IPAT the difference – global footprint

 

Its simple mathematics (part 2): subject – algebra & IPAT

Have you ever heard of the formula:

I = P x A x T

From Ecoprofit Management: The formula’s evolution was the outcome of a debate between three guys, Barry Commoner, Paul Ehlich and John Holdren. “I” stands for environmental impact or environmental degradation, “P” is population, “A” is affluence, “T” stands for technology.

A basic tenant of algebra is that both sides of the equation have to be equal. Therefore, if you increase one side of the equation, the other side increases by the same amount.

According to the IPAT formula, if the world’s population increases by 655,000 in three days, then the other side of the equation i.e. environmental degradation, has to increase the same amount.

What we need is a common unit of measurement to apply to the formula. This is where the calculation principles of ecological footprinting come in handy. It uses global hectares (gha) as its unit of measurement. The total gha of the earth is calculated as all the productive land and sea available to provide the natural resources needed for all the things humans consume. Wealthier per capita countries like the USA (8 gha per person) and Australia (6.8 gha per person) have higher per capita footprints than countries like India (0.9 gha per person). This is because wealthier countries consume more things on a per capita basis. So for the USA, 8 gha represents the amount of productive land and sea needed per person to not only meet the demand on natural capital, but also to allow the natural capital consumed to be regenerated and all associated waste assimilated.

Currently we are in overshoot. The average global per capita footprint is 2.7 gha.The average global biocapacity is 1.8 gha per capita. That means humans need the earth to be another 50% bigger in order for it to be able to meet the demand on natural capital. At the current rate of increased consumption, the world will need to be three times as big to meet demand by 2050.

We are turning resources into waste faster than waste can be turned back into resources and depleting the very resources on which human life and biodiversity depend.The result is collapsing fisheries, diminishing forest cover, depletion of fresh water systems, and the build-up of carbon dioxide emission. Overshoot also contributes to resource conflicts and wars, mass migrations, famine, disease and other human tragedies and tends to have a disproportionate impact on the poor, who cannot buy their way out of the problem by getting resources from somewhere else.

So what is the impact of the extra 655,000 people on earth in the 3 day period? All we have to do is multiply the net increase in people by the average per capita gha (i.e 655,000 x 2.7 gha) which equals 1,768,500 gha. This is how much extra global hectares are needed. Over a year it will be 216 million gha (80 million extra people x 2.7 gha). The “I” in IPAT must therefore increase by the same amount and is reflected as an extra 216 million gha in overshoot.

The next variable in IPAT is affluence. This is where one looks at not only the bigger consumersin the west, but also the rise of the middle class in economies such as China and India. Worldwide 700,000 TV sets and 5 million phones have been sold in the last 24 hours. For the year, 20 million cars have been manufactured and 85 million computers have been sold. Just today, 5 billion dollars has been spent on the military enterprise.

In both China and India, the average per capita income has increased significantly in the last 30 years and is reflected in the rise of the middle class. Over this period the average per capita gha in China has risen from 1.3 gha to 2.2 gha now. In India it has risen from 0.7 gha to 0.9 gha over the same period. Worryingly, India’s biocapacity has collapsed in the same period by almost half down to 0.4 gha per person. This means it is regenerating its own natural capital at half the previous rate.

 

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Transition to LLS – the failure to connect

In Australia the voting turnout was lower than Zimbabwe for the recent LLS elections. When you consider the build up to the elections was enthusiastically promoted by the NSW Government and the DPI you can understand the embarrassment of the turnout. What is difficult to understand the refusal to release the figure and facts of what went wrong?

On two previous occasions CO2Land org posted positive expectations for the process. On December 21, 2013, the story – Transition to LLS – NSW, 1 year on: “From 1 January 2014, the new Local Land Services (LLS) organisation will commence operating under the Local Land Service Act 2013” Source www.lls.nsw.gov.au . Notice of election – LLS Board Members to be conducted early 2014 and mooted to be ballot to close 12 March 2014. Prior to that Transition to LLS – NSW, December 2, 2012: “The theme of the transition is ‘let’s work together’ and it is said that ‘business as usual’ will continue in terms of maintaining commitment to the landholders”. So what went wrong, why is the Shadow Minister for Primary Industries (DPI), Steve Whan, calling for an inquiry into the low voter turnout?

