Community Climate Action Handbook

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Community Climate Action Handbook
Hobson’s Bay City council

Produced by the Western Alliance for Greenhouse Action

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Climate Change Action in Victoria
As you are already hopefully aware, the issue of effectively limiting the impacts of climate change has become one of the world‟s greatest challenges. According to the most recent (2007) report of the world‟s most authoritative body of climate scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), temperatures have already risen by 0.76°C over the last century. They predict that they will continue to rise far more as a result of greenhouse pollution if immediate action is not taken. Right now, throughout Victoria, individuals, families and communities are coming together to rise to this challenge and to help reduce Victoria‟s contribution to climate change. At home individuals are changing their light bulbs, families are switching to renewable energy and community groups are spreading the message about the need for action on climate change and what can be done about it. Be it setting up discussion groups on sustainable homes at the local school, organising workshops on energy efficiency or coordinating solar panel bulk buying schemes communities throughout Victoria are taking the need for urgent action into their own hands. This booklet is designed to help every household and community group in the Western Suburbs to play their part in reducing green house gas emissions and to save money at the same time.

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What you can do at home today!
Do Something … Start Somewhere … Keep it Simple! The average Australian household is responsible for nearly 15 tonnes of greenhouse pollution each year. Fortunately there are many steps at home you can take to reduce your contribution on climate change. Being more efficient with energy consumption is one of the easiest and most costeffective ways to tackle climate change. You can make simple electricity savings throughout your household. The Australian Conservation Foundation have put together the following table to help you to weigh up potential actions and to see how much you can achieve. Some actions will cost more up-front but will end up being cheaper in the long-term. Remember as you reduce your greenhouse impact you‟ll also be reducing your electricity and petrol bills. Each tonne of greenhouse pollution you save will also mean a saving of between $130 and $470 on your annual electricity or petrol bill. Once you‟ve taken action at home turn over the page to see what you can do as a community! Case study – simple savings at home Clare wanted to green her home but husband Nick was hesitant about the cost. First up they decided to reduce their energy use (and bills) by making some simple changes at home „we use a power pack with individual switches so we can leave the DVD and VCR off when we are just watching TV and turn of all appliances on standby at the wall. We installed a water efficient shower head and low flow tap aerators and put lagging (insulation) on our hot water pipes. In winter we cover ourselves with a blanket while watching TV and use a hot water bottle in bed‟ says Clare. With these easy steps they reduced their energy bill by 25%. Nick was then happy to invest the savings in 100% accredited green power. Before they knew it their home energy supply was clean and green – without a noticeable increase in their energy bill.

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Community Climate Action Groups
Around the state Victorians are connecting, teaming up and pushing for climate solutions via local climate action groups!
Throughout Victoria, concerned individuals, families and communities are banding together to form community climate action groups. Meeting in community halls, local cafés or even around the kitchen table they are working together to reduce their impact on climate change and to demand action from their governments. They come in so many shapes and sizes. While some have thousands of members and span entire suburbs or towns others are based around just a small number of households or families. The Activist Group Case Study: Locals into Victoria’s Environment (LIVE) Frustrated by the lack of action being taken by government bodies locally and nationally, in 2006 Deborah, a concerned mother of two decided to do something about it. Deborah decided to find out if anyone else in her local Port Phillip Bay area shared her concerns by inviting a guest speaker from Environment Victoria to come and give a talk about climate change at the primary school attended by her children. Deborah spread the word amongst her friends and advertised in the school newsletter and on the night over 50 people turned up to find out a little bit more about climate change. Following the presentation Deborah asked anyone who was interested in being a member of a local group put down their email addresses and phone numbers. Deciding on the name LIVE (Locals into Victoria‟s Environment) a climate action group was born! Now two years old LIVE have grown to have over 250 members! They have played an enormous role in raising awareness about the issues of climate change in the local community and this year members coordinated a successful Mothers Day climate Rally at Federation Square. Check out for more!

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Community Climate Action Groups
The Small Group Case Study: Westside Carbon Rationing Action Group In Yaraville, in Melbourne‟s Western suburbs, one group of friends and neighbours have taken the need to do reduce greenhouse gas emissions very personally by setting up a Carbon Rationing Action Group (or CRAG for short). Inspired by CRAGs which are popping up all over the US and the UK, members of the Westside CRAG as they have named themselves, have set themselves an annual emissions target or „carbon ration‟. First recording their household energy use and private car and plane travel and then using an online carbon calculator to translate these figures into an emissions footprint, members then pledge to reduce their household emissions by a certain percentage over the year. Meeting monthly to share ideas, motivate each other and monitor each other‟s progress, the CRAG group provides a supportive and friendly atmosphere in which individuals and families can make real reductions in their carbon emissions and at the same time saving money on energy bills and transport costs. To find out more about CRAGs including some great ideas about how to set up your own one check out The Big Group Case Study: BREAZE Of all the community climate action groups in Victoria, by far the biggest is Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions Inc. (BREAZE). Started by a small group of passionate Ballarat locals in 2006, in less than two years BREAZE has grown to have over 1000 signed up members. Combining concerted community and government engagement with a focus on providing practical advice and coordinating actions to reduce Ballarat households‟ greenhouse gas emissions, BREAZE are one of the real success stories of the community climate action movement. One of the keys to this success has been the development of a number of separate action groups with a specific focus within the organisation. One great example is the „renewable energy‟ group which has coordinated some fantastic deals where members can buy solar hot water systems in a bulk order and save hundreds of dollars. These bulk buying deals have been a key to getting the community on board as they provide a real practical benefit both in reducing greenhouse emissions and saving members money. To find out more about BREAZE and some of the amazing things they are doing check out their website,

