Image for Tasmania can capitalise on its renewable energy advantages

Decarbonising the economy and land use policy key to climate change response

The Tasmanian Climate Action Council (the Council) has welcomed the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III Fifth Assessment Report.  Evaluating 900 mitigation scenarios, the report concludes that large-scale changes in energy systems are essential to restrain global warming to 2 degrees and avoid the harshest impacts of climate change.

Council member and sustainability advisor, Paul Gilding, says that the IPCC report provides support for the Council’s Blueprint for Action priorities, renewable energy and climate ready-agriculture, and that Tasmania is well placed to contribute to climate change solutions. 

The report also finds that programmes to cut emissions were relatively easy to afford if implemented quickly.

“The IPCC has identified decarbonising electricity generation as a key component of an effective and affordable strategy to stabilise emissions, recommending that as much as 80% of energy be generated from renewable sources by 2050. 

“Tasmania can capitalise on its renewable energy advantages, maximising both the contribution to global emissions reduction and economic returns to the state,”  Mr Gilding said.

Other cost-effective mitigation options identified by the IPCC include sustainable forest management, improved cropping and grazing land management and soil carbon restoration projects.  Council Chair, Professor Lesley Hughes, noted:

“Work already being done in Tasmania to improve agricultural techniques is reaping rewards:  improving productivity, increasing resilience to climate change and reducing emissions from a critical industry sector.” 

She also noted that strategic land use planning policies can deliver considerable benefits, if implemented well.

“The IPCC report finds strong evidence for the benefits of integrating land use, transport and infrastructure policies to influence carbon intensity.  Effective land use planning strategies may include increasing residential density, facilitating uptake of electric vehicles, increasing public transport and improved urban design for walking and cycling infrastructure.” 

The Council noted the reform agenda of the new Department of State Growth and Tasmanian Planning Reform Taskforce, and urged these bodies to ensure climate change mitigation and adaptation responses are explicitly considered in all future planning.

“While the IPCC report identifies real potential for mitigation strategies to curb global warming, the clear finding is that decisive action is required to ensure that these strategies can be implemented in time to make a difference.  The longer we wait, the harder and more expensive effective responses will become.”

• Chris Sharples, in Comments: Tasmania is ideally placed to be a global leader in climate change mitigation and adaptation.  Not only are we incredibly fortunate - as an island in the Southern Ocean - to be one of the places likely to be least affected by the more drastic impacts of global climate change; but we also have the resources and techno capacity to create a sustainable economy based on renewable energy.  Best of all, we are so close already to having a workable, sustainable non-growth economy and population! All we have to do is recognise that unending growth is a self-defeating cancer the world cannot sustain, and figure out how to make a non-growth economy work here in Tasmania. And there’s no shortage of ideas on how make a non-growth economy work, its just that the dominant media and business interests ignore them.