Newtown Climate Newsletter – March 2024

Our vision is to be Australia’s first inner city zero emissions community, through a transition that is fast, fair and fun.

We are inclusive and democratic, community led, positive and focused on what works.

Hello, Warimi, Happy Easter, Ramadan Mubarak, and welcome to our March newsletter. Best wishes to anyone celebrating any of the various festivals that are upon us!

What’s been happening

Some of our members have been working with volunteers from Climate Change Balmain Rozelle to bring the popular school program Speaking 4 the Planet, which is already running in Canada Bay, Burwood and Strathfield Councils, to the Inner West. Speaking 4 the Planet encourages young people to explore sustainability concepts based around the annual World Environment Day theme, and create a response through their choice of media (oral, written, visual). The best responses from each school are then presented by the students at a formal function. We are hopeful that we can commence this program in Inner West secondary schools in 2025. You can find out more about the program here.

We’re still working with the Committee for Sydney on a plan for regular car-free days on King Street and Enmore Rd. This month we met with Jenny Leong, Member for Newtown, who supports the campaign and has experience creating car-free spaces through Reclaim the Streets. The Committee for Sydney is working with a professor of geography from the University of Sydney and his students to look at the feasibility of closing high streets. Anyone who made it out to Lakemba for Ramadan Nights would have got another taste of how much more vibrant streets can be when they’re occupied by people rather than cars. Opening streets up to pedestrians and bike riders is a great way to normalise low-emissions transport, which is why we hope this happens sooner rather than later.

Our submissions team were kept busy this month providing input into government processes like the NSW Budget, the federal government’s New Vehicle Efficiency Standards, and a federal parliamentary inquiry into the EV Transition. We also applied for a grant from the City of Sydney to help us run more in-person events in and around Newtown – fingers crossed!

The EV transition heats up

We’ve noticed an increase in anti-EV rhetoric lately, but there’s also been a lot of good news. The EVX chargers installed by City of Sydney on Brown St (outside Newtown Library) and Carillon Ave (near City Rd) have made it more feasible for Newtown residents to own an EV even if they don’t have off-street charging – we’ve already heard some happy stories from renters who have made the switch, and we’ve been noticing a wide range of cars ‘filling up’ at these new charging stations.

The national EV market is developing so quickly it’s hard to keep track. Multiple EV models are now available for under 40k, and sales of new EVs more than doubled last year, with almost 100,000 sold. This means the second hand market will start to see a lot more EVs in the next year or two – good news for people who want an EV but can’t quite afford one at today’s prices. The upcoming new vehicle efficiency standards should encourage car makers to bring more EVs to Australia, and the new star rating system will help people make more informed decisions taking into account how much a car will pollute and how much it will cost to drive.

If you’re thinking about switching to an EV or just want to learn more check out the awesome fact sheets and other resources published by the volunteers at the Australian Electric Vehicle Association, including detailed info on every new and second hand EV available today. Of course, EVs are only part of the solution and our submissions to local, state and federal governments keep highlighting the need for more investment in public and active transport infrastructure.

Photo of the month

While we’re talking about EVs, of our members snapped this photo of a 100% electric Woolworths delivery truck on Linthorpe St. Local delivery trucks are a great example of the kind of vehicle that should be switching to electric as soon as possible: they’re used every day, can be charged overnight, and don’t cause noise or air pollution when they sit idling on quiet residential streets (which delivery trucks spend a lot of time doing!). If you’re curious, Greenpeace has ranked Australian retailers’ progress and promises when it comes to electrifying their fleets – the results might surprise you!

For more photos of cool climate-related things in and around Newtown, be sure to follow our Instagram!

Upcoming activities

We’re excited to get out and about in Newtown and introduce ourselves to local businesses. We plan to do this as a group on a weekend in April or May – if you’d like to join us please reply and let us know what dates would work for you!

We’re also keen to work with local organisations on basic climate actions like installing solar panels and switching to EVs. If you know a local organisation that could use some help to cut emissions and save money please let us know!

We’ve also been given access to a treasure trove of resources from the legends at Rewiring Australia. Over the next few months we’ll start turning these in to Newtown Climate resources – let us know if you’d like to lend a hand.

We’ll also keep working on the projects mentioned above, and there are a few more submissions and grant applications in our future as well. If you see any other good opportunities to accelerate local decarbonisation just let us know!

More opportunities to get involved

As always, if you aren’t yet a member of Newtown Climate and would like to support us please consider signing up. Memberships start at $5 and for a local community group like ours, every member – and every membership fee – really does count. Memberships turn over at the end of June so we’ll start hitting current members up for renewals in the next couple of months.

We mainly communicate through a WhatsApp group. Reply to this email if you’d like to be added to it. We also meet most Sunday mornings at Ariana’s Place on King Street. All welcome, but please email us (or message the WhatsApp group) in advance to make sure we’ll be there!

And as ever, a reminder that our website has a bunch of handy guides, articles and links (including some recently added ones!) that you might want to read or share with your friends. Let us know if you come across any excellent resources that you think we should add, or if there are questions you’d like us to answer.

That’s all for now! So, Yanu in Dharug language. Travel well!