Submission

To: The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Development of Victoria's climate change framework

Date : 28 February 2016

What does a thriving and resilient Victoria look like in the context of climate change in 2030? What are the top three considerations or actions that will lead to a climate ready Victoria?
From an agricultural view point land use will be changed to reflect new climate realities: the crop environment will be more controlled reflecting the need to avoid extreme weather events (e.g. glass houses, better irrigation techniques, etc.); plant genetics will have been altered to better cope with extreme weather events; different crops will be grown (e.g. cotton, sorghum); soil carbon will be increasing not decreasing with better farming methods; and, marginal agricultural land will be reserved for renewable energy, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, flood mitigation and dryland salinity benefits. CMA’s will use CALP Act powers to better manage land.
It is important to have a really pragmatic vision to facilitate this.
If we take a farm as a scaled analogy of the state of Victoria……, the farmer cannot just keep increasing the numbers of grazing stock. The farmer cannot keep building a bigger and better homestead complex. The farmer cannot bring in more and more external inputs of fertilizers, pesticides, power and water. Sustainability and resilience depend on cyclical use of renewable resources to garner both the utilization and protection of natural capital. Does not the same apply to states and nations?
And while we might use climate change as a justification for getting smarter about the management of ecosystem services, we must very much focus on the concurrent non climatic stresses at the same time.

What are the challenges or opportunities Victoria will face in driving climate change-related innovation skills and jobs?
We clearly need intelligent, societally focused, and well educated people in positions of influence – or should that be power? They will constitute the opportunities. The challenge is to avoiding having the self-absorbed, free marketeering, and shallow people dominating the positions of influence.

What challenges or opportunities does addressing vulnerability and building resilience present Victoria?
Self-regulation does not seem to work when looking at requirements for philanthropic (i.e. full community benefit) outcomes. The agreed vision should set the basis for smart and tenacious regulation. Planning rules will be key. Vulnerability and resilience depend on capabilities. Planning has to take capability into account. The market is not good at this. It works to destroy things of low capability – i.e. the more vulnerable and the less resilient. We can no longer afford this.

What challenges or opportunities presented by the Victorian Government actively incorporate climate change into its operations and decision-making frameworks?
The big opportunity is to build the knowledge capability, capacity, and continuity in the public sector.

What are the challenges or opportunities for enabling Victorians to act on climate change?
If the vision is accepted, and realistic for true sustainability, then the challenge is to have Victorians (rural and urban) sign-up for their role in achieving it

What are the challenges and opportunities for building Victoria's research science and capability in relation to climate change?
Climate change will affect all, thus government revenues will be needed to underwrite research. Concomitantly, government will need to coordinate and help organize priorities. It will also help if all government funded initiatives or programs be considered experimental and reported on as such – ie what did we find out, rather than what did we do. Farmers need to be encouraged to intelligently experiment with modifying both their practices and their enterprises to cope with changing environmental (as well as technological) conditions

What challenges and opportunities does climate-proofing Victoria’s infrastructure present?
Climate proofing is a rather silly term. We want climate compatible infrastructure; not sea walls and bigger and bigger dams. Proofing takes us back to the biblical concept of humans transcending nature. Let us see ourselves as part of the environment

What challenges or opportunities exist for driving emissions reductions across Victoria?
There are plenty of opportunities. The challenge is to rejig the economic model to get rid especially of the profligate aspects of energy consumption and consumerism. We badly need to reassess the current concept of growth.

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