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SA Premier's Climate Change Council Networking Reception

26/7/2016

The Premier’s Climate Change Council was established under the Climate Change and Greenhouse Emissions Reduction Act 2007.

The Council's primary role is to provide independent advice to the Minister for Climate Change on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change.

The SA Premier's Climate Change Council Networking Reception, to bring together government, community and business leaders to discuss the economic and social opportunities of climate change adaptation, was held at the Convention Centre on the evening of Tuesday 5th July. Climate change is a crucial issue which affects us all and COTA SA was represented at this event by volunteer Marilyn Henderson; Marilyn summarised the event, as well as the issues and opportunities facing South Australia in relation to climate change for our latest blog post.

The receptionpremier's climate change council reception

The reception was held alongside the Climate Adaptation 2016 conference, hosted by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) and CSIRO. Three speakers were invited to briefly address those present, and Sandy Pitcher, a member of the Premier's Climate Change Council, acted as MC.

Climate change provides opportunities to South Australia

The first speaker was The Honourable Ian Hunter MLC, South Australian Government Minister for Climate Change, Minister for Water and the River Murray, and Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation.

In November 2015 Premier Jay Weatherill and Minister for Climate Change Ian Hunter released a new Climate Change Strategy for South Australia.

Mr. Hunter explained that climate change provides South Australia with one of the biggest economic opportunities of the 21st century. While global warming presents significant challenges for the state, taking ambitious and early action can position us to maximize this opportunity.

Part of the plan is to showcase South Australia for clean technologies, unlocking research and innovation, attracting investment and creating jobs for the future.

The commitment to make the City of Adelaide the world's first carbon neutral city sits within the broad framework of the strategy. Partnering with regional leaders to deliver regional climate change adaptation plans will ensure the resilience of our State.

At the centre of the strategy is a bold and ambitious target for the state to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The new strategy builds on South Australia's achievements in renewable energy and climate change adaptation and the leadership that has been demonstrated by industry, the community and government to date.

South Australia has been a leader in this, introducing the nation's first climate change legislation - the Climate Change and Greenhouse Emissions Reduction Act 2007- embedding an emissions reduction target in law. This legislation also enshrined a renewable energy generation target. Between 1990 and 2012/2013 SA reduced it's emissions by 9% while growing the economy by over 60%.

South Australia's Climate Change Adaptation Process is supported by Business Interests, and by Farmers, as they were part of the consultation process. The growth of renewable energies, which now supplies 41% of the state's electricity, has created over $6 billion of investment.

The strategy also aims to reflect the local circumstances in 20 uniquely different South Australian regions, with statewide, cross-government and inter-regional collaboration.
A critical component of successful adaptation will also be a community that is able to understand what climate change means for them and what they can do to adapt.

Thus, the Minister stressed the importance of Scientific Research to demonstrate the reasons why we need to tackle Climate Change, in a similar way in which good science, backed by CSIRO, has tackled the issue of managing water quality.

It is important to have certainty and commitment from Governments in order to attract Business Investment. He also pointed out the necessity for strong National leadership in this area, something that has been lacking in recent years.

Mobilizing the bond market for climate change solutions

The second speaker of the evening was Sean Kidney, CEO of the Climate Bonds Initiative, which is an international, investor-focused not-for-profit organization. It's the only organization in the world focusing on mobilizing the $100 trillion bond market for climate change solutions.

The green bond market took off in 2014 with $36.6bn issued, triple the amount issued in 2013 ($11bn), and the target for this year is $100bn.

Green Bonds are standard bonds with ‘a green as a bonus' feature. Green bonds were created to fund projects that have positive environmental and/or climate benefits. The majority of the green bonds issued are green "use of proceeds" or asset-linked bonds. Proceeds from these bonds are earmarked for green projects but are backed by the issuer's entire balance sheet. There have also been green "use of proceeds" revenue bonds, green project bonds and green securitized bonds.

The green "use of proceeds" bond market has developed around the idea of flat pricing, where the bond price is the same as ordinary bonds. Prices are flat because the credit profile of green bonds is the same as other vanilla bonds from the same issuer.

Mr. Kidney stressed that the challenge is still enormous in that Climate Change is the biggest long-term risk to business investment. Some consider that pension funds investments and insurance funds face decimation by 2050, due to Climate Change effects.

