACT’s far eastern point. Brooks Hill Reserve has some magic trees including the CT blazed tree at the most easterly point of the ACT and some great views.
The final walk treated walkers to sightings of classic ACT NSW border markers and some spectacular views towards the south of the ACT. Very poignant was the memorial to the team of 200 workers who helped construct the Queanbeyan to Cooma railway in the late 1800’s. It was also good to meet the participants of the Save Kosci protest walk who are doing a great job highlighting the threats that feral horses pose to Australia’s alpine regions.
All of the walks have highlighted the history of the establishment of the ACT and many varied environments it contains. Thanks to all the walkers for their good company.
School Strike for Climate Action a great success!
On Wednesday 28 November, we joined young people from across Canberra, who walked out of school to call for real climate action to protect our future.
Students protesting climate change arrived in Canberra after the prime minister told them to be less activist and go back to school. Hundreds of students lined up outside Parliament House on Wednesday wanting to speak to Scott Morrison and government ministers about taking emergency action against climate change. The students waited in the rain outside parliament and met with Labor, Greens and crossbench MPs, including the federal Greens leader, Richard Di Natale.
This youth activism brings about a strong sense of hope: we are building a powerful movement that will keep pushing our politicians until they do what it takes to stop the climate crisis and protect our futures. It represents the beginning of a new age of activism from Australia’s youth who are sick of not having their voices heard.
Read our blog post Canberra School Strike for Climate creates national momentum for more videos, pictures and details!
Transport emissions the next challenge in the ACT
Reducing emissions from transport is the next big climate change challenge in the ACT. We already have targets to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2020 and zero net emissions by 2045.
Transport is the second biggest source of emissions in the ACT after electricity (see picture, right). Transport emissions will be the largest source post-2020, when the ACT achieves its 100% renewable electricity target. This makes it the next frontier in the government’s efforts to reduce the ACT’s impact on climate change.
This year, Shane Rattenbury MLA released an Action Plan to accelerate the adoption of zero emissions vehicles in the ACT that will take us through to 2021.
It is clear that transport is, and will become increasingly so, a critical focus for reducing emissions in the ACT. In this Canberra Time article, the transitioning ACT Climate Change Council indicated it will turn its focus to the transport sector to ensure we meet our zero net emissions targets.
We are also looking forward to seeing the draft Transport Strategy early next year, in particular how it will tackle emissions.
Phase out of gas
If we are going to achieve zero net emissions by 2045 at some stage we have to talk about a strategy to reduce our emissions from gas to zero. In 2020, gas will be 21% of our greenhouse gas emissions compared with 10% in 2012.
The most important thing though is that a clear timetable to phase out gas is put in place and “new” gas is actively discouraged as a matter of urgency. We think it seems reasonable that a phase-out in ten years by 2028 should be possible. We are hoping the next Zero Net Emissions Action plan will have a clear pathway for phasing out gas. We have flagged this with Minister Rattenbury who has confirmed that the strategy is still being considered within government and is expected to be released in early 2019.
Playing with gas in Ginninderry
The developers of Ginninderry wanted to have a development without piped natural gas. However, gas-free development (follow link and look at question on gas) conflicts with ACT Territory Plan, which requires that gas is provided to all residential blocks (Territory Plan, Estate Development Code, p14).
We want an overall ongoing variation to the Territory Plan to remove the mandatory requirement – so that we don’t have to do a variation for each new suburb and that we can genuinely make the transition to zero net greenhouse gas emissions.
The Conservation Council has been engaged on this issue for some time and we conducted a very interesting Environment Exchange in 2017 “Beyond Gas”.
Cat containment update
The Conservation Council’s position on cat containment is that all of Canberra should be covered by cat containment laws by 2025.
Recently we heard about Canberra’s growing stray cat problem. The Conservation Council commented on the issue, noting the environmental consequences of letting cats roam without controls.
Our position has previously received public support from the Commonwealth’s former threatened species commissioner, Gregory Andrews. The commissioner pointed to the science, which shows that domestics cats are killing 61 million birds and 53 millions reptiles every year.
We are expecting a community consultation paper on broadening cat containment laws from the ACT Government in coming months. We will stay informed on this timeline — let us know if you have any other thoughts on the issue.
For more information, take a look at our cat containment FAQ page.
