Blog | 13th Dec, 2022

2022 - the year the power shifted!

Ending coal in Victoria, helping Victoria get off gas and building a massive movement to protect our climate and environment. 2022 was the year Victorians took the power back – here are some of our highlights.

Future generations will look back on 2022 as a turning point in Victoria’s fight for a safe climate. It will be remembered as the year Victoria made a decisive move away from having the dirtiest power system in the country to the cleanest.

As we head off on a well-deserved summer break, let’s take a moment to reflect, celebrate and thank the many community activists who worked with us in creating a better future for all over this past year.

Here’s a list of our 6 top achievements in 2022.

1. Securing the end of coal in Victoria

For decades environment, health and community groups – including many in the Latrobe Valley – have been calling for the end of coal-burning power stations in Victoria. This year, we won.

In October, Daniel Andrews announced a re-elected Labor government would transition Victoria out of coal burning by 2035 and invest in publicly owned renewable energy through a revived State Electricity Commission.

Victoria is now aiming for 95% renewable energy by 2035 – and cutting emissions across all sectors by up to 80% by the same year.

These historic announcements came after a ‘race to the top’ on climate policy from both major parties for the first time at a Victorian state election.

Despite some rhetorical claims about ‘turbo-charging’ gas in Victoria, the Victorian Liberal Party also put forward some strong climate policy this year – including a plan to install solar and batteries on one million homes, and a pledge to legislate Victoria’s existing 2030 climate targets.

When the dust settled and the election results became clear, Victorians had voted for the most ambitious climate action agenda in Australian history. None of this historic power shift would have been possible without decades of hard work on the ground by people like you, all over Victoria and the rest of the country, demanding climate action.

2. Helping Victoria get off gas once and for all

2022 should also be remembered as the year Victoria started to break its addiction to gas.

In July this year, following many years of work with health, social, consumer advocacy and energy efficiency allies, we had a breakthrough with the Victorian government releasing its Gas Substitution Roadmap.

The Roadmap is a crucial step on the road to a gas-free Victoria. It will remove outdated rules that force new homes to connect to the gas network, improve energy efficiency and provide more support for households to switch to cleaner, cheaper electric appliances.

While the Roadmap doesn’t nearly go far enough, the government has committed to ramping it up over time and we’ll be pushing for more ambition when it is updated in 2023 – with enough support for millions of households to switch to efficient electric appliances. Read more in our blog >>

In the meantime, we need to stop new proposed gas developments in Victoria. There are many groups around the state who have been doing incredible work on the frontline to stop new gas exploration, like the Southern Ocean Protection Embassy Collective, Otway Climate Emergency Action Network (OCEAN) and Surfers for Climate, while ACF Geelong has been battling plans for a massive gas import terminal in Corio Bay.

Environment Victoria is backing these fights by showing the government there’s a smarter solution – getting enough homes off gas to avoid needing to drill or import more of it. That’s why next year we’ll be focused on making sure the revised Gas Substitution Roadmap helps millions of Victorian households switch to cleaner, cheaper forms of energy.

Viva's dodgy Geelong gas plan: 5 things we learnt at the public hearings

Environment Victoria

As the hearings wrapped up last week, one thing was abundantly clear: with the huge community opposition and mounting evidence against their polluting gas plan, Viva has no social licence nor the technical arguments to proceed.

3. Taking the EPA and big polluters to court

Coal-burning power stations are the biggest single source of both carbon dioxide pollution that damages our climate, and toxic air pollution that can cause death and disease.

But for years Victoria’s environmental watchdog, the EPA, has been allowing them to keep dumping their dangerous airborne waste into the atmosphere, with pollution limits so weak they lag way behind China, India and the US.

So this year, we took them all to court: the big energy companies themselves, and the regulator that has failed to do the right thing and rein in their emissions.

