Bryony Edwards will contest the Victorian election in Northcote for the unregistered Save the Planet Party on a climate emergency platform aiming to reduce carbon emissions to 0% within ten years.
Edwards, despite coming last in both the 2014 Victorian election with 324 votes and the 2017 by-election with 154 votes, points to the success of the climate emergency platform which has been adopted by a number of councils including Darebin and recently by Moreland Council. Outside Australia, a number of local governments in the US have also adopted climate emergency policies.
This platform consists of several main points including:
• The total reduction of greenhouse gas emissions within a decade;
• The “drawdown” of emissions already in the atmosphere, using methods from biochar to the regrowth of forests;
• Shifting the economy away from dependence “on constant material growth”;
• Creating “clean politics” which includes the establishment of bodies such as a watchdog on corruption in federal politics.
Of this platform, Edwards said that, “the key word is mobilisation” and described the effort and resources required as similar to the mobilisation of the US during the Great Depression or the UK during the Second World War. This also presents opportunities according to Edwards, for example the announcement by Labor that it would invest in solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, “is a job creator… it makes so much sense”.
Edwards also pointed out that individuals, businesses and sectors would face impacts from these changes and mitigations and working with these people to create these changes was crucial.
It is this chance to influence and educate councillors, candidates and voters that Edwards and the party believe is having a larger impact than winning seats. Therefore, “the theory of change is they [councils] educate the… community, they educate the other councils”. Edwards also pointed to conversations with other parties, micro-parties and candidates over preferences as a chance to introduce the climate emergency policies.
Based on these discussions, Edwards says that they would love other parties to take up the platform. According to the party the issue is larger than winning seats, and the goal is to “change the system”.
Asked about the differences between Save the Planet and the Greens, Edwards responded that the Greens are not advocating for anything like this strong and rapid climate change response.
“Climate is almost an afterthought when they talk about their policies”, she said.
However, Edwards also acknowledged that many elected Greens did share the climate emergency perspectives and noted the Greens on Darebin Council, along with all council members unanimously agreed to the need for a climate emergency platform.
Aside from climate change, Edwards also said she is concerned by affordable housing and the decline in public housing stock in Victoria. Edwards said other issues of inequality would also be important for Northcote voters at the election, including high rents, childcare waiting lists, stagnant wages and mental health.