Friday, 11 July 2014

Protect the Price on Carbon and the ETS

Dear Senator,

Thank you for your time.

We the Australian people have entrusted you to make the right decisions for our future.

Urgent action on solutions against the climate crisis are the most important thing for us to be doing now.

Please protect the existing carbon price and ETS legislation.
Please reject the legislation to repeal the existing carbon price and ETS.

The carbon price and ETS cannot function if the price per tonne is zero dollars. We need a price which starts in the same range as our international markets.

The impact of carbon price on electricity prices is negligible compared to huge increases in transmission costs and increases in coal power generation costs.

The price of renewables such as Wind and Solar continue to become cheaper and thus developed and developing countries around the world are moving rapidly to decarbonise and switch to renewables.

International analysis confirms that Australia does not have an economic crisis, but we do have a crisis of leadership that respects science.

The benefit of the carbon price and ETS is that it is working to reduce carbon emissions. We also need a consistent carbon policy to enable stability and growth for jobs and businesses in this sector and across all industries.

Again, thank you for your time. And please be clear, if you make the right decision to keep our working legislation, I personally will mobilise everyone I know to support you. But if you do not, I will equally mobilize to terminate your tenure.

And neither of us want that to happen.


Paul Boundy

Sunday, 4 May 2014

How I Divested - Choosing another bank

You may have read my previous post about why I'm leaving my fossil-funding bank. Here's how I assessed which ethical bank to choose.

Firstly, I don't have a mortgage but I do have some savings. I have one bank used mainly for transactions and another bank for my savings and my credit card. I like this setup so I decided to swap each fossil bank to one or two ethical banks.

For convenience, I will call a fossil funding bank an f-bank and an ethical, non-fossil funding bank an e-bank, and we all know 'e' comes before 'f'.

Hmmm Which bank?
I made a spreadsheet-table with each column heading asking a question, and each row representing the answers for each e-bank & account I was considering.

In Australia, we have the benefit of a bank assessment report performed by Market Forces and independently verified. Note that what is considered an e-bank can change over time. Here is a link to Market Force bank comparisons:

I looked at the comparison list and chose three e-banks that were familiar to me. I then did my own online research. Fortunately, I already had an account with one of these, so that it was a likely winner but it did not meet all my needs.

An example bank comparison spreadsheet
For a transaction account, I considered these column headings:
  • the branch & office locations (which isn't so important these days),
  • having zero fees for most everyday transactions,
  • the ATM network used and how convenient they are to me,
  • the option of a Visa Debit Card.
I found one e-bank that uses the Westpac/St George ATM network and another that uses the RediBank / NAB ATM network. The e-banks generally don't have their own ATM networks so to obtain cash there isn't much choice. I found my choice of using these f-bank ATM networks acceptable, as my money is not with them and the e-banks only pay these f-banks a fair fee for the use of the ATM.

Three of Australia's big four fossil-funding banks:
ANZ, NAB and Westpac
For my savings and credit card accounts, I considered these column headings:
  • Savings Rate
  • Term Deposit rate for 3 & 6 month periods
  • Credit Card Type (MasterCard or Visa)
  • Credit Card Rate
  • Credit Card Annual Fee
I came up with one e-bank that could do everything as good as or better than my current f-banks, but I they used MasterCard instead of Visa. This isn't a big deal unless I travel to places where Visa is the only card taken. For this case, I could use the Visa Debit facility on the e-bank that I already have an account with.

Thirty seconds after opening a new bank account
nothing this ominous happened
So it seemed clear which bank for me to choose. But I was nervous about changing banks. Surely when I changed banks, the worst financial disasters were likely to happen. But after a bit of rational thinking and deep breathing, I was confident the sky would not fall in.

I collected my identification getting ready to walk into the banks office to open an account but they said is was quicker to do it online and that is what they would do if I was at their office. The internet has changed banking a lot since I last opened an account with a new bank.

Applying for accounts online was very quick and I also found calling them for help was very efficient.

