South Australian Climate Consultations

A formal review of South Australia’s climate change policies and a proposed Low Carbon Investment Plan is underway, with consultation papers available for comment on the YourSay website, until 18 October 2015.

Last Thursday around 50 people gathered at The Joinery, Conservation SA’s new shared premises in the old Central bus station, to participate in a consultation process jointly run by Conservation SA and the SA Department of Natural Resources Energy & Water (DEWNR).

Kathryn BelletteKathryn Bellette, representative for the environment & conservation sector on the Premier’s Climate Council and Julia Grant, Executive Director of Climate and Water from DEWNR explained how feedback from these consultations will inform decisions about how best to update SA’s climate change strategy and make real progress towards a Carbon Resilient Future.

The importance of formal government policies lies in their potential to influence change and encourage investment. The renewable energy target (RET) is a good example, revised upwards in 2009 with a target of achieving 33% renewable energy in SA by 2020. We exceeded this target 6 years ahead of schedule in 2014.

The situation is changing rapidly. South Australia is at the Crossroads – Alinta is closing the Port Augusta power stations, the era of car manufacturing is ending. We face a need for deeper and more meaningful community conversations, rather than political and media spin. People are not necessarily engaging with the climate issue directly, yet continue to invest in solar and energy efficiency. Climate change and economic policy change are converging – how can we best capture this energy and position South Australia for the 2st Century?

Hard Questions being asked include:
What is our economy going to look like?
Where are the next jobs?
How to be leaders in relation to Climate Change?
How work together and develop innovative partnerships?
How to innovate around the challenges of climate action?

Carbon Neutral Adelaide
The policy ride around climate issues has continued for 15 years or more, so it sometimes feels like Groundhog Day for some. But, at this moment, there is great political will to take action on climate change in South Australia. One major commitment to strong action to make the Adelaide the world’s first carbon neutral city, with the State Government State and Adelaide City Council working in partnership and both keen to be leaders of change in this arena.

Climate consultationThe Secretary of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was recently in Adelaide discussing economic transformation. Around the world, countries are formally submitting their plans to cut greenhouse-gas emissions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), while the South Pacific Forum has criticised Australia for our current low ambition.

Significant progress is being made at sub-national level however, through the States and Regions Alliance. Premier Weatherill represents South Australia as Co-chair of this Alliance, along with leaders from Quebec and the Basque region.

Premier Weatherill and Environment Minister Hunter will attend the Paris climate talks, strongly focused on where we will need to be post 2020. Australian targets may be under debate but South Australia is developing its own stretch targets and keen to show leadership.

On 9th September, SA Premier Jay Weatherill and Energy and Climate Change Ministers announced the establishment of a Low Carbon Economy Experts Panel. Its economic experts, including Dr John Hewson, Professor Frank Jotzo and Ms Anna Skarbek from ClimateWorks, will provide advice on climate change policy and economic opportunities with plans afoot to develop a Low Carbon Investment Plan for South Australia to drive $10 billion investment in low carbon opportunities for SA, including renewable energy options.

It’s important the community engages on this issue, as there is much to be done beyond Paris. South Australians are vulnerable to bushfires and drought; we have a lot to lose if we are not well positioned to tackle climate impacts.

The proof of the consultation pudding may be the creation of genuinely innovative community/industry/government partnerships for creating a low carbon economy that provides benefits to all South Australians.

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