Is Climate Change a threat, opportunity or both?

Welcome to March 2023. In my last Blog post, I promised that I would expand upon the things that I am now doing, the first of which is not new at all, only more pressing.

In late 2018, I was asked by the then Minister for Environment and Water, the Honourable David Speirs MP to Chair the Premier’s Climate Change Council (PCCC) on behalf of the former State Government of South Australia. With a change of State Government in 2022, Deputy Premier and Minister for Climate, Environment and Water the Honourable Dr Susan Close MP invited me to continue to serve as Chair for the new Malinauskas Labor Government. South Australia has a history of bipartisanship on climate change, environment and sustainability; something to be proud of.

Climate change is a complex issue that has far-reaching implications for the planet, people and economy. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that the world is heading towards a catastrophic temperature increase of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, which will have severe consequences for biodiversity, food security, public health, and the global economy. It is therefore imperative that we all play our part to address climate change.

As Lord Mayor of Adelaide, I pursued a strong sustainability agenda ensuring that the City of Adelaide was a national leader in addressing climate change. In 2015, I launched Carbon Neutral Adelaide to reduce the city’s carbon emissions, introduced smart city initiatives such as LED street lighting, smart parking systems, electric vehicle charging stations and increased the city’s green spaces while preserving its biodiversity.

As a strong advocate for renewable energy, I supported the city’s programs to install solar panels on many public buildings and provide incentives for residential and commercial property owners and occupiers to do the same. Under my leadership, the city bikeway was upgraded and expanded, thousands of trees were planted and the Council partnered with the State Government on a number of climate and sustainability based innovations.

At the United Nations COP21 in Paris in December 2015, I delivered a speech at the Sustainable Innovation Forum and ratified the signing of the Compact of Mayors on behalf of the City of Adelaide. At the World Cities Summit in Singapore in 2018, I delivered a keynote speech on the inter-dependencies between green cities and liveable cities, with Adelaide as the case study.

Signing the Compact of Mayors at COP21 in Paris in December 2015
Signing the Compact of Mayors at COP21 in Paris in December 2015

Climate change – Threat, opportunity or both?

Addressing climate change is important for several reasons. Firstly, it’s essential to mitigate negative impacts on the environment as climate change is leading to more extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, and heatwaves. Climate change also threatens food security by reducing crop yields, degrading land, and increasing the risk of pests and diseases. Moreover, climate change exacerbates air pollution and poses a threat to public health, especially for vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children, and those with pre-existing health conditions.

Secondly, addressing climate change is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations. The SDGs are a global framework that seek to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure greater prosperity for all. Climate change impacts all SDGs, including poverty reduction, access to clean water, affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, for life below water and on land. Addressing climate change is therefore critical to achieving a sustainable and equitable future for everyone.

However, addressing climate change presents opportunities for the business community as the transition to a low-carbon economy requires new technologies, processes and business models which create new markets and industries. As companies take action to address climate change, they are likely to improve their reputation, enhance their brand value, and attract new customers who are increasingly environmentally conscious. Addressing climate change can also help companies reduce their operational costs by increasing energy efficiency and reducing waste.

Premier’s Climate Change Council

The Premier’s Climate Change Council is an independent body established by an Act of Parliament to provide advice to the State Government of South Australia on how to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Consisting of experts from backgrounds such as science, industry, conservation, local government and community, the Council’s main functions are to provide advice on how to meet South Australia’s emissions reduction targets, develop strategies to adapt to the impacts of climate change including extreme weather events, sea level rise and changing agricultural conditions. Overall, the Premier’s Climate Change Council plays an important role in guiding South Australia’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and build a more resilient and sustainable future.

Celebrating with the finalists of the Climate Awards 2022
Celebrating with the finalists of the Climate Awards 2022

Addressing climate change can help companies manage their risks and underwrite long-term profitability. The physical risks of climate change, such as extreme weather events, can disrupt supply chains, damage assets, and lead to financial losses. The transition risks of climate change, such as regulatory changes and market shifts, can affect the value of investments and the viability of business models. By taking action to address climate change, companies can reduce their exposure to these risks and ensure the long-term sustainability of their operations.

The business community has a vital role to play in the transition to a low-carbon economy and companies that take action to address climate change are more likely to prosper in the long run. It is therefore imperative that we all work together to address climate change and seize the opportunities that it presents. Thus, with the encouragement of Deputy Premier Dr Susan Close MP, the Premier’s Climate Change Council is partnering with the State Government to hold South Australia’s inaugural Industry Climate Change Conference.

South Australia’s Industry Climate Change Conference – 20th and 21st April 2023

Registrations are now open for the South Australian Government’s inaugural Industry Climate Change Conference on Thursday 20 April and Friday 21 April 2023.

This two-day conference at the Adelaide Convention Centre brings together business owners, business managers, State Government, Local Government, academia and industry to discuss, inform and inspire South Australia’s pathway toward net zero emissions.

For a strictly limited time, delegates can purchase two tickets for the price of one. Visit today for information and bookings.

I encourage you to register to attend this conference and to share this with your friends and colleagues.

South Australia’s inaugural Climate Change Conference, 20 and 21 April 2023
South Australia’s inaugural Climate Change Conference, 20 and 21 April 2023

With kind regards,

Martin Haese MBA

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