Ballarat Council election scorecards

Since candidates have started announcing they’d run for Ballarat City Council in October’s elections, BCAN have been sending out a survey designed to gauge how effectively they would lead and support council to reduce the impact of climate change.

The survey consisted of three qualitative questions focusing on priorities and measures of success and ten yes/no/maybe responses with a specific focus on climate change. A reminder email was sent to encourage the highest number of responses.

All of the respondents offered some positive responses to climate change and accordingly the bar for amber and green ratings was set high. There was a great deal of consistency in the responses to the yes/no/maybe questions, but far more variation in the qualitative responses. In determining the scoring, responses have also been compared with those stated by candidates in The Courier on Friday 2nd October and with responses at a number of online candidate forums, especially where brief answers made scoring difficult.

A number of candidates did not respond. This may be because they overlooked the survey, or because they anticipated rating poorly. We have not made assumptions about these candidates. We recommend if you are considering voting for them that you scrutinise them for their “green” credentials.

Candidates that received a red rating, all showed some support for strategies that would reduce the impact of climate change.

Candidates that received an amber rating showed considerable concern about climate change and listed a number of individual initiatives that they would like council to be engaged with.

Candidates that received a green rating, showed considerable concern about climate change and in addition showed understanding of the leadership required for a whole of council approach to tackling climate change, which included such strategies as widespread community engagement, initiatives to link Covid19 recovery with strategies that also reduce the impact of climate change as well as support for a whole of local government response to reducing carbon emissions.

We hope this survey is useful for your decision-making!

If you’d like to share these ratings on social media, you can use the consolidated scorecard at the top of this post, or the individual ward tiles below

SS4C Global Day of Action

The Ballarat Action Climate Co-op (BACC) is joining School Strike for Climate’s online Global Day of Action on Friday 25 September, and BCAN is supporting them in fighting for our future. Because COVID prevents us all from taking to the streets, we need to find other creative ways of making their voices heard.

BACC’s four key requests for supporters are:
1. Print the below “Fund our future, not gas!” poster (or make your own!) and put it in your front window to show support
2. Check out the SS4C livestream at 6pm Friday (official RSVP here, Facebook event here)
3. Wear yellow on the day (yellow represents both climate justice and resistance to gas)
4. Post on social media! Share the Facebook event, a photo of yourself in yellow, or whatever else you can do to help amplify the strikers’ voices

See you online on the 25th!

Working on the People’s Climate Strategy

What is the People’s Climate Strategy for Victoria?

The People’s Climate Strategy project is coordinated by Friends of the Earth Melbourne’s Act on Climate collective, and parallels the State Government’s development of the very first Climate Strategy for Victoria. The Victorian Climate Act 2017 requires this to be completed by October this year, though the timeline is likely to be altered due to COVID-19. We know that the government is busy dealing with the response to the pandemic, so we are working to put together a strategy that we can bring to the government, sharing our concerns about climate impacts and ideas for solutions.

Ballarat Climate Action Network are reaching out to our local community to contribute to this process, so that the unique challenges and opportunities of our part of the state are included in the development of the strategy.

Why is this important?

  • Your voice matters. Adding your voice to this project will ensure the Victorian government hears from the people and builds the movement for strong and decisive climate action at a state level.
  • Local people know local matters and local communities build local solutions.
  • We are standing at a crucial point in time and we must do all we can to ensure we head in the right direction from here. The Victorian government needs to hear from the people as well as the voices of the big polluters so that they will make the right decisions about which way we head from here.

How can you get involved?

  • Email us, or call BCAN member Liz Wade on 0402 553 181 to find out more.
  • Register your interest in attending an upcoming Grampians Region working group meeting (online).
  • Fill in the climate impacts survey
  • Send in your big idea for climate action to join the call for solutions and spread the message that we know what we need to do and it is time to get on and do it.
  • Share the climate impacts survey and big ideas action with your friends and networks to help us hear from a wide and diverse range of people across Victoria.
  • Attend one of the upcoming sector forums to hear from experts and have the chance to ask questions about what we can do to reduce emissions across each sector (and catch up on the video of the Energy forum already held on Thursday 20 August here).
  • Register for the project to keep up to date, to receive details of upcoming forums and further future actions, and to be notified when the upcoming climate solutions survey is live.