The landmark case was the first test of Victoria’s Climate Change Act and the first legal challenge to the regulation of air pollution from Victoria’s ageing coal-burning power stations. Our brilliant legal team, led by Environmental Justice Australia, argued that the EPA failed to properly consider the law in its approval of amended power station licences. Read a summary from our lawyers here >>

The judgement was handed down in late December. In a disappointing result, the court has upheld the EPA’s coal power licence review, which didn’t limit climate pollution, or set proper restrictions on toxic pollution. This suggests Victoria’s climate and environment laws are not fit for purpose. Read our media release here >>

We’ll be carefully studying the judgment and what it says about Victoria’s climate and environment laws as we plan our next move.

One thing’s for certain, we won’t let power stations off the hook for the harmful pollution they are still pumping out every day.

4. Forming a united voice across four states to save the Murray-Darling

Ten years ago, Australia created a plan to save our biggest and most important river system – the Murray-Darling Basin.

To mark this anniversary, in November this year we joined forces with peak state environment groups covering the entire Basin – representing close to half a million supporters – to launch a new joint campaign.

Environment Victoria, NSW Conservation Council, Queensland Conservation Council and the Conservation Council of SA released a five point vision detailing how to revive the Murray-Darling, as well as this stunning animation on what has gone wrong with the river system to date and how we can get it back on track.

With major water deadlines approaching and a new federal government committed to delivering the Basin Plan in full, we’ll be working with local communities to return water to the river, and make sure it can flow to the wetlands that need it. That means focusing on reliable methods, instead of pushing forward with dodgy wetland engineering projects. Read more on those here >>

We will also be working to make water management fair – starting with returning water rights to Traditional Owners.

5. Bringing Victorian communities together for action on climate

After launching in August 2021, Environment Victoria’s Action Network has been growing momentum in Victorian communities this year building people and political power for environmental justice.

The Action Network was active in local communities in the lead up to both the May federal election and the Victorian state election in selected regions including Gippsland, Ballarat and south-east Melbourne all the way down to the Mornington Peninsula.

With 11 volunteer local organisers and over 50 other committed volunteers across these regions, the Action Network delivered 5 regional strategy roundtables, 3 community launch events and over 20 community conversation sessions as part of the state election campaign.

We collaborated with other groups to host candidate forums in the key seats of Morwell and Hastings, and supported forums in Caulfield, Kew, Hawthorn, Malvern and the three seats around Ballarat. Hundreds of people attended the forums.

Throughout the campaign, volunteers had over 50 face-to-face conversations with local political candidates, set up colourful Clean Energy for All market stalls and headed to busy local shopping strips to speak with more than 1,000 people across key electorates in the Latrobe Valley, Ballarat and Melbourne’s south-east suburbs.

See a map of what we achieved here >>

6. Getting fossil fuel sponsorship out of sport

At the start of 2022, Environment Victoria wrote to Nick Hockley, CEO of Cricket Australia, asking him to ‘be on the right side of history’ by dropping Alinta Energy, one of Victoria’s biggest climate polluters, as a sponsor of the sport.

In the letter we clearly spelt out our reasons:

When a beloved sporting institution like Cricket Australia partners with a company like Alinta, it allows the polluter to co-opt the respect and affection Australians have for the sport and their team. It’s the same tactic tobacco companies used in the 1980s but this time it’s not only our health, but our planet, at stake.

We encouraged our supporters on social media to also write to Cricket Australia outlining their displeasure at having our much-loved sport tarnished by sponsorship from climate wreckers – and many thousands of you did just that.

In October, the news we had been waiting for finally broke. Cricket Australia had cut short its sponsorship deal with Alinta, a clear sign that the days of fossil fuel sportswashing are coming to an end!

Thanks to everyone who contributed to all the highlights mentioned above, and for the many community wins we weren’t able to include in this short list. Have a great break and we’ll see you ready to fight for climate and nature in the new year.

Get our updates

Join a community of people caring for our environment.