2018 was a huge year for Environment Victoria.
With some big campaign wins, there’s so much to be proud of – not just over the last 12 months, but over the many years leading up to this point.
Here’s just a quick overview of what we achieved together. Watch the video below, or scroll down to get the details.
The biggest challenge and opportunity for our environment this year was the state election.
With the major parties offering starkly different energy policies, it really was a referendum on clean energy and climate change.
This was a ‘sliding doors’ moment for our state. We needed to show that Victorians demand a government that will lead on climate change, and together we stepped up to the challenge.
It was an incredible effort from nearly 500 Environment Victoria volunteers. Together we made 107,816 calls and texts, handed out 82,000 scorecards and enrolled 1353 young people to vote. Our billboard, radio, television and online advertising was seen more than 5 million times. We also worked closely with many other climate action and environment groups to amplify our collective impact.
Here’s just one example of the impact we had. In April, Environment Victoria released a policy agenda calling for the government to repower 250,000 homes with solar and energy efficiency over four years. The Andrews government went even further, announcing half-price solar for 650,000 homes over ten years, plus policies to support solar hot water, home batteries and solar for renters.
I’m so proud of this work. Together we made renewable energy one of the top election issues. And the extraordinary result is forcing the Liberal Party to re-think its denial and delay on climate change, both in Victoria and nationally.
Of course, the result wasn’t so clear for Victoria’s natural environment, with state-owned logging companies still destroying ancient forests and no new national parks announced.
Victorians are just as passionate about protecting nature as they are about cutting pollution and shifting to clean energy, so now we need to ramp up pressure on the Andrews government to protect forests and act on extinction.
Energy efficiency is an incredibly important solution to cut greenhouse gas pollution. This year we won landmark reforms to our rental laws, giving government the power to set minimum efficiency standards for rental properties.
This is a huge win for Victoria’s 1.2 million renters, and it wouldn’t have happened without the 15,000 Environment Victoria supporters who signed the petition to the Minister for Consumer Affairs and have been involved in the campaign over the last two years.
We also made some early progress in the War on Waste, with $37 million in funding to support our recycling industry. This work has a long way to go before we reach our goal of a truly circular economy, but it’s a good start.
This year we started campaigning against energy giant AGL’s plan to build a massive gas import terminal at Westernport bay.
Together with local groups, we successfully petitioned the Planning Minister to require a full Environmental Effects Statement for the project.
Environment and local community groups outside AGL’s AGM in September. Image credit: Julian Meehan.
We’ll be keeping up the pressure over summer and through the new year to stop this damaging plan from going ahead.
Thank you to the many thousands of Victorians who signed our petition to the Andrews Government to update our nature law, the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.
While we pushed the bureaucrats and politicians towards creating stronger laws, the final bill that went to Parliament was only a modest improvement and we need much more protection for nature in the next term of government.
With NSW experiencing record drought and water running short in northern Victoria, we’ve had to defend hard-won gains for our rivers against increasing demand from irrigators.
We’ve worked with River Ambassadors across the Murray-Darling Basin to help them develop local campaigns. We had some success with the call for a Royal Commission in South Australia, where Healthy Rivers Campaigner Juliet Le Feuvre appeared to give evidence.
Saving the Murray is a really tough, but critical campaign.
As many of you will know, I’ll be finishing up at Environment Victoria this week after almost 11 years, including the last 5 as CEO.
It’s been such a privilege to work with you all and I’ve been constantly inspired by the passion of supporters, staff and volunteers.
Five years ago Victoria was a laggard on climate change – now we’ve closed Hazelwood power station and two others, we’re building massive amounts of renewable energy and in many ways we’re setting the agenda for other states to follow.
There’s so much more to do to face up to and avert climate crisis, but we need leaders, and Victoria could be the global leader we so urgently need. Thank you for all of your efforts and I can’t wait to see the incredible things the Environment Victoria team will achieve together in the months and years ahead.