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Converging Insecurities: climate, energy, water and food

Converging Insecurities: climate, energy, water and food



Invited seminar in the Australian Ambassador's Speaker Series, Australian Embassy, Washington D.C. 2 May 2012

Invited seminar in the Australian Ambassador's Speaker Series, Australian Embassy, Washington D.C. 2 May 2012



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  • Over coming decades, Australia will need to make the biggest structural changes to its economy ever attempted.  We need to decouple economic growth from carbon pollution, while radically lifting our productivity in terms of the amount of energy, water and nutrients consumed per unit of production, and making a shift away from fossil fuels. The era of abundant, cheap fossil fuel energy is coming to a close, due to oil depletion and the pricing of carbon.  Inherent climate variability, exacerbated by underlying climate change, will place increasing pressure on water resources and will increase the frequency and intensity of wildfire in temperate regions.  Rising energy prices will drive up the cost of transport and nutrients, particularly agrichemicals and fertilisers.  Population growth and changing demographic and consumption patterns will see increasing demand for food.  However the traditional means of increasing food production through expanding and intensifying the footprint of agriculture will be increasingly squeezed by land, water, energy, nutrient and carbon constraints.  Biodiversity, landscape amenity and cultural heritage may be caught in the crossfire. Yet in rich countries like Australia, public and consumer concerns about these issues and issues such as animal welfare, water quality, and public health and safety seem unlikely to diminish. Against this backdrop, it would make sense for Australia to set some high level strategic objectives for agriculture and rural land use over the next 20 years, for example:  to double food production; to double water and energy productivity; to become a net producer rather than consumer of energy; and to become carbon-neutral — i.e. to reduce and offset agricultural greenhouse gas emissions so that net emissions from this sector are zero in a mythical average year.  This presentation will explore how such objectives might be achieved, with a particular focus on northern Australia.
  • Long-term continental water balance (LHS) and Carbon balance (RHS) using BIOS2, constrained by data includingOzFlux dataGross primary production (GPP) is the rate at which an ecosystem's producers capture and store a given amount of chemical energy as biomass in a given length of timeNet primary production is the rate at which all the plants in an ecosystem produce net useful chemical energy; it is equal to the difference between the rate at which the plants in an ecosystem produce useful chemical energy (GPP) and the rate at which they use some of that energy during respiration.

Converging Insecurities: climate, energy, water and food Converging Insecurities: climate, energy, water and food Presentation Transcript

