While the world’s political leaders gathered in Glasgow for COP 24, we joined leaders of another ilk who gathered digitally and physically in Sydney for the Impact X Tech Conference.

Over 1000 participants, 98 speakers and panelists including international leaders, Government leaders, industry leaders, venture capital firms, entrepreneurs and environmental groups, came together to discuss what they are doing, what they plan, and what else is needed. The focus was on hope and practical action.

The key themes were the need for:

  • urgent pre-2030 climate action, action to reduce emissions and build resilience this decade
  • laws and policy to create a level playing field and accelerate the changes needed. This includes the need for a net zero Carbon building code and national emissions standards for vehicles
  • more sharing of information and solutions locally, nationally and internationally. One example of a sharing system working well is the Global Covenant of Mayors helping to share information and elevate local issues and voices to national and international level.
  • a fit-for-purpose electricity grid
  • more funding and support for early stage innovations
  • more public sector/private sector collaboration on climate solutions and implementation

Ursula Hogben, co-founder Zero Emissions Sydney North, attended and was live-tweeting the whole conference. Read the agenda here or for full details, take a wander around the Impact X website here.

After a nutty first six months of the year for Zero Emissions Sydney North the idea was to slow things down a little in July and August.

Hmm. About that… Here’s how the diary ended up looking.

July 20: Solar My House Webinar, with David Veal of Solarpro (recording here)

July 19: Mosman Council delivers our Sustainable Living Guide to 30,000 households

August 3: Mosman Council Climate Action Community Committee

August 4: Zero Emissions Schools Network – Mosman, hosted by Beauty Point Public School

August 5: Solar My House Webinar, with Ruth Irwin of Mosman Council (recording here)

August 17: Ann-Charlott spoke with Nigel Howard and Joeline Hackman of War on Waste Northern Beaches, discussing what local residents can do to reduce emissions (recording here)

September 9: Ursula spoke with Jo Taranto at Good for the Hood‘s Communities Reducing Emissions webinar (recording here)

September 21: Our Switch to Renewable Energy program launched at another BZE community, WinZero, in Wingecarribee Shire.

Zero Emissions in the news

Sydney Observer, September edition

Zero Emissions Schools Network in Mosman Living

But wait there’s more

Representatives from Zero Emissions Sydney North also attended seminars and meetings with (in no particular order) Vote Earth Now, Infinite Australia, AEVA, Groundswell, BZE Renewable Industrial Precincts, the Climate Council, 350.org, 1millionwomen and C4C. In particular, we recommend Professor Lesley Hughes briefing on the IPCC report, in conjunction with Australian Parents For Climate.

We worked with Arnies Recon to launch free EWaste Community Collection days for the Northern Beaches including Avalon 2 Sept, Dee Why 9 Sept, Manly 13 Sept, Mosman 16 Sept.

Finally, we continue to work with Clean Energy for Eternity on a major project to create an urban renewable energy zone – watch this space!

So you’re interested in volunteering? In doing something meaningful and fun? In working with dynamic and inspiring people?

We’d love to have you.

Zero Emissions Sydney North is an all-volunteer run community organisation working in Mosman and the Northern Beaches LGAs. We’re all about practical ways to take action on climate: things we can do that will have a real impact. No-one is going to solve the climate crisis on their own. Working together for zero emissions has to be the way forward.

Where to start?

Choose from a range of activities to match your skills and/or interests.

  • Solar My House is Zero Emissions Sydney North’s flagship program. We’ve run over 30 events since 2019, reaching more than 300 households, creating guides, videos and case studies, and attending forums, local expos and online events. We’re always looking for people who are passionate about rooftop solar to get involved with organising events and taking this exciting program forward. You don’t need special skills, just enthusiasm for making a difference. If you can help, please contact Ann Charlott.
  • Zero Emissions Homes working group meets regularly and creates resources to save energy and emissions at home. They produce Council/LGA specific Sustainable Living Guides, the first was the Mosman Sustainable Living Guide provided to Mosman LGA’s 30,000 residents in mid 2021. They promote switching and supporting renewable energy to approx. halve household emissions. They also look at sustainable solutions including new house design, renovations, appliances, pools and policy. If you are interested in ecosmart retrofits, building trends and energy savings, please email Ursula on electric@zerosydneynorth.org

Out and about

  • The Zero Emissions Markets team launched our first market stall at Mosman in October last year. Since then, they’ve held 7 events. In 2022, their sights are set on exploring markets in the Northern Beaches. It’s a fun opportunity to meet like-minded volunteers and to have meaningful conversations with the local community. No experience required, just a big smile and an hour or two of your time! If you’re interested, please contact Lesley.
  • Zero Emissions Schools is run by Jenni Hagland and Liz Migliorini. They are responsible for the guides on our Schools page and they convene the Zero Emissions Schools Network (Mosman). If you’re involved in education, or if you’ve got school age children and want to get your school involved in sustainability, they would be keen to hear from you. Lots to do, from researching resources to project managing events. Please email Jenni on schools@zerosydneynorth.org

