Australia (like Canada) has a well-deserved reputation of being a laggard on climate issues and being one of the worst polluters on the planet. The recent Australian election results will likely change that. Australians have been suffering the effects of climate change in the form of increased flooding and devastating fires.
The new coalition government has ambitions to reduce the damage the country does to the planet while ensuring that the people in the country reap the benefits of a green economy. Let’s hope Australia‘s efforts push other commonwealth countries to increase their environmental efforts.
“It’s a very clear illustration of the concern that Australians have and their desire for climate action,” says Amanda McKenzie, CEO of the Climate Council, a nonprofit organization dedicated to climate change communication. The hope is that the new Labor government will quickly improve Australia’s poor track record on carbon emissions.
“There is no more important time to be talking about energy and climate change in Australia than right now, and what we’re inheriting is a decade-long failure to tackle these issues of climate, energy, and security,” says Madeline Taylor, deputy director of the Centre for Energy and Natural Resources Innovation and Transformation at Macquarie University in Sydney.
When it comes to energy in Australia your first thoughts are likely to be about coal and exporting coal. Despite the amble sun hitting the country, Australia has been slow on adopting renewable energy. Except for the island of Tasmania.
The rather large island has completed the push for energy self reliance by completing a wind farm. Now people on the island have limitless power thanks to a mixture of renewable resources. With luck the conversation about energy in the country will change following the success of Tasmania.
â€œWe have reached 100 per cent thanks to our commitment to realising Tasmaniaâ€™s renewable energy potential through our nation-leading energy policies and making Tasmania attractive for industry investment, which in turn is creating jobs across the State, particularly in our regions,â€ Barnett said.
Tasmania has long had one of the greenest supplies of electricity in Australia, with the stateâ€™s significant hydroelectricity resources supplying the bulk of the stateâ€™s power. Tasmaniaâ€™s history with hydroelectricity dates back to 1895, with the Duck Reach power plant in Launceston becoming the first publicly owned hydroelectric power station in the southern hemisphere.
Open-cut coal mining and Australia have a long history that is all about resource extraction in the hopes of short-term gain. The nation’s long history of reckless destruction seems to be coming to an end since a court recently ruled that a mining operation will not be allowed to open. The reasoning is that the coal industry is too carbon intensive and will actually worsen the planet through it’s emissions.
In his ruling, chief judge Brian Preston said the project should be refused because â€œthe greenhouse-gas emissions (GHGs) of the coal mine and its product will increase global total concentrations of GHGs at a time when what is now urgently needed, in order to meet generally agreed climate targets, is a rapid and deep decrease in GHG emissions.â€ In January, Australia experienced its hottest month on record. Meanwhile, extreme weather events have caused major destruction in large parts of the country â€” fires have burned about 3% of Tasmania and northern Queensland has been inundated by rain, causing unprecedented flooding. Extreme weather events are forecast to become more frequent in many parts of the world as a result of climate change.
Since roughly WWII we’ve been designing roads and streets for only one purpose: the automobile. Before the 20th century roads were designed to move people around efficiently, today roads are incredibly dangerous for people who are outside of metal containers. Australians are starting to do something about this lack of safety on streets already and are looking for was to make how we navigate our roadways even safer.
The next step is to respond in ways that keep returning attention to the facts from best evidence. To repeat, whether youâ€™re a driver, occupant, pedestrian or cyclist, roughly 90% of what causes death on Australiaâ€™s roads is driver behaviour.
For cyclists, the root cause of deadly harm is aggression and inattention. Drivers should be held to account and be pushed to change their behaviour and attitudes.
Simple inexpensive changes in the law have been found to have dramatic effects on driver behaviour. These changes also work with existing infrastructure, technology, road conditions and our cultural expressions of human nature
Another welcome measure is a recent initiative to reduce urban speed limits to 30km/h. This has just been implemented in one of Melbourneâ€™s inner urban areas without too much fuss. According to the research behind it, youâ€™re twice as likely to survive being hit at 30km/h as at 40km/h.
Solar in places with a lot of sun might seem like a no-brainer; yet in Australia it’s taken a long time for the idea to take off. This year is clearly going to be a turning a point for solar in the sunny nation based of the already exploding demand for solar installations. It’s great to see that solar has gotten so cheap that it’s being installed at such a high rate and that at least one nation has reached a tipping point around the culture acceptance of solar power.
â€œThese solar farms can be built within a matter of weeks,â€ he said. â€œTheyâ€™re really quick and simple.â€
Together, the new large-scale projects could add between 2.5GW and 3.5GW to the national grid and rooftop installations could add another 1.3GW, according to the Smart Energy Councilâ€™s estimates. This would nearly double the nationâ€™s solar energy capacity, currently 7GW, in a single year.
â€œThe train tracks are about to converge,â€ Grimes said. â€œRooftop installations and utilities are both booming and could turbo-boost the solar numbers overall.â€
In Queensland, residential solar panels are already the stateâ€™s largest source of energy, producing more combined than the 1.7GW Gladstone power station. Just under a third (30%) of residential homes in the state have solar installed â€“ the most in the country.