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Welcome to Issue #15

Welcome to our first What’s Up? for 2024. We hope you have had a good break and are ready to get back into the thick of all things climate.


While we’ve had more rain than sun in Melbourne this summer, we expect a lot more heatwaves as global warming starts to bite, and recent happenings in WA hint at the dangers coming. Extreme heat imperils the most vulnerable people in our community – the very old, the very young, those without homes. We need to adapt our public and private spaces so that they can cope with heat stress.


Looking more positively, if you have some free time, the Australia Institute have published a very good video on 6 Ways to Identify Climate Scams being put forward by governments and businesses. And for something more upbeat, TED Countdown have published A New Climate Vision video summarizing our progress on combating climate change.


You may like block out 13-16 March in your calendar to join Extinction Rebellion Victoria’s “Rebel for Life” campaign.


Also, it is a bit late in the season, but there is still time for you to join over 10,000 other citizen scientists in the Great Australian Bug Hunt. See here for details. Our great friends at the Port Phillip EcoCentre are also running a series of Plastic Free Bay – Drain Sorts to collect data on what is coming out of our storm water drains. There will be sessions on 8-9 February,


To get a better general understanding of the emerging climate change problems our bay must face, the long awaited Port Phillip Bay Coastal Hazard Assessment is well worth reading.


Birdlife Australia currently has an email campaign to save the Ramsah Wetlands at Toondah Harbour in Queensland. You can go here to send an email to Environment Minister Plibersek asking her to stop the development.


And finally, readers might like to download and use GoodFish – Australia’s sustainable seafood guide, which has been launched by the Australian Marine Conservation Society. It seems a “no brainer” to only consume sustainably harvested seafood which has preferably been grown in Australian waters.


Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness. Such investments will soon be stranded assets – a blot on the landscape, and a blight on investment portfolios.

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General

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 no newly open community consultations. Nonetheless, as always, we recommend that you regularly check the Council community consultation page and Have Your Say


Happily, Port Phillip is hosting two sustainability related online webinars during February, and we encourage you all to attend:

These webinars should be full of valuable tips and tricks for living more sustainably during Summer.


Besides the local Council, the Victorian Government is asking for comments on its Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area Development Contribution Plan before 23 February 2024.


Finally, during February-March Homes Victoria is hosting several public consultation opportunities about the Barak Beacon public/private housing project in Port Melbourne. Unfortunately, the online information does not mention the Community Drop-in Sessions at the Lairdet Community Centre on Tuesday 20 February (4-7pm) and Saturday 24 February (1-4pm).


There seems to be a few environmental fundraising walks coming up…

Our friends at the Australian Conservation Foundation are looking for people to pre-register for Australia’s Biggest Bushwalk which will be happening in May 2024. The walk is to raise funds to protect the animals that we all love.


Our other friends at the Wilderness Society are again having their Nature Walk Challenge during March 2024, You can learn more and sign up here.


And if you are looking for more trekking, the Australian Marine Conservation Society are having a Great Ocean Walk 100km Challenge, for people to participate in a guided walk along the Great Ocean Road to raise funds to support their good work. The Walk will be in October, but pre-registrations are already open. It is not inexpensive, but should be a great experience.


The importance of decarbonizing industrial heat…

We tend to forget the huge amount of energy consumed in the industrial processes to make materials, cook foods and so on, which is now mostly generated by burning fossil fuels. As Engineering with Rosie points out in a recent video, it accounts for 29-35% of global energy consumption and must be totally rethought if we are to ever get to Net Zero.

image: various sources

Getting to Net Zero Electricity Grids…

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance and others, we need to focus much more on wind power generation and grid inter-connectivity if we are to reach the Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge adopted by 116 countries at COP28 in the UAE last year. These countries agreed to the triple their renewable energy generation by 2030, which is a relatively low bar, but was the best compromise that could be achieved.


It has been pointed out that we are actually on track to economically reach this goal for solar panels, but a lot of the energy generated by them will be wasted without greatly increasing investment in grid inter-connectivity to move the energy to where it is needed. Also, solar only generates power during the day and really needs to be complemented by wind generation, which often peaks when the sun is not shining, and especially in the evenings and mornings but, again, current investment is far too low. Here is a good video explainer. We need to push our governments to speed up and intensify investment in wind power and grid inter-connectivity, which are both areas where Australia now performs very poorly.


The same environmental commentator has also made a good video explaining how and why COP28 was so disappointing – he generally does very good work and his videos are well worth watching.


Lastly, to take advantage of all this net zero electricity, there is lots of new, affordably priced green technology you can buy for your all electric home in 2024. See here for some must-have ideas.

image: Uber

The rise of electric taxis

While there may be some element of “greenwashing” to it, Uber does seem to be making significant progress on its zero emissions by 2040 goal. See here for details They have more than 2,400 EVs (Electric Vehicles) on their platform, and EV specific ride plans and incentives for their drivers to use EVs and partnerships with EV makers. To Uber’s credit, our communities benefit greatly by the increasing use of electric taxis through reduced vehicle emissions and operating costs and a smaller overall vehicle fleet.


Is Net-Zero cement and concrete possible?

The Make Possible Partnership thinks so, and while they believe that there is no silver bullet to decarbonize concrete and cement, they do identify a suite of interventions that are needed to reduce and eventually eliminate sectoral emissions. On the demand side, this includes more efficient use of concrete in construction, less cement in concrete, as well as less clinker in cement. On the supply side, this includes fuel switching, efficiency improvements, power sector decarbonization, and eventually carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). This is a big deal because, by themselves, cement and concrete now account for 7+% of global CO2 emissions. You can read their report here.


Just a bit of fun…who doesn’t love nerdy science stuff?
Instead of using rockets, SpinLaunch plans to slingshot stuff into space to reduce the amount of rocket fuel needed. Many rockets use liquid methane as their fuel, so they are quite polluting. Unfortunately, the G-forces involved with the slingshot means that it cannot be used for manned flights! Watch the video here


An even further out there approach to getting stuff into space is the planetary elevator, initially proposed by the Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in 1895. It is a wire from the ground up to geostationary orbit (35,786kms from the ground up into space), with more wire going further up to a counterweight. Elevator cars then travel up and down the wire moving stuff between the ground and space – no rockets needed, just a really, really long wire! The relevant Wikipedia page tells you more than you would ever want to know about space elevators.