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2009: the year in review: 2009 will be remembered as the year Australians stood up and demanded action on climate change. But it was also a year that Australia was rocked by the shocking Victorian bushfires; the Murray River was thrown a lifeline; Al Gore stopped by; and a strange-looking turtle got a break ...

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IN 2009 CLIMATE CHANGE continued to dominate the Australian psyche and more Australians followed in the footsteps of ACF members and supporters to call for strong environmental policy.

The year began on a devastating note in February, when a day of unprecedented fire danger in Victoria--following searing temperatures and the longest drought on record--culminated in the Black Saturday bushfires. ACF urged Government and communities to do everything in their power to avoid a repeat of this devastation by examining planning and urban growth issues and taking urgent action on climate change.

In May the Federal Government announced major changes to its proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS). Among the changes, were a commitment to cut Australia's carbon emissions by 25 per cent by 2020 as part of a global agreement. ACF welcomed the stronger target as a significant step forward, but called for improvements to the scheme, especially a winding back of the free permits and compensation to be given to big polluting companies.

Keen to counter the scare campaign being waged by the big polluters about the claimed costs of action on climate change, ACF joined the Climate Institute, the Australian Council of Social Services and the Australia Council of Trade Unions as part of the Southern Cross Climate Coalition. The group's high-profile campaign to show that strong action on climate change will be good for jobs and investment in Australia included a regional road show in October and November.

In June ACF celebrated crucial relief to the suffering Murray River with the Victorian and Federal Governments' agreement to allow the Commonwealth to buy 460 billion litres of water for the Murray River system. But 2009 brought two devastating oil spills offshore; one in Queensland's Moreton Bay in March and another that poured into the Timor Sea off the Kimberley coast from August to November. ACF called for stronger protection of our marine ecologies and in November welcomed the Senate's support for a proposed Coral Sea conservation zone, to extend from Cape York Peninsula to Bermagui off New South Wales.

On dry land ACF continued its efforts to promote a cultural and conservation economy for Northern Australia and to create economic opportunities for Indigenous communities through workshops and cultural and knowledge exchanges between government, the tourism industry and Indigenous communities in the Kimberley.

In July ACF revealed that greenhouse emissions generated by BHP Billiton's planned expansion of the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine in South Australia would be equivalent to putting more than one million inefficient, polluting cars on our roads for decades. In October the organisation welcomed a Joint Standing Committee on Treaties' report supporting the abolition of nuclear weapons, but also urged the Federal Government to acknowledge its responsibilities as one of the world's largest uranium suppliers.

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August saw the Hon. Al Gore return to Australia to collaborate again with ACF for The Climate Project's inspiring Asia Pacific Summit. The three-day event trained 261 new and experienced delegates from 19 countries to motivate positive change in their communities.

In October, an historic ceremony took place to mark the transformation of the old Mitchell-Alice Rivers National Park on the Cape York Peninsula to the Errk Oykangand National Park (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land). This is Queensland's first national park to be jointly managed by Traditional Owners and the Queensland Government.

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In November, following a raft of disappointing amendments to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, ACF urged the Senate not to pass the scheme without significant strengthening, saying the excessive handouts to big polluters would seriously undermine Australia's transformation to a low carbon economy.

But in the same month ACF celebrated a major environmental win with the Federal Government's rejection of the proposed Traveston Dam which would have devastated the unique lungfish and Mary River Turtle and failed to solve south-east Queensland's water woes.
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Author:Vaisutis, Justine
Publication:Habitat Australia
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jan 1, 2010
Words:642
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