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Opinion: Chew gum and walk at the same time

Opinion by TMEC CEO, Ray Mostogl

One of the challenges in learning about a new issue or getting a deeper understanding, is learning about what might align or endorse your view and then being brave enough to take the time to become informed about the counter view. The Voice referendum is a case in point.

A challenge facing Tasmania is how it should decarbonise further and this has at least two perspectives. The underlying assumption is that we do need to take further action, despite Tasmania’s track record over many years of being net-negative (Tasmania sequesters more carbon emissions than it emits). This unique situation may not always be the case – an increasing population base, further land use intensity, potential loss of vegetation via a bushfire and Tasmania could lose its mantle as being one of the cleanest jurisdictions in the world.

The one choice which Tasmania gets, and virtually every other state in Australia and most other countries does not get, is how to decarbonise. Given the globally leading position of Tasmania and that further reductions will be barely measurable, this therefore creates the opportunity to grow the economy while at the same time decarbonising. This may well be the opposite to many economies which are having to destroy parts of their economy in the near term to alter their carbon emissions trajectory. For example, losing baseload reliable electricity for an intermittent supply. I am sure human ingenuity in time will restore the economies, but it may be some years or even decades before they will recover.

In Tasmania, we have a choice – is further decarbonisation a threat or an opportunity? Is decarbonisation in Tasmania an economic imperative or is it an environmental imperative?

Products produced in Tasmania that require electricity as a part of the manufacturing or processing requirements effectively saves the world the emissions from a jurisdiction that has non-renewable electricity. In time, products in Tasmania may be transported by renewable energy, industrial processes may utilise hydrogen or other derivates all of which means Tasmania produces even cleaner products to the world market.

Tasmania’s own well know Julian Amos moderated a panel at the TMEC conference where the debate played out – is Tasmania’s decarbonisation journey based on an economic or environmental narrative? Panelists Lauren Cromarty, Richard Ecclestone and Jenny Selway seemed to be in agreement that it is BOTH!

Panelists Lauren Cromarty, Richard Ecclestone and Jenny Selway