Beefing up Tasmania’s climate legislation

This Summer’s weather and bushfire calamities along with the marine heatwave that is debilitating marine habitats and affecting our commercial fisheries have brought to the fore once again Tasmania’s acute vulnerability to climate change and the need for our state to be rapidly adopting best practice responses to the threat of climate disruption.

Climate Tasmania has had a longstanding concern that the ten year old legislation that underpins Tasmania’s response to climate change – The State Actions Act 2008 – is hugely deficient.

During the decade of its existence the Act has served no purpose and is urgently in need of major revision or replacement.

Because the Act is devoid of mandates, nearly all proposed actions by successive state governments have been in the form of temporal policies (sets of action items) that have been immediately shelved upon every change of government administration or responsible minister. This endless policy churn has been the repeated pattern now for over a decade.

Our reform project
In response to these legislative shortcomings Climate Tasmania has taken up reform of the Act as a major project for 2019.

This year presents a timely opportunity for such a re-write, as the Act has to be periodically reviewed and the state government will shortly be tabling a Bill for that purpose. Climate Tasmania’s concern is that the government’s proposed amendments may be well intentioned, but they go nowhere near enough to providing robust climate legislation that provides 1) continuity beyond single terms of government and 2) mandated actions that require follow through.

Climate change has clearly become an issue carrying such serious ramifications for Tasmania’s society, environment and economy that responding to it calls for a unified political response. This, in turn, means a willing and meaningful engagement by all parts of the legislature, including incumbent parties, MPs and the Upper House.

It is with this in mind that mid last year Climate Tasmania wrote to all MPs in both Houses pointing out the above problems and calling for a genuinely cooperative response. After all, if all the parties in the New Zealand parliament can work together to develop climate change legislation, why can’t the members of the Tasmanian Parliament?

All three incumbent parties have replied to our open letter to political leaders and in the ensuing months we have, on their invitation, held meetings with a number of MPs from both Houses to put our case for both need and urgency. We will be pursuing these engagements in coming weeks prior to the issue coming up for debate in the parliament.

This is where we are at now, and in following posts we will be bringing you progress reports and feedback on how the MPs are responding. We are pleased to report that to date we have received very good hearings and hope that this translates into action.

In the meantime, Climate Tasmania members have been compiling a list of administrative areas – such as in planning and pollution control – where there are obvious gaps in the state’s attention to climate change, as well as new ideas for practical regulatory action to reduce emissions. Some of our policy ideas were included as appendices to the open letter and are available at the above link.

In the near future all this will be translated into detailed advice for the drafting of a comprehensive workable new climate Act that Tasmania can be proud of.


* Readers who support our call for the enactment of a comprehensive, detailed, action oriented Act can assist by contacting their representatives in both Houses and telling them of your support and of your expectation that they will work to bring about such legislation.


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Can Tasmania provide leadership on climate change?

Political turmoil in Canberra in recent weeks has once again thrown the spotlight on Australia’s response to the Paris COP Agreement – where individual nations have agreed to take leadership in order to help restrain global emissions.

Tasmania’s Vulnerability to Climate Change

The Coalition’s internal schism over climate policy and Canberra’s subsequent withdrawal from renewable energy targets and other important components of national climate policy have resulted in a refocus on where state and local governments can pick up the pieces.

These rather tumultuous events have coincided with an impending review of Tasmania’s main climate Act – the Climate Change (State Action) Act 2008, due to be debated in parliament in coming weeks.

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Geo-engineering forum at UTAS

Geoengineering technologies are proposals to counteract climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere, or by reflecting sunlight away from the earth. This forum brings together scientists, philosophers, international lawyers and members of civil society to discuss the potential role of geoengineering in international climate change policy, and key ethical, legal and governance issues.

This event is hosted by the Australian Forum for Climate Intervention Governance in the Faculty of Law.

For more information plus how to register CLICK HERE>

General backgrounders can be viewed here. Nature Magazine. Climate One

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Don’t try to fix traffic congestion

Speakers at Climate Tasmania’s well attended July 5 transport forum warned that trying to fix traffic congestion by catering for more cars is a costly and never ending, futile exercise.

Dr Eliot Fishman (Institute for Sensible Transport) and Professor Jason Byrd (UTAS Professor of Human Geography and Planning) focussed on transport presenting an expansive matrix of solutions – taking into account multiple related issues of urban design, human health and equity, climate change and economy.

The forum can be viewed below in its entirety. Dr Fishman’s presentations starts here. Professor Byrd’s presentation starts here. The Q & A sessions starts here. Peter Boyer’s summing up is here. (The speakers’ presentations are embedded in the video.)

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Transport Forum – July 5

Many factors mesh together to create liveable, vibrant, sustainable cities and regions.
We need to get beyond simplistic engineering solutions to today’s traffic problems.

Here’s an opportunity to think • community health • social equity • climate change • technology and • people’s livelihoods…. all these being integral to a future transport matrix that serves the whole community. It’s ours to imagine and work for.

[Click on graphic to enlarge]

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Tasmanian transport emissions

A necessary debate that Tasmania needs to have regarding climate policy is about how we get around.

Our electricity generation mostly being hydro-electric power, it is often mistakenly presumed that the best individual vehicle choice is to ‘go electric’. The chart below demonstrates that unless Tasmania achieves at least 100 percent renewable reliance in its power supply, then this may not be the case.

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Snapshot of Tas power supply and demand

Below is the latest power generation snapshot facility kindly provided by Nemwatch.

By hovering your cursor over the coloured bars you can now see not only how much power is currently being generated in Tasmania from various sources, you can now also compare this to statewide power demand that’s happening at that same time.

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The growing human cost of climate change

To illustrate that climate change is happening apace, science has told us a lot about melting glaciers, habitat losses, unseasonable weather all over the globe, rising sea temperatures, Arctic melting… all of this with voluminous supporting data.

Yet as we now approach 2018, twenty two meetings of COP (the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) the nations of the world have barely come to terms with the global climate change challenge, and in the public arena climate change is relegated well down the public’s concern rankings. Why is this so?
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Energy Security Taskforce report now public.

The final report of Tasmanian Energy Security Taskforce (set up in the wake of Basslink breakdown) has been released.

Disel generators brought in to prop up Tasmania’s power system during 2016 (ABC photo)

Climate Tasmania is generally pleased with the findings, in particular that it acknowledges and summarises the actual negative impact that climate change is imposing on the state’s hydro-electric system – an issue that has had little public exposure to date.

Below is the extract describing the issue of declining runoff from the Taskforce’s summary report.

The Climate Tasmania group has on several occasions raised this climate-related trend in our submissions.

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An Inconvenient Sequel – now showing

A decade after An Inconvenient Truth (2006) brought climate change into the heart of popular culture now comes the follow-up film: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017).

Amongst other things it shows what has elapsed in the past ten years and just how close we may be to a real energy revolution.

In Hobart it’s now showing at the State Theatre. See session times here.

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