Embracing the Climate Challenge 2016-2021

It is becoming increasingly necessary for industry to consider and address climate change considerations in the course of business. On 12 December 2015, a global agreement was reached in Paris (Paris Agreement) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

All signatory countries agreed to the goal of keeping global temperatures “well below 2 degrees Celsius” of pre-industrial levels. Australia has committed to a reduction target of 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030. The Federal government will rely on a “suite of Direct Action policies” to meet these targets, including the Emission Reduction Fund and Safeguard Mechanism and the Renewable Energy Target.

The Tasmanian government has released a draft climate action plan, Embracing the Climate Challenge 2016-2021 (the draft plan) in an effort to review Tasmania’s actions and objectives to responding to climate change.  The government invites stakeholder and public comment on the draft plan by 25 March 2016.

Tasmania’s existing target is to reduce emissions by at least 60% below 1990 levels by the end of 2050. The draft plan aims to review these targets and provide a more consistent approach with that adopted under the Paris Agreement. The draft plan does not set revised targets; however, it does note that there should be an assessment of policies arising out of the Paris Agreement.

The draft plan identifies a number of Tasmanian sectors that will be integral to a low carbon future including the renewable energy sector, marine farming and agribusiness.

Renewable Energy Sector

Currently, around 90% of Tasmania’s electricity production comes from renewable sources so Tasmania has a competitive advantage in that regard. In particular, the draft plan encourages capitalising on Tasmania’s established renewable energy industry, investing in renewable assets and attracting businesses through the State’s clean energy brand.

The draft plan advocates an expansion of Tasmania’s renewable energy industry and consideration of a 100% renewable energy generation target with the aim of exporting any excess production into the National Electricity Market. This could be achieved by investigating a second Bass Strait interconnector. The draft plan also suggests exploration of alternate renewable energy options including additional wind farms, investigating the development of the biofuel industry and investment in electric vehicles.

Aquaculture

The draft plan aims to ensure climate change impacts are considered in fisheries and marine farming programs given the importance of these industries to the State’s economy. In conjunction with industry, the Government will continue to develop appropriate and sustainable Fisheries Management Plans and Marine Farming Development Plans that take climate change impacts into account.

With a projected 2 degree Celsius increase in water temperature off Tasmania’s East Coast by 2070, the draft plan contemplates opportunities for further development of new fisheries as a result of species range extensions.

Agribusiness

The draft plan aims to encourage agricultural emission reductions by capitalising on Tasmania’s natural comparative climate advantage for primary industries. The draft plan identifies a silver-lining in climate change which could cause an extended growing season in Tasmania with more favourable conditions for some crops. To ensure farmers and investors can take advantage of this, assistance will be provided to identify emerging agricultural opportunities as the climate changes in regions across the State.

The draft plan does not provide for any additional programs for existing primary industries, but continues to support AgriVision 2050, which aims to grow the agricultural industry by $10 billion a year by 2050.

If you’re interested in making a submission on the draft plan, including providing comments on the emission reduction targets Tasmania should adopt and what climate change actions should be prioritised, or if you have any other queries about this article, please contact Anthony Spence aspence@pageseager.com.au or Sarah Wilson swilson@pageseager.com.au / 03 6235 5176.

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