To use what Whan is quoted as saying in a press release is, and published in the Bungendore Mirror 26 March 2014: “From my discussions with land owners, though, the main reason for low voter turnout was they had no confidence whatsoever in the LLS model nor that their voices would matter”, and “These boards are unrepresentative of NSW landowners and importantly they are appallingly unrepresentative of the vital role women play in rural communities”.

So it seem that the model is the issue for up to 90% of the eligible voters. The other matter was the voter registration process was botched. It might not be appropriate to comment any further on that matter, or at least until it is clarified by the DPI, or through any inquiry that might follow.

Is there any other information that might be relevant for the story? Well, yes get ready for this: The call for new Landcare action, a press release on the 25th anniversary of Landcare’s formation, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), and the National Farmers Federation (NFF) have joined forces. This is not the first time they have teamed up for activities to reverse the degradation of farmland, public land and waterways. What is significant is that this alliance is meant to build relationships, not dictate or prescribe political edicts.

We could also draw the long bow here and say it is an ominous sign for the Green Army policy hopes for the Federal Government. Recently seen is a placard saying it had the answer to our rural woes – a Abbott proof fence! For those readers outside Australia, to help with controlling rabbits a rabbit proof fence was built in the outback. This reference to Abbott Proofing is part of the Australian form of humour. If you don’t get it – that’s OK it will come to you one day!

 

 

Our democracy – the need to educate, to influence better environmental outcomes

Increasingly you might hear the comment – we don’t have a democracy anymore and all that we get is push marketing and the pedaling of misinformation. We are told what to think, act and what we feel in order to react ‘appropriately’. Scenario the phone rings – hello, its Adrian mate and if you don’t want to let the community down you will adopt our stance, you don’t want to let the sky fall do you?  You react and say hang on I am a good upstanding community member….you are hooked and steered into a psychological twist.

Whatever scenario you want to paint on the issue a properly functioning democracy requires an educated, well-informed and proactive community. Backing this thread up is a quote from the Executive Director at Liana Downey & Associates – Strategic Advisors to Governments and Nonprofits – contributing to the discussion about the morality of government and some leaders on action on climate change – “I think it just strengthens the impetus to keep educating, and keep moving forward, particularly for those of us with a good understanding of the science. I have had plenty conversations with reasonable, educated professionals who admitted they just weren’t sure if “all this climate change stuff” was really an issue. We have to take the time to acknowledge doubts, and respond to concerns in an informed way that doesn’t patronize people but allows for conversation and progress. Who says there isn’t scope to address the concerns of the cynics? 

This would be an easy time to fall into despair – it’s certainly tempting. But it’s also the most important time to step up, be clear about the facts, and help lead. Government are obviously important players, but not the only decision makers or leaders in our society. There is still plenty of scope to help shape thoughtful sustainable investments, shift consumer and corporate behavior, and keep doing what we know to be right to protect future generations”.

Then we have the comment by Michael O’Flynn – Sustainability and Financial Risk Consultant: “The real culprits are the politicians with their lack of accountability, aspects of the media who cherry-pick “evidence” to push their backer’s agenda, large immoral corporations and their executives who simply care about profits, rates of return and $$$bonuses and some of the mega-rich. We are basically facing a fight between the gung-ho capitalist model who call for less regulation and as happens, have the big bucks and consider all resources as simply a means to derive a profit first and foremost, versus the people. 

It wasn’t so long ago that the god-Father of the current Libs, John Howard and supposedly the Libs too, were keen on an ETS. Exhibit A for long-term culpability for any inaction.”

