WA Regional Conference and Lobby Days – 2019
By Rod Mitchell
Building Bridges was our theme; and that is what we did – with young people, scientists, farmers, engineers, doctors, business people and a former premier of South Australia.
On the Thursday night 3 Perth-based IPCC scientists gave us extra insight into the last year’s Special Report on 1.5oC. They were Professors Petra Tschakert and Peter Newman, and Senior Lecturer Jatin Kala. Around 150 people heard each speaker explain the report from their particular area of expertise. It was informative, sobering and inspiring!
On Saturday we joined with Sustainable Energy Now (SEN) to hear Jay Weatherill speak about South Australia’s experience of transitioning to renewable energy. The WA Minister for Energy, Bill Johnston introduced him and gave some insights into WA’s energy issues and his early moves to make the WA grid more renewable-friendly.
On Sunday our “Building Bridges” conference was launched by an address from 12-year-old Bella Burgemeister of Bunbury. She brought the energy and passion of the recent School Strike for Climate right into our midst and set a determined but positive tone for the day ahead.
Five presentations from allied groups followed
- Christie Kingston with inspiring insights into the work of Farmers for Climate Action and how they link with CCL’s work
- Sallie Forrest gave us a very clear picture of the health effects of climate and the powerful advocacy of Doctors for the Environment
- Ian Porter described the work of Sustainable Energy Now, providing renewable energy solutions in WA
- Ecologist Judy Fisher showed us how climate change is just part of the powerful changes our activities are making in our ecosystem. She explained how the work of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) of which she is a member, parallels the IPCC.
- Councillor Jai Wilson from Town of Bassendean spoke of the power of divestment for bringing about structural change and the role individuals can play in advocating for local governments to divest from fossil fuels
Jay Weatherill’s keynote address gave us a sense of the sort of determination that is needed to stand up against vested interests. As someone who has been lobbied many times, he affirmed our respectful approach to meeting with MPs.
Our own Dennys Angove gave us further insight into the science of climate change and a clear picture of how effectively the Australian Climate Dividend Plan (ACDP) addresses the climate crisis. And he delivered CCL’s Climate Advocacy Training to prepare us for our lobbying activities the following two days.
A highlight of our lobby days was our meetings with 4 of the 6 WA Cabinet Ministers whose portfolios are significantly climate-affected. (We will meet with the Premier’s office next week and have asked for meetings with the remaining 2 of the 6 Ministers)
We acknowledged the difficulty the WA Government faces in dealing with powerful emissions-intensive industries in the absence of an effective national climate policy and offered the Australian Climate Dividend Plan as an effective solution. We asked them to endorse the Plan and to encourage Federal Labor to adopt it should they form a government after the May election.
Another highlight was our meeting with the Leader of the WA Nationals, Mia Davies. Separate and different from the National Party of Australia, the WA Nationals are aware of climate change and appear to be ready to formulate their own climate policy. Our presentation of ACDP was well received. We were also given some valuable intros to a couple of industry bodies that we will meet with next week; more bridge-building.
We discovered that WA has Parliamentary Friends groups! We already have 3 names of potential members of a bipartisan Climate Solutions group and the promise of a few more on the way. We will meet some of them next week and build another bridge.
Many thanks to our allies and partners from other organisations who generously shared their knowledge and experience with us. And to Jay Weatherill for showing what it’s like in the hotseat of government. Together we built some of the bridges that are needed to create the political will for climate solutions.