Business

What if environmentalists won?

IN THE end, it wasn't really painful.  Especially for Queenslanders.

Talk about stacking the deck in our favour.  Sunshine to power the economy?  No problem.  We had plenty of it lying around.

Even now, while we're capturing it as fast as we can, my back deck is still drowning in the stuff.

And the notion that energy could be generated from plant waste wasn't news to us.  Our sugar mills had been doing it for years.

Building and operating solar thermal power stations created thousands of jobs in construction, project management, component manufacturing, plant operation, research and development - many of them in regional areas with unparalleled solar resources such as Julia Creek, Miles, Barcaldine (Figure 8).

Electricity prices got pushed up a bit.  They'd been heading North for various reasons for a while anyway.  But once we covered those upfront capital costs - the power stations, new high voltage transmission infrastructure - and we no longer had to pay for fuel to be fed into the State's generators, wholesale prices eased up and we ended up no worse off.

In fact, we ended up better off, because many of us protected our homes and businesses from higher input costs by becoming more energy efficient, insulating, switching to solar hot water, and all of that stuff paid for itself in just a few years.  It didn't supply and install itself, which meant more jobs for Queenslanders.

We even managed to carry on as an energy exporting State, bottling our sunshine as ethanol, methanol and hydrogen for cold and cloudy foreign markets.  More income, more jobs.

Once greenhouse pollution was no longer free, it drove all sorts of niche enterprise and innovation as companies sought to reduce their overheads.  Businesses sprang up that captured methane from municipal tips, charging local councils less to capture the gas than councils would have to pay if they just let it loose into the atmosphere, and supplementing that income by selling the gas as fuel.

Farmers and other landowners found ways to store more carbon in their soils, capture the methane from effluent, and tweak their stock's diet to reduce greenhouse emissions.  They found they could reduce emissions for less than the cost of the carbon price and sell carbon credits to industries in Australia and abroad that had not yet worked out how to reduce their own emissions so cheaply.  Farming is often tough, with tight margins, and this proved to be a handy additional income stream that kept our prime land producing.

The IT sector prospered, as it proved to be the key to significant energy efficiency gains.

We even saved money in unexpected places.  The cost of public health went down as our efforts to reduce our exposure to oil resulted in urban design that encouraged walking and cycling for the vast majority of Queenslanders who live in the cities.  Greater physical activity meant less heart disease, less type 2 diabetes, fewer strokes (p.20), and ultimately fewer patient days in acute hospital care per head of population.

No hair shirts were worn.  No skies fell in upon us.  We thrived and prospered and are as blessed and strong today as we ever were.

I attended the federal Climate Commission's Brisbane session during the week and read their report, which includes a section on the opportunities that arise as we respond to climate change.  Amidst the bitterly polarized and politicised public debate about this issue, we so often focus exclusively on costs, loss and threats.  But this was a timely reminder that with significant economic change also comes new opportunities, and we are already demonstrating that we have the nous to capitalise on them.

Adam Stone is Lead Senate Candidate for the Queensland Greens.

Topics:  economy electricity jobs opinion solar power



SUNDAY SAY: Where do the Bunya's grow?

The rough bark of the trunk of the Bunya. To get the cones naked young men climbed the Bunyas in the time-honoured way using vines for support.

Tree one of area's earliest plantings

Pacific Highway roadworks this week

Roadworks on the highway

Here's a list of all the spots where work will take place

SUNDAY SAY: The grass it can be greener

field of spring grass and forest

Short lawn not always the best

Local Partners

Un-American tale makes Lion weakest link in Oscars line-up

PSYCHOLOGY researchers find US films and actors most likely to win accolades at the Oscars.

Can rightful winner Midnight take out golden Gosling in Oscars?

Can Lion pip La La Land at the post in this year's Oscars? Sunny Pawar (pictured) helped bring a powerful film to the big screen.

WILL Aussie film Lion triumph or will popular La La Land prevail?

How to be spooky and sing like a man

Spooky Men's Chorale, looking a little less spooky, on Saturday morning at their masterclass.

A masterclass on how to be a spooky man (or woman).

Living End, Grinspoon stars hit stage for American Idiot

Chris Cheney of The Living End stars in the Australian production of Green Days musical American Idiot at Brisbane's QPAC Theatre.

TAKE a look behind the scenes of Green Day's American Idiot musical

Samuel L Jackson dismisses La La Land ahead of Oscars

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in a scene from the movie La La Land.

Hollywood actor and Oscars voter says Denzel should win top gong

The trick homeowners are using to buy more properties

Chantelle Subritzky leaves her home each week for Airbnb guests.

Queenslanders are going down this path to help pay their mortgages

Stunning home blends South Pacific beauty with Orient style

Immaculate residence with two outdoor living areas

Historic home 'Fairweather' up for action

Fairweather

Historic property owned for last 35 years up for sale

A piece of Clarence Valley heritage up for grabs

The historic house \"Ravensford\" located at 36 Villiers St in Grafton is currently on the market at McKimms Real Estate.

Take a look inside iconic home 'Ravenford'

$140k damage: landlord says property trashed, contaminated

He had what he calls "the tenants from hell"

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!