CO2Land org finds this potent stuff, maybe a little emotive, but puts the point across vey well – we are influenced as opposed led. So is the real problem that we have ourselves to blame, that we are followers and not leaders – short answer is not everyone can be the leader. But, we need to stay focused and committed and advocate for what we believe is right. The Adrian example at the beginning of this post was and example of an advocate that recognized that public opinion and political policies are never static and will ebb and flow. Even from within governments positions on issues are not necessarily entrenched within the Party’s or even its voters. It is a case of reacting from the popularity base both within and outside the party and will influence those that make the hard decisions. A documented illustration of this is in Australia where a newly elected Government is already facing rough times over the party’s previous support of climate change policies such as the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). With the current Prime Minister saying his party does not support the view that climate change is real, and then others within, such as the popular Malcolm Turnbull, openly being supportive of an ETS. This suggests we will be in for more push polling efforts and misinformation peddling is in the wings. Sadly it will also auger well for those that will react with ‘we will review this matter’ and behind the scenes say – no further action required it will go away! He recipe for ‘seeing to be doing and not doing at all’!

CO2Land org will argue that until the opposition parties start acting professionally we can expect nothing more than talk on what is needed on meaningful climate change policies. But either way, neither the government nor the opposition parties can exempt themselves from being detrimental to the obvious environmental dangers we are facing now, and merely taking the arguments to the next election will just be too late.

Thank you to those that contributed to this thread – it shows the potential that there is still some really positive discussion going on. It also put into focus, what recently happened when the Australian Climate Council was established as a privately funded model after the government of the day chose to abandon public funding for its predecessor. We speculate that the thinking behind the funding denial was that it would put aside the issues the entity has uncovered. It might actually come back to bite the climate change deniers and we might even see better outcomes for the betterment of how society views the working of our democracy.

Good News for CFI

Good news for those following the Federal Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative.  The bipartisan support in the Federal Parliament will continue for approved carbon storage – and that is also a key component of the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan. As such those committed under the CFI legislation as farmers, land owners and land managers are able to generate carbon credits by storing carbon on the land or reducing greenhouse gas emissions with a greater degree of confidence.

In a show of faith the Federal Government has awarded the tender to develop the learning materials for the new CFI skill sets. In a press release, 8 May 2013, Carbon Training International (CTI) – www.co2ti.com – has announced that they are the successful tenderer for supplying CFI skill set training materials.

Co2Land org is aware that persons CTI are interested in to participate in the industry reference groups and the pilot courses have been contacted to run the programs later in the 2013 year.  It follows that those that would be able to give good input would still be welcome to do so to the sessions.

Below is a copy of the press release distributed by CTI:

————————————————————————–

Press release – Carbon Training International wins tender for Federal Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative Skill Set Training Materials Program.

The Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) introduces a specific new set of job roles into the Australian workforce to assist the establishment of carbon abatement and sequestration projects linked to the land. This requires a new set of skills and knowledge that give the workforce confidence to complete their roles and land holders the confidence that the people whom they are contracting have reached an acceptable performance benchmark. CTI has been selected by the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research & Tertiary Education (DIICCSRTE) following a competitive tender process to develop the training and learning materials to support the training of this important emerging workforce. “We were selected above other training development tenders in a very competitive field” said Bill McGhie CTI’s CFI Program Director.

The CFI is a legislated scheme which has bipartisan support in the Federal Parliament and is also a key component of the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan. Under the legislation farmers, land owners and land managers are able to generate carbon credits by storing carbon on the land or reducing greenhouse gas emissions from land based activities such as landfills & piggeries. These credits can then be sold to individuals or organisations who have committed to offset their emissions or to meet their liability under the carbon pricing mechanism.

The CFI skill set training focuses on building the knowledge and skills that carbon service providers need to assist farmers and land holders assess, evaluate, plan and implement complex CFI projects. The training is designed to enable individuals acting as CFI project advisors, originators or developers acquire or affirm the skills to supply reliable, credible and consistent technical information on CFI projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or sequester carbon in the landscape leading to carbon credits being issued.

Once produced the CFI Skill sets training products & course materials will be made available to universities, TAFE colleges and private training providers (RTOs) to deliver the CFI training and accredit people with the skills to support CFI projects.

“It is integral to the integrity and the credibility of the carbon service sector that those individuals with the knowledge, skills and experience for planning and implementing CFI projects support farmers and land managers on how to participate in the CFI effectively” said Carbon Training International’s MD, Robert Nicholls. “The establishment of accredited CFI training is an important development for the farming and land management community as it provides them with a means to easily select carbon service providers whose CFI knowledge and skills has been independently assessed and confirmed to be to a particular standard. It provides some peace of mind that the individuals undertaking project feasibility and CFI methodology selection for the deployment of carbon offset projects on behalf of landholders have the required skills.”