Zoom zoom

  • Zero Emissions Transport is run by Ursula and the Zero Emissions Transport working group. They’ve put together great resources and guides to help electrify your transport on our Electric Vehicles and Electric Bikes pages. They’ve reached over 250 households with Zero Emissions Transport info sessions, and held 7 E-Transport Markets show and tells with electric cars, bikes, scooters and motorcycles. They’ve investigated second hand EVs, hosted a test-drive day, compiled a report on Councils installing chargers, and are creating case studies on many EVs. If you have an EV or are interested in EVs, and would like to be involved, please email Ursula on electric@zerosydneynorth.org

And finally…

Working together for zero emissions

If you’re good with words, pictures, sounds, and any other form of story-telling, Harriet wants your help. She puts together the newsletter, website, this blog, marketing materials, and tries to keep up with social media. If you’re an introvert who wants to save the world, or a wordpress genius, if you’re an instagram maven or a budding film maker, a demon proof reader or someone who just likes a yarn, just say hello to Harriet on hello@zerosydneynorth.org

We look forward to hearing from you!

Students and teachers from Beauty Point Public School played host for the third meeting of the Zero Emissions Schools Network (Mosman) on August 4rd. With greater Sydney in lockdown, it had to be online but, thanks to some video magic, we still got a tour around the school’s environmental trail.

The trail takes you past the vegetable gardens, with built-in watering systems, the cosy home for stingless native bees, the worm farm and the birds and bees highway.

The BPPS Green Team was launched in 2020. They have many ideas for improving sustainability around the school. The school has a water tank and it installed solar panels in October 2020 with assistance from Solar My School. Some of the students’ favourite activities are tree planting and biodiversity initiatives such as the birds and bees highway. Last year grants from Greening Australia and Sustainable Schools have funded planting including 6 large trees and 150 small tubestock trees.

The most colourful sustainability initiative is their rainbow lorikeet mural, which brightens up the playground while reducing UV reflection.

You have all achieved so much. I love what the schools are doing and proposing. Our schools and children are key to getting our community onboard and meeting our net zero target. 

Mayor Corrigan

All Mosman Schools were represented at the meeting. It was a great opportunity to exchange ideas and cheer each other on. Thank you, Beauty Point Public School, for hosting, and for giving us a wonderful virtual tour. We look forward to our next meeting on 27 October at Sacred Heart, Mosman.

For more information on family friendly sustainability tips check out Zero Emissions Schools on our website or contact Jenni Hagland, Program Leader. Interested in a school network in your area? Get in touch!

Volunteers warmly welcomed.

Passionate about taking action on climate change?

As more people in our communities want to lower their emissions and our work expands, we are very keen to hear from you and your friends.

Drop us an email! Give Lesley, Markets program leader, a call on 0410 621756 about our Markets. Email Ursula, co-founder and Transport program leader, if you’re interested in Transport show & tells/mini-expos. We can also connect you with Fay for volunteer training.

We can talk with you about your interests and skills,  our needs and what we could do together. Rest assured, we will support you with training/mentoring for a specific job. Online, face-to-face at a market, or even letterboxing while you’re exercising.

Dogs welcome but not essential!

January 2021. President Biden takes the US back into the Paris Agreement. Then he signs executive orders to pause oil and gas leases. Then he announces a Leaders’ Climate Summit to take place on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. Climate action, at last.

Meanwhile, in Australia, we are still hearing statements like ‘gas-lead recovery’. Moreover, neither of the two major parties acknowledge we are in a climate crisis. Politics schmolotics. But there is some good news from Canberra. Zali Steggall’s Climate Change Bill is inching forward.

The Climate Change Bill represents a significant step on the long road to breaking the political stalemate around taking action on Climate Change. Over 6500 people and businesses made submissions to the enquiry, and the hearing begins on Friday, 29 January 2021.

The impacts of Climate Change represent the greatest threat to our national security, our economy, our health and our environment. But if we implement an effective plan now, we can create a safe and prosperous future for ourselves and our children.

Zali Steggall, OAM MP

Friday’s session included Professor Lesley Hughes of the Climate Council of Australia and Dr John Van Der Callen, from the National Chair of Doctors for the Environment. Monday’s session will hear from the Law Council of Australia, and the ACTU. We are proud to see fellow BZE organisation, Wingecarribee Net Zero Emissions (Winzero), making a stand.

Listen in here, read more about the bill here, and sign up to Climate Act Now for updates on this important national movement.