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Bulk Buying Deals
One of the most practical actions that Community Climate Action Groups are taking is the coordination of bulk buying of solar panels and hot water systems for their members. Taking advantage of the big rebates offered by the federal and state governments and using the power of „collective purchasing power‟ to negotiate a cheaper price with suppliers, Community Climate Action Groups are able to get fantastic deals for their members, saving individuals thousands of dollars. Solar Hot Water – a great place to start. As the energy used for heating water is responsible for over 20% of a households total greenhouse gas emissions installing a solar hot water system is one of the easiest, most cost effective ways of dramatically reducing your households green house gas emissions and saving on energy bills.

Through bulk buying discounts and the $1500 Victorian Government rebate many groups in Victoria have now managed to work out a deal for members that enables them to purchase solar hot water systems for the cost of installation alone. Installing a climate friendly hot water system can save a family $300 to $700 off electricity bills each year and at this price will pay for itself in just a few years!

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Solar Photovoltaic Panels

Bulk Buying Deals

Representing a slightly bigger investment than a solar hot water system installing Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof of your house is another fantastic way to reduce household greenhouse gas emissions and save money in the longer term.

While the initial costs of installing solar PV is somewhat greater, with the $8000 dollar federal government rebate, the proposed Victorian Government „feed in tarrif‟ and the savings from bulk purchasing by community groups they are now a terrific investment. For more ideas and information check out these community groups that are already taking advantage of bulk buying savings: Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions Inc. (BREAZE) Web: Riddells Creek Sustainability Group Web: Strathfieldsaye Community Enterprise Ltd (Solar Rooftops Project) Web: Surf Coast Energy Group Web: For information on rebates and the proposed feed in tariff check out these government websites:

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How to set up Community Climate Action Group
One of the most important things about community climate action groups is that all of them work differently depending on where they are and who wants to involved. Because of this there is no perfect formula for what works and what doesn‟t. However this doesn‟t mean you have to make everything up yourself. Here are 8 ideas to get you started and make sure to have a look at the links on the last page for many more great ideas 1. First things first: Make sure to check if there is already a group in your local area that you can join. These online sites provide a pretty good guide to what is out there. , 2. Get the word out: Send an email to all your friends, family and colleagues asking them if they want to join you. Use the networks you already have. For example place an ad in your or your child‟s school newsletter or send an email around your workplace. 3. The First Meeting: A great way to get people interested initially is to set up a climate change movie screening or hold an event with a prominent speaker. This is easier to do than you might think. The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has a fantastic database of climate change presenters trained by Al Gore. See for more information. Make sure to bring a sign up sheet to get peoples details and you can start to build your database. 4. Follow-up Meetings: Great for brainstorming ideas, planning strategy, and refining objectives, meetings are the heartbeat of your local group. Schedule regular meetings and go into them with an agenda. Assign a member to act as facilitator, and one to act as a timekeeper too. Have someone to take minutes, to record decisions and provide “to do” lists for members. Meetings don‟t have to be hard work, they can be friendly and social. You may want to hold some at a local café or pub, to get to know each other better or attract new members. 4. Decide on a name and identity: Having a catchy name or acronym is a surprisingly useful tool in getting other people on board and growing the group. 5. Common goals: What do you want to achieve? When you start your group, agree on objectives. Members should be as clear and united as possible on common goals. For

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example, that you want your MP to call for a binding target to reduce greenhouse pollution by at least 30 per cent by 2020. Or that you want to raise awareness about climate change risks to your local area. 6. Launch your group: Organise an event that will raise awareness of your group and its goals. This will help promote it in your local area and get you more members. For example, you may want to screen a climate change movie, hold an event with an expert speaker, or host a solar-powered coffee stall and handout leaflets. It‟s a good idea to contact your local papers and radio stations about the event at least a week in advance, to get it included in their event and public service announcements. 7. Set up a deal: Setting up a solar hot water or solar pv bulk buying deal is a fantastic way to provide real tangible benefits for members, saving them money and helping to dramatically reduce household greenhouse gas emissions. 8. Action Groups: Once the group has reached a certain size, dividing into action groups with a specific focus is an excellent way of sharing the workload and allowing people to take responsibility for a particular project. For example BREAZE have divided into a „community engagement group‟, an „engaging government group‟ a „local food production group‟, a „renewable energy group‟ and a „sustainable homes group‟.

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Handy Links

Existing Climate Action Groups
Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions Inc. (BREAZE) Web: Geelong Sustainability Group Web: Hepburn Renewable Energy Association Web: Locals Into Victoria’s Environment (LIVE) Web: Sustainability in Stonnington Web:

Climate Action Alliances
Climate Emergency Network Web: Climate Movement Web:

Government Climate Websites
Australian Government Department of Climate Change Web: Global Warming: Cool It Web: Sustainability Victoria Web:

Major NGO websites
Australian Conservation Foundation Web: Environment Victoria Web: Friends of the Earth Web:

Alternative Energy
GreenPower, Web: Green Electricity Watch Web: Origin Energy Web: Alternative Technology Association Web:

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