FoE Australia and FoE International News

From Chain Reaction #125, November 2015.


UN climate conference and People's Marches

All across the world as world leaders gather in Paris for the 'COP21' UN climate talks in December, millions of ordinary people will be standing up for social and environmental justice − and for real action on climate change. FoE has joined with dozens of other groups in supporting the marches being held from November 27 to 29. These are happening as part of a global effort and are intended to be the world's biggest climate mobilisation ever. You can find out about the march closest to you at

To keep in touch with FoE's activities around COP21 and to sign up for email updates, visit:

See also

On October 27, FoE joined with a wide range of organisations and prominent Australians to support the call from the President of Kiribati, who is asking for a moratorium on new coal mines. The letter is posted at:

Minister for Coal

On October 30, FoE activists joined others involved in the Direct Action Melbourne coalition to occupy the electorate office of the federal Minister for Coal, Greg Hunt. The action followed Hunt's re-approval of Australia's largest new coal project – Adani's Carmichael mine. While some people occupied Hunt's office, others hung a banner from the roof and others conducted a role play to act out the damaging impacts that decisions made by the minister are having on communities and the climate.

FoE campaigner Morgana Russell, one of the four people occupying the minister's office, said: "Mr Hunt is acting as a rogue agent for the fossil fuel industry. We stand in solidarity with traditional custodians in the Galilee basin who have been fighting against Adani trashing their land. I am here because the government is putting my future at risk."


Farmland not Gaslands

The past two years have been incredible and frightening. People all across Victoria discovered their fertile farmland, communities and precious natural areas were blanketed with licences for unconventional gas. But in that time, those communities have banded together to create a powerful, state-wide movement to protect their land, water, health and future.

And now there's a film about it. Farmland not Gaslands is a moving short film about communities, ranging from Western Victoria to Gippsland, who are threatened by the activities of mining companies, but refuse to sit down and say nothing about it.

It's a matter that is close to home for director and producer Pennie Brown. Her family live in Gippsland, where over 350,000 hectares of land is covered in approved exploration licences for unconventional gas.

Farmland not Gaslands was premiered to a sold-out cinema as part of the Environmental Film Festival in early September, going on to win the People's Choice award. The resounding success of this grassroots film shows that it is not only a wonderful work of art, but also a reminder of the amazing things that can happen when communities get together.

− Katherine Smyrk

River Country campaign

Wadi Wadi Traditional Owners have been trying to regain ownership and management of the Nyah-Vinifera forest since colonisation. They were promised co-management by the Victorian Labor State Government five years ago and are still waiting for an outcome.

The fight to protect the Nyah-Vinifera forest from logging and improve its health was fought by thousands of people, hundreds of committed locals and Wadi Wadi Traditional Owners. The forest was finally declared as a Regional Park by the Victorian Labor Government in 2010 after a 15-year fight to protect it. Once this happened, people believed the forest would be safe into the future.

But, the Nyah-Vinifera Park has been severely neglected over the past five years. Under the previous Coalition state government, plans put in place to protect and manage the park under the 2009 Victorian Environmental Assessment Council recommendations were stalled or forgotten.

Please show your support for Wadi Wadi by demanding the Victorian government commit to handing back the Nyah-Vinifera Park's management to its Traditional Owners. You can sign our petition at:

In October, the ABC reported that flows into the Murray-Darling river system are as low as they were in 2002−2003 − the first bad year of the Millennium Drought. Meanwhile, a perfect political storm is brewing that could threaten the hard-won gains for Australia's greatest river system. Friends of the Earth needs your help to secure a sustainable future for the Murray Darling Basin. Since September, the Basin's river systems have had to contend with new and worrying threats. First, the Nationals have taken control of the water portfolio, with Barnaby Joyce appointed Minister in the new Turnbull Government. Second, a group of cross-bench Senators have mounted an inquiry and are calling for the Basin Plan to be 'paused' to appease angry farmers in the Victorian and NSW irrigation districts. Please send a message to Prime Minister Turnbull using our online form:

− Morgana Russell, River Country Campaign coordinator, FoE Melbourne.

