Ten steps for a safe climate

Issue 

On January 12, community group Climate Action Hobart launched its document Ten Steps for a Safe Climate — Tasmania's contribution to preventing dangerous climate change, which was developed over the previous year with input from industry experts, scientists, climate activists and the general community.

The group deems the Ten Steps to be benchmarks for Tasmanian climate policy and will be rating all political parties against them in the lead up to the March state elections. It also plans to carry out a range of lobbying and public awareness raising actions to put pressure on candidates to develop good climate policies and to encourage people to vote for the candidates who are promising effective climate action.

Climate Action Hobart believes the failure of the Copenhagen talks to produce a global climate deal in December makes it even more urgent for state governments to start taking serious action to avoid the risks of climate change.

"The time to act is now", said Jess Wright, Climate Action Hobart spokesperson. "Tasmania could be a beacon of hope for the world and lead by example by adopting and implementing these 10 positive steps for a safe climate."

The following is abridged from the document. A full version can be found at www.climateactionhobart.org.

Step 1: A carbon-neutral state by 2050 — with a year-by-year roadmap

Action: The Tasmanian government must commit to the long term goal of becoming a carbon neutral State by 2050; that is, to generate no net emissions by that year. At the same time, action is required in the short term. Therefore the government must also set a target of 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 over 1990 levels. Achieving these targets requires a clear and comprehensive plan with annual targets from 2010 onwards and annual public reporting so progress can be monitored. Implementing the plan must be consistent with the "just transitions" strategy below.

Step 2: Protecting Tasmania's carbon-rich native forests

Action: The Tasmanian government must act immediately to protect Tasmania's native forests as permanent and resilient carbon stores. This would include immediately ensuring that no new logging operations take place in intact natural forests in Tasmania, and commissioning a fully independent accounting methodology for carbon emissions and storage associated with current forestry operations.

Recognising that protecting forests in this way will require changes in employment patterns, key to this initiative is for the government to work with the whole community to devise a genuine and community-owned transition strategy for the forestry industry, to preserve employment during and after a switch away from large-scale logging native forests.

Step 3: Reducing energy use by 20% by 2020

Action: The Tasmanian government must initiate an economy-wide energy savings plan to reduce energy use in Tasmania by at least 20% by 2020 over 1990 levels. To ensure the target is met with both equity and economic efficiency, a sectoral approach should be taken, informed by the technical and economic potential for different sectors to achieve reductions. Immediate opportunities include:

• moving to six-star housing standards at the same time as the rest of Australia; that is, in May 2010;

• immediately ending Tasmania's self-imposed exemption from the National Hot Water Strategy;

• as with other states and the federal government, the Tasmanian government should require five-star NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) office accommodation for all government agencies;

• training energy providers to facilitate the transition process;

• ending power price subsidies to big electricity users in the state;

• providing financial help for housing retrofits that lead to significant efficiency improvements (a minimum of two stars improvement);

• creating incentives through registration charges for fuel efficient vehicles, and disincentives for inefficient vehicles;

• a "cash for clunkers" program designed to remove older, inefficient and often unsafe vehicles from Tasmania's roads.

Step 4: 100% renewable electricity by 2020

Action: The Tasmanian government needs to commit to a detailed plan for Tasmania to become a "renewable energy island" with 100% renewable electricity by 2020. This would require coal-generated electricity imports through Basslink to be phased out and a huge investment in wind and solar power to meet Tasmania's requirements and export to the Australian mainland. The government must prohibit the use of biomass from native forests or new dam-storage hydro for power generation. Reducing energy use will help achieve this target faster. A generous net feed-in tariff would stimulate investment in distributed renewable energy and reward energy conservation.

Step 5: Sustainable cities and regions

Action: The Tasmanian government must commit to a radical overhaul of the state's planning schemes with the aim of:

• articulating a vision of sustainable urban and regional development — through a process of genuine community engagement and consultation;

• reflecting that vision in simple, clear planning schemes and policies;

• banning investment in developments that conflict with that vision — providing certainty for investors and the community;

• encouraging investment in urban and regional renewal, leading to liveable, sustainable cities and regions. This must be driven by the state due to the resource and capacity limitations of — and the potential for adverse competition between — local governments.

