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FoEA News February 2022

It's a pleasure to bring you the first news of the year with a big update from Friends of the Earth this month.

There's always a heap of action for you to get involved in - feel free to get it touch and ask how!

If you are fresh to FoE we have a new 'Who We Are' Page on our website which gives a little look over how our federation works

Healthcare workers stage die-in at AGL office to protest pollution

Last week, Gippsland health professionals travelled to Melbourne to join a theatrical health protest outside AGL’s head office to call on the energy giant to reduce its harmful coal pollution, warning that the health impacts of climate change could dwarf the impacts of Covid-19.

“Gippslanders face significant health burdens as a result of both toxic air pollution from Victorian coal fired power stations and the health impacts of climate change from droughts and deadly bushfires. To save lives from both of these threats, AGL needs to replace Loy Yang A with renewable energy by 2030 while ensuring the wellbeing of workers and the local community.” said Dr Benjamin Lewis, a GP in Warragul.

Their calls were loud and their message simple: 'AGL Replace coal, Save lives'. In a dramatic illustration of the health impacts of burning coal, healthcare professionals took action to call on Australia's largest polluter to switch to renewable energy by 2030 in line with recommendations by the World Health Organisation.

If you're in health, join their calls and sign Healthy Futures' open letter.

Photos and full story here.

GECO's Citizen Science Camp

We had an awesome time at our citizen science camp over the weekend on unceded Bidewell and Monero Country. Was great to get out to the Errinundra Plateau and do some Greater Glider and Yellow-bellied Glider surveys. There were plenty of walks to do during the day, through ancient rainforest to a giant cut-tail Ash on Sellar's Road, and to the Cathedral Tree, a giant 14-meter circumference Manna Gum.

Thanks so much to everyone who came out and got involved! We regularly hold citizen science events, sign up to our email list to get updates and come experience East Gippsland's incredible forests and wildlife, still threatened by logging.

We had around 20 people to help survey for Greater Gliders in areas scheduled for logging. A court case being run by Environment East Gippsland and Kinglake Friends of the Forest is temporarily halting logging in ALL areas where Greater Gliders are found. All glider records will be put into reports and submitted to the Environment Department. It was great to have so many new volunteers getting involved in on the ground surveying to save these precious forests.

This event was held on the stolen lands of the Bidewell and Monero First Nations peoples where sovereignty was never ceded. We pay our deepest respects to their Elders past and present. We acknowledge the thousands of years of custodianship and care of forests and Country, and the ongoing fight for land justice.

Nuclear Free Collective: Update

The Nuclear Free Collective is excited to be one year closer to a nuclear free future and will continue to support First Nations and front-line communities in their fight against radioactive racism and the terrible destruction caused by each part of the nuclear chain. You can join us by coming to one of our fortnightly meetings

Dr Jim Green has written some excellent articles on the grim future of the nuclear industry and the economic non-sense of nuclear energy. Please help spread the word on our upcoming online forum as part of the National Sustainable Living Festival: Nuclear Power for Australia: Is nuclear power a viable climate solution? on February 26 from 2:00-3:30PM.

A shining example of the economic unviability of nuclear is the fact that 3 out of 4 proposed uranium mines in Western Australia have seen their licenses expire in the last year. Our focus will be on supporting the Traditional Custodians, the  Upurli Upurli Nguratja, and campaigners in WA to make sure Vimy Resources' Mulga Rock Project will find staunch resistance at every step of the ongoing attempt to realise the mine.

The Barngarla Traditional Custodians have launched their judicial challenge related to the nomination of the Napandee site in Kimba SA for the proposed nuclear dump site. The best way anyone can support the opposition to the dangerous dump, is by donating to the Barngarla crowdfunder to finance the legal challenge. The recent floodings in the Kimba area have highlighted the inadequacy of the site for such a purpose.

School Strike 4 Climate

For the past decade, we’ve watched our politicians bicker as local communities face extreme weather events. We are at the edge of a climate catastrophe and yet our Government is doing nothing to save us. The science is sound and the solutions are here, the only barriers left are our governments' inaction. This election, we are asking people to stand up to our politicians and #VoteForOurFutures.

Last year, School Strike 4 Climate mobilised tens of thousands of students across the country in the largest climate strikes since the beginning of the pandemic. Young people have shown that they will not take it lying down if our government continues to a) destroy our planet, b) use ‘pandemic recovery’ as an excuse to pour billions of dollars into the gas industry and c) embarrass us on the world stage for climate action. This year, we are more ready than ever to strike again!

School Strike 4 Climate is planning some huge actions for the start of this year as we face the upcoming election. On March 25, we will be joining hundreds of thousands of students across the world in the Global #ClimateStrike to demand world leaders put people above profit! This year we’re very excited to announce that we’ll be expanding beyond our typical strikes and are hosting a Climate Action Day across the country. In addition to our major strikes, local groups across the country will be hosting a wide array of community events such as climate forums, artistic expressions of climate protest and activities which help students register to vote. 