I could start transferring funds immediately that day which I did. I've yet to get my card and need to setup my credit card account so completing the process may take a few weeks, but after initially being hesitant, I progressively became confident with what I was doing, one step at a time. I even got $4 interest for my savings funds that were only in the account for the last two days of April. More than I expected.

So be bold, go forth and divest. It is an empowering experience.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Why I'm leaving my bank

Today I joined hundreds of people around Australia in notifying our fossil fuel funding banks that we are closing our accounts and placing our funds in an ethical bank.  It's called a Divestment campaign and it is coordinated by / Australia and Market Forces.

My fossil funding bank has, since 2008, invested over 5 billion dollars in coal, oil and gas projects in Australia.
Fossil Bank Divesters 

Everyone knows burning fossil fuels is the prime cause of climate change.
Even climate deniers know it. They just can't bear to admit it.

We know the impacts of climate change...
We are getting stronger storms, floods, droughts and fires.
We are destroying forests and farms for coal and gas mines.

Bushfires like this are becoming more intense
Due to more intense floods and fires, we, as in all of us, are losing lives, businesses and insurance is becoming costly.

Due to ocean acidification, we are losing plankton, the basis of the ocean food-chain, which is impacting all marine fish species. Those species that we may wish to harvest sustainably, or those that we may wish to just to marvel at and let be whether it benefits us or not.

The Corroboree Frog is at risk
due to drought, fire and ongoing warming
destroying its alpine habitat.
So we can expand a coal port, we are going to dump dredging spoil into the Great Barrier Reef and risk loss of coral, fish and the reef's world heritage status. Increased shipping movement will lead to increased shipping accidents with oil and coal pollution impacting the reef. Need I mention coral bleaching through heat stress from climate change?

Bleached Coral in the Great Barrier Reef
is not a living habitat for fish
Our government has declared Australia open for business. If you are a carbon polluter that is.

Ongoing investment in fossil fuels will worsen these conditions and it is morally wrong.
No one should be funding new fossil fuel project when we have cheaper renewable options like wind.

So I, and thousands of others are taking our money out of these investments.
This week, over $AUD 100 million is being removed from Australian fossil funding banks.

Smart people and investors should do the same before the carbon bubble bursts and they find themselves on the wrong side of history.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Climate Reality

So I met Al Gore. And Kumi Naidoo, head of Greenpeace International. In Johannesburg South Africa. With 700+ other people from around the world.

I've been on a journey for a long while and I'm still on it. Not just a journey to South Africa. A journey to understand our crisis. Our crisis of climate destabilisation and species loss.

I've had a growing need to up the ante for myself and I have done it again. Attending the Climate Reality Leadership Training in Johannesburg, connected me with others that feel the sadness and the urgency of this crisis. We also share a passion for taking action to roll back the crisis however we can.

I learnt of William Kamkwamba from Malawi, who at 14 and starving, figured out how to make a wind powered electrical generator from scrap bicycle parts to power lights and radios. Then he built some more to help irrigate his village's farms. I learnt of Africans planting trees and teaching communities to grow their own food crops. Of solar thermal and photovoltaic plants built around the world. Of countries and states that have put a price on carbon pollution and are reducing emissions. 

These people and projects give me hope and inspiration to take the next step on my journey. I've joined Pingala, a community solar energy organisation, aiming to establish local renewable energy for local customers in Sydney. I've connected with ClearSky Solar that have similar projects running in regional NSW.

I'm left with a thought from the training, a quote from the American modernist poet, Wallace Stevens:

After the final no there comes a yes. 
Or to paraphrase, after the final hurdle comes success.

So if you have a project that could make a difference, seize the day. 

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Get Wealth Out of Politics

I'm proud to say that this post is about an idea I put forward to the Australian Greens Thought Experiment. And obviously many people have the same thoughts and ideas.

For the past few days, while some of us wind up or down for the Easter break, the Australian Greens have launched an online though experiment to collect innovative ideas from the community. You can add ideas and you have ten votes to give support ideas. You can give from one to three votes to any idea including your own.