“The Clean Energy Regulator, which oversees the administration of the CFI is considering a register of accredited providers to provide more certainty of contractor capacity to make sure genuine service providers are differentiated from the cowboys.” said Carbon Training International’s CFI Program Director, Bill McGhie.

Accredited training will provide a firm footing for carbon offset projects to have a better chance of success and thereby generate important economic benefits to regional communities and indigenous Australians.

“The CFI offers an important opportunity to landholders, however the CFI projects need to be set up properly and that is why this training is essential” said Mr. McGhie.

Carbon Training International is the leading developer of accredited carbon management training and has already trained over 600 candidates in its Certificate IV in Carbon Management course. Its programs are taught in Australia, online and overseas through its international partner network, including the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

  Regards

Bill McGhie
Director
Organisation Capacity Building & Training
Carbon Training International
GPO Box 3414
Sydney, NSW 2001, Australia
m: 0408 207 820
www.co2ti.com

build a carbon-responsive workforce

 

 

DoIICCSRTE – again one more time around

If you wondered if the writing is on the wall for climate change adaptation strategies what better declaration other than to say we need a new super department and call it the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education.

As of 26 March 2013 the transition has started in a move the Australian Government hopes will be seen as logical and a way to portray that climate change is taken seriously across all of government and across all portfolios. In asking the question will it work? Consider:

Logical – The movement of Energy Efficiency to Resources; energy and emission reduction policies best fit is with Climate Change.

Illogical – the same super minister overseeing mining companies will manage renewable energy.

Means – the urgent need to decarbonize the economy.

Ends – to cut funding to over 140 projects across 33 universities around Australia. To affect more than 100 researchers in the ability to carry out critical work on climate change adaptation.

The game is to be seen as promoting innovation. That word innovation is being used as a football – or should we say moneyball.

If you are not aware the opposition is committed to reducing expenditure by $23b and if you think of what the Government has done – it is making that very difficult to do as the expenditure trimming has started and it will be difficult to extract efficiency dividends on already lean departments without stopping practices all together.

Therefore it is a game of tactics as both the government and opposition are committed to strategy for climate change. The tactics appear at this stage to be:

Government – creating a Super department and reducing the Department of Climate Change staffing numbers from about 1000 to around 600, and reducing funding to research facilities.

Coalition – reunite Climate Change and the Environment in a relationship it believes makes more sense, and revisit six green star accommodation at the Nishi building at a cost of $10 million a year.

Co2Land org take s particular note of the coalition stance and where they say it makes more sense – it does for control purposes. However, it will fall into the same traps of the Howard era and quickly be unworkable as a policy instrument. But then again that will allow ‘yes minister’ to continue and compel a review at opportune times.  The term then was a ‘broad policy approach’ – history to repeat itself?

Because it is good reading we suggest you research this matter asking the questions:

And what happened to Climate Change Adaptation? Has that once commonly used title now gone altogether? Then follow up on the link –

The ABC did a story last month about the future of the body charged with preparing the nation to meet the challenge of global warming, the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.

 

The irony of flooding rain and a sunburnt country

The irony of flooding rain and a sunburnt country. Most recently, floods hurt the Australian eastern states, and a matter of weeks before by devastating fires. This is focusing on the thought – Maybe climate change is closer than we think.

The ABC reporter Tracy Hutchison, on Monday 4 February 2013, made a comparison of Australia facing another summer of floods, and that we are not alone. She centred her story on how Indonesia’s capital grappled with a watery chaos and Beijing being brought to a choking halt by smog. Her point being “Australia’s recent re-acquaintance with devastating flooding in Queensland and northern NSW this summer has been another sobering reminder of the climatic shape-shifting wreaking havoc with lives and livelihoods across the country. 

Yes, Dorothea Mackellar might well have written of droughts and flooding rains in the early 1900s (while homesick for Australia as a teenager in England), but you’d be hard-pressed to find much wistful fondness among the many farmers who have watched livestock, equipment and expanses of primary produce wash away their livelihoods for the second time in two years. 

