2015 visual diary

As another big year comes to a close, here are some highlights from our year.

Hope you have a great summer, get out amongst nature with friends and family, and recharge. See you in 2016!

JANUARY

ABOVE: FoE supported the call by Indigenous leaders, who presented an urgent demand for a more meaningful role in water management as the Darling River looked likely to cease flowing for the third time in 12 years.

ABOVE:

FoE revealed that large quantities of nanomaterials are being used in agricultural chemicals overseas, bringing into serious question claims made by the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), that nanomaterials are currently not being used in agricultural chemicals in Australia.

ABOVE: Friends of the Earth drew national media attention to the fact that koalas are still being impacted by plantation logging in South West Victoria.

Footage sent to Friends of the Earth shows a koala with baby being felled inside a plantation owned by the Cayman Islands based, Australian Bluegum Plantations Pty Ltd. This triggered a state-wide debate about how plantations are managed.

ABOVE: FoE highlighted the need for greater community input into forestry operations in the Strathbogie Ranges in north eastern Victoria, in order to improve the long term viability of the Strathbogie Koala Population.

ABOVE: we are proud to be part of a global movement. FoE's renewable energy campaigner Leigh Ewbank joins an anti-fracking rally in California.

ABOVE: In the last week of February, Wendy Flannery, the FoE Brisbane Climate Frontlines convenor, participated in a capacity building workshop on climate change in Savusavu, Fiji, titled: "Connecting the Dots: learnings from community based adaptation and migration to promote climate resilience, and how these can influence national and international policy".  The workshop was co-hosted by the Pacific Conference of Churches and Bread for the World.  The participants represented two programs in Papua New Guinea, two in Fiji, and individual representatives from Kiribati, Tuvalu and Solomon Islands. 
 
Climate Frontlines is now partnering with the Pacific Islands Reference Group (PIRG) to organise a number of activities in the lead up to the Paris climate change negotiations.  These include a theatrical production which will premiere at the Pacific Tides Festival in Redlands 7 - 9 August.

ABOVE:

Chinese imported frozen berries linked to a number of cases of hepatitis A in Victoria and NSW has led to a national call for stronger food safety regulation and country of origin labelling.

However under the new China Free Trade Agreement and pending Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), this could be unfeasible. Friends of the Earth’s Fair Trade spokesperson, Sam Castro said “like other similar trade agreements the TPP could make it impossible to set higher standards on imported foods or labelling, because labelling regulation can be deemed a ‘barrier to trade’.”

MARCH

FoE mobilised public support to ensure that current protections for Tasmanian World Heritage Areas were not weakened.

Throughout the year we have advocated for the need for a rapid transition away from our current reliance on polluting fossil fuels to clean renewable energy pathways.

Above: for the second year, FoE, joined with the Melbourne Campaigners Network and CounterAct to host the Change Course. This course takes place over one month and is designed to give a broad overview of the skills needed to be an effective campaigner. 

APRIL

 

ABOVE:

FoE intensified its call for Australia to regulate the use of nano-sized silver in everyday products such as food packaging, following the United States peak environmental agency's decision to start doing so.

April 2015: The Seaspray community in Gippsland meets with Senator Ricky Muir.

“I support the call to exempt all communities that express concern against unconventional gas mining to be exempt from all existing licences. A community should have the right to veto,” he said.

ABOVE: FoE continues to work with local communities to declare themselves coal and gasfield free.

ABOVE: FoE continues to support the global efforts to stop the development of GM tree plantations.

We supported Totally Renewable Yackandandah in north east Victoria in launching a 100% Renewables Target for their community.

ABOVE: during April, May, and June we helped organise over 15 successful community screenings of the 'Frackman' film across Victoria.

MAY

ABOVE: Alcoa Australia have announced closure of the Anglesea coal mine and power plant on Aug 31 in response to a strong community campaign by Surf Coast Air Action.