For more background on the project and to register to take part

See for all the info, including a registration form, links to the video of the project launch and a podcast version for listening on the go. Or feel free to get in touch by email or call Liz on 0402 553 181

Media release: BCAN response to Victorian government’s delay to Emission Reduction Targets

In March this year, the Ballarat Climate Action Network sent a statement of community support for strong, bold, ambitious and science-based emissions reduction targets for 2025 and 2030, in line with keeping global warming to less than 1.5°C, to the Victorian Government.

The government was due to announce the targets this August, but just prior to the deadline for the decision, the Victorian Government announced that they would be delaying the decision.

It has been really necessary this year for the Victorian Government to focus first and foremost on the safety, health and wellbeing of Victorians. We began the year with bushfires raging and we’d only just begun to think about recovery from the bushfires when we had a pandemic come upon us.

The climate crisis requires us to continue to focus first on the safety, health and wellbeing of all people, and, inseparably, our environment. We have an absolute need to do all we can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions rapidly to ensure a safer future for all.

We all need to work together to move us forward in the right direction from this point in time, and we need clear leadership from our state government to provide more certainty in a time of great uncertainty.

We need to know that while the federal government continues to put us in more danger by supporting the fossil fuel industry and increasing emissions, we will have support from the Victorian Government and the resourcing required for the changes that we must undertake at state level to reduce emissions as rapidly as possible for our safety. A gas led recovery currently being planned at a federal level is a waste of public money and misses an opportunity for climate action and an economic recovery. Fossil fuels need to be kept in the ground. We need Victoria to lead the way.

The Ballarat Climate Action Network supports the recent call from seven leading environment and renewable energy organisations for a climate led recovery.

A decision about strong and ambitious emissions reduction targets will provide the community with a clear path forward. Commitments to resourcing the changes needed will support communities to act and give people purpose and fulfilment as we all pitch in together to do what is needed as we work towards a safer future of greater health and wellbeing.

We’re calling for the Andrews Labor Government to continue the leadership for climate they have shown in the past and we’re calling on our local MPs Michaela Settle and Juliana Addison to do Ballarat proud and lead the drive for less than 1.5°C.

Community responds to climate denial on Council

On 11 July 2020, Ballarat Councillor Jim Rinaldi wrote an opinion piece in the Courier talking about recent changes to the Local Government Act. While the piece started out making some reasonable points about the controversial change to single-member wards, it took a sudden turn towards climate denial when Cr Rinaldi raised concerns that the Act “forces councillors to join the cimate debate”. He asked “which scientists are councils believing when we consider the climate? Those who say the sky is falling, or those who argue it hasn’t, and won’t?”

Of course, there really is no climate “debate” – scientists are constantly refining the details, such as how quickly it’s happening, how high the seas will rise, and so on, but the science is very much settled on the basics. It’s warming, it’s us, we’re sure, it’s bad, we can fix it. Pretending there is still a lot of debate among scientists on this point is a common climate denial trope – pretending to “just ask questions” which have already been comprehensively answered, in order to avoid having the conversations we need to have about how to fix it.

The people of Ballarat – including some members of BCAN! – saw right through this tactic, though, leading to a huge number of Letters to the Editor, which the Courier dedicated a whole page to. It was great to see such a firm response to this kind of rhetoric! (Letters also here.)

Unfortunately Councillor Rinaldi’s response to this was to double down on his claims, and conservative Councillor Grant Tillett jumped to his defence on Facebook, while Councillor Samantha McIntosh lent her support in another opinion piece in which she also suggested that refurbishing the Gatekeepers Cottage to provide a venue for kids to learn about how plants grow was “real action on climate change.”

It’s disappointing to see so many of our elected leaders behaving in this way, but fantastic to see the community’s response to it. The local government elections in October are going to be very interesting indeed!