Climate submission discussion

Climate change is an issue that Sustainable Living Tasmania has been raising awareness about for most of our 44 year history, and we have supported thousands of Tasmanians to take practical actions to address it. So when the opportunity to comment on Tasmania's Climate Change Strategy appeared, we jumped on it. In an attempt to provide constructive input into the draft Strategy we tried to answer this crucial question:

What is required at the global level to secure a safe climate, and what could and should Tasmania’s contribution toward that goal be? 

In the end, we believe that the fairest and most pragmatic way to share effort is for those who are able to reduce emissions relatively easily (e.g. wealthy societies that have not yet taken significant action to reduce their emissions) to do so more than those for which reducing emissions is more difficult (e.g. poor societies, or wealthy societies that have already taken significant action to reduce their emissions).

With this in mind, if Tasmania is to be a "genuine world leader in the response to climate change” as the Draft Plan states, then we must commit to reducing our emissions as much and as quickly as we are able to. 

To this aim, we looked at each sector of our economy and provided recommendations. A short overview of our recommendations is provided below. More can be seen in our full submission on Tasmania's Climate Change Strategy

Forestry

Emissions from forestry dwarf emissions from all other sectors, and so have the potential to ‘make or break’ Tasmania’s emissions budget. 

Recommendations include:

  1. Forestry management planning must be integrated into a broader plan to manage Tasmania’s overall emissions, including targets.
  2. Annual targets at regular intervals are necessary to create accountability and catalyse action.
  3. Sectoral targets and plans must be put in place to ensure economy-wide goals are achieved. 
  4. Set a target of zero emissions by 2050 for non-land-use sectors, a target of zero net emissions by 2035 and a target of negative emissions from 2036 to 2100 (entirely practical and achievable for Tasmania).

Note that this would not mean the end of the forestry industry. Tasmanian forests can continue to be worked while sequestering significant amounts of carbon. What is necessary is for the rate of deforestation to be significantly less than the rate of reforestation. Once other sectors are decarbonised, forestry can continue indefinitely at a sustainable rate, where carbon in and out of the forests is truly balanced.

Stationary energy

For many years now, Tasmania has, on average, not generated enough electricity to meet demand. The gap between generation and demand must be closed through the combination of reducing demand through energy efficiency, and increasing generation by installing new generation capacity. 

Recommendations include:

  1. Invest in bridging the gap between generation and demand before looking at a second interconnector
  2. Implement a reverse-auction scheme for medium-to-large scale renewable generation
  3. Increase the feed-in tariff to half the standard usage tariff
  4. Expand maximum installed capacity for feed-in tariff to 100kW
  5. Direct energy GBEs to assist with community renewable energy projects

Sustainable transport

A diversified approach is needed to provide services and facilities to encourage user uptake of public transport, active transport and electric vehicles. This would free up our roads and reduce our transport emissions significantly.

Recommendations include:

  1. Support active transport and improve infrastructure for it (active transport reduces emissions and comes with significant co-benefits, especially to health).
  2. Increase funding to Metro Tasmania to purchase cleaner buses.
  3. Use Hobart’s northern suburbs rail corridor.
  4. Use the Derwent River by implementing a ferry service.
  5. Play a lead role in the transition to electric vehicles.
  6. Implement an electric vehicle tourism initiative to kick-start charging infrastructure.

Sustainable agriculture

Agriculture is now widely accepted as one of the serious culprits in climate change, and Tasmanian Agriculture is no exception. Agriculture in 2011 Tasmania contributed to 27% of the State’s net greenhouse gas emissions . Conventional agricultural practices, such as the use of fossil fuel based fertilisers and soil tillage, make significant contributions to greenhouse gas emissions.

Recommendations include:

  1. Provide resources to Tasmanian businesses and NGOs that support, inform and facilitate sustainable agriculture.
  2. Modify existing or introduce new agricultural schemes.

Waste

Waste and climate change may seem like separate issues, but they are actually very closely linked, and not just because of by-product methane emissions. Waste is a clear indicator of how much of the world’s natural resources we’re using, which have significant ‘embodied emissions’ in them. We at Sustainable Living Tasmania believe that consumers must share the responsibility with producers for the impacts of the materials and products they consume and waste. The cheaper the resources, the more we use them and the more we feel we can afford to waste. Not only is climate change a clear symptom of our over-consumption, it is also a result of our extreme levels of resource use.

Recommendations include:

  1. Introduce a Tasmania-wide waste levy of over $120/tonne (similar to that in NSW of $133/tonne), introduced progressively over five years.
  2. Introduce a container deposit scheme. The 2014 Cost Benefit Analysis of a container deposit scheme, which led to a scheme being rejected, did not capture the magnitude of glass landfilled each year or the associated costs). 
  3. Establish State waste reduction targets
  4. Advocate for national product stewardship programs (such as C&D wastes, polystyrene, batteries, oils, fluorescent light globes, paint, plastics, mattresses, e-waste, flexible plastics, steel, textiles, tyres, timber, plasterboard and masonry).