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Geography Matters - Protecting Nature during the Roll-Out of Renewable Energy

Tuesday, June 18, 2024 9:42 AM | Anonymous

Ms Lucy Graham, Director Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC), began her presentation with a video prepared by the Bureau of Meteorology as a State of the Climate report 2020. It reported on how enhanced greenhouse effect is a major driver of our climate change. Temperatures are rising, causing more frequent heat waves and increases in fire weather days and longer fire seasons; long term rainfall patterns have shifted so that southern states are becoming drier and the central and northern parts of Australia have increased wet rainfall seasons and flooding; the oceans are absorbing carbon and acidifying; ocean temperatures continue to increase with more frequent and severe marine heatwaves and lead to sea level rises. Lucy showed a graph of drivers of climate change which recorded that the energy sector is responsible for 32% of emissions.

Solutions to carbon emission reduction is a wicked problem. Wicked problems are used to describe really nuanced problems that are at a scale that one country alone cannot address. They generate perverse outcomes, there are problems of definition and a justice debate. Politicians and planners need to stop talking about old systems e.g. grids and start talking about distributed energy systems. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) addresses the biodiversity crisis alongside the climate crisis. There needs to be a systems approach rather than the current silo approach.

Land clearing is the biggest threat to biodiversity loss. It increases fragmentation and species’ connectivity, delivers more flora edges which are threatened by encroachment, and cause fauna to become climate refugee - moving into higher latitudes to seek the temperature range suitable for their existence.

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) does not clearly outline its intended outcomes, and the environment has suffered from two decades of failing to continuously improve laws and its implementation. Regional planning laws are also failing to deliver the visions that they describe. CAFNEC has been working with conservation groups on an ambitious vision to have a restorative energy industry that increases biodiversity in Queensland and improves First Nations people and regional communities while providing affordable, reliable renewable energy.

The presentation was extended with Manoj Prajwal Bhattaram posing some big questions to Lucy and more questions coming from the audience.

Contributed by Pamela Tonkin

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