 

The pictures tell the story. In just a year, Zero Emissions Sydney North has held more than 20 Solar My House parties and webinars, two Electric Vehicle webinars and a Solar Open House day. Our volunteers have attended Mosman markets, delivered flyers and hosted parties. After lengthy research, we have partnered with two businesses with renewable energy at their core.

We’ve built a core group of volunteers and found friends and colleagues across local government and not-for-profit organisations. We’ve won two grants and helped people put more than $250,000 worth of solar panels on houses in the Northern region of Sydney. This is roughly equivalent to planting nearly 5000 trees, or saving of nearly 2 million kilometres of fossil-fuelled driving!

All that remains is to say thank you to all the brilliant people and organisations who have walked alongside, including:

Mosman Council, Northern Beaches Council

Diamond Energy, Solarpro, the Good Car Company

Beyond Zero Emissions, Manly Food Coop, Mosman Chamber of Commerce, Mosman Community Connect, Mosman Community Gardeners, Mosman Environment Group, Mosman IGA, Mosman Parks & Bushland Association, Mosman Rotary, Northern Beaches Climate Action Network, Our Blue Dot, Pioneer Clubhouse, Solar My School, Wingecarribee Net Zero Emissions, Zali Steggall OAM MP, Zero Emissions Byron, Zero Emissions Noosa, Northern Beaches Secondary College, Manly Selective Campus and Mosman Public School

Our Advisory Team and all the individuals and businesses who have said ‘yes, sure, what can I do?’ And last but definitely not least, a heartfelt thanks to all our amazing volunteers, many of whom star in the video.

Have a fabulous break and we hope to see you in 2021.

We are a not-for-profit association of volunteers working across the Northern Beaches and the North Shore. We operate as part of the national Beyond Zero Emissions network. Our focus is on practical projects that will accelerate our transition to net zero emissions.

 

We know we need to do things differently to reduce our emissions. We know we need to change. But how? Kid Power, that’s how.

“It’s really difficult to talk to adults and ask them to change,” says Jenni Hagland, leader of Zero Emissions Schools program. “I had this epiphany one day at the bakery. There was an adult in line with his bread bag. I said, ‘Oh, that’s amazing,’ and he said, ‘My kids make me do it, I don’t want to.’

“It made me think: get the kids doing it, then their parents will change. It’s so much easier to get adults to change when their kids are involved.”

Jenni Hagland is new to ZESN but no newcomer to change-making. She has worked on sustainability for more than a decade. In 2006 she began working for the Carbon Disclosure Project, a global NGO based in London, followed up by work for the CDP in Hong Kong. She moved to Sydney in 2016 and started the Mosman Public School Sustainability Club in 2018.

Small beginnings

The club started small, fundraising for recycling bins, having ‘nude lunch’ challenges, turning off lights and installing LEDs. Then this April, after a year of planning and fund-raising, the school installed 50kW of solar panels on its roof. The system will provide 25% of the school’s electricity needs, saving $8,000 a year.

New to Zero Emissions Sydney North

Now Jenni has joined Zero Emissions Sydney North to work on sustainability in schools across the region, starting with a new range of resources available from the Zero Emissions website. There are practical, step-by-step guides to forming a school sustainability team, revving up your recycling and active transport, and making sustainability a part of the curriculum. Plus there are inspiring case studies from Mosman Public School and Manly Selective showing how young people are making change happen, and benefitting their schools and communities at the same time. Kid Power rocks!

“People overlook the impact kids have on their parents. You’re changing their behaviour at an early age, making them aware of the problem. These little people are going to turn into adults. I think it’s really important to make that not new or weird. It’s a part of their behaviour, and that will rub off at home, their parents will change, small business will respond to that, community will change.”

If you are inspired by these stories, if you want to help your school save money and carbon emissions, please get in touch.

 

What do Australia’s fire, emergency, climate and defence experts think? We heard from a panel of experts at the launch of the National Bushfire and Climate Summit, by the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action and The Climate Council.

Ursula Hogben summarises the key points:

Why have the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action come together?

“I have grandchildren and I’m very focused as they are going to inherit a world that will be significantly unliveable.” explained Greg Mullins, former NSW Fire and Rescue Commissioner

Is it just Australia? An international perspective

Ken Pimlott, Former Head of CalFire, joined to discuss the situation in California. “Firefighters in California are seeing climate change first hand. They’re all saying the same thing – clearly there are changes to our weather patterns. The lengthening fire seasons, often year round, challenge our ability to share fire-fighting resources across the world.”

