A strong economy depends on a healthy environment and an abundant source of affordable energy. Fortunately Australia is endowed generously with both. Add to this our leading innovators in engineering, science and economics, and Australia has plenty to be optimistic about. But we must not be complacent.
Sadly, Australia’s policy makers have not kept pace with the technological capabilities, economic opportunities and environmental realities of today. The failure of politics to have honest conversations and embrace bold visions for Australia’s economic future have produced a decade of factionalism and regressive policy. The result has been higher energy prices, higher carbon emissions and an environment on the brink of further damage.
The devastating bushfires of 2019/20 highlighted the vulnerabilities in our economic and environmental system and raised the level of concern around environmental issues across Australians of all political persuasions.
The Federal Government’s most recent state of the environment report outlines the many environmental challenges that Australia faces - from declining biodiversity, drought and water management, erosion, salinity and increasing challenges managing pests and weeds. Farmers manage over 50% of Australia’s land and must be a key stakeholders in solving environmental challenges in a collaborative way that rewards effort and results.
Rising carbon emissions are damaging our climate and leading to increased extreme weather events, bringing economic risks to key sectors such as agriculture and tourism. It is in Australia’s national interest to reduce emissions and build resilience. Yet there are also huge economic opportunities in embracing the transition to clean energy, through development of an onshore battery industry, refining green steel and aluminium, and a renewable energy and hydrogen export sector.
Our goals are threefold: (a) reduced domestic emissions, restoring our land and rivers, protecting the value of biodiversity, (b) reduced energy prices for households and businesses, and (c) seizing Australia's share of a growing global market for clean technology. Finding policy solutions that balance these factors will require creative thinking.