Friends of the Earth have been a proud supporter of the Anglesea community in their fight for closing the polluting power plant and protect public health.

ABOVE: The Australian Environmental Justice (AEJ) research team at RMIT University is creating a public online database of cases of environmental injustice — for affected communities, campaigners and educators.

The AEJ project has Friends of the Earth (Australia) (FoE) as a partner and is associated with the EU-funded international Environmental Justice, and was launched at FoE in May.

FoE continued to provide support to residents concerned about the impacts of aerial spraying of the herbicides Clopyralid, Glyphosate and Metsulfuron Methyl in the plantations around Bright and surrounding townships, in north eastern Victoria.

ABOVE: Three major French banks have announced they will not fund the mega coal mines proposed in the Galilee Basin, or associated infrastructure such as the new coal export terminals at Abbot Point.

BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, and Credit Agricole have issued statements that bring to eleven the number of international banks that have spoken out against the prospect of funding mega-coal mines in the Galilee Basin or new export terminals in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

 

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secret trade agreement that will adversely affect the environment, worker’s rights, cost of medicines, internet freedoms, food safety, intellectual property rights and indigenous rights.

With a range of partners, FoE held a side event during the national Congress of the ACTU featuring a Roundtable with a range of speakers.

The full plenary of the ACTU Congress reinforced the position of the Roundtable by unanimously passing a motion on behalf of their 2.4 million members, calling the Australian Government to release the TPP text or withdraw Australia from the secret negotiations.

ABOVE: FoE has provided support to the local group WHAM, which is seeking to stop the destruction of red gum trees up to 700 years old as part of the widening of the Western Highway in Victoria.

The Federal government announces its Inquiry into the tax status of green groups. This is widely seen as an attack on the environment movement.

We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received from our partners in the community. Trev and Di from Seaspray, VIC.

You can read more about these attacks here.

ABOVE: The Senate Inquiry into wind farms and health drags on ... We continue to highlight the fact that wind energy needs to be a key element in the transition that is required as we move away from polluting fossil fuels.

Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) are lands owned by Indigenous people and voluntarily managed for conservation. There are currently 60 declared IPAs, covering land three times the size of Victoria! IPAs are recognised as providing real social, cultural and environmental benefits through providing employment, protection of country and cultural connection to land.

But federal government funding for IPA's is under threat.

ABOVE: FoE campaigned during 2014 for all parties to adopt a commitment to establish a Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET). We welcomed the Andrew government's commitment to reinstating a VRET.

A new report by the IMF reveals “shocking” $5.3 Trillion global fossil fuel subsidy for 2015, which is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments.

JUNE

ABOVE: FoE Australia turns 40! (well, 41 but we were too busy last year to have a party).

And no, the sign is incorrect. We haven't sold out!

ABOVE: our Barmah Millewa campaign (BMC) re-launched as the River Country campaign, with a broad mandate to protect our inland river country in conjunction with traditional owner groups.

ABOVE: A new report from Market Forces shines a light for the first time on Australian banks’ financing of the fossil fuel industry and the disparity between lending to ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ energy.

Covering over 150 financial institutions, the report – Fueling the Fire – identifies ANZ as the leading lender to fossil fuels, having provided $12.6 billion to coal, oil and gas in Australia since 2008.

Healthy Futures is a network of health professionals, students and supporters organising to take action on climate change and related public health challenges. They joined FoE Australia as an affiliate in 2015.

ABOVE: the campaign lead by FoE and Quit Coal and many regional groups helped achieve a moratorium on drilling for unconventional gas in Victoria and a commitment to a state inquiry into this industry.

The inquiry is now underway, with hearings due to start in late June.

ABOVE. The radioactive exposure tours have been going most years since the mid 1980s, and have introduced many hundreds of people to the wonderful - and threatened - arid landscapes of northern South Australia.

ABOVE: The Climate Frontlines campaign of FoE Brisbane, and the sub-group, Friends of Tulele Peisa, are focused on those at the frontlines of climate change in the Pacific. 