We will continue hold Election Actions after March 25, targeting the offices of MPs, walking out of school and mobilising to tell our politicians meet our demands at this election;

  1. Net Zero by 2030 which means no new coal, oil or gas projects.
  2. 100% renewable energy generation and exports by 2030
  3. Fund a Just Transition and Job Creation for all Fossil Fuel Workers and their communities

This year we will continue to #ClimateStrike to tell the world that our futures are on the line and that we are demanding drastic action now!

How can you support us?

Victorian Forest Alliance launched

FoE is proud to be a member of the Victorian Forest Alliance (VFA) which was recently established to protect and restore native forests in Victoria. It is an alliance of local and regional groups who are concerned about forests and biodiversity.

There will be a launch event in Melbourne on Saturday and Sunday February 12 and 13, happening as part of the Sustainable Living Festival. The VFA say ‘this public launch event includes an art exhibition/auction/fundraiser, live music, banner making, footpath art, video screenings, and more’. 

Check VFA via their facebook page.

Snow Gum citizen science

Friends of the Earth recently held its first citizen science fieldtrip to map areas of Snow Gum forests in the Victorian mountains. These forests are largely protected in national parks but are threatened by climate driven fire regimes and dieback, which is caused by a native beetle.

We checked sites on the northern end of the Dargo High Plains, which is roughly south of the Hotham ski resort. We visited areas that have been burnt multiple times in recent years. This has resulted in the death of many parent trees, and then loss of the seedlings and resprouting that happened after the first fire. We were pleased to see that, after two mild and wet summers, seedlings have finally started to grow in sections of these burnt forests.

While these forests will recover from fire, climate change is making fires more frequent and this is leading to local loss of Snow Gum woodlands.

You can see a report from the fieldtrip here. 

Please consider signing our letter to the Victorian environment minister here. 

Strzelecki koalas

Strzelecki koalas have again been recognised by interstate governments for their genetic diversity and significance, yet they still receive the bare minimal recognition and legislative protection here in Victoria. Between 2013-2014 a project was underway by the NSW Environment & Heritage team to survey and translocate male Strzelecki koalas, however this plan came to a halt as it hinged on the condition that these koalas had to be chlamydia-free and in recent news as of late last year the SA government were approved to take 6 male Strzelecki koalas. 

SA government owned entity 'Koala Life' plans to breed up a "super-koala" between SA's disease-free koala and Victoria's genetically diverse Strzelecki koala which may sound to have conservation merit, however SKAT have expressed a number of concerns. We believe 2 male koalas were taken late December and with their permits valid until June 2022 they are expected to capture another 4 male animals.   

We want to know why there was such secrecy between this inter-governmental deal? Are the welfare considerations of the Strzelecki koala population truly considered? Why were no local residents, wildlife experts, community groups notified or consulted prior to the animals removal?

Sign our petition to call in both Environment and Conservation Ministers - Lily D'Ambrosio (Vic) and David Speirs (SA). 

Climate change = more fires.

 The Australian Firefighters Climate Alliance (AFCA) recently launched a campaign, asking firefighters to post an image and demand that the federal government take meaningful action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The key message is:

We're on the frontline. We see that fire seasons are getting longer. Without climate action, it will only get worse. @ScottMorrisonMP @senbmckenzie – commit Australia to 75% emission reductions by 2030.

If you are involved in firefighting in any way, we encourage you to get involved in the campaign.

The AFCA facebook page is here.

And the website is here.

PFAS Chemicals in Victorian Drinking Water Supplies

During 2020-2021, Friends of the Earth conducted 15 Freedom of Information Requests (FoI) to Victorian water authorities concerning detections of PFAS in drinking water, water treatment plants, biosolids, recycled water and waste water effluent. This blog relates only to information supplied regarding drinking water. Future blogs will discuss the other issues.

Three FoI requests were sent and received back by late 2020 from Melbourne Water, Yarra Valley Water and Gippsland Water. The other FoI’s, sent off in 2021, were received by late November 2021.

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), have been used in a myriad of applications including fire fighting foams, wet weather gear (such as gortex), scotchguard, non-stick cookware, hydraulic oil and food wrappers. They repel oil and water and are ubiquitous in the environment. Due to their persistence PFAS chemicals have been dubbed “forever chemicals”. PFAS have been linked to a number of health problems including cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease.

Full findings here.

Community Actions Hold Morrison Govt To Account On Climate.

Community members are keeping climate justice on the agenda by holding weekly actions at MP offices in Melbourne's inner east and southeastern suburbs.

"Our community is very disappointed in the lack of commitment to climate justice by our federal government," says Liz Reen, the organiser of a weekly action in Burwood. "Science and the Glasgow Pact are very clear on the need for strong emission reductions of more than 50 percent by 2030."

Weekly actions are now occurring at the Malvern office of Dr. Katie Allen MP on Thursdays (between 11am & 12pm) and at the Burwood office of Gladys Liu (between 7:30am & 8:45am). Local organisers would welcome your support, so head along if you're nearby.

Celebrate community action on social media.

Friends Of The Earth Respond To Climate Panel Announcement.