Some scientists are now predicting a 6-7 degrees Celsius increase in Global Warming, and as much as a 10 degree increase for Adelaide. This would mean a minimum of a 2 metre rise in sea level, and could even be a much as 4-6 metres. Globally, other countries are facing similar outcomes, e.g. even a modest rise in sea level of only 1 metre in Bangladesh will affect 1Million people, making them homeless. Also, Monsoons are predicted to fail one year out of five, and most people affected by this will be poorer people of the World.  Likewise, the Mekong Delta will be inundated by sea-level rise, also affecting Millions of people.

As a result, China is now actively addressing the problem of Climate Change, not just of pollution, because of the threat of sea-level rise. The Chinese Government has indicated its commitment to developing a green bonds market in China as part of directing capital to urgent environmental projects under its Five Year Plan.

India too is addressing Climate Change but it's low carbon economic transition requires a huge amount of investment. Developing bond markets, a policy goal of the Government, will be vital to tapping domestic savings, offering a way forward.

Mexico and Brazil are both about to set up a Working Group looking at Climate Bonds Investment, and the European Commission is looking at what Europe's role should be in shifting private finance towards climate-friendly Investments - both within the EU and Internationally, which includes regulatory measures that can create incentives for private sector involvement without burdening public resources, financial instruments that can best leverage private resources, and how best to use the EU Budget to mobilize low carbon investments.

At COP21 in Paris, an alliance of global investors, development banks, financial sector associations and NGOs announced the formation of a Green Infrastructure Investment Coalition, and invited government agencies, international asset managers, owners and development agencies to join and work more closely on promoting large scale development, and financing of green infrastructure. The aim of the Green Infrastructure Investment Coalition (GIIC) is to support the financing of a rapid transition to a low-carbon and climate resilient economy.

The Climate Bonds initiative is one of the foundation members of the GIIC. According to Mr. Kidney, markets need to move towards shifting more capital into green infrastructure projects, with long term investment, development banks and governments all looking at what's currently in the green infrastructure pipelines, what should be in those pipelines and working together on investment models and timescales that help accelerate builds and projects across energy, transport, water and other key sectors.

Mr. Kidney claimed that the next five years will be crucial in addressing Climate Change; that we must act now. We can't afford to allow the Tundra to thaw and release the Methane gas trapped within, thus escalating Global Warming.

He explained that with awareness of the problems comes responsibility: that we must listen to the scientists and act accordingly: that we (the developed world) have the ability to act - the poor do not. We also have the understanding to help others make the transition.

Adaptation, the growth of green industries and economic development

The third and final speaker was Michelle Tucker, member of the Premier's Climate Change Council and Coordinator of Urban Policy and Planning with the City of Salisbury, partnering with the City of Playford to deliver the Adapting Northern Adelaide project, linking adaptation with the growth of green industries and economic development.

The Premier's Climate Change Council is the key advisory body to the Government of South Australia on climate change matters including adapting to the effects of climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Council is established under the Climate Change and Greenhouse Emissions Reduction Act 2007 and has a leadership role in consulting with business, the community and environment and conservation sector, and in disseminating information about climate change issues and actions to address them.

Ms. Tucker firstly announced the creation of the Premier's Climate Change Council's SA Climate Leaders Awards 2016. The awards will recognize individuals, groups and partnerships who are involved with adapting to the effects of climate change and taking advantage of the opportunities of climate change action, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, supporting South Australia's low carbon transition and raising awareness of climate change issues and actions to address them. Nominations can be made in one of three categories - Individual, Business and industry, and Community and Regions.

The Adapting Northern Adelaide Regions project recognizes that climate change and its economic, social and environmental impacts will vary across South Australia and therefore provides for the development of locally relevant adaptation responses across the different State Government regions. Thus, future adaptation strategies take into account the knowledge of local communities and the differing circumstances and impacts in each region.

With respect to the Northern Adelaide Green Industries region Ms. Tucker explained that the focus was to play to the strengths of the region, e.g. the availability of transport, and the availability of existing skills within the region. Collaboration between the two Councils involved is very important, with the generosity to share resources, and with the Climate Change Council acting as coordinator. Areas of focus are Water, Waste, Innovation, Renewable Energy, and Scientific Research. Development of partnerships is an important component, as well as recognizing unique local ‘drivers', and also the opportunities and risks involved.

The aim is that all regions can benefit from the success of others.

More Information

For more information on the Premier's Climate Change Council, visit the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources website here - http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/Science/Science_research/climate-change/climate-change-initiatives-in-south-australia/premiers-climate-change-council

COTA SA and our volunteers represent older South Australians on a wide variety of advisory boards and committees as well as at events like this one - please contact us if you're interested in getting involved and working with us in this capacity.