For many of these much-heralded ‘country folk’, the financial and emotional struggle of staying on the land will be too much; they’ve said as much in shocked-filled resignation as the water came back too soon. 

Watching on, from the fire-prone drier states, the unspoken narrative is screaming; where will these people go? What will they do for a living? And who will grow the food they were growing for both domestic and export markets?”

In another irony, the current Queensland Government did not see anything other than a cost/benefit analysis being required to manage the environment. Because of the events the Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is now considering the cost of the climatic events and it is hard to find a benefit calculation other than the need for a capital injection might have to come from public funds to mitigate the damage. One such project would be that some flood-prone residential areas in Queensland could be relocated “to avoid what looks increasingly like the recurring reality of extreme flooding”.

Another pair of ABC reporters, John Morrison & Kerrin Thomas, also on 4 Feb 2013 said New South Wales Premier, Barry O’Farrell, “says his visit to flood-affected regions on the North Coast has reminded him of his visit to Moree around the same time last year. 

Moree was flooded almost exactly one year ago, as floodwaters travelled downstream from Queensland. 

Barry O’Farrell told ABC’s Statewide Drive program the conditions in Grafton this year are very similar to those in Moree 12 months ago”. To paraphrase BOF’s (Premier Barry O’Farrell – we kid you not, it is a published acronym for his name) point is that the city dwellers think it is unusual and the country folk do not.  Too right mate it is bloody heart breaking for country folk, if you did not know!

The reality is what the city dweller is now able to see change, and the statement of BOF of “unusual” is losing credence as the numbers keep stacking up that something is wrong, and climate related events are becoming more extreme and records are being broken nudging the entire population to think again about climate change.

The point is made again: It is not just Australia that is affected, in Jakarta right now, where record flooding has swamped the CBD for the first time in history. As in Queensland (suggested by the Premier Campbell Newman) there is increasing talk that relocating the Indonesian capital is the only feasible solution to an escalating problem. The ABC reporter Tracy Hutchison said, “Jakarta is sinking. Literally. Years and years of unregulated private water-bores has drained the city’s below-sea-level water table dry. The record rain, coupled with an underdeveloped drainage system and the penchant of Jakartans to use the city’s waterways as rubbish dumps, brought this city of 20-odd million to a standstill of a different kind…. Australians remember the massive economic and political impact when Brisbane flooded two year ago – the disruption and cost to business, the national flood levy, the daily Bligh/Newman media show, the rebuild…..The implications of a non-functioning Jakarta are immense and wide-ranging both for Indonesia and the region. But this is the reality…And while the Indonesian capital grappled with a watery chaos, further north a different kind of stultification was engulfing the Chinese capital. The soupy and toxic coal-fuelled smog that has descended across northern China sent monitoring devices off the scale in Beijing. 

Hospitals recorded a 30 per cent increase in admissions for respiratory-related illnesses and residents were ordered to stay indoors as state-run manufacturing was put on the kind of state-instructed ‘go-slow’ not seen since the Blue Sky policies of the Beijing Olympic preparations….There is something darkly delicious about China’s state-run manufacturing boom on a state-imposed go-slow because Beijing’s middle class, the beneficiaries of the boom, can’t breathe. It’s a vexing Catch-22 for China’s new leadership – how to keep a slowing economy buoyant but avoid a widespread public health crisis – and a new twist on boom or bust. Not to mention the regional economic implications for trading partners like Australia, whose coal-exporters might possibly be the elephant in the (Beijing hospital) room? 

It doesn’t seem that long ago that “environmental refugees” living on increasingly brackish low-lying Pacific island states of Kiribati and Tuvalu were dismissed as the political fodder of fear-mongering climate change campaigners. Now, sadly, relocations from what were once primary food-producing areas are a new way of life – and it’s not just Kiribatins and Tuvaluans feeling the watery heat. 

Widespread record flooding and deadly landslides have been a common theme across the Pacific this summer – PNG, Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands have all battled extreme weather events from ferocious cyclones and record rains. A 

It used to be that a few thousand people with wet feet in the Pacific never got much traction outside environmental campaigner circles; perhaps this faraway time of a planet impacted by a changing climate might be closer than we think”. 