Less than a year after setting Victoria's first interim Emissions Reduction Targets (for 2025 and '30), the Andrews government announced the expert panel that will advise it on the next round of climate targets.

The panel will present recommendations to the Victorian government about the state’s 2035 Emissions Reduction Target ahead of its decision in the first half of 2023. It will be the first time any jurisdiction in Australia has set a target for 2035.

"The Victorian government can lock in jobs and investment by accelerating the pace of emissions reductions," I said in a statement. "We can’t afford to wait until 2050 to reach zero emissions."

Friends of the Earth coordinated a community campaign on Victoria’s climate targets between 2017 and 2021. We will build on this effort to ensure the next climate targets are aligned with science so stay tuned for updates.

Read our full response.

Info Night - Fighting For Climate Justice In 2022

Want to get involved in the fight for climate justice and environmental protection?

Then join Act on Climate and Friends of the Earth campaigners on Tuesday 15 March for an info night at the iconic Victorian Trades Hall in Carlton. 

With both a state and federal election approaching, 2022 is going to be a crucial year for our climate, communities, wildlife, and the places we love.

There's a lot of work to do to secure strong policies to tackle the climate crisis, drive a just transition, and protect ecosystems, so join us on 15 March to hear about our campaign strategies and get involved. 

Register for the info night today.

URGENT ACTION: Say No to GM babies

Please take this 5 minute action now.

Please also spread it widely across your networks and on social media.

Ask Senators to vote 'no' to the Mitochondrial (Mito) Law Reform Bill.

The House of Reps passed it in December, 2021.

Why is this action so important?

New Mito laws would license human genetic engineering that should remain illegal. Genetically modified children would be born in the experiments and their offspring would inherit the new traits. The IVF industry may also be licensed to use these tools commercially.

The Mito Bill Memorandum admits: "the risks for children born using these techniques are not yet fully understood and the available scientific evidence to support this procedure is limited."

Government also concedes: "immediate and long-term risks for the child and longer term implications for subsequent generations are not yet fully understood."

The Mito Bill is a Trojan Horse for more general human genome editing experiments and clinical use for which government has allocated $500 million over 10 years. They also seek public acceptance of human GM which may lead to future human enhancement and eugenics.

Please do this 5 minute Cyberaction now here.

IMARC postponed—but extractivism continues

The annual International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC), Australia’s largest gathering of destructive extractivist companies, has been cancelled for a second time on ‘health and safety grounds’ as the recent rapid spread of COVID-19 continues.

Despite this iteration of IMARC having been cancelled, the health and safety of this planet and all life upon it will continue to be disregarded by the reckless practises of the extractivist companies comprising the would-be attendees of IMARC.

Whichever dates IMARC is rescheduled for, there will be continued resistance against it, to fight for land, water, and life.

For more information go to Blockade IMARC's website

Save the Sepik 

The company behind the Frieda Mineis continuing to pursue the project despite growing resistance from the people of Sepik River. On November 24, 2021, PanAust hosted a virtual community leaders forum with the land-owning communities of the Frieda River, the West Sepik Provincial government and representatives from the Conservation and Environmental Protection Authority (CEPA)3 to discuss ways forward for the mine development. 

The Project Sepik team at Ambunti district, Upper Sepik River, also reported that a team sent out by PanAust to engage with communities told people gathered at Ambunti Station that the Frieda Mine will still go into operation, despite the resistance. PanAust held a gathering at the station to talk to people about its recruitment drive in 2022 for the resumption of the mine development.  

The company is also giving small donations to schools and funding small activities in the districts close to the mine site. This is a common tactic used by mining companies when trying to win the approval of an affected community.  

2022 will be a tougher and more challenging year for Project Sepik but we are confident that we can continue to protect the Sepik River from destructive mining together. We know that our people along the Sepik River will not trade their source of livelihood and home for so-called economic development which will never benefit the masses. 

Will you sign and share this petition to support our call for a ban of the mine and for the Sepik River Basin to receive a World Heritage Listing? 

Pacific Regional Solidarity in Chain Reaction

The next edition of Chain Reaction will feature the theme, "Pacific Regional Solidarity" in the face of the climate emergency.  A number of the contributions are based on a series of webinars with presentations by well known Pacific leaders and community activists organised by Climate Frontlines towards the end of 2020 and in July 2021. Keep a lookout for information about a special event to launch the edition.

Published since 1975, Chain Reaction has built up a loyal audience and earned a reputation as a progressive magazine at the forefront of environmental and social debates in Australia. You can read a short history of Chain Reaction here.

Subscribe to Chain Reaction here.

Friends of the Earth Food Co-op


Volunteer with Friends of the Earth Melbourne 

Are you passionate about protecting our ecosystems and taking action on climate change? Friends of the Earth Melbourne is working with communities across Victoria to stand up to big corporations and fight for a just and sustainable future.

Thank you for your ongoing support, whether it's reading our content, volunteering, participating in our events or donating. It's because of our diverse and dedicated community that we are able thrive in these complex times.


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