Step 6: Investing in public and low carbon transport

Action: The Tasmanian government must commit to a big investment in public transport across the state, with the aim of reducing the demand for travel and achieving emissions-free transport. Key elements would include:

• a big investment in safe walking and cycling infrastructure connecting key dormitory suburbs with urban and employment centres;

• a big investment in a low-emission bus fleet and related infrastructure. Bus fares must be set at a nominal level (no more than $1 for an adult fare) in recognition of the benefits for climate, public access and congestion of public transport and to encourage use;

• renewal of rail services in the state, encompassing freight and, where viable, rapid passenger transit services. As with the bus system, and in recognition of their environmental and public benefits, rail services must be rapid, reliable and affordably priced to encourage use;

• a concerted strategy to discourage private car use for commuting, involving encouragement for car-pooling, higher parking fees, financial incentives for workers and employers that promote public transport, and an expansion of bus and cycling lanes;

• the state government should work with the transport industries to encourage a rapid and progressive move away from fossil fuels to renewable electricity or (at a limited scale) genuinely sustainable biofuels and lower-carbon fuels (such as natural gas) where necessary (for example in heavy vehicles).

Step 7: Just transitions to a low carbon future

Action: The Tasmanian government must initiate a sector-by-sector, company-by-company "just transitions" program to design and implement tailored solutions appropriate to the specific needs of large emitters in the industrial and commercial sectors. The aim of the program is to radically reduce, and eventually eliminate, greenhouse gas emissions through a wide range of strategies including resource efficiency, process optimisation and redesign, and fuel switching, while preserving or enhancing employment.

Step 8: Local and sustainable production and consumption

Action: The Tasmanian government must set out a strategy that aims to support the local and sustainable production of food, materials and other produce on just terms to producers and consumers, and to promote sustainable consumption patterns and lifestyles. Elements of the strategy will include:

• action to ensure that planning schemes provide positive support for food production farms, community and market gardens, and local growers markets;

• preserving high-valued soils from residential or other forms of development;

• a comprehensive certification and labelling scheme for Tasmanian (as well as regional and organic) foods and other domestic produce;

• help to change food production systems away from fossil fuels and to cut greenhouse gas emissions from livestock;

• the immediate elimination of the most dangerous agricultural chemicals and a progressive transition to a chemical-free state;

• sustainable aquaculture systems, and financial support for conversion of mainstream farming to organic or permaculture based systems;

• financial support for local small businesses engaged in local production, while ending financial support for multinational businesses to locate in the state;

• a sustained media campaign and strategy to promote sustainable consumption and lifestyles, including mandatory disclosure of the full carbon impact of products and services in advertising.

Step 9: Closing resource loops and eliminating waste

Action: The Tasmanian government must articulate a strategy for waste minimisation, recovery, re-use and recycling, that aims to "close the loop" in resource use, eventually eliminating all "waste". Given that Tasmania both imports and exports products, the government must also advocate nationally for appropriate national policies such as product stewardship and extended producer liability, and eco-redesign and design-for-recovery.

Step 10: Climate justice and education

Action: The Tasmanian government must commit itself to working actively in the national and international climate debate to achieve climate justice not only for Tasmanians, but for all global citizens. This will include: a commitment to report transparently to the Tasmanian people on the climate impact of all government decisions and the extent to which progress is being made to cut emissions sector by sector in Tasmania; a commitment to firstly identify and secondly roll back all subsidies to climate polluting activities and companies in Tasmania; advocating faster, stronger action on the part of the national government; and doing our fair share to help those countries most affected by climate change, including resettling "climate refugees" in Tasmania. It will also include working actively to dispel common climate change myths and to educate the Tasmanian people about the real threats posed to us by climate change.

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