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Thursday, May 5, 2011

BNC Decarbonise SA - regional action for greenhouse gas mitigation

Decarbonise SA - regional action for greenhouse gas mitigation

Barry Brook | 5 May 2011 at 3:14 PM | Categories: Emissions, Nuclear, Policy | URL: http://wp.me/piCIJ-1bg
Global warming can only be tackled seriously by a massively reduction in anthropogenic greenhouse gas production. It's that simple. But just hoping for this to gradually happen -- locally, regionally or globally -- by tinkering at the edge of the problem (carbon prices, alternative energy subsidies, mandated targets and loan guarantees, "100 ways to be more green" lists, etc.), is just not going to get us anywhere near where we need to be, when we need to be. For that, we need to develop and implement a well-thought-out, practical and cost-effective action plan!
Back in early 2009, I offered a A sketch plan for a zero-carbon Australia. Overall, I still think this advocates the right sort of path. I elaborated further on this idea in my two pieces: Climate debate missing the point and Energy in Australia in 2030; in the latter, I explored a number of potential storylines, along with an estimate of the probability and result of following these different pathways. But the lingering question that arises from thought experiments like this is... how do you turn it into something practical?
Sadly, I can't think of any liberal-democratic government, anywhere in the world, that actually has a realistic, long-term energy  plan. Instead, we have politicians, businesses and other decision makers with their head's in the sand (peak oil is another issue where this is starkly apparent). This must change, and we -- the citizenry -- must be the agents of that change. That is why the new initiative by Ben Heard, called "Decarbonise SA", is so exciting. I'll let Ben explain more, in the guest post below.
But before that, just a small  note from me. For the many non-Australian readers of BNC, don't dismiss this as something parochicial. Think of it instead as a case study -- a working template -- for what you can help organise in your particular region (local council, city, state/province, whatever). We need all of you on board, because this is a problem of the global commons. Over to Ben.

Decarbonise SA

Ben Heard -- Ben is Director of Adelaide-based advisory firm ThinkClimate Consulting, a Masters graduate of Monash University in Corporate Environmental Sustainability, and a member of the TIA Environmental and Sustainability Action Committee. He is the founder of Decarbonise SA. His recent BNC post was Think climate when judging nuclear power.
I have been a fan of the work of Brave New Climate for some time now. Barry’s knack for cutting through the noise to highlight the information we need to consider for making good decisions is remarkable. His reputation and tenure at Adelaide University also give Brave New Climate a global reach and relevance, exemplified by the one million hits it received in the week following the Sendai quake and tsunami.
Remarkable though it is, BNC can’t do everything, nor should it try. That’s why I have started Decarbonise SA. The first thing you need to know is that this is more than a blog, it is a mission. The purpose of Decarbonise SA is to form a collective of like-minded people who will drive the most rapid possible decarbonisation of the economy of South Australia, with a primary focus on the electricity supply.
To achieve that goal, South Australia needs to introduce nuclear power into the mix of generating technologies. The primary driver for our support of nuclear power is recognition of the fact that the scientific findings in relation to climate change are now so serious, that we require the fastest and deepest cuts in emissions possible. That means attacking the biggest problems first.  In Australia, that’s electricity supply, specifically the coal and gas that provides most of our baseload generation. While climate change may be the catalyst, nuclear power provides many important environmental and safety benefits compared to coal, beyond greenhouse gas, that will give us a cleaner and healthier environment for the future.
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