The Climate Tasmania board comprises: Dr Mel Fitzpatrick (chair), Brett Hall, Dr John Hunter, Jan Linehan, Dr James Risbey, Brook Dambacher, David Hamilton, Dr Nick Towle, Jessica Robbins, Peter Boyer, Chris Harries and Margaret Steadman.
The group has also enlisted the following as expert advisers: Jack Gilding, Professor Jan MacDonald, Phil Harrington and Matthew Pitt.
Please see below for brief biographical notes on each.
Mel Fitzpatrick is a climate scientist and educator. Much of her work over the last two decades has concentrated on effective communication of climate science to both policymakers and the general public.
A specialist in polar and alpine research, Dr Fitzpatrick has worked for the Australian Antarctic Program, the US Antarctic Program, and in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. She earned a PhD at the University of Washington researching the interaction between sea ice, clouds and climate. Dr Fitzpatrick was an expert reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, contributing to the reports in both 2001 and 2007.
She worked for six years at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a US based non-profit that plays a key role in ensuring sound science informs policy. With a small team, she developed a series of climate impact reports for a dozen U.S. states, including outreach and education of climate impacts in coastal and mountain areas.
Mel has recently returned to Tasmania and continues to be passionate about bridging science and policy.
Brett is an experienced company director and has worked across many areas within the agricultural sector. He is skilled in rural development, sustainable agriculture, strategic planning, and natural resource management.
He is professionally educated having an MBA, and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
In the climate space Brett, along with other Tasmanian farmers (Farmers for Climate Action), has been active in highlighting the challenges that climate change is imposing on rural producers and the need for appropriate government policy.
Dr John Hunter is a climate scientist working in an emeritus position at the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, based in the University of Tasmania. His current interests are the sea-level rise induced by climate change, and the response of Antarctic Ice Shelves to global warming.
John’s interest in sea-level rise was initially stimulated in the mid-1990s by his work (with others) on the historic sea-level mark at the Isle of the Dead, Port Arthur, which indicated where sea level was in 1841. This was one of the first such marks struck anywhere in the world for the scientific investigation of sea level. Recent work has involved investigations of sea-level rise in Australia, the U.S., and in the Indian Ocean and Pacific regions, and the way in which this rise increases the frequency and likelihood of flooding events.
He was the original developer of the “Canute” sea-level rise decision-support tool (see sealevelrise.info). In recent years he developed a method of deriving sea-level planning allowances based on projections of sea-level rise and present storm-tides; the techniques has been used in Tasmania, Victoria and more widely around Australia and Canada. He has a keen interest in seeing that the science of climate change is accurately communicated, not distorted by the so-called “climate skeptics” and is appropriately incorporated into public policy.
Jan Linehan is an international lawyer and former international negotiator. She is the co-founder of the Climate Justice Network, a multidisciplinary research initiative at the Faculty of Law at the University of Tasmania https://www.climatejustice.network.
Her research covers intergenerational and social justice issues, climate policy and decision making and governance, climate science communication, human rights, law reform, community engagement, and the arts as an activist practice.
DR JAMES RISBEY
James Risbey is a Senior Research Scientist with CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere working in the Decadal Dynamics group.
James received his Ph.D. in climatology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has worked on climate variability and change issues in the US, the Netherland and Australia.
His research is broadly concerned with the development and use of climate information for societal applications. He is interested in the characterisation and communication of uncertainty in science, and on quality assessment of climate models.
Brook Dambacher holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Tasmania, specialising in international law.
She was involved in the negotiation of the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015 and has since attended climate negotiations as part of ongoing work as a research and media support consultant to the Least Developed Countries Group – a negotiating bloc of the 47 poorest countries under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change who are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts.
Brook is a co-founder and convenor of the International Justice Initiative – a platform for students to gain practical experience through providing pro-bono advice to support developing countries in the UN climate change negotiations and other international fora.
She has also served as the President of the Student Environmental Law Society and as Social Justice and Equity Officer to the Tasmania University Law Society.
Educated in physics, David worked as an occupational hygienist for many years and is Retired Fellow of the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists. In that capacity he gained solid experience in government, consulting and industry.
He also has professional experience in coal liquefaction and in the oil and gas sectors. Following his career retirement David worked as an energy consultant for several years, where he advised on energy efficiency, renewable energy and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
David is the Chairman of Dorset Renewable Industries Pty Ltd and Dorset Renewable Co-operative Limited, both of which have the objective of encouraging, promoting and developing the sustainable use of renewable resources in ways that benefit the community.
David is committed to improving community resilience through appropriate, sustainable development. He thinks that small to medium sized businesses that meet local needs from local resources are more likely to provide sustainably beneficial economic activity than will large, remotely headquartered businesses. David accepts the evidence of climate science – that we need to transition away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible. He believes that the energy transition will provide great opportunities for communities to take more control of their futures.
DR NICK TOWLE
Dr Nick Towle is a Medical Doctor based in Burnie with an active interest in sustainability and climate change. He is a lecturer at the University of Tasmania, Rural Clinical School where he is also a sustainability representative.
Current research interests include the impacts of climate change and peak oil on the health of individuals and communities and positive adaptive responses to these global challenges. Nick also has training in Home Sustainability Assessment.
