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Where will you go?

Life in oceans, rivers and seas

“It will become an important process that we have tolerance and respect for the others and it will also help our work on other major issues like environment". Arahmaiani

Arahmaiani, Peter Hylands, Andrea Hylands

November 21, 2022

In this story, Arahmaiani and I discuss the impact of climate change on communities across Asia. In early 2020 travelling, through the eastern Australian fire zones, the black trees and grey ash of climate change denial burn deep into our hearts. Then came the floods.


Water is just one of many problems, not enough clean water, as is increasingly the case in much of Asia, or too much water, as is the case if you happen to live on a small island. Floods will increasingly become everyone’s problem. Then there is drought.

Food production is destroyed by these things.

An evening spent with Anote Tong, President of Kiribati 2003-2016 reveals the critical nature of our problems.

“There are villages that are now facing problems, damage to the food crops and to the supply of fresh water. To such an extent that they will be gone within the decade. It is happening much faster….”. Anote Tong

Looking back to COP26: Glasgow and Australia

So what did Australian GHG emissions really look like?

  • The Australian Greenhouse Gas Inventory suggests that in 2019 total (all sectors) GHG emissions fell by 0.9 per cent compared with 2018, these emissions should fall by 7.6 per cent on average each year over 2020 to 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius over the period.
  • In Australia, electricity sector emissions fell by 2.9 percent in 2019 as solar output rose by 46 per cent and wind by 19 per cent. Agriculture emissions, as a result of drought, fell by 5.8 per cent, energy use in liquefying of gas for export resulted in 0.9 Mt of emissions and fugitive emissions from gas operations were 1 Mt in 2019. GHG emissions in exports rose by 3 per cent.
  • Renewable energy’s share of electricity emissions was the main reason for lower emissions, with black coal generation falling in the fourth quarter of 2019. To the lowest level in three years. New South Wales sourced 19 per cent of electricity generation from renewables, Victoria 23 percent.
  • The 2019 drop, however, was much less than required to meet Paris Accord targets. In 2020 the trend was to lower electricity consumption as Covid-19 impacts become evident and also for lower liquid fuels for transport.

Arahmaiani, the Dali Lama and Peter Hylands in Sera

  • Energy demand has grown at an annual average of 3.7 per cent per annum, so would be 50 per cent higher in 2030 than today. To reach climate change targets all the new capacity would have to be fossil free. Trends in the period were moderated by COVID lockdowns including a reduction in demand of around 10 per cent in the City of Melbourne, while demand in the outer suburbs of Melbourne has increased. High levels of solar uptake will continue to reduce demand for fossil fuel generated electricity as will the collapse in migration during the COVID period.
  • AEMO, in an April 2020 study, reported that the main electricity grid could accommodate up to 75 per cent renewables by 2025 if the system were effectively transformed and managed. Without actions to ensure grid stability, wind and solar generation would have to be curtailed (not accepted into the grid) by 50 to 60 per cent of their potential contribution. This would threaten the viability of wind and solar projects.
  • Fuel efficiency standards are urgently needed in Australia but were resisted by the Federal Government. Australian transport sector emissions  accounted for about 18 per cent of total national emissions, but the transport sector lacked any real climate change policy action. In its 2020 annual report, the National Transport Commission found the average new car emissions were just 0.2 per cent lower than 2018. This level trails that of most developed countries. Recent media suggests that Australia is now becoming the dumping ground for higher emitting vehicles which would be illegal in other countries.

Badu Island

  • Apart from electricity sub-sector emissions, which are reducing due to renewables (wind and solar) penetrations, emissions are rising in non-electricity stationary, transport, fugitives, industrial processes, agriculture and waste sub-sectors where there are virtually no policies or programs addressing emission reductions apart from the A$3.5 billion Climate Solutions Fund mainly directed at agriculture, land-use/land-use change and forestry.
  • The bushfires across Australia in 4Q 2019 and 1Q 2020 likely caused emissions to reach almost double 2019 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory measured emissions but are not included in the inventory as it is assumed that regrowth sequesters these emissions. Given the catastrophic nature of what occurred this is extremely unlikely.
  • If Australian fossil fuel exports were factored into Australia’s emissions, its contribution to global emissions would be in the region of 3.5 – 4 per cent, rather than 1.3 per cent.

And now COP 27 has come and gone from Sharm el-Sheikh. So where are we now and where do we go?

Badu Island

This story is dedicated to all the people in the ‘front line’ of climate change, which is all of you and in Australia our many friends in the Torres Strait. We thank Anote and Arahmaiani for their leadership.

Our warm thanks to Wukir for his brilliance.