Climate Change and Adaptation
Resource extraction across NSW has leapt well ahead of any plans to begin development of renewables and one needs to look at the issue on global and economic scales to understand why. Hawkesbury doesn’t have coal mines, but our community still depends to a huge extent on oil, gas, and coal-powered electricity. The expected increases in CO2 due to burning coal, gas and oil is massive, and now expected to cause critical rises in global average temperatures.
What has HEN been doing?
HEN has campaigned vigorously on the issue of CSG since 2012 when it started to appear too close to home! We also joined the alliance of 50 community groups, including Lock-The-Gate, which launched Protect Sydney’s Water (PSW). HEN ran three information sessions, culminating in a huge attendance at Kurrajong in June this year. Just a few days later we celebrated the withdrawal of PELA 158 which would have permitted exploration across the Greater Blue Mts World Heritage area and Bilpin, Kurrajong Heights and further north.
The risks of fracking on our water supply and quality; disposal of waste or produced water back into our source of drinking water, and the inequitable way in which the industry developed to take over whole areas, especially in farming lands, all pointed to an enormous injustice to community with benefits only to the large companies involved. Much scientific basis exists to counter the claims of the industry. Coal mining in NSW and elsewhere is cracking bedrock beneath our rivers and dams, and causes further delay in development of renewables. Political will (or lack of), massive funds from industry barons, and huge media campaigns made this an ongoing battle, and hence forces mounted in the community to try to stop the CSG spread. However, there are some bright lights appearing: Some companies have been brought before ICAC, had licences suspended, or withdrawn their licence applications. Blockades by groups have stalled operations in some areas. The price of fossil fuels has fallen now that China has signalled their intention to invest heavily in renewables. However, nothing appears to have changed in government, or in investment.
Australia has access to abundant solar, wind, geothermal and wave energy. We have the resources, skills and knowledge to shift to a clean economy that produces less pollution, more jobs, healthy children and a safer planet for our wildlife.
HEN is keen to see greater uptake of solar energy in the Hawkesbury by business, industry and homes. We have been informed that the Office of Environment and Heritage is currently calling for applications from community groups for grants of up to $70,000 for growing community energy. Growing Community Energy grants will fund early stage development of community energy projects including pre-feasibility studies, community engagement and planning to help create viable community owned business models.
A group already working on such a plan is the Blue Mountains Renewable Energy Co-op, and HEN’s committee invited one of its co-ordinators to speak at our latest meeting in December.
Meanwhile we encourage the simple steps of reducing power usage in the home and in travel, making homes energy-efficient.
What can you do?
If you work in the industry of renewables, or are interested in development of community energy, please consider contacting us. We hope to take up this project in 2015-16. We already have members on a Council subcommittee working on this and other sustainability programs.
See more information at:
Community Energy Grants : http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/communities/community-energy-grants.htm
Blue Mountains Renewable Energy Co-op: www.bmrenew.org
Transition towns Australia: http://www.transitionsunshinecoast.org/transition-towns-in-australia.php
Alternative Technology Association: a not-for-profit organisation that exists to enable, represent and inspire people to live sustainably in their homes and communities. http://www.ata.org.au/
[Pics of meetings and individuals, solar on rooftops in Hawkesbury, fracking, coal mines]