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Welcome to Issue #14

Welcome to our last What’s Up for 2023. We hope you have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. We’ll be taking a short break and will return in February.


Congratulations to Mayor Heather Cunsolo on being re-elected for another term with Port Phillip Council. In her acceptance speech, the Mayor again committed to progressing work on PECAN’s Green Line project, and you can learn more about the Mayor here.


We’ve recently heard lots of talk about fracking and the oil and gas industry in Australia. Governments and the industry itself are talking up the economic benefits and claiming that if Australia doesn’t sell its gas then other countries will, so that the resulting carbon emissions will happen anyway. If you have a spare 20 minutes, this video by the Australia Institute very effectively debunks a lot of that noise.


We’re pleased to see that the Proudly Port Phillip Community Awards are back, after a long hiatus, and now include an award for the best sustainability project or initiative. Nominations are open until Friday 22 December. We encourage our local environmental leaders to participate.


Yet again, the world has experienced the hottest year on record. Climate change is really starting to bite, especially for the youngest and oldest members of our community. The City of Port Phillip has some good advice on dealing with extreme weather, but it does seem a bit like putting your finger in the dyke when the tsunami is coming.


If you’re looking to get out of town for a weekend of fun and good fellowship, join the 30th Anniversary Celebrations of our friends at GECO (Goongerah Environment Centre), who have long been fighting the good fight against native-forest logging.

Since we humans have the better brain, isn’t it our responsibility to protect our fellow creatures from, oddly enough, ourselves?

Joy Adamson

We are living and working on the unceded lands of the Yalukit Willam people. We pay our respects to the traditional owners of the land and their ongoing connection to land, waters, sky and culture.


Have Your Say to Council

This month, the City of Port Phillip has community consultations open on:

  • Proposed changes to Aged Care Services consultation (until 10 December)
  • Heritage Overlay 8 (Elwood) review consultation (until 4 December)
  • Future of the South Melbourne Market consultation (until 4 December)

  • Positive aging community workshop (6 December, Middle Park Community Centre)
  • Consultation on kerbside power-pole electric vehicle charging (until 17 December)
  • Sharing stories and ideas about the St Kilda Adventure Playground (until end December)

PECAN notes that there are many changes coming to Aged Care services in 2024. We strongly support the City of Port Phillip’s moves to support our older community members. The positive aging community workshop on 6 December should be very interesting in this regard.


However, we are disappointed with the very short response periods for many of the Have your Say consultations, and the way they are posted without advance warning. We strongly recommend that Council do better forward planning and promotion of their Have Your Say activities. Some of the consultations noted above were not visible when we prepared our last What’s Up in late October.


Nonetheless, as always, we recommend that you Have Your Say


Being mostly low-lying land by the sea, the City of Port Phillip is one of the highest flood risk areas in Melbourne. In collaboration with State Emergency Services, Council has published a good video on how to prepare your home for possible floods. We would like to see Council doing much more to prepare for the future of flooding.


The disappointing history of the City of Port Phillip Climate Emergency Action Plan

Council voted to approve the development of a Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP) in November 2021, and subsequently decided to update its pre-existing Sustainability policy, Act and Adapt, alongside the development of the CEAP.


PECAN prepared a detailed submission for the CEAP and had several meetings with Council staff and Councillors through 2023, and we felt our proposals had been broadly supported by the progressive Councillors. However at its unveiling for the meeting on 1 November we were dismayed to see that the finished document bore little resemblance to an effective CEAP, and that major proposals in our submission had not been taken up.


Nevertheless the progressive Councillors decided to adopt the Plan rather than leave a vacuum, and it was passed by 5 votes to 4, with three of the four Liberal/RoPP Councillors (Crs  Bond, Clark and Sirakoff ) voting against, and the remaining Liberal, Cr Pearl, abstaining from the vote.


In the debate preceding the vote claims were made by the Liberal Councillors about extravagant costings in the Plan and the small number of people involved in Council’s engagement process. Half of the Plan’s expenditure was costed, with stormwater harvesting, drainage and flood mitigation costed at $10.5m, the Urban Forest Strategy at $3.4m, Climate Resilience (includes the  Victorian Government’s Coastal Hazard Vulnerability Assessment and the Coastal Adaptation Plan) at $4.8m. The remaining items without forward costs or estimates were grouped together as Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions and included rebuilding of the EcoCentre, the South Melbourne Market Sustainability Strategy, the Integrated Transport Plan, fleet electrification, and Council buildings and street lighting upgrades. The total estimated cost of all projects, costed and uncosted was about $42m through to 2028, or about $8m per year.


