Environment Victoria

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Title

Environment Victoria

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Description

Environment Victoria is an independent charity, funded by donations. Established in 1969, we’ve grown into a community of 40 grassroots member groups and more than 100,000 individual supporters.

Together we’re campaigning to solve the climate crisis and build a thriving, sustainable society that protects and values nature.

Managed/contributed to the following campaigns

Type of group

Environment Council

Primary environmental focus

Conservation & Protection

Geographic sphere or activity

State

Primary location

Victoria

Known address

60 Leicester Street Carlton VIC 3053

Website link/s

Founding Year

1969

History of group

Is there a patch of Victoria you love? A towering forest right on your doorstep? A pristine beach you’ve been visiting since you were a kid? A shady river running through the heart of the city?

For a group of us more than 40 years ago, it was the Little Desert in western Victoria. It’s a beautiful area of mallee bushland, rich in wildflowers and rare native animals. When the government wanted to subdivide the area for agricultural development, volunteers from across the state came together to protect this place they loved.

They realised that environment groups acting together can influence policy and decision making more powerfully than each working alone. With passion, dedication and a clever new approach, they saved this unique landscape, which later became the Little Desert National Park.

The declaration of Little Desert was a watershed win for the Victorian environment community, marking the beginning of a new environmental awareness. Fired up by their pioneering victory, this small group of Victorians realised we needed a peak organisation that focused on environmental issues across the state. In 1969 they formed the Conservation Council of Victoria, which later changed its name to Environment Victoria.

We’ve now grown into one of Australia’s leading environment organisations – independent, not for profit and mostly funded by donations. We have 40 grassroots member groups and 100,000 individual supporters, all working to look after Victoria for our children, and their children.

Times have changed and so have the issues we work on. But the solutions are often the same. It still takes a group of people, working together, to protect the natural world they care about.

And while we’re still holding our governments to account and shining a light on irresponsible polluters and developers, the debate is no longer about industry versus the environment (if it ever was). It’s about investing in the future with clean energy, efficient technology, responsible businesses, and smarter, more sustainable homes and lifestyles. It’s about doing the right thing so the next generation of Victorians can enjoy the same beautiful natural environment and quality of life that we do today. Read more about our vision for the future.

We’ve had many successes over the years, continuing to confront the big environmental challenges that Victoria faces. But we’ve never forgotten our roots. The Little Desert National Park still stands today and is one of Victoria’s truly special places. It’s home to more than 600 species of native plants, 140 species of birds, 19 native mammals and 24 reptiles.

Over 50 years, the Environment Victoria community has achieved some incredible things. We helped develop world-leading water conservation laws in the 1970s. We campaigned to create the Alpine National Park in the 80s, and to improve public transport in the 90s.

In the 2000s we pioneered sustainability programs for multicultural communities, and we worked with Traditional Owners and community groups to secure more water for the Murray River.

Since 2006, we’ve been campaigning to replace Victoria’s dirty coal-burning power stations like Hazelwood with clean energy from the sun and wind.

Successes

2018 - We commissioned analysis to show that closing Hazelwood coal power station slashed Victoria’s greenhouse gas pollution by 12 million tonnes, which was about 10 percent of Victoria’s total. This is one of the most significant steps ever taken in Australia to tackle global warming. For many years, Environment Victoria has joined unions and community groups to call on state and federal governments to provide funding for the Latrobe Valley to transition to new sustainable industries. This vision is detailed in our report Life After Coal. Environment Victoria ran the ‘Replace Hazelwood’ campaign for more than a decade.
2018 - In 2014, three companies, including Coal Energy Australia, were awarded funding of $20-30 million each under the Advanced Lignite Demonstration Program. This was jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Victorian governments.

Environment Victoria campaigned against these projects, highlighted their repeated failures, and we welcomed the announcement that the final of the three projects is no longer going ahead.
2018 - In early 2018, we released an election policy agenda calling on all parties to commit to repowering 250,000 homes with solar and energy efficiency.

The Andrews government responded with a plan to put half-price solar panels on 650,000 homes. During the election campaign, the government also pledged half-price battery storage for 10,000 homes, $1000 off solar hot water for 60,000 homes, plus funding for 50,000 rental properties to receive solar panels.

This ambitious policy put clean energy and climate change front and centre right up till polling day.
2018 - China’s ban on foreign recycling threw the waste industry into a crisis, but also created an opportunity. Through media stories, a petition and a letter to the minister, we put forward a five-point plan to fix our recycling industry.

This helped secure $37 million in funding from the Victorian government. This work has a long way to go before we reach our goal of a truly circular economy, but it’s an important start.
2018 - On 6 September, the Victorian Upper House passed landmark reforms to our rental laws, giving government the power to set minimum efficiency standards for rental properties.

This is a huge win for Victoria’s 1.2 million renters, and it came after a two year campaign by Environment Victoria, in collaboration with other community and social justice organisations in the One Million Homes alliance.

More than 15,000 Environment Victoria supporters signed our petition to the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Marlene Kairouz, and these messages from supporters were mentioned in the parliamentary debate on the legislation.
2018 - After an independent inquiry, the laws governing the Environment Protection Authority were significantly strengthened by Victorian Parliament.

Environment Victoria made a detailed submission to the inquiry, worked closely with the Department to improve the bill that went to Parliament and lobbied cross-benchers in the upper house to support the legislation. The EPA now has the powers and the mandate to be a more forceful watchdog to cut pollution across the state.
2018 - In the lead up to the 2018 Victoria state election, Environment Victoria delivered the biggest people-powered campaign in its 50 year history.

Over six months, nearly 500 Environment Victoria volunteers made more than 100,000 calls and texts to voters in key areas, reached millions of Victorians with our television advertisements and billboards, and enrolled almost 1500 young people to vote for the first time.
2018 - The plan for the first auction under the VRET was to tender for 650 MW worth of projects. With an overwhelming 3000 MW of bids submitted, we called on the government to go bigger than the planned 650 MW.

When the results were announced, the government had signed contracts with 928 MW of new projects – three wind farms and three solar farms – kick-starting the next big wave of renewable energy construction in Victoria.
2017 - The oldest and dirtiest power station in Australia, Hazelwood, closed in March 2017 after a community campaign lasting more than a decade. It was an historic milestone in global efforts to address climate change and cut pollution.

For many years, Environment Victoria has joined unions and community groups calling on state and federal governments to provide funding for the Latrobe Valley to transition to new sustainable industries. This vision is detailed in our report Life After Coal.

Despite the lack of a national plan for closing coal power stations and the short notice, there have been some positive efforts to support the local community and workers.

The Victorian government demonstrated its commitment to the region with $270 million in funding for economic diversification, and the federal government contributed a much smaller amount of $40 million.

The Victorian government also helped broker a deal where workers from Hazelwood could be redeployed to another brown coal power station in the Latrobe Valley.
2017 - For the first time in 20 years, the Victorian government updated its strategy for managing biodiversity, with a focus on stopping species from becoming endangered.

Environment Victoria has campaigned strongly on extinction in the last few years, and continues calling for stronger nature laws with the reform of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.
2017 - The 2017-18 State Budget featured a comprehensive funding package of $162 million to modernise the Environment Protection Authority,

This was backed up by funding for biodiversity protection, and new stronger laws to protect nature and threatened species about to be announced.

Unfortunately, the Budget didn’t include adequate funding to match Victoria’s leadership aspirations on climate change and renewable energy.

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