Law Reform · Energy & Climate

What's hot and what's not in Queensland climate action

05 June, 2018

EDO Qld CEO Jo Bragg talks current Queensland government policies and actions relating to climate change and reviews actions and potential actions by the State and local governments with respect to planning and development.

At the recent 2018 QELA Conference, EDO Qld CEO Jo Bragg presented her paper written with law reform solicitor Revel Pointon on current Queensland government policies and actions relating to climate change. The paper also reviews planning and development actions and potential actions needed by State and local governments.

Below is an introduction to the paper, which can also be downloaded (pdf): Climate change – it’s getting hot in here: Some current action in Queensland to address climate risk and what more could be done

Queensland is a hot place, but we are predicted to get even hotter with the impacts of greenhouse gases on our climate. We are already experiencing the hottest periods on record consistently each year, with 2017 the hottest year on record for Queensland and providing our warmest ever winter.[1]

Coming off the back of Cyclone Debbie remediation efforts and with over half of the state currently ‘drought declared’, and the bleaching of the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef, it’s hard to imagine things getting worse in our state. However, our state is expected to experience increasingly severe weather events, sea level rise and drought, impacting our key agricultural and tourism industries as well as our coastal lifestyles and infrastructure.[2]

It is clear that urgent strong action across the globe to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is needed to minimise the extent and impacts of climate change. “Mitigation” means actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Happily, Queensland is well-placed to take mitigation action, particularly with the power to harness solar energy across the state, to control excessive vegetation clearing and to stop thermal fossil fuel extraction.

However, even if we succeeded in reaching zero emissions today it is already too late to avoid the impacts of climate change, such as extensive Reef bleaching events and sea level rise, altogether.[3] “Adaptation”, means adjustments in response to climatic stimuli which moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. So while adaptation is unlikely to help the Reef, action and strategic adaptation is also needed in Queensland across government, industry and the community to moderate some other adverse impacts.

This paper considers some current Queensland government policies and actions relating to climate change and then review some actions and potential actions by State and local governments with respect to planning and development.

Download the paper (pdf): Climate change – it’s getting hot in here: Some current action in Queensland to address climate risk and what more could be done (pdf)

[1]Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology, Annual Climate Summary for Queensland (9 January 2018) <http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/annual/qld/summary.shtml>.

[2]Commonwealth of Australia, The Critical Decade: Queensland climate impacts and opportunities (2012).

[3]Richard Rood, ‘If we stopped emitting greenhouse gasses right now, would we stop climate change?’, The Conversation, 8 July 2017 <https://theconversation.com/if-we-stopped-emitting-greenhouse-gases-right-now-would-we-stop-climate-change-78882>.

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.

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