In particular, the Climate Frontlines Collective raises awareness and funds for people in the low-lying Pacific nations of Kiribati and Tuvalu who are being forced to leave their communities due to climate change. These island communities are already being displaced by rising sea levels.

The Hub Foundation Castlemaine, based in Central Victoria, works on local projects which have tackling climate change as their focus and joined FoE as an affiliate member in 2015. 
Work so far involves:
•running community bulk-buys of solar panels using local installers. 
•installing free solar systems on community buildings and on housing projects for the homeless
•promoting local food production with our street wicking food boxes and support of the Hub Plot
•organising Ride to Work
•supporting re-vegetation projects
•and hosting events to raise awareness of climate change and what people can do.

 

ABOVE: In June we supported the launch of the Reef Defenders campaign.

 

JULY

We co-hosted an event on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement at the ALP national conference in Melbourne.

Above: the radioactive exposure tour passes through Dubbo in western NSW, to raise awarenss of threats posed by local mine proposals.

The Rad Tour finished in Adelaide.

 

SEPTEMBER

The federal government's inquiry into the tax status of environmental organisations came to Melbourne in September. Working with a range of groups FoE helped organise a large community presence reminding the government that people appreciate the work of the green movement.

'Free Karen'. In a bizarre move, the federal government included environmental activism in it's 'radicalisation awareness kit'. Thousands of people signed our petition calling on the government to withdraw the suggestion that there was a link between environmental activism and extremism and political violence.

In September, FoE and Lock the Gate organised a huge community rally in Melbourne which saw people from around the state converge on Melbourne to demand a permanent ban on unconventional gas drilling in the state.

ClimActs joins FoE

ClimActs is an Australian protest theatre troupe using striking spectacle as well as satire to educate and communicate the urgency of acting on climate change. For over two years we’ve been appearing at rallies, backdropping or intercepting politicians, and protesting at fossil fuel headquarters to demand climate justice.

FoE commissioned testing revealed that the use of risky nanomaterials in foods in Australia is widespread, contradicting the repeated claims made by our food regulator Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) that nanomaterials aren’t in use here.

 

OCTOBER

We are working with communities in Gippsland to oppose new coal exploration proposals that have been approved by the Victorian government.

NOVEMBER

FoE responded quickly to the government announcement that it is re-starting the search for a national nuclear waste repository. We have successfully campaigned against this proposal twice in the last 15 years.

With a range of partners, FoE hosted a conference which examined the influence of corporate funding on public research in universities.

NAB and CBA support 2°

Both NAB and Commonwealth Bank adopt the goal of keeping global warming to below two degrees, acknowledging their responsibility in helping the world meet that goal.

 

Research by FoE demonstrated that the personal fortunes of the 782 wealthiest people on the planet, many CEOs of major corporations, could power Africa, Latin America and most of Asia with 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Launched just a week before the UN climate summit in Paris, the report illustrates that the finance for an energy revolution certainly exists, while the political will to drive the transformation is so far shockingly absent.

FoE was active inside and outside the climate negotiations in Paris. On the last weekend of the talks, FoE France organised an event where 3,000 people spelt out the words 'Climate Justice. Peace' on the streets of Paris.

For full details on the Paris negotiations, please check here.

FoE Brisbane Climate Frontlines collaborated with FoEI to facilitate the participation of Torres Strait elder Aunty Rose Elu in COP21 activities in Paris.

DECEMBER

FoE released a report which shows that global palm oil companies Wilmar International and Bumitama Agri, backed by major U.S. and European investors, have created conditions that have allowed Indonesia’s recent devastating forest fires to burn out of control.

In December, FoE revealed that our regulators are planning to allow foods derived from a range of new genetic modification (GM) techniques untested and unlabelled onto our supermarket shelves and that they have misled the Senate on the issue.

 

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You can check out our campaign diary from 2014 here.