What does Australia need to do? – from the experts

  • “Governments have been listening to scientists on COVID 19. We need to do that with climate science as well.” Professor Lesley Hughes, Macquarie University
  • “We need to reach out to our Indigenous brothers and sisters. They’re part of the solution to dealing with bushfires and climate change.” – Greg Mullins
  • “We must urgently reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. If some real action isn’t taken right now then it’s going to be beyond everyone’s capacity to respond.” – Naomi Brown, former CEO of Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council.
  • “New renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels, a green economic stimulus will create far more jobs, and get Australia’s economy back on track.” – Professor Lesley Hughes
  • “We don’t need any new gas. The Australian Energy Market Operator agrees. It says we can have 75% renewable energy now. We need to invest in renewable energy backed by storage. There is no sense to discussing gas, except due to vested interests in gas.” – Amanda McKenzie, Climate Council CEO

What are business and governments doing?

  • Big business is showing significant concern about climate change, including divesting from thermal coal, investing in renewable energy and reducing their carbon footprint. The RE 100 group are influential companies over the world that are committed to 100% renewable power. Australia’s Paris target is “woefully inadequate… The target is not enough and we are falling to meet that target.” – Lesley Hughes
  • The Australian States are, in some ways, making up for Federal failures. Most States have net zero emissions targets by 2050, and have renewable energy targets for the next 5 and ten years to achieve the goals. Local Governments are also declaring climate emergencies and targets and making changes.
  • Defence Departments around the world are aware of issues and risks. “Climate change is creating multiple flash points where conflict could occur in the future” says former Head of Defence Preparedness, Cheryl Durrant. Ms Durrant described preparations by the UK, New Zealand and other countries, however said that her experience working in government, as “The past 10 years have been a barren field for action on climate change.”

What next?

Amanda McKenzie discussed that we need energy to run our economy. New renewables are cheaper than new fossil fuels, we need a green economic stimulus to create more jobs. The renovation grant could be going to a green stimulus to rebuild our economy based on renewable energy. This would provide jobs in energy generation, electric transport, heavy industry and other sustainable areas. Beyond Zero Emissions and the World Wildlife Fund have released reports showing the new jobs that can be created if the economic stimulus is directed to renewable energy and sustainable industry.

Professor Lesley Hughes emphasised that one outcome from the pandemic is showing that Governments can listen to medical and health scientists, we need to do the same with climate scientists. We need to listen and take early action.

“We need to stop talking about climate change as just an environmental problem. Yes it is an enormous environmental problem, it is also a security problem, economic problem, health problem, it is affecting everything about our lives.”

Our Governments need to take a far more holistic approach. We understand the science, we know what is causing climate change, we don’t need any new technology, we have everything we need now, to take action.

This post is part of the ‘Reporting On..’ series, where ZESN volunteers share research and report back on forums they have attended. To get the latest reports and updates delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to our blog here.

Welcome to the Zero Emissions Sydney North blog. This is a space for sharing stories. Because behind the headlines, behind the government policies and reports, behind the technical nuts-and-bolts, there are always real stories to tell, stories which connect us all.

It seems only right to begin at the beginning, and tell the story of how Zero Emissions Sydney North came to be.

It was back in May 2019, after the Federal Election returned a majority Liberal National Party government, against all projections from three years of opinion polls. A group of women, all deeply concerned about the growing climate crisis, sat around a table in our local café, in despair. Before that day we’d been full of hope that the next Australian government might be one which took action on climate change, but now that seemed, well, unlikely, to say the least. Politics was failing us, failing our children.

Which is why talk quickly turned to what we – individually, and as a group — could do now: what practical – not political – actions could make a difference. And that’s when the ideas began to flow. Taking inspiration from the Beyond Zero Network seven of us – Dof, Susie, Ursula, Ann-Charlott, Kirsty, Tina and Anna – decided to pursue our own zero carbon community, with the help of science, technology, business, psychology and design. So Zero Emissions Sydney North was born: a community group, people from all walks of life, united by a common goal: taking swift, practical action on climate change.

What have we done so far? There have been months of research, consultation and brainstorming; we’ve looked at what actions make the biggest impact on reducing emissions, and what gets in the way for people considering taking those actions; we’ve developed programs to deliver reliable, unbiased advice on no-cost and low-cost ways households and businesses can switch to renewable energy and become ‘heros for zero’. We’ve met many amazing people in our community and added some of them to our core team – including Chris, Lesley, Jenni, Mona, Fay, Louise, Louisa, Tania, Linda and Harriet. We’ve learnt a huge amount, adapted to Covid-19 lockdown, and saved carbon emissions equivalent to a small forest of trees…

Above all, we’ve discovered that action is a great antidote to despair.

If you’d like to share stories, volunteer, or just find out more about what we do, please contact us at hello@zerosydneynorth.org or sign up for our email newsletter.

Do stay in touch. We’re just getting started.

L-R: Linda Robertson, Chris Lee, Susie Morgan, Tina Jackson, Anna Josephson, Ursula Hogben, Kirsty Gold, Ann-Charlott Paduch, Harriet Cunningham and Lesley Treleaven, (and a shout out to Dof Dickinson who couldn’t be here.)