Tracey Hutchison broadcasts throughout Australia and the Asia Pacific for ABC News Radio and Radio Australia.

Bringing this closer to home in the story “Fitzroy River continues rising amid ‘sea of water’” by Paul Robinson, Monday February 4, 2013 –the story is of central Queensland and the city of Rockhampton where it two has been hit by severe floods in as many years of the Fitzroy reaching up to 9.2m. This height has the potential to cut off the city for as much as two weeks at a time. Flooding also closed the Airport. However the problem for the city is that much of the water coming in also came from further inland, which brings its own problems in terms of trade. And extensive damage to agriculture. 

Quoted is “We’ve seen loss of livestock, there’s tractors that have been washed out of sheds, four-wheelers that are a couple of hundred metres down the paddock, there’s a lot of irrigation gear and pump sheds that have just gone missing, tanks, like a lot of fodder, round bales, small bales and lucerne, all gone,” he said. 

”Tourism hit

A central Queensland tourism body says tourist operators can expect further hits to business as Rockhampton prepares for Saturday’s flood peak. 

Capricorn Enterprise says highways cut by floodwaters severely damage tourism”. Also affected is rail infrastructure and mining activities and it is reported that “rail company Aurizon says coal rail lines to Gladstone could be closed for more than a week…. An Aurizon spokeswoman says crews are still unable to fully assess the situation because the rail line is under water. However, she says at the moment they expect the Moura and Blackwater systems will reopen within seven to 10 days. 

Freight operations along the coast have also been interrupted by flooding of the Queensland Rail network”. 
We should also say roads are also cut or restricted for use at different points too.

CO2Land org thinks maybe BOF had it the wrong way around. Country folk are finding it unusual that 10, 50 and 100 years events are happening, seemingly every 2 years. It is city folk that are tending to think it is normal and even the assistance appeals are failing to reach the targets.  Is it too late, how can we adapt at this rate? What is the cost of taking the high ground!

the notion of “cool” patch burning

January 2013, has been very distracting and the extreme fire conditions have woken us from our usual persistence to stay in holiday mode a little longer. Traditionally it is a less than optimum time for putting forward ideas and getting anything done. Friends schooled in adult education training warned us NOT to try and run courses in January because people retain their school holiday mindset well into their senior years, and even if you can get them to turn up they will be distracted and inattentive.

Fire has been often characterized as the best servant and the worst master (you may have heard this expressed in many different ways). Last evening at a local rural firefighting service get together, as expected, the politics of fire was in the forefront of casual discussion. Yet, some very important debate happened of interest: We talked of fire management and the attitudes of each of us towards, and the implications for, landscape management.

Introduced into the discussion was how the government measured success of their many programs. We at this point input our interest to expand the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) methodology on savanna burning to a more focused area of controlled burning as was practiced by the indigenous in times past and the difference being in those traditional ways the management was to avoid total incineration and encourage regeneration and improve soil fertility.

In relation to the traditional burning practices cited, the various land managers, both government & private, agreed the need to stimulate considerable discussion was evident. Those that opposed said they were having some trouble accepting the notion of “cool” patch burning. They don’t like it because it leaves too much charcoal on the ground which they think will fuel the next fire, and the only answer is to ensure hotter more complete burns to reduce the fuel back to mineral ash. One even went so far as to say, ‘do you think the indigenous knew what they were doing, they had no intention of managing the landscape, fire was an accident that just got away from them and the benefits were accidental’. Our reply, does it matter that they planned the benefit, what matters was they learned something and have knowledge from the experience, and the issue must be effective communication is needed for a better understanding and to ensure that knowledge is not lost. To have the attitude that all that we need to do to manage the risk for the environment is indulge in recursive behavior is nonsense.

Saying there was a communication problem was the catalyst for a more rational response and the group was then more open to accept they needed to engage in more than polite conversation and to actually open themselves to the thought our indigenous colleagues deserve an audience for what they say is a solution to our degrading rural scape.