FoE faces hostile parliamentary inquiry

In September, Friends of the Earth faced the hostile House of Representatives Inquiry into environmental organisations. It was set up by the Abbott government to curtail our advocacy and community campaigning, and threaten our tax deductibility status that allows people to fund environmental protection.

FoE Melbourne campaigns coordinator Cam Walker and operations coordinator Samantha Castro were joined by affiliates Nicola Paris (CounterAct) and Julian Vincent (Market Forces) for an hour of intense questioning from the panel (including the likes of maverick LNP MP and FoE critic, George Christensen).

Testament to the our strong community network, FoE supporters filled the public gallery. Our team answered all the questions fired at us with poise. The whole exchange was documented on social media on the #FriendOfFoE and #DefendEnviroOrgs hashtags.

The community sent a clear signal to the Federal government with a rally outside the hearing. The whole movement came together in a display of strength against this attack.

Labor has described the inquiry as "a show trial" and shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh said if charities were doing the wrong thing, they should be referred to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

A poll commissioned by the Australia Institute found that over two-thirds of respondents (68%) support the right of environment groups to conduct environmental campaigns and advocate policy changes, while also claiming charity status.

Our resolve is strong − but we need your help to make sure that we can continue to stave off these attacks whilst maintaining campaigns like Coal and Gas Free Victoria, Yes 2 Renewables and Anti-nuclear and Clean Energy (ACE), who are delivering such important environmental outcomes.

To join Friends of the Earth or to donate, see the form on page 4 of Chain Reaction.

The Green Pledge

From August 31 to September 6, 500 Plegdends committed to five climate actions and helped raise $26,000 for Friends of the Earth. Across the week, Pledgends threatened to leave their banks (because of their fossil fuel investments), rode over hills and through valleys, generated zero waste and wrote letters to their MPs. Check out the website below for the list of 10 actions.

This years participants included two Federal MPs, Melissa Parke (ALP) and Adam Bandt (Greens). We partnered with five community groups and visited 30 schools across Victoria to speak about the Green Pledge and the work of Friends of the Earth. We had Councillors Helen Patsikatheodorou, Philip Mallis and Major Paul McLeish take part. And we had the hilarious Rod Quantock ambassador-ing for us along the way.

If you are interested in becoming involved or want to find out more, please visit

− Harry Cossar-Gilbert, Green Pledge Coordinator, 0402 755 264,

Seed Freedom Food Festival in Adelaide

Members of FoE Adelaide's Fair Food Adelaide collective were very pleased to be part of the second annual Seed Freedom Food Festival at the Market Shed in Adelaide in late September. The one day festival celebrates the importance of seed to human life, the need to protect seed from corporate control, and the ethical production of nourishing food.

It was a wonderful day of workshops, entertainment, information, networking and good food with an emphasis on organic and vegan options. There was a seed swap, produce swap and all kinds of stalls. During the day everyone was encouraged to contribute to making a seed mandala and the finale of the day was mixing up the mandala and creating 'seed bombs' to take the mandala seeds for planting in our diverse neighbourhoods.

The festival is the brainchild of seedizen Keitha Young and a highlight of the day was a video address by environmental activist Vandana Shiva.

Our stall gave out information on GMOs, food swaps around the city and the current Royal Commission into the nuclear fuel cycle which threatens SA's local and international reputation for clean green quality food. We also had information on gas fracking which is threatening farmlands on the south east coast of SA around the Mount Gambier region.

The festival leads up to the annual Fair Food Week, an initiative of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance. Events are being held around Australia between October 16-25 with details of activities at

FoE's groups Fair Food Adelaide and March Against Monsanto are celebrating Fair Food Week with a screening of the film GMO OMG and a planning/fundraising lunch. For more information contact

CORE Geelong

Thanks to support from FoE's Yes 2 Renewables campaign, Geelong now has an active Community Owned Renewable Energy team: CORE Geelong.

FoE's Leigh Ewbank rocked up in his Vegemite sweater at the initial event in early 2015. He spoke in support of our goals, adding connection to the broader Victorian campaign for a renewable energy target led by local group initiatives.

