We can do better, we must do more

By John Lewis

The News is running a series of interviews with community leaders about their views on climate change.

We asked four questions:

1: What is your position on global warming and climate change?

2: Are we doing enough to mitigate the impact of climate change in the region?

3: Do community and business leaders have a role in advocating for more action, and positioning our region to take advantage of emerging opportunities?

4: What is your number one priority to help mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Today we feature the responses of Goulburn Valley Community Energy chief executive Geoff Lodge.

What is your position?

I accept the science of climate change, as 97 per cent of climate scientists can’t be wrong. I also accept the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

As the CEO of GV Community Energy since 2008, I read daily updates on this topic and combined with my personal exposure to repeated extreme record-breaking weather events and personal testimonies from friends and colleagues, I know climate change is real.

I was first introduced to the science of climate change back in 1984-1987 (also known then as the Greenhouse Effect) when I completed my science degree in horticulture, although back then it was described as a future problem causing harm in maybe 100 to 200 years. The climate, however, is changing much faster than previously thought. It is now urgent that we reduce carbon emissions.

Are we doing enough?

Although there has been a lot of renewable-energy and energy-efficiency work completed in recent years, this is not enough to reduce the impacts of harmful climate change. Australia has had a very weak response to reducing its carbon emissions when compared to other countries.

Future generations will judge us harshly for not taking decisive action to reduce carbon emissions over the past decade even though there has been an abundance of publicly available information on climate change impacts and solutions.

Australia has the world’s highest installation rate (20 per cent) of domestic rooftop solar PV systems and within our region there are more than 40 solar farms proposed. And yet our national carbon emissions are still rising.

Australia is a significant global carbon polluter and is contributing 1.3 per cent of global carbon emissions, which this makes us the 16th biggest polluter. If Australia’s exported coal is included in our emissions, then our emissions will rise to four per cent and we move to being the sixth biggest global carbon polluter. In 10 years, as our coal exports increase, our global carbon emissions will rise to around 10 per cent.

We can do better. We must do more.

Do community and business leaders have a role?

Every person that holds a leadership position whether it be in civic duties, business or politics, is duty bound to understand how climate change will impact their community, organisation and constituents and to develop, advocate and implement measures to reduce carbon emissions.

Those that do not accept the science of climate change are ill-informed, and promoting their views is a disservice to the community — similar to the harm from anti-vaccination campaigners and holocaust deniers. More public discussion, guidance and leadership on how to reduce carbon emissions is needed.

Regional communities are well placed to take advantage of emerging opportunities. A low-carbon economy is more resilient than a reliance on carbon-polluting technologies, and the sooner this transition is implemented, the greater financial rewards for our regional economy.

Leaders within the media have an important role to advocate a clear and strong position for urgent reductions in carbon emissions. Over the past 10 years, the media has been conspicuously weak in this area. This current series of climate change articles in The News is constructive. It is time for everyone to do their part in reducing carbon emissions.

What is your number one priority?

My number one priority is for GV Community Energy to build our Mooroopna solar farm in partnership with Greater Shepparton City Council, plus we install more domestic and commercial rooftop solar systems.

My top priorities for others include;

  • The Federal Government — introduce a national price on carbon to encourage more investment in low-carbon-emitting technologies;
  • The State Government — increase support to recycling businesses;
  • Local government — all councillors publically endorse the science of climate change and advocate actions for council to reduce carbon emissions;
  • And my final priority is for the news media to publicly advocate for urgent and significant reductions in carbon emissions.