  • http://riel.cdu.edu.au Converging Insecurities:climate, energy, water and food ANDREW CAMPBELL Director, Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL)Chairman, Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) http://www.tern.org.au/ Australian Embassy, Washington D.C. 2 May 2012
  • http://riel.cdu.edu.au Key Points• Climate, water, energy and food systems are converging as major public policy challenges• Each of these has their own imperatives, but their interactions are equally, if not more important• We deal with these issues in science, planning and policy silos• But at sub-national and local levels, there is lots of innovation and much more integration: 2 case studies are introduced here• How could the US and Australia cooperate and lead the way in developing better approaches to tackling the biggest challenge of our age? 2
  • Personal declarations• Farming background south-eastern Australia – Family farming in the district since 1860s, own farm managed 1987— – 450ha: 30% farm forestry, 10% environmental reserves, 60% leased to a neighbour for prime lambs• Forestry & rural sociology: Creswick, Melbourne &Wageningen• Forester Victorian government, Manager Potter Farmland Plan 1984-88• First National Landcare Facilitator 1989-92• 5 years as a Senior Executive in Australian Government• 7 years as CEO of a national research funding authority• 4 years as an independent consultant• 1 year as a Professor, Charles Darwin University in Darwin…• I don‘t know what to do in Australia, let alone elsewhere…
  • our current local context…
  • The local coNText place-based distinctiveness• Relatively intact landscapes and seascapes − the largest network of free-flowing rivers in the world − Indo-Malay global epicentre of tropical biodiversity• Extraordinary cultural heritage, ancient and contemporary• Rich opportunities & intense development pressures• Strategic national significance on the edge of Asia• Very few English-language universities in the tropics − Closest Australian university (JCU) is 2500km away − CDU is by far the major training provider in the NT
  • RIEL Research Themes• Natural resources-based Livelihoods• Coastal and marine ecology and management• Freshwater ecology and management• Savanna management and wildlife conservation• Tropical Resource Futures (including Centre for Renewable Energy)
  • Unique, extensive, relatively intact ecosystemsAdelaide River
  • The climate ischanging……
  • Sea level rise (8mm/year last 20 years) &saltwater intrusion
  • Tommycuthypersaline mud flats were once fresh water wetlands
  • The Mary RiverSite of extensivemelaleuca dieback
  • 1m Inundation
  • http://riel.cdu.edu.au Converging Insecurities• Climate change • Direct impacts • Impacts of climate change policies – e.g. carbon markets• Energy • the era of cheap, energetically efficient fossil fuels is ending• Water • Every calorie we consume uses one litre in its production • Every litre weighs one kilogram — energy intensive to distribute it • Per capita freshwater availability declining steeply (globally)• Food — must increase world production by 70% by 2050 • Using less land, water, fossil energy and nutrients 21
  • Climate-energy-water feedbacks • Saving water often uses more energy, and vice-versa • E.g. desalination plants • Piping & pumping • Biofuels • Coal seam gas • Efforts to moderate climate often use more energy +/or water • coal-fired power stations with CCS will be 25-33% more water-intensive • Using more fossil energy exacerbates climate chaos 22from Proust, Dovers, Foran, Newell, Steffen & Troy (2007)
  • Water, energy, and GDPWater and energy havehistorically been closelycoupled with GDP in Water&Australia GDP Energy & GDP Our challenge now is to radically reduce the energy, carbon and water-intensity of our economy23 from Proust, Dovers, Foran, Newell, Steffen & Troy (2007)
  • Profound technical challenges• To decouple economic growth from carbon emissions• To adapt to an increasingly difficult climate• To increase water productivity − Decoupling the 1 litre per calorie relationship• To increase energy productivity – more food energy out per unit of energy input – while shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy• To develop more sustainable food systems – while conserving biodiversity and human livelihoods – improving landscape amenity, soil health, animal welfare & human health• TO DO ALL OF THIS SIMULTANEOUSLY! —improving sustainability and resilience
  • http://riel.cdu.edu.au“…we need to make sure that our policy solutions are as integrated as nature itself. Today, they are not.”Thomas Friedman, New York Times 23 August 2009 25
  • We need a third agricultural revolution• High level goals: e.g. doubling food &fibre production while doubling water productivity, and becoming a net energy producer from farming & pastoral lands• How to get there? – Farming/agroforestry systems that make more efficient use of and conserve water, energy, nutrients, carbon and biodiversity – Smart metering, sensing, telemetry, robotics, guidance, biotech – Better understanding of soil carbon & microbial activity – Radically reducing waste in all parts of the food chain – Farming systems producing renewable (2nd gen) bioenergy • Also producing energy from waste – Urban and peri-urban food production26 – Attracting talented young people into careers in agriculture
  • 3 case studies • Savanna burning for carbon, biodiversity & livelihoods in northern Australia • Turning an irrigation company into an integrated water, energy and carbon company • Large scale export of renewable energy to south-east Asia27
  • Savannas burn every year• Dry season - highly flammable landscape• Exacerbated by introduced weeds, especially Gamba Grass• Fire emits Greenhouse gases  CO2, methane, N20 Photo Sam Setterfield
  • WALFA – savanna fire abatement scheme• Western Arnhemland – 25,000 km2 (6 million acres) – Significant biodiversity hot spot – Significant fire problem• Unique partnership between traditional owners, NT and Commonwealth Governments and private funders• Aims – Shift fire regimes at landscape scales – Reintroduce traditional burning regime, increase early dry season fires and patchiness – Accurately quantify savanna GHG emission factors – Develop remote sensing techniques to map fires and calculate emissions