Thirty five people with a broad range of skills signed up to make our plans a reality through working together under the umbrella of Geelong Sustainability. Updates are available at:

Leigh later guided us to bring Taryn Lane from Embark & Hepburn Springs Wind farm project to Geelong. Her talk created stronger confidence in our actions. The tools which Embark provide to support groups such as ours have been very informative.

Members of CORE Geelong are part of the Yes 2 Renewables campaign team, and the inspiring actions by Friends of the Earth keep our local plans part of the bigger picture for community led renewables in Victoria. We hugely appreciate Leigh availability, connections and guidance as we steer our project towards its first solar PV system host site in Geelong.

− Vicky Grosser and Dan Cowdell, CORE Geelong Co-Chairs

HESTA urged to divest from fossil fuels

Medical ethics are built around a central precept: 'Primum non nocere' (first do no harm). In some instances, this principle asks medical professionals to refrain from intervening. A vast (and growing) body of evidence concludes that fossil fuels are bad for our health. Investment in fossil fuels is incompatible with the enormous contribution to society of superannuation fund HESTA's 785,000 members from the health and community services – people who work day in and day out to improve quality of life for Australians. Divestment of HESTA's $29 billion in assets would put a sizeable hole in the fossil fuel industry's armoury, and enable substantial reinvestments in renewable energy and community development projects.

In order to protect health and wellbeing from fossil fuels and climate change, Friends of the Earth campaign collective Healthy Futures is mobilising to ensure health superannuation is not invested in industries that harm our communities. One day, we'll look back and be astounded that doctors, nurses, social workers and allied health professionals once invested in fossil fuels.

Healthy Futures would love to hear from you if you're keen to join us in calling on HESTA to divest. Jump on board by sending HESTA an email at, come join us at one of our campaign events:, or contact me at to find out more!

− Grace FitzGerald, medical student and a member of FoE's Healthy Futures campaign collective

Think before you spray

FoE Melbourne has printed 1000 copies of 'For the Sake of our Waterways, Think Before You Spray' information sheets. The sheets provide comprehensive information regarding the most commonly used garden sprays in the Melbourne region and the most commonly detected pesticides in Melbourne waterways. A survey of pesticide sellers earlier in the year found that the neonicotinoid (bee killing pesticide) Imidacloprid is commonly sold throughout Melbourne. If you have any links to gardeners, community information networks, gardening groups or urban re-vegetation groups and you would like to help distribute these sheets email Anthony Amis at

March to declare Victoria gasfield free

Two thousand Victorians united to declare that gasfields will never be welcome in Victoria. On Sunday September 20, farmers and community members from as far as Portland in the Western Districts and Seaspray in East Gippsland rallied at State Parliament to send a clear message to the Victorian government that the state is off limits to unconventional gas mining companies. The crowd included representatives of 67 Victorian communities who have declared themselves 'Gasfield Free'.

The crowd marched from the State Library to Parliament House, where a 50 metre scroll was unfurled, outlining a declaration that the people of Victoria will not allow the development of an onshore gas industry, even if that means taking non-violent direct action as people have in New South Wales.

A Parliamentary Inquiry into unconventional gas continues, with its final report due on December 1.

Cheaper GreenPower available to FoE members

Friends of the Earth has joined a unique, nationwide, community GreenPower scheme – the Community Climate Chest (C3) − so that we can offer tax-deductible, clean energy to FoE members and supporters. By participating, our members can save up to 50% on standard GreenPower fees, while raising funds for FoE (FoE gets 10% of every donation our members and supporters make to C3).

What is unique about this scheme is that payments for energy certificates can be claimed as tax deductions. C3 is a joint initiative of the Alternative Technology Association, the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group, and GreenPower provider ACXargyle.

While the C3 site offers the option of offsets (for instance to offset the impact of a car), FoE has not traditionally supported simple offsetting as a way of dealing with climate change. However there are options to select a range of offsets on the site if you choose to do so.

