Gosford City Council is preparing a mitigation strategy to look at the options available to reduce emissions. Preparation of the strategy includes collection of information on the “footprint” of the Council. The following Aim was drafted for the project:
“To reduce GCC’s GHG footprint*, and assist the community reduce their footprint, in an achievable and sustainable manner.”
*Footprint = net GHG balance (emissions minus sinks)
Community consultation is part of the process also. As a result a workshop was held recently which a couple of our members attended. The following submission was made:
Climate Change Mitigation Strategy – Reference Group
Scientists have stated that global emissions by 2050 must be less than 1000 billion tonnes Carbon (Gt) in order to have a 75% chance of staying below 2 degrees rise.
Much of the recent evidence on release of methane from permafrost and sea floor clathrates suggests this is an optimistic assessment at best. For example, permafrost carbon release by the mid 2030’s will be of the order of 1 Gt CO2 per year. Much of this will be in the form of methane with a 20 year forcing capacity of around 100 times that of CO2 and there will be similar releases of methane from clathrates (already known to be out-gassing). Therefore, we may see forcing from methane of the same order as that caused by current human emissions. This is effectively doubling the human impact currently included in the IPCC projections.
In the last 10 years global emissions have totaled 305 Gt. At this rate (and including increases in population) human society will have exceeded its budget by 2030 and be required to suddenly stop completely. Obviously, this is not a practical solution. We must start now and rapidly reduce emissions.
Gosford (and the Central Coast generally) is extremely vulnerable to rising sea level with a 1m rise threatening to inundate 30,000 homes.
In this context, the following points are suggested as a framework for setting up the GCC Mitigation Strategy.
- As this is a long term plan it must include the basic principles for creating a zero carbon emissions economy.
- GCC should prepare a Zero Carbon Plan for the Central Coast in conjunction with Wyong Shire Council and Lake Macquarie Council.
- GCC should set targets similar to the international community:-
- 25% reduction by 2020 over 1990 levels,
- 40% by 2030
- 60% by 2040 and
- 80-95% by 2050
This must include all aspects of emissions including electricity generation, transport, food production, etc (refer to EU report: Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050).
- GCC should focus on its own emissions but also on those of the Central Coast Community.
- GCC should lobby all higher levels of government to increase the effort to mitigate emissions.
- GCC energy use should be based on renewable energy sources with a 100% renewable energy target by 2030. Vehicles should become fully electric.
- GCC could achieve this by encouraging renewable energy sources in the local area:-
- Wind generation on headlands, along the escarpment and on the ridge tops west of the freeway
- Concentrating solar power stations on land currently being used for coal fired power stations with supplementation from biomass
- Wave energy off shore along the coast
- Tidal energy in Brisbane Water (e.g. The Rip)
- Domestic solar and wind generation
- Continue capture of methane for energy from tips and extend to sewage
- Install small scale gas power for local peak electricity demand
- All such planning must take account of rise in sea level of the order currently recognized by scientists. That is, using benchmarks of 1.2m to 1.8m by 2100 with recognition of the possibility that the rates may be revised upwards even further as the scientific reports come in.
- GCC should also focus on energy efficiency.
- Encourage local food production to reduce transport costs
- Plan for and lobby for public transport systems for the Central Coast
The science is becoming clearer with every passing year. We are no longer facing the possibility of a good outcome. Whatever we do it will be bad. What we need to avoid is much worse than bad (think of the worst term you can).
The first item on any plan to adapt to climate change is mitigation.