  • Savanna burning – 2011 fire scars
  • Cultural heritage values are also threatened by very hot, late dry season fires• Nourlangie Rocks main gallery, Kakadu N.P ~10 metres wide x 3 metres high
  • West Arnhemland Fire Abatement Project 80% 70% EDS(a) Seasonality of 60% LDS Proportion burnt Total burning 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 700 (b) GHG Pre-project Emissions t.CO2-e * 1000 600 Emissions 500 baseline 400 300 200 100 0 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
  • Kimberley to Capeonservation • Indigenous Futures • Climate Change • SustainableIndustry Arafura Sea Timor Sea Darwin Gulf of Top End Carpentaria Cape York CairnsBroome Kimberley Gulf CountryAcross the c.250Mha (600m acres) of Nth Australia, protect and sustainablymanage world‘s largest intact area of tropical savannas, seas & rivers through:1.Effectively managed, connected Protected Areas conserving half the savannas (60Mha)2. Large network of marine sanctuaries across the Arafura & Timor Seas, Gulf of Carpentaria3. Maintaining hydrological connectivity along 1 million km of undammed rivers & creeks4. Slowing & reversing the mammal extinction crisis5. Storing gigatons of carbon by managing fire, grazing, ferals, clearing6. Enhancing landscape connectivity & climate resilience along 4,000km long corridor7. Create Indigenous futures eg, Caring for Country, tourism, fee-for-service contracts8. Supporting sustainable grazing through stewardship payments, stronger laws9. Providing resource security for sustainability-focussed companies eg, mines, LNG10. Reducing land-based pollution of coral reefs & fisheries in Arafura & Timor Seas
  • Australia-Asia Supergrid?• Potential to export renewable energy to south-east Asia• HVDC cable Katherine-Darwin-Dili-Denpasar-Jakarta- Singapore-KL-Bangkok• Geothermal, Concentrated Solar Thermal, Tidal, Off-shore wind
  • Murrumbidgee Irrigation - a current case• Bulk water distributor and seller in New South Wales – $1Billion on-farm agricultural production – $7B value-add of food, wine and fibre production• 100 year old irrigation & drainage network being modernised to save water – Replacing ‗leaky‘, gravity-fed open earthen channels – BUT: piping and pressurisation will treble energy consumption – & hence greenhouse gas emissions >25,000 tonnes/year – So MIL will be affected by Australia‘s new carbon price 38
  • Murrumbidgee Irrigation: solutions• Options: – Biomass energy plant - 0.5m tonnes p.a. of ag& food process waste – Solar thermal power plant on linear easements (Carbon price-dependent) – Conversion of plant & vehicles to biodiesel – Carbon offsets through large scale tree planting – Potential for 2nd generation woody biofuels• Turning a water company into a water, energy & carbon company – Liberating opportunities through a more integrated approach 39
  • 40
  • The integration imperative• Managing whole landscapes – “where nature meets culture” (Simon Schama) – landscapes are socially constructed – beyond ‘ecological apartheid’ – this means people management – engage values, perceptions, aspirations, behaviour• Integration - across issues — e.g climate, energy, water, food, biodiversity - across scales — agencies, governments, short-term, long-term - across the triple helix — landscapes, lifestyles & livelihoods
  • http://riel.cdu.edu.au Opportunities for US-Australia collaboration• Science: − Joint Commission Mtg on Science and Technology Feb 2011 made an excellent start in Earth Observations, and Ag & Food − Scope to work together in observation systems, and in model calibration & refinement for e.g. terrestrial carbon & water − Develop integrated metrics (or tools for integrating metrics) across climate-energy-water & food systems − Better CEW project assessment &optimisation tools• Policy: − Compile and share case studies of innovation & best practice 42
  • Building capability to tackle big questions in science & policy See also McKinsey & Co ―Big data‖ special report
  • Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) www.tern.org.au
  • Using OzFlux data (&LandSat imagery) to constrain modelled estimates of continental carbon budget Transpiration Total Net Primary Productivity Long-term continental water balance properties and Carbon balance using BIOS2, constrained Soil Evaporation by data including OzFlux data
  • http://riel.cdu.edu.au An engaged community base is crucial• Rapid, often surprising, on-going environmental change will challenge governments and industries, and stress communities• Responses (proactive and reactive) needed at regional and local levels• Successful implementation of tough decisions requires community support• Pricing carbon ($23/tonne initially) in Australia is a potential game-changer• Convergence in climate, energy, water and food mandates an integrated, environmentally literate, planning & delivery framework − Rural and urban − Involving community leaders and engaging grassroots volunteers − And the wider community in schools, clubs, workplaces, homes 47
  • http://riel.cdu.edu.au Underpinning principles• Building Resilience• Balancing centralism and subsidiarity• Re-engaging stakeholders and devolving responsibility• Taking the time necessary to sort through complex, contested, connected issues• Building, sustaining and using a comprehensive evidence base (across multiple knowledges)• Investing in skills, knowledge, innovation and leadership• Budgeting for longer term stability 48
  • http://riel.cdu.edu.au the future is in our hands “The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths to it are made, not found.”• This is the greatest challenge of our age• Climate, water, energy, food and health are interconnected• We must deal with them holistically, as parts of the same problem• The US and Australia have much in common, and much to contribute in leaving our kids a more livable world• There are great examples of innovation in both our countries• Now is the time to show leadership at all levels 49
  • For more info:http://riel.cdu.edu.au • The Getting of Knowledge • Managing Australian Soils • Paddock to Plate [policies for sustainable food systems] • Managing Australian Landscapes in a Changing Climate • Powerful Choices: transition to a biofuel economy 50