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Repositioning the Western District (and landcare) for a carbon, energy, water and nutrient-constrained world ANDREW CAMPBELL HAMILTON 25 AUGUST 2011

Research Institute for the Environment & Livelihoods

Outline • Converging Insecurities – – – –

Climate Water Energy Food

• Sustainability & resilience • Regional opportunities • Repositioning Western Victoria 2

Key Points • The age of cheap, abundant fossil fuel energy is coming to an end • The age of carbon accounting and pricing is here • Water security will be a perennial issue for southern Australia • Each of these has their own imperatives, but their interactions are equally, if not more important • Regions that get their heads around these issues can start to reposition themselves for the 21st century • There will be opportunities for the nimble & the smart 3

Climate The core problem: population & carbon emissions


Source: WBCSD & IUCN 2008; Harvard Medical School 2008

The climate is Human emissions equate to: changing…… • 0.5 Watts/m2 or 0.5 Joules/m2/s or 16,000,000 J/m2/year • equivalent to distributing 200 billion hairdryers (30 per person) and running them continuously for 30 years

Impacts • As greenhouse gases increase – so does temperature • land, sea & air

– – – – –

and sea levels oceans more acidic snow & ice melt more variable climate more extreme weather

• Climate change is the biggest market failure the world has seen (Stern and Garnaut)

Water • Each calorie takes one litre of water to produce, on average • Like the Murray Darling Basin, all the world’s major food producing basins are effectively ‘closed’ or already over-committed • We need a radical increase in water productivity 7

Feeding the world

• The world needs to increase food production by about 70% by 2050, & improve distribution

• We have done this in the past, mainly through clearing, cultivating and irrigating more land – and intensification, better varieties, more fertiliser, pesticides

• Climate change and oil depletion is narrowing those options, with limits to water, land, energy & nutrients 8


Energy & nutrients • The era of abundant, cheap fossil fuels is coming to a close

World oil demand expected to grow 50% by 2025 Oil discovery peaked in the 1960s, and production is in decline, 4 barrels used for each 1 discovered 49 of 65 oil producing regions are past their peak, declining at average 6.7% per year The world needs new production six times that of Saudi Arabia today to be brought on stream between 2007 and 2030 9

• Rising oil costs = rising costs for fertiliser, agrichemicals, transport and food

Profound technical challenges 1. To decouple economic growth from carbon emissions

2. To adapt to an increasingly difficult climate 3. To increase water productivity —

decoupling the 1 litre per calorie relationship

4. To increase energy productivity – –

more food energy out per unit of energy in while shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy

5. To develop more sustainable food systems – –


while conserving biodiversity and improving landscape amenity, soil health, animal welfare & human health

Climate-Carbon-Water-Energy-Food the bigger picture • If you are in the food business, you rely on water, nutrients and energy • If you use water or nutrients, you are in the energy business • If you are in the energy business, you will soon be in the carbon business

• If you have not analysed the potential interactions between these drivers into the future, you are in for a nasty surprise


Scales for response to climate change • Many of the main drivers of biodiversity loss operate at the landscape-scale e.g. habitat fragmentation, invasive species and changed fire regimes. • It is the scale which lends itself to integrated, whole of ecosystem and cross tenure solutions. • In Australia the most threatened components of biodiversity

CSIRO 2010

We need a third agricultural revolution

• Closed loop farming systems, not leaking: (water, energy, nutrients, carbon, biodiversity)

• Smart metering, sensing, telemetry, robotics, guidance • Better understanding of soil carbon & microbial activity

• Radically reducing waste in all parts of the food chain • Farming systems producing renewable bioenergy (2nd generation)

• Attracting young talent back into agriculture and rural communities 13

Murrumbidgee Irrigation - a current case • Bulk water distributor and seller in the MIA – $1B GVAP, and $7B value-add of food, wine and fibre production

• 100 year old irrigation & drainage network being modernised – Replacing ‘leaky’, gravity-fed open earthen channels – Piping and pressurisation is tripling energy consumption – And hence greenhouse gas emissions

• Options: – – – –

Biomass energy plant - 0.5m tonnes p.a. of ag & food process waste Solar thermal power plant on linear easements (C price-dependent) Conversion to biodiesel Carbon offsets through large scale tree planting

• Turning a water company into a water, energy & carbon company – Liberating opportunities through a more integrated approach 14


“Carbon plus” wool, beef and sheep meat


Biocarbon/energy integrated with farming vs replacing farming


Transition to carbon-neutral, energy-positive, water-smart rural landscapes • ‘Carbon plus’ grass-fed, rain-fed, red meat, cereals and oilseeds – significant offsets built-in to grazing & cropping systems – benefits for habitat, micro-climate, aesthetics, water quality, shelter, bioenergy and carbon

• Regional biomass energy plants using municipal waste & energy trees

• BUT: MIS schemes show that, without good planning & controls, the market will default to large monoculture plantations replacing agriculture, not integrated into farming (sub-prime carbon!)