Nick has been active in Doctors for the Environment Australia as a Committee member over several years involving policy development and advocacy on national environmental health issues. He is a presenter with the Al Gore Climate Reality Project. In addition to public presentations he has lead a range of school and home sustainability projects.
Jessica helps islands to be sustainability leaders.
Hobart based, she has over a decade of experience working with world leaders and champions of change to strengthen collaboration and action to implement the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
Jessica supports Governments, organisations, companies and communities to • Create simple processes to achieve sustainability outcomes, • Build partnerships and strengthen collaboration, • Connect global best practices to inspire local action, • Showcase local action on the international stage and United Nations forums, • Apply strategic communications and behaviour change, • Coordinate and facilitate events.
Peter Boyer is a journalist who specialises in science communication, mainly in the area of climate science and is an Al Gore team leader. He writes a regular column on climate change for the Hobart Mercury.
Peter Boyer was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2014 for his service to environment, particularly in the field of climate science.
Peter had joined the staff of the Australian Antarctic Division in the late 80s, and there developed an appreciation and affiliation with the science community. In this role Peter became increasignly concerned with the emergent climate trends.
In 2006, he was selected as one of only 84 people to attend the first Climate Reality training session with ex US Vice President Al Gore.
Chris Harries is an environmental educator working in the non-government sector and has extensive experience in energy conservation and behaviour change programs.
He has participated in Australian and State government sponsored sustainability projects and advises on energy supply and demand issues.
Margaret provides secretarial and logistic support for Climate Tasmania. Former CEO of Sustainable Living Tasmania, Margaret has extensive experience in environmental education, community development and management of numerous environmental projects and programs.
Jack Gilding is the Executive Officer of the Tasmanian Renewable Energy Alliance. He has a detailed understanding of energy policy and financial and regulatory arrangements at both the state and national level.
His company Backroad Connections provides research, consultancy and project management on the planning and implementation of new technologies with a particular emphasis on community renewable energy. He has worked on a feasibility study for community owned renewable energy projects in the Waterworks Valley and was involved with the development and funding of the TasTex community funded solar project in Glenorchy. He is currently assisting the community group Tasman Peninsula Power to implement Tasmania’s first community microgrid.
Before moving to Tasmania, Jack was the Executive Officer of Hepburn Wind, the co-operative that built Australia’s first community-owned wind farm.
Prior to Hepburn Wind he held a number of positions related to technology policy including with the Victorian Office of Training and Further Education and in the Corporate Strategy section of Telstra.
PROFESSOR JAN MACDONALD
Jan McDonald is Professor of Environmental Law at the University of Tasmania. Before joining the University of Tasmania Faculty of Law in 2011, she was Director of Griffith University’s Climate Change Response Program, and led Griffith’s successful bid to host the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF).
As NCCARF’s Interim Director, she worked with researchers and stakeholders across the country to identify Australia’s climate adaptation research needs in human health, settlements and infrastructure, emergency management, marine biodiversity and resources and terrestrial biodiversity.
Jan has published across a wide range of environmental law topics, has worked for the United Nations Development Program in the Pacific, and has consulted to local and State government, non- government organisations, and the governments of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Her current research spans the legal and policy dimensions of climate change adaptation, including urban planning and coastal management, liability and insurance issues.
Phil Harrington manages the professional services consulting agency Policy. Research. Pty Ltd (SPR) and holds degrees in Arts and Applied Economics.
He has been engaged in climate change and energy policy development, analysis and administration for nearly 30 years in a wide range of professional capacities.
Phil has previously held the positions of:
• Team Leader, Carbon & Energy at Pitt and Sherry Pty Ltd
• Senior Executive Manager, Australian Greenhouse Office in Canberra
• Head of Energy Efficiency Policy Analysis Division at the International Energy Agency (Paris)
• Deputy Secretary in the Tasmanian Department of Infrastructure, Energy & Resources
• Group Manager, Market & Regulatory Policy, Aurora Energy.
He has recently prepared an Energy Efficiency Master Plan – Foundation Report for the City of Sydney; a solar access study for the City of Melbourne; has been called as an expert witness to VCAT to establish the economic bona fides of Environmentally Efficient Design planning policies on behalf of six Melbourne councils; and has completed a major national review of compliance with the energy performance requirements of the National Construction Code. Phil is also an active member of Climate Action Hobart.
Ouse farmer, Matthew Pitt, has farmed in the Derwent Valley for thirty years, grazing and cropping on the Pitt family property that was originally established in 1850. More recently he has been contracting on properties with a focus on increasing minimum tillage using cropping systems.
Matthew has been leading from the front by developing a sustainable farming enterprise that promotes best practice natural resource management.
As part of his work, Matthew has chaired the Upper Derwent Valley Landcare Group, the Derwent Valley Catchment NRM, Landcare Tasmania. He was appointed to the board of NRM South, has been active in the national Landcare Network and has been instrumental in developing the Derwent Catchment Management Plan.
As part of the Climate Champions program he worked to improve communication between the Bureau of Meteorology and the farming community and has been working to ensure that research matches needs in terms of sustainable farming practices.