As far as engagement is concerned Council commissioned a random sample telephone interview style survey of 400 residents drawn proportionally from across the City. In addition, 215 residents completed an open-access, online survey. The results show strong community concern about climate change and support for climate change action. The survey outcomes can be found at Sustainability Survey – what we heard from you – City of Port Phillip.


Despite these disappointments, the CEAP should be up for review again in late 2024. In the meantime we must build a campaign for improvements and make residents aware of them – the fight is far from over.

image: Environmental Leadership 2023 cohort

Thinking about joining an environmental leadship course?

The City of Port Phillip Environmental Leaders course has long been a great training ground for developing our future environmental leaders. The course is based on 10 weekly, evening sessions where participants develop and refine an environmental project that they are passionate about.


Applications are open for the next edition of the course, which will start in February 2024.


Port Phillip EcoCentre – Congratulations on another great year!
The Port Phillip EcoCentre was a visionary idea that over the years has expanded to become a major community resource for environmental education, research and advocacy. It is broadly admired within Australia and overseas. We congratulate Jan Cossar, the EcoCentre’s new President, and the rest of the Committee of Management on being elected unopposed at the AGM on 2 November.


To give just a brief overview of the EcoCentre’s vital activities: during 2022/2023 they hosted 14,000+ program participants and 89,506 service users, who accessed EcoCentre resources, advice, activities and content. There were 18,670 environmental volunteer hours (valued at $870,000) contributed by 3,441 volunteers. Additionally, the EcoCentre partnered with over 250 organisations, including 147 schools. If you’d like to learn more, their 2022-2023 Annual Report is a very worthwhile read. You can also go and see their new home under construction (see above rendering) in the corner of the St Kilda Botanical Gardens.


Do you want to join a protest?

As part of the Turn Up the Heat on Labor initiative run by Move Beyond Coal, our friends at BCCAG are organising two local protests that we invite people to join. They want protesters outside the offices of these local MPs:


Monday 4 December, 10:00 – 11:30am. Higgins Street Action
         At the office of Dr Michelle Ananda-Raja MP, 1343 Malvern Rd, Malvern


Tuesday 12 December, 10:00 – 11:30am. Macnamara Street Action
         At the office of Josh Burns MP, 219 Barkly St, St Kilda


If you want to get involved in protests but are not sure how to go about it, Extinction Rebellion are running several workshops near the Victoria Market during early December – See the schedule here. And they have also scheduled several Protest Actions during early December.


V2G, V2H, V2L – so confusing!

Watch this video for an excellent explanation of the buzz around using your electric car (the ‘V’ in the above acronyms) to provide power to the electricity grid (the ‘G’), your home (the ‘H’) or other electrical devices (the ‘L’ for load). V2G has arrived in South Australia, and hopefully it’s coming to other states soon. It seems that electric cars are really big, easily moved batteries that can be used to power all kinds of things – who knew?


In a very promising initiative, the GoGet car share company is partnering with Nightingale Housing and Momentum Energy to have an electric share car positioned at The Village apartment complex in Brunswick. They’re also looking for other buildings to partner with on electric share cars.


Electric bikes and scooters are having a big environmental impact

For short, local trips electric scooters and bikes are having a big impact by reducing transport costs and taking cars off the roads and on-street parking. The 280 million of them that are now in use are also cutting demand for oil much more than electric cars – see here for details.

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New roofing materials and paints offer passive daytime radiative cooling

As our world heats up, more and more energy will be used to cool our living spaces and prevent heat stress, which is especially dangerous for the young and the old. But here’s a hopeful development: there are new classes of materials being developed which can be used on roofs to significantly reduce the amount of energy absorbed by the building during the day – think roofs covered in highly reflective white paint. Especially in poorer parts of the world, which are also often the hottest, this is a very cost-effective way to lower heat stress while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuels used to generate electricity for (expensive) air-conditioners.


This seems a better approach than retro-fitting single safe rooms within houses with good insulation and solar-powered room air conditioners, as now being trialled in Geelong.


And just for fun …

Climate 200 ran a Climate Cartoon People’s Choice competition, and the above is Cathy Wilcox‘s winning entry – we love it!