Waste-to-energy consultation period extended
The consultation period on ACT’s waste-to-energy policy now closes 14 December 2018. The ACT government is still seeking community input on waste-to-energy policy to clearly outline the Territory’s position on energy recovery as a waste management solution and provide a framework for assessing any future waste-to-energy proposals.
Some of the steps you can take include:
- complete the survey
- attend a drop-in session
- email [email protected] with your feedback
- register to participate in a focus group.
The Conservation Council has had a long engagement with the Government on waste issues and we have seen a range of ‘energy for waste’ proposals in the past. We remain concerned that the Government wants to leave the door open for incineration of waste given that it has a waste problem, not an energy problem, and ‘energy from waste’ is a smokescreen. Problems with waste should first be dealt with by reducing the waste and meeting energy needs should be at cost to the climate through emissions from waste incineration.
Have your say at the waste-to-energy issue on YourSay ACT.
Planning Strategy confirms Central Molonglo protection
We welcome the new ACT Planning Strategy released by Minister Gentleman’s office yesterday. It is finally biting the bullet on greenfield developments.
The new Planning Strategy rules out urban development in Central Molonglo, West Greenway and West Murrimbidgee – all of which we have been vocal about as not being suitable for urban development due to their ecological values. This reflects the good work of the Conservation Council a decade ago that led to a variation to the Territory Plan to remove Central Molonglo from being considered a possible urban development area in perpetuity.
We also welcome the focus on urban infill. It is great to see that the trend for ongoing urban greenfield sprawl may be coming to a sensible end in the ACT.
Clean-up Lake Burley Griffin
What: This event is organised by Tammy Ven Dange, who is tired of seeing rubbish in Lake Burley Griffin and decided to do something about it. There will be cleaning by land and by water to give our much loved Lake a good clean. More information will be provided shortly, but save the date for now! This event is supported by Clean-up Australia and various Lake User Group members from around Canberra. Please note these important details:
• Register at one of the booths on 9 December
• Bring work gloves and wear enclosed shoes
• All children 16 and under must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian
• Those on watercraft (not provided) must wear a lifejacket or PFD at all times during the clean-up effort.
When: 9:00am – 12:00pm, 9 December 2018
Where: Go to one of the volunteer registration sites on the day of the event, which are available at:
• Burley Griffin Canoe Club
• Lotus Bay (near Yacht Club)
• Weston Park (near Playstation)
• Black Mountain Peninsula
• West Basin (near the Bike Hire place)
• Kingston Foreshore (Bowen Park)
Go the Facebook event for more details.
AIATSIS Indigenous Art Market
What: The AIATSIS Indigenous Art Market 2018 is now in its 5th year and this year will be its biggest event yet! There will be a great range of art stalls, food and hot and cold beverages. This is an unparalleled opportunity for our local community to encounter, engage, and be transformed by Aboriginal culture from around Australia.
When: 10:00am – 4:00pm, Friday to Saturday, 7 – 8 December 2018
Where: 51 Lawson Crescent, Acton Canberra
For more information, visit the AIATSIS website.
Arachnid Adventures by Twilight
What: Come along and discover the fantastic world of spiders. Join spider expert Andrew and learn all about our furry friends as we trek into the night to see how many different types we can find! Search the wetlands for these 8 legged hunters of the night and meet some of Andrew’s collection.
When: 7:30 – 8:30pm, Sunday 16 December 2018
Where: Meet at 2 Dairy Rd Fyshwick, past the Wetland Foreshores Development, through the traffic calming devices until you get to a green mail box, gate and sign on your left saying Jerrabomberra Wetlands Offices
This event is $15. Register here.
People In: A Better Politics Needs All Of US
What: With 2018 wrapping up, come and tell the ACT Greens what matters to you and how Canberrans can be involved in deciding a future together. This is the first of a series of public meetings between now and the federal election to build ways of bringing the people in to decision-making. The event will be moderated by Toni Hassan, with contributions from the Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy. After a short presentation, people will be invited to discuss ideas in smaller groups, and feed them back to the organisers to help design the public meetings next year.
When: 6:00 – 9:00pm, Wednesday 12 December 2018
Where: 55 Ainslie Avenue, Gorman House, Main Hall Braddon
Visit the Facebook event for more information or register here.