Friends of Climate Action’s First Meeting

Citizens’ Climate Lobby volunteers were delighted to have the opportunity to attend the inaugural meeting of the new federal Parliamentary Friends of Climate Action (PFoCA) in Parliament House Canberra on 18 February 2019.

Following introductions by Co-chairs Rebekha Sharkie MP (Member for Mayo) and Dr Kerryn Phelps MP (Member for Wentworth), three members of Farmers for Climate Action spoke. All three are farming in drought-stricken NSW – one a sugar cane grower and two are graziers –  and gave compelling presentations on how climate change from global warming is affecting agricultural land and communities. It was evident the extent to which these farmers were drawing on many years of existing lived experience in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

PFoCA is intended to provide a non-partisan forum for federal Parliamentarians to meet and interact with groups and individuals on matters relating to expertise on climate change and global warming science and policy.

Attending the first meeting were four ALP MPs and four cross-benchers (including Co-chairs). While CCL does not yet know the full membership, it is clearly important to encourage more Coalition members in particular to join. Write to your local members and senators!

The NSW / ACT CCL lobbying day in Canberra on 18 February provided plenty of opportunities to raise the profile of PFoCA with other parliamentarians, including its objective of promoting non-partisan dialogue on climate solutions and global warming.

CCL is especially grateful to Rebekha Sharkie MP and her staff for seeing the value of this group and making it happen. Thanks also to the Members for Wentworth and Indi – CCL Australia is thrilled that Independent Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan, is Deputy Chair of PFoCA –  and to the many other MPs who have either already joined, indicated early support and actively encouraged the formation of the group.

It was wonderful that some of the many CCL members who’ve lobbied their MPs for several years now for the Parliamentary Friends group to be established were at the launch. More, including photos, at Rebekha Sharkie MP’s website here.

What CCL members are saying

CCL Australia founder and chair, Rod Mitchell

Three years ago the emergence of the Climate Solutions Caucus in the US Congress inspired CCL Australia to try something similar. My MP suggested a Parliamentary Friends group which led to over two years of conversations with many MPs about the possibility of a Parliamentary Friends of Climate Solutions. With the help of Dennys Angove’s analysis of networks in parliament we were able to build knowledge and interest in the idea culminating in Rebekha Sharkie’s decision late last year to co-chair. CCL’s South Australian Regional Coordinator Jim Allen’s work with her office helped to make it a reality. In the hurly-burly of organising the first launch in November the name morphed from ‘Solutions’ to ‘Action’ so now we are delighted to welcome ‘PFoCA’ into our network and look forward to a less polarised approach to climate in the next parliament.
CCL volunteers who were at a breakthrough meeting with Rebekha Sharkie’s senior advisor Michael Cornish:

Jim Allen

I had the feeling each time we met Michael Cornish, that this was more than just another meeting with a switched-on, well-briefed staffer. CCL invests in relationships to help create the political will for action, knowing that not all of them will lead directly to breakthroughs, but hoping that some will. There was something about Michael’s confidence, enthusiasm, command of the topic, and ‘can do’ friendly attitude that augured well. For what, I wasn’t 100% sure at the time. But from this September 2018 discussion outdoors in the courtyard of Parliament House came PFOCA!

Duncan Bourne

It is wonderful to see the impact of a concerned group of citizens, with varied backgrounds, with a vital mission, can have a meeting with the engaged advisor of a thoughtful independent MP. What an outcome, to have a grandfather who cares, help contribute to the establishment of Parliamentary Friends of Climate Action as part of that group. Onward and upward!

Kim Loo

I have been going to Parliament House for 3 years to lobby federal politicians with my CCL buddies. I also lobby NSW state politicians with my Doctors for the Environment group using my CCL skills . Sometimes you never know whether there will be a tangible outcome from all this work. I was so fortunate to meet Dr Kerryn Phelps, now the co-chair of PFoCA, during the Wentworth by-election, and we’ve stayed connected. Parliamentary Friends of Climate Action is a tangible outcome of our lobbying. This is so rewarding and gratifying.