We have a choice. The next decade could see us transition into a world of ever more destabilising shocks, or towards a reconfiguration of the systems we rely on based on goals of equity, sustainability and resilience. Forum for the Future, a leading international sustainability non-profit organisation with offices in London, New York, Singapore and Mumbai, in a recent Future of Sustainability report entitled From System Shock to System Change – Time to Transform, explores the key dynamics that lie at the heart of these transitions. It considers the interconnected nature of human and planetary health and reveals four trajectories emerging from the COVID-19 crisis. Only one of which will deliver the just transition urgently needed if we are to avert the worst of the social, climate and biodiversity crises we all face. FDI commends this Report to you in providing this summary of its analysis.
In light of Australia’s climate commitments, the creation of a nuclear-power sector ought to be revisited. The sector could potentially provide much of the foundational skills required to maintain and operate a nuclear-powered submarine fleet that could enhance Australia’s defence several-fold.
The Founder, Chairman and Patron of Future Directions International, Major General The Honourable Michael Jeffery, AC, AO (Mil), CVO, MC (Retd), sadly passed away in December of last year. One of his many legacies, that will continue to touch the lives of Australians, was his dedication to the regeneration of the landscape. To acknowledge his contribution FDI is today publishing a Feature Interview with General Jeffery in his role as National Advocate of Soil Health.
From 2012 to very shortly before his passing, General Jeffery strove to provide leadership and national strategic direction to the good work being done by soil scientists and landscape managers across Australia. He worked tirelessly to raise public awareness of the critical role soil plays in underpinning sustainable productivity and helping to meet global challenges, including food and water security and climate change.
To slow climate change, humanity has two main options: reduce greenhouse gas emissions directly or find ways to remove them from the atmosphere. Storing carbon in soil is often touted as a promising way to offset greenhouse gas emissions. There is, however, a catch. This Paper offers a critique of this strategy and finds that to be effective, emissions technology in Australia should focus on improving energy efficiency in industry, the residential sector and transport, where big gains are to be made.
Until recently, carbon released into the atmosphere from wildfires was not considered a significant component of atmospheric greenhouse gas as it was assumed that over the climatic cycle this carbon would be returned to vegetative re-growth. In Australia this may well be the case. Globally, however, a growing body of evidence suggests that carbon produced by wildfires is making a significant contribution to the volume of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere where it contributes to climate change.
Last week, the Prime Minister announced that a former Governor of Queensland and distinguished Australian diplomat, Hon. Penelope Wensley, AC, would be the next National Soils Advocate. In making the announcement, the Prime Minister also thanked General Jeffery – our founder, former Chairman and current Patron – for his tireless advocacy in promoting soil health across Australia and internationally.
To meet the targets set by the Paris climate change conference, greenhouse gas may have to be actively removed from the atmosphere and stored indefinitely. Carbon capture and storage technology will also have a key role in reducing future greenhouse gas emissions. Storage deep underground, in the oceans and in the soil, are some of the possible options but there are technological, financial, environment and time considerations.
After several weeks of COVID-19 lockdown, we are gradually emerging and relaxing our social distancing obligations. FDI will re-start its publication process from next week with the production of three papers per week. On Tuesday and Thursday, we will issue either a Strategic Analysis Paper, an Associate Paper or a Feature Interview. Our Wednesday edition will continue the Strategic Weekly Analysis that covers three items of immediate interest.
In 2020, FDI’s research will continue to focus on three areas: determining whether there will be a global food and water crisis between now and 2050; geostrategic developments, including opportunities and challenges for Australia, in the Indian Ocean region over the next 25 years; and what environmental and other challenges Australia might face in the development of northern Australia over the next 25 years and how these challenges might be met.