How to make a difference in the face of Victoria's bushfire disaster


17 January 2020

Many Victorians have already donated items or pledged financial support to assist the people and wildlife affected by bushfires across the state. These contributions will be needed for a long time to come as communities rebuild.

The local and international response to the relief effort has been both heart-warming and overwhelming. Naturally, we want to help those who have been impacted and are facing an uncertain future.

For many of us in locations that have not been directly affected by bushfire, it can be hard not to feel helpless and wishing we could do more.

The Bureau of Meteorology has declared that hot and dry conditions played a key role influencing the extreme conditions of the current fire season. The Bureau’s recently released Annual Climate Statement reported that 2019 was Australia’s warmest and driest year on record, and these conditions led to this extreme bushfire season.

During December 2019, heat records were broken across several consecutive days around the country.

Average national rainfall for the year was the lowest since 1900 and the mean temperature for Victoria over the year was 1.05 degrees above average. While the average temperature nationally has risen by one degree since 1900.

In 2017, the Victorian Government set ambitious renewable energy targets of 25% by 2020 and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Our climate is changing, and we can act together to work towards these important targets and keep the global temperature rise to under two degrees by 2050.

In the spirit of working with communities to act on climate change and achieve these targets, the Victorian Government through Sustainability Victoria has supported projects such as Community Power Hubs, Zero Carbon Community Transitions including the Zero Net Emissions Transition pilot with the Hepburn Shire community, and the Local Government Energy Saver program.

At home, many of us are asking ourselves what individual actions we can take today.

We have many choices about where we spend our time and money, and the way we run our home. Collectively, these decisions can make a significant impact when it comes to fighting climate change.

Six simple steps you can take today to cut your carbon footprint

1. Keep food out of the bin

Food waste left to decompose in landfill creates methane – a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Plan ahead so that you only buy what you need. Be sure to put any leftovers to good use and consider composting unavoidable food waste like vegetable peelings.

Visit Love Food Hate Waste for tips to get started.

2. Review your energy source or go solar

Some power companies have plans which include renewable energy sourced from wind or solar farms. Review your agreement and check if your provider has a green option. If not, research suppliers who do and make the switch. You could also check whether your home is eligible for solar panels and apply for a rebate.

3. Switch your super

Socially responsible superannuation providers usually have a clear stance on issues such as climate change. Research where your current provider invests your money and, if they don’t make the grade, swap to one with investment options aligned with a low-emission future. Check our guide to socially responsible superannuation and, if you have one, consider reviewing your share portfolio as well.

4. Reduce your household energy use

There are many ways to use less energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at home. From buying more energy-efficient appliances or using existing appliances and fixtures more efficiently, to installing wall, ceiling and floor insulation and using door snakes, you can effectively reduce cooling and heating needs, and cut down household energy use.

Get started with our energy efficiency resources.

5. Buy better for the environment

Sustainable shopping is about considering the complete impact of the products you buy: from raw materials to the manufacturing process, transportation, packaging and disposal.

It's about buying only what you need, purchasing quality-made items that will stand the test of time, avoiding impulse purchases and buying local whenever you can. Also consider whether you can share, borrow or repair goods before deciding to buy new.

Explore our guide to sustainable shopping.

6. Share what you do

Use social media to inspire others to make some of these simple changes and learn what your friends are doing to help. Find out what programs your local council offers to connect with others keen to act on climate change.

You can also join TAKE2, Australia’s first state government-led pledge initiative that shows practical ways on how to take action on climate change.