OPINION

Regions to prosper in global clean economy

Our Future | Regions to prosper in global clean economy

Most of Australia's diverse and rich ecosystems are located in rural and regional Australia.

The Murray-Darling river system supplies the water that underpins much of our food production.

The Great Barrier Reef brings in millions of dollars to the north Queensland economy and provides tens of thousands of jobs.

Our national parks and unique wildlife underpins our tourism industry right across the continent.

It's no secret the ecological systems that sustain human societies are being severely damaged by increasing heat and worsening extreme weather events, including heatwaves, floods, storms and droughts.

With just over 1 degree celsius of global warming, we have entered a new era of megafires and have lost half the hard coral on the Great Barrier Reef from marine heatwaves over the past five years.

Climate change is accelerating, bringing deadly consequences to these ecosystems, and our way of life. There is no safe level of global warming.

As momentum for climate action gathers speed internationally, all efforts must focus on steps that we can take this decade to limit warming.

The longer we delay, the harder the task ahead.

Already, our state and local governments, many businesses and community groups, are taking action.

This grass roots leadership is working. We can already see the benefits that decarbonising our economy can bring, such as jobs, cheaper power and secure regional futures.

Take fifth-generation sheep farmer Richard Munsie from New England who has signed a deal with UPC Renewables to build Australia's largest solar farm on his land while he still grazes sheep.

The income from leasing land is about six times greater than from grazing alone and is guaranteed for at least 30 years.

Around the world, many of Australia's strategic allies and trading partners like the US and UK have committed to strengthening climate commitments this decade.

The Australian government stands out as the international laggard. Instead of clinging to 18th century technology, the federal government needs to embrace the 21st century way of powering our nation.

Working with other tiers of government, the federal government must take bold and decisive climate action that includes policy supporting solutions for rural industries and a rapid scale-up of the energy transition.

The good news is we have the knowledge, technology and natural resources to help avert catastrophe and see our regions prosper in a clean economy.

We just need the federal government to have our back.

Professor Lesley Hughes is a distinguished professor of biology at Macquarie University and one of the authors of The Climate Council's latest report, Aim High, Go Fast: Why emissions need to plummet this decade.

This story Our Future | Regions to prosper in global clean economy first appeared on The Canberra Times.