To start saving money and supporting FoE while reducing your carbon footprint, please visit

See also:


FoE Africa groups pushback on extractive activities

FoE Africa groups decried the impact of extractive companies' operations across the region, cautioning that if their communities are not adequately empowered to advocate for and defend their rights, more of them will be displaced, leading to conflicts. The groups made the call during a solidarity mission to oil host communities in the Bunyoro sub-region in Uganda, who are currently grappling with the challenges associated with Uganda's developing oil industry. Participants in the solidarity visit included member groups from Uganda, Nigeria, Togo, Tanzania, Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, Tunisia and South Africa, as well as other participants from FoE International.

Gaza blockade in numbers

Israel's strangling blockade of Gaza is now entering its ninth year, with a devastating and growing impact on the lives of 1.8 million Palestinians. The MA'AN Development Centre (a FoE Palestine/PENGON member) has just published a new briefing, The Gaza Blockade in Numbers, which gives a detailed account of what is going on, alongside stories from ordinary Gazans that highlight some of the shocking effects of the blockade.

Evictions, urban cleansing, and the COP21 in Paris

Young FoE Europe activists and allies have written about how social cleansing operations are in full swing across Paris ahead of UN COP21 climate conference. This is something that is being kept quiet and is not mentioned in the media. Many of those being evicted are homeless people, Roma people and refugees.

New report: Wilmar's Nigerian landgrab

FoE Nigeria/ERA and FoE US have co-published a new report, Exploitation and Empty Promises: Wilmar's Nigerian land grab, which shows just why a binding treaty to regulate corporate human rights abuses globally is urgently needed. Global palm oil trader Wilmar International Ltd. has come under scrutiny for a large-scale land acquisition in Cross River State, Nigeria, where it has destroyed areas of High Conservation Value, including community food-producing areas and water resources.

We will not eat crude oil!

After members of Oilwatch Africa met in Togo on 9 June, Oilwatch Africa launched the Lomé Declaration on Climate Justice and Food Sovereignty in Africa. The declaration focuses on the implications of the world's stubborn dependence on fossil fuels in terms of climate, food sovereignty, nutrition and well-being in Africa.

Japan promoting coal in Malaysia as solution to climate change

FoE Malaysia/SAM is concerned about a recent Japan-Malaysia statement about a strategic partnership to address climate change, especially given its focus on continued public financial support for high-efficiency coal-fired power stations. Japan is clearly aiming to promote its companies' polluting technologies abroad, regardless of the need to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and locking Malaysia into 'committed emissions' for the lifespan of the plants, some 30 to 40 years.

Enforcing anti-pollution measures in Sri Lanka

FoE Sri Lanka/CEJ is making headway in terms of reducing pollution in Sri Lanka, and is now focusing on the enforcement of new laws. For example, the sale of glyphosate is now banned, but it is still available on the black market. Similarly, Consumer Affairs Authority regulations stipulate that no-one can store or sell enamel paints with more than 600ppm lead content. But a new EU- study published by FoE Sri Lanka shows that although major paint brands have reduced lead content in their paints to less than 600 ppm, there are still paints containing levels of lead as high as 44,000 ppm. The Consumer Affairs Authority will begin a crackdown on paint manufacturers who flout regulations on lead content.

Durban Declaration on REDD

Anabela Lemos from FoE Mozambique/JA! and Nnimmo Bassey from FoE Nigeria/ERA were in Durban, South Africa, for the Civil Society Alternative Programme held in parallel to the World Forestry Congress. Here they and others from the No REDD in Africa group launched the 'Durban Declaration on REDD'. The declaration opposes dodgy projects labelled 'Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation' (REDD), and rejects the "commodification, privatisation and plunder of Nature".

Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here!

In September FoE International published a statement of solidarity with refugees, calling for an end to the conflict in Syria and support and assistance for refugees.


Join the energy revolution!

FoE International and FoE Europe have launched a new website inviting everyone to join the energy revolution, demand justice for people affected by climate change, and support renewable energy sources controlled by communities. The site also aims to link local struggles against dirty energy and false solutions to climate change with real solutions to the climate crisis including concrete community energy proposals and experiences.