Further background material can be followed up as Posted on January 20, 2013 by co2land

CFI – ‘black swan event’ treatments

Contaminated Land – Research data

Reported is that research is ramping up into the number of areas responsible, or have responsibility for management of contaminated land. Worldwide, it appears the impediment to date has been the concern of uncovering unintended consequences by the actions that might be taken. This is understandable if you add that in order to take notice you need to understand the problem. It also follows that any data collection effort will serve as a proving ground for a methodology to deal with the problems that are uncovered. That in itself introduces another problem in that developing a Methodology requires funding or promises for funding.

Knowing that even governments have funding issues internal to themselves we could ask: So where should we start in Australia?  The immediate noticeable group addressing the quality of data issues of ‘real’ remediation challenges is the federal Department of Finance and Deregulation (DoFD) which has a Special Claims and Policy Branch that is leading a strategic data collection project examining the manner in which contamination issues are addressed. However, its purpose is to address Commonwealth Land Decisions-making and gather data only from entities covered under the FMA Act (Government Agencies) and CMA Act (Authorities). The Department has set out the project is to be collecting information in the earlier part of 2013. Whilst a let down to some, it is a start to identifying the effort needed.

Concurrently, Canada is turning its attention to those that refuse to clean up where they have polluted, and Environment Canada is beginning feasibility studies of remediation technologies that could be used on federal properties contaminated by chemicals.  Source: http://mobile.firehouse.com/news . A watching brief on Canada’s and other overseas, state and private groups suggests it is very wise to manage contamination within property decision-making groups and that they undertake research into solutions under key terms that may be available to reference available literature and what might be uncovered.

What CO2Land org has noted is that DoFD is finding the need to validate their understanding of the Commonwealth’s legal obligations relating to contamination liability – to clarify what they must manage as opposed to should manage.  (Those that follow this thread might recall – Posted on January 6, 2013 by co2land, Contaminated Land – Obligations to manage – was written to help the reader to understand that managing the environment means many things and it is not necessarily so that moral decisions will be made). This implies there are many areas of uncertainty and any contamination related advice would be welcome to help them target key areas of uncertainty.

In relation to the DoFD data project, Posted on January 8, 2013 by co2land , Contaminated Land – Remediation challenges was written Presently for a majority of contaminates, there are no endorsed standards or guidelines within Australia that define, for each category of land use, safe levels of soil contamination. What we do have within the National Environment Protection Measures Act 1998 (NEPM Act) guidelines is an adopted remediation criteria recommending investigation levels. Our suggestion is this investigation criterion is far too conservative and not well adopted or able to properly adept to manage health and environmental risks. Also written was CO2Land org noted that the federal Department of Finance and Deregulation has a number of areas responsible or have responsibility pertinent to management of contaminated land and wonders if it might be data collection that is the greater weakness in terms of the abilities for adequate and timely responses. This new post suggests DoFD is now prepared to push the boundries into uncertainty for those areas not previously covered by the scope of the land policy functions. CO2Land org also notes the timeframes for the project indicates the willingness for the data to be available for the 2013/14 Strategic Review Program – we applaud you for that. Small steps by a leap forward in terms of past efforts.

Contaminated Land – Remediation challenges

Presently, for a majority of contaminates, there are no endorsed standards or guidelines within Australia that define, for each category of land use, safe levels of soil contamination. What we do have within the National Environment Protection Measures Act 1998 (NEPM Act) guidelines is an adopted remediation criteria recommending investigation levels. Our suggestion is this investigation criterion is far too conservative and not well adopted or able to properly adept to manage health and environmental risks.

Posted on January 6, 2013 by co2land, Contaminated Land – Obligations to manage – was written to help the reader to understand that managing the environment means many things and it is not necessarily so that moral decisions will be made. From that story it follows that a natural discussion point is to now look at the remediation challenges, or if you prefer to call it – appropriate actions, and the point is made that to manage contamination the issues may involve: risk management activities, including actions to limit exposure to contaminates; remediation, such as physical containment, capture and on-site treatment, or removal/offsite for disposal; or whatever combination of above. In today’s political climate it is unlikely a government officer would go along with addressing the challenges unless due diligence investigations and factoring the results into a cost-benefit analysis was done ‘appropriately’. As a Carbon Manager, we might say extensive due diligence investigations and cost-benefit analysis has cost and time implications that science clearly indicates we do not have the luxury to indulge into – the earth as we know is dependent on our actions.