There have been many related ideas and votes for renewable energy and urban renewal and education programs all of which are worthwhile projects.

But for the past few days, there has been an idea that keeps topping all the others and it is to:

Amend the constitution to allow only limited government funding of election campaigns.  
This would stop wealthy companies contributing to election campaigns and thus controlling the government and its agenda. Such constitutions are in place in northern Europe.

It's been exciting to see this idea rise from third to second to first and stay there for the past day. Thanks Green thinkers. Let's work out how to make this happen.

Here's a screen grab from just now:

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Fossil Fuel Divestment - Bill McKibben

Over the past two years since my last post a lot has happened for me. The most significant being the starting and completing of an Advanced Diploma in Applied Environmental Management with the prodigious Ryde TAFE College. I also attended a few courses on Edible Forest Gardening including 9 days with Dave Jacke. These both conspired to enable me to design and build an Edible Forest Garden in Greystanes. More on that another time.

All this has led me to the question what's next. And for many years I've seen the single most important thing for us to do is to halt climate change.

So my thanks go to GetUp. I snatched up their offer of a free copy of McKibben's latest book 'Oil and Honey'. I'm not going to attempt to give a decent book review, as I'm attempting to ease myself away from my tendency for thorough studying and writing, at least for a while..

Bill narrates his partly reluctant journey to become a leader in the fight to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. From the previous success of, he convened and led an alliance of organisations in a new campaign to divest individual and college funds from fossil fuel investments. While this progressed, Bill kept himself sane and connected with the natural world by helping his friend, chemical free bee guru Kirk Webster, raise bees and harvest honey.

So until next time. My message of the day is put your bank on notice. Switch to a fossil free bank, and move your Super and investments likewise. Here's how >

Bill McKibben

Saturday, 4 January 2014

The Ethic of Reciprocity - Hugh Mackay

You may have heard use of the expression the Golden Rule used just about anywhere. But it primarily refers to the Ethic of Reciprocity:
  • we should treat others as we would like others to treat ourselves.
So why should we obey the golden rule? The author of 'The Good Life', Hugh Mackay, puts it this way. We are social creatures who depend on communities to sustain us. Communities don't happen by accident, we have to build and nurture them, and treating others with kindness and respect is the best way to achieve that. (The Australian, Sept 7, 2013)

A few days ago, I heard an interview with Mackay where he discussed this ethic and crystallised perhaps the core problem of Australian politics. Who has not been appalled at the way most of our National leaders persistently sling off at and insult each other in parliament, and in the public media? In regard the important matters of where Australia is going or being led, these displays by our leaders have numbed us onto an the emotional spectrum from despair to apathy.

Such consistent bad behaviour from senior politicians creates voter distrust and ‘tuning out’. With some exceptions, usually outside the two major parties, we rarely observe our leaders engaging deeply and honestly.

It has been argued that politicians are happy for us to tune out, not enrol or turn up to vote, so they get a licence to get away with whatever they like. Yet history shows that disrespect of citizens can lead to varying degrees of revolution. I think most of us would rather not have a violent revolution, but rather see steady progress to a sustainable and fair society.

It would seem that this would require those with power being kinder to those without power. The enormously wealthy citizens supporting and respecting those without.  The view that poor people are bludgers, misunderstands human nature. Truly poor people would love the chance to be self-sufficient, but often they may need years of help to obtain training, self-esteem and a spiritual connection.
Hugh Makay
We need to be civil to those we know and those we don’t, such as other road users, refugees and any citizen of the world and even politicians. How do we treat each other with respect?  A key first step is truly listening to each other. That is the kind of listening where you take time to absorb what they say and what is occurring in the life of that person before responding.

I'm cautious that our leaders may try to appear as if they are listening, without truly connecting with other people, their views and problems.

Now should be the time we take on for ourselves the work of Nelson Mandela and show compassion and respect for your enemies so we can move forward together, not fight each other.