• Huge regional planning & infrastructure implications 20

The integration imperative • Managing whole landscapes – – – – –

“where nature meets culture” (Schama) landscapes are socially constructed beyond ‘ecological apartheid’ NRM means people management engage values, perceptions, aspirations, behaviour

• Integration - across issues – e.g climate, energy, water, food, biodiversity - across scales – agencies, governments - across the triple helix - landscapes, lifestyles & livelihoods 21

Putting landscapes back together • How can this all ‘fit’ at a landscape and regional scale? • The landscape needs to be re-plumbed, re-wired and re-clothed • We need new regional planning approaches that: – work under a range of climate change & demographic scenarios – build in resilience thinking – accommodate carbon pollution mitigation options (energy, transport, food) – safeguard productive soil and allow for increased food production – facilitate reuse and recycling of water, nutrients and energy

• Integrating and/or replacing regional catchment strategies and local government planning, zoning, rating and DA processes 22

The community imperative • Rapid, often surprising, on-going environmental change will challenge governments and industries, and stress communities

• Many responses (proactive and reactive) will need to be designed and/or interpreted at regional and local levels. Successful implementation depends on community support.

We need environmentally literate and capable bodies at this scale, with strong community support and involving community leaders, that bridge government and community, public and private

• Policy convergence in climate, energy, water and food systems mandates integrated planning & delivery

Reconsidering Landcare • Three approaches from 1980s – 2010: 1. Voluntary, bottom-up, neighbourhood-scale landcare groups (5000+) 2. Regional/catchment organisations (56)

3. Targeted investment in environmental assets, and payment for environmental services through competitive tenders and market-based instruments 24

Reconsidering Landcare (2) •

Three approaches from 1980s – 2010: 1. 2. 3.

Voluntary, bottom-up, neighbourhood-scale landcare groups (4000+) Regional/catchment organisations (56) Targeted investment in environmental assets, and payment for environmental services (PES) through competitive tenders and market-based instruments

• Implemented in sequence, not in parallel, displacing the previous approach, rather than building on it. HUGE MISTAKE • These are complementary, not alternative approaches. • Bottom-up approaches are not sufficient, but they are essential

• We have to continue to nourish the grass-roots — forever! • We have to move beyond single-issue approaches 25

Implications for communities PROFOUND SOCIAL CHALLENGES:


To avoid scaring people, or perceptions of blame

To bring people along on a challenging journey

To build understanding, skills and capacity

To honour the past, while inventing a new future

To attract, reward and retain talent

Celebrations like this one are very important

Leaders in environment, sustainable Agriculture & NRM (amateur & professional) • Will continue to be in great demand • Can shape remarkable careers • Mobility and flexibility important, BUT; – Build on a solid base of skills and expertise – Understand yourself, how you relate to others, how others see you – Take time out to sharpen the saw (several times) – Cultivate mentors, patrons, exemplars, networks 27

• Don’t forget to have a life!

Repositioning Western Victoria • Identify champions, networks, linkages • Western District supporters, investors, nostalgics, alumni • Look for cross-sectoral alliances

• Invest in distributed leadership (e.g. shared training) • Pilots, demonstrations, experiments, celebrations • Develop a vision, a narrative, a buzz about WD in the 21stC • Look for ways to engage the community at all levels, from pre-school to retirement • Network relentlessly, up, down, sideways, outwards (web 2.0)



Take home messages • We need to revitalise regional NRM & landcare – The opportunities are immense, the imperative is urgent • This agenda needs to be nested cohesively within a bigger picture of climate, water, energy and food systems • The regional level is where these drivers collide – and where many opportunities lie

Regional leaders (you…) have a great role to play — GO FOR IT! 29

For more information • e.g. Paddock to Plate Policy Propositions for Sustainable Food Systems • Powerful Choices: transition to a biofuel economy • Managing Australian Soils • Climate Change Primer for Regional NRM • The Getting of Knowledge 30

Repostioning the Western District