The Paris Climate Agreement is ringing alarm bells for engineering industries around the world. The message of the agreement seems clear: transition or die. Extreme weather events, rising sea levels, smog pollution and deforestation issues are no longer something we can undermine.

Australia was one of the participating nations who signed the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. The Australia Labor Party made a promise to the public that they would cut emissions by 26 percent by the year 2030 if put into power in the next election.

Despite the promise, many are concerned that the party will be all-talk and no action. It seems targeting emissions in all levels of Australian society is a bigger task than the government anticipated as Australia’s emissions have actually been rising.

 

What is actually being done?

Australia has shown some promise in the photovoltaic sector. There are a significant number of utility solar projects run by both government and business, plus citizens utilize rooftop solar to a noticeable extent.

With so much open space in Australia, many photovoltaic array farms are set up and have been put to work generating electricity. One of those farms being the Bungala Solar Farm. It is currently Australia’s biggest solar farm, currently producing 220 megawatts of electricity.

Another solar farm is also on the way in the Riverina region. The Yarrabee Solar Farm is expected to push out 900megawatts, enough to power one million homes.. It will be located in Yarrabee Park, located in the southwest of New South Wales. The state has been inundated with solar farm projects seeking approval from the government - reportedly 70 projects are waiting to hear if they are eligible to build new solar farms.

Australia’s renewable energy sector is thus more progressive when compared to some other countries, but there is still a long road ahead in the gradual transitioning to cleaner technologies.

More engineering innovation has to happen in almost every industry in Australia in order to make a significant contribution to lessening their carbon footprints. Australia’s emissions from largest to smallest in terms of carbon contribution are as follows:

  1. Electricity
  2. Industry
  3. Transport
  4. Agriculture

On ABC television network in Australia, the Four Corners investigative journalism program ran a story entitled: Is Australia on track to meet its Paris target?. They pointed out that 19% of Australia’s emissions come from vehicles.

They spoke to The National Roads and Motorists’ Association (NRMA) who said that there should be a ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles as soon as 2025. They also indicated that electric vehicles only accounted for 0.2% of car sales in Australia last year.

They want to see government lead by positive example by using electric vehicles in their own fleets.

 

What are communities are doing?

Dr Matthew Nott, a local doctor in Tathra, a seaside town in New South Wales, is working to promote renewable energy by highlighting the substantive economic opportunity renewable energy poses. He has founded a community group named Clean Energy for Eternity.

“I hear the excuse all the time that Australia is only worth one percent of the global emissions, so why bother doing anything about climate change? In Tathra, my back of the envelope calculation tells me that we’re worth 0.0005 percent of global emissions. So, we’re a very small part of the problem, but we want to be a big part of the solution.”

The community group got clearance from Tathra to paint a message on one of the local water towers that read: 100% by 2030. The community is trying to be powered by 100% renewable energy in 2030.

The moral of the story seems to be just this: reaching the stringent climate change goals of the Paris Agreement will be an increasingly collaborative effort between government, business and civil bodies.

 If all can work together, Australia may just go down in the history books as being a world leader in the renewables sector, and teach the most powerful states a thing or two.

 

Works Cited

“Is Australia on Track to Meet Its Paris Target? | Four Corners.” YouTube, 1 Apr. 2019, youtu.be/YprAjQr1CuU.

March, Stephanie. “Morrison Says Australia Will Meet Paris Climate Target 'in a Canter', but the Data Says Different.” ABC News, 1 Apr. 2019, www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-01/is-australia-on-track-to-meet-its-paris-emissions-targets/10920500.

VorrathSophie, Sophie. “NSW Waves through 900MW Solar Farm for Construction in Riverina.” RenewEconomy, 14 Jan. 2019, reneweconomy.com.au/nsw-waves-through-900mw-solar-farm-for-construction-in-riverina-77079/.

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