In the absence of a sudden and rapid reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions, recovery options are few and tenuous. In fact, that’s a generous assessment. We have basically reached the point where anything that provides a glimmer of hope is “worth a crack”. The idea of “climate engineering” is gaining momentum as the prospect of dangerous climate change becomes more imminent.
As much as we need to concentrate on the priceless environmental resources we have on land and fight for their conservation, it is easy to forget about the expansive resource that exists below the ocean’s surface. There is so much we don’t know about deep sea ecosystems and unless we begin to take steps to a greater understanding of its limits we risk doing more damage than it can sustain.
Conducting business in a carbon-constrained world is a challenging area, but one that presents enormous potential and opportunities if you know where to look. This was one of the main messages that I took away from my recent foray into the entrepreneurial scene as part of The Journey, a three-week summer school run by Climate KIC and EIT.
Australia’s electricity system faces many challenges. It needs to drastically reduce emissions while maintaining secure and affordable electricity supply.The vulnerability of our current interconnected electricity system has become increasingly apparent. This is a particularly pertinent problem for the community of Tamborine Mountain in South East Queensland. The entire community lost power for more than seven days following Cyclone Oswald in 2013. The fragile electricity market has resulted in calls to increase the resilience of the electricity system. The need to change the way the system operates is especially dire considering climate change will likely increase the incidence of extreme events.
So how do we address the issues while moving away from polluting fossil fuel energy sources, increasing resilience to extreme events and keeping prices affordable for consumers?
PhD candidate Kieran Sullivan recently participated in a weekend school for postgraduate students associated with EU Centres in Australia and New Zealand. This year, it was in Hanmer Springs, a spa town about 2 hours north of Christchurch in New Zealand. The weekend is a chance for the students conducting research at an honours, masters, or doctorate level to get together and talk shop, develop their skills and perhaps most importantly, get in a little bit of time away from the desk to relax and get some perspective from outside our own research bubbles.
In February 2017, I visited a hamlet called Ponggang in West Java in Indonesia to conduct research on renewable energy potentials and collecting community aspirations. This was to assist in a research project for the Australia-Indonesia Centre led by Dr Sebastian Thomas from the OEP. I was equipped with a drone to document our journey in the village, a piece of equipment used by the Sustainability Lab @ Melbourne (SL@M).