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Transforming Australia: from laggard to leader – Australian Civil society side event at COP26

“Australia has a very real opportunity to benefit socially, environmentally and economically from increasing its climate ambition and becoming a clean energy superpower. Yet despite claims from the Australian Government that it is beating Paris targets, evidence shows Australia’s energy emissions are on the rise and gas and coal production increasing.”
“Australians from every sector of the economy and society – First Nations, finance and faith, cities and states, business big and small, agriculture, resources and energy, health and social service, unions, think tanks, civil society organisations, and higher education – are already acting on climate change, and are calling on the Australian Government to join them in rising to the challenge and opportunities that a zero emissions future presents.”
“This event will explore ways in which Better Futures Australia members and our partners can work with the Australian Government to drive momentum behind a plan to reduce emissions this decade. Speakers will examine the diverse climate action being taken by individuals and organisations that are lowering costs and catalysing greater ambition across society and the economy, highlighting opportunities to transform Australia from a climate laggard to a leader.”

 Speakers include:
Richie Merzian – Director, Climate & Energy Program, The Australia Institute, and former lead negotiator for the Australian Government to the UNFCCC. Richie worked at the Department of Climate Change and the Department of Foreign Affairs and was the lead negotiator on adaptation to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change where he helped coordinate the Green Climate Fund Board during Australia’s tenure as Chair.
Dr Janine Mohamed – CEO Lowitja Institute and a proud Narrunga Kaurna woman from South Australia. Over the past 20 years, Janine has worked in nursing, management, project management, and workforce and health policy in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector. Janine was awarded an Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity Fellowship in 2019, and in January 2020, was awarded a Doctorate of Nursing honoris causa by Edith Cowan University.
Prof Jacqueline Peel – Director, Melbourne Climate Futures, University of Melbourne, and a leading, internationally-recognised expert in the field of environmental and climate change law. Her scholarship on these topics encompasses international, transnational and national dimensions, as well as interdisciplinary aspects of the law/science relationship in the environmental field and risk regulation.
Gavan McFadzean – Manager, Climate Change and Clean Energy Program, ACF. Gavan has been a climate change and nature protection activist for more than 20 years. He is an expert in Australia’s climate policy, has played a key role in old-growth forest campaigns in four states, the protection of Cape York and the Kimberley, World Heritage, marine protected areas and Australia’s remaining intact river systems. He has represented Australian environmental NGOs at international climate and nature protection negotiations, including the Madrid COP25.
Dr Virginia Marshall – UN Indigenous Delegate for the Pacific and Executive Member of the Indigenous People’s Organisation-Australia. Virginia is an expert in Indigenous water rights and Traditional Knowledge Protection, Rights of nature, legal practice in sea and freshwater rights. An Ambassador for Better Futures Australia, Virginia has also developed a report with colleagues from IPO-Australia,  ‘Heal Country, Heal Climate: Priorities for climate and environment’ to inform negotiations in Glasgow and to see Australia move forward and address climate challenges together.
Pastor Ray Minniecon – As an Aboriginal pastor with roots in the Kabikabi and Gurang-Gurang tribes of Queensland, Ray has dedicated his life to supporting members of the Stolen Generations of Aboriginals. He is an active Executive Member of the Indigenous Peoples’ Organisation Australia (IPO), which is a national coalition of 285 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and people who are committed to advocating for the rights of Indigenous peoples. The IPO draws on United Nations mechanisms and instruments, such as the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to assert the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights within Australia. Ray is also Director of Bunji Consultancies, providing strategic analysis, advice and services to improve achievement of environmental and organisational developmental goals. Ray believes we need a stronger national strategy, political system reform and a deeper appreciation and integration of Aboriginal culture if we are to forge a better future, especially when it comes to climate action.
Prof Don Henry AM – is based at The University of Melbourne as the Melbourne Enterprise Professor of Environmentalism for the Sustainable Society Institute and the Melbourne Business School. He provides leadership in the fields of environmental policy development and reform, climate change, and sustainability. Don is an International Board Member of The Climate Reality Project chaired by the Hon. Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States.

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