Sunday, November 9, 2008

'Big gains in greener behaviour'

Adam Morton 
The Age, November 10, 2008

A DETAILED analysis of Victoria's greenhouse footprint has found the state could slash its emissions in half by 2020, largely through existing technology that is yet to be embraced.

The study by The Nous Group consultants found much deeper and quicker cuts in emissions were possible than was generally understood — if governments introduced policies that encouraged business and households to change their behaviour.

The finding that Victoria could reduce emissions to 54% lower than 1990 levels by 2020 comes as climate scientists struggle to persuade developed countries to commit to a cut of between 25% and 40% as part of a global deal.

Commissioned by Environment Victoria, the new analysis places much less importance on waiting for experimental "clean coal" technology than other projections, finding it would be responsible for just 5% of the cut by 2030.

Instead, it suggests communities must join governments in accepting responsibility for changing the way we live if the worst predictions of climate change are to be avoided.

Environment Victorian campaigns director Mark Wakeham said the deepest short-term reduction would come from changing the way we produce and consume goods.

It found shifts such as buying goods that were durable, recyclable and had a minimal carbon footprint could cut emissions by 12 million tonnes a year — about 10% of Victoria's annual emissions.

"The research shows there are no magic bullets for solving climate change and that a broad range of technologies and policies are needed," Mr Wakeham said.

"It's no surprise that we do have a pretty wasteful society — this is an area that has had little attention but offers much potential to slash emissions."

Mr Wakeham called on government to encourage changes in consumption through a public education drive similar to the campaign that convinced people to cut water use.

The study, which builds on earlier work The Nous Group carried out for the State Government, found about 10 million tonnes a year could be cut by each of the following:

■ Improving building and lighting efficiency — possibly by demanding minimum seven-star efficiency in new buildings and requiring existing buildings to be upgraded when sold.

■ Driving more fuel-efficient cars, using public transport more, and cutting single-person car trips.

■ Encouraging renewable energy use at home and in industry — including keeping a Victorian target for how much energy comes from green sources, on top of the proposed national target of 20% by 2020.

Professor David Karoly, head of the Victorian Government's climate reference panel, said the analysis was a landmark in its field.

No comments: