MORE than 120 people packed into Cowes Cultural Centre on Sunday to give an enthusiastic go-ahead for the proposed collaborative community move towards a ‘Totally Renewable Phillip Island’.
Another 199 people viewed the meeting via Facebook either during or after the event.
Moragh Mackay, chair of the Energy Innovation Co-operative, welcomed participants.
She noted the numbers of groups, organisations and businesses across Phillip Island whose efforts are already helping reduce carbon emissions and improve the environment across the Island and beyond.
“Those numbers, that momentum, and Phillip Island’s high-level community skills and capacity as well as its island nature make it an ideal ‘first starter’ for this kind of community target-setting in our region,” she said.
The Energy Innovation Co-operative came together with Bass Coast Mayor Pamela Rothfield, Phillip Island Community and Learning Centre (PICAL), Phillip Island and San Remo Boomerang Bags, Phillip Island Landcare, Phillip Island Conservation Society, Bimbadeen and others in May to propose this first community gathering for a ‘Totally Renewable Phillip Island’.
More organisations are invited to become part of the working group now approved by Sunday’s meeting.
Individuals are encouraged to join with any of the organisations whose activities they’d like to help.
Taryn Lane from Hepburn Wind and Matt Charles-Jones from ‘Totally Renewable Yackandandah’ provided inspiration, telling of other communities in Victoria and overseas which have set and achieved targets.
Yackandandah’s target is focussed as a first step on renewable generation of 100 per cent of the power needed in the community by 2022. Yackandandah is working with Mondo Power using its software device to monitor and measure community as well as individual site renewable electricity generation. They are using a whole range of initiatives to increase the uptake of renewable generation and battery storage by households, businesses and organisations.
Thanks to the two community owned wind turbines and other community activities at Hepburn, Hepburn Shire is well on the way to becoming a “zero net emissions” shire.
Taryn and the Hepburn community with support from Sustainability Victoria, are developing their roadmap to achieve “zero net emissions”, via moves which will consider the influx of tourists into the region as part of their calculations.
Sunday’s Cowes meeting passed a resolution supporting the Totally Renewable Phillip Island working group to pursue a (draft) vision that “Phillip Island will be a carbon-neutral community by 2030, through our collective efforts to use clean and efficient energy, reduce pollution and offset carbon emissions”.
Carbon-neutral doesn’t mean that there are no carbon emissions.
Bob Davie described Bimbadeen’s carbon farming, where carbon stores in the soil have been added to, measured, and are now “sold” as a carbon offsets to other businesses whose transport and other activities are still generating emissions.
He wants to see that action replicated across the Island and beyond. The beef growers’ organisation Meat and Livestock Australia agrees with him.
Lauren Barker from Plastic Bag Free Phillip Island and Boomerang Bags described their vision of having Phillip Island and San Remo nationally recognised as plastic bag free, knowing that “healthy eco-systems equal healthy people”.
Their volunteer groups have weekly sewing bees at PICAL and San Remo, and have so far sewn a remarkable 6464 boomerang bags which people are encouraged to use and reuse/return instead of using plastic.
Both visiting guest speakers emphasised the necessity of gaining wide community involvement and participation in renewable energy generation projects as a way of building people’s understanding and preparedness to act positively across a whole range of activities.
The Energy Innovation Co-operative is already initiating community owned renewable energy generation activities, currently via donations and the grant-funded Old Energy-New Energy project in Wonthaggi, and very soon by inviting investors who will receive a financial return for their participation.
The ‘Totally Renewable Phillip Island’ working group will begin the collaborative process of developing a ‘roadmap’ for Phillip Island, building connections with other organisations, and planning the activities and further community discussions which will help along the way.
More community consultations and activities will follow.
Those interested are invited to link up via Facebook (Google ‘Renewable Phillip Island Facebook’) or via the contacts points for any of the participating organisations.