Notwithstanding the urgency matter, ‘real’ remediation challenges include managing the uncertainty associated with the costs of remediation, remember it was said investigative sampling could only provide an estimate of the actual problem (the nature, extent and concentrations of what is the contaminant(s)). Therefore any property management decision can attract significant cost risk when considering changes to land use. To recant the start of this discussion it was said recommendations are part of the NEPM Act and the conservative responses that will be elicited are not strong. It may be that the data available is part of the problem and that needs to be addressed in a more robust or targeted way.

CO2Land org noted that the federal Department of Finance and Deregulation has a number of areas responsible or have responsibility pertinent to management of contaminated land and wonders if it might be data collection that is the greater weakness in terms of the abilities for adequate and timely responses. Stronger more targeted data collection could be better used to quantify the risk and might lessen the likelihood of ‘excessive’ or redundant analysis on a project-by-project basis. The potential is to save money too!

We will expect we will increasingly see this approach being implemented and would applaud where issues such as uncertainty is reduced; improved decision making processes are covered off; and more efficient funding approval processes are followed. We believe additional benefits could accrue and if it is transparent shared lessons learnt and reports could give improvement in practice and the moral and the legal be much the same outcome.

Contaminated Land – Obligations to manage

In conversation, we discussed an old tannery site, and it occurred ‘obligation’ to manage was not understood, or meant different things to different people. For instance, a Carbon Manager would say it is more than accounting and reporting, it is about bringing about a change in thinking of the moral and legal rights in terms of the strategic directions to exist in a carbon constrained world – that is to manage the objectives of the change.  A Commonwealth Officer might say the extent to which an obligation requires management is highly dependent on the existing or proposed future need, and the management need is to present a number of risk of that that will be decided, or in turn generate obligations as a strategy. The later could be a recommendation to do nothing.  It gets down to the officer can say as no legal obligation exists, regardless of the evidence, we can do nothing until it requires management and the risks can in turn generate obligations for funds. Sounds familiar does it not!

Why funding as the trigger? It is the means of executive power.  What about the moral need to save the planet? The current trend is evaluations and the measure is the cost – benefit and reactions that convert into immediate comforts. Another issue is that we no longer learn by experiences, we are swayed by opinions and the need for immediate comforts.

If we concentrate this post on contamination of land, the decision-making, and factors of risk management, capability and efficiency of expenditure we can see an interesting overture of what is management. It we think of the range of historical uses for land that has resulted in a wide range of contaminates we can note examples of nuclear activities, military training, radio transmission, fire fighting, printing, fuel storage and numerous infrastructure responsible for hazardous materials. Then there is another problem where pre-existing contaminated sites are then used to add other contaminates with the justification it is already contaminated, so the risk is lower.  It might surprise you but in 2011 the Australian government audit of its properties found approximately 30% to have known contamination issues, and the remaining have issues yet to be identified. That is not a typo, it was written – yet to be identified, and much of the concern is waste dumping. If you wonder how many properties of concern in the audit, the Department of Finance and Deregulation’s 2011 Land Audit reported 1197 properties of which 355 are known and 842 are potential issues.

Asking the question on what is the legal obligation to act on the site, it was clear the Carbon manger and the government officer had a different management view. Yet, both claim a long term view. The former is the actions will ensure a long term benefit, the later saying funds would address the risks in the long run!

To analyse the obligations of the Commonwealth, there is no legal obligation to remediate because contamination is present..  The more likely driver is the presence of risks which can generate obligations to fund remediation. These risks can include:

  • Workplace, health and safety risks and associated legislative obligations;
  • Public safety risks and associated liability exposure;
  • Potential degradation of Commonwealth assets;
  • Ecological impacts; and
  • Off-site impacts beyond the boundary of Commonwealth Land.

The key to all above is the extent to which contamination requires management is highly dependent on the existing or proposed future use of the land. It is not the moral obligation to make it right.