A comprehensive climate policy is urgently needed to outline how the Northern Territory will reduce emissions, provide certainty for business and the economy, and to plan for how urban and remote NT communities can adjust to a warming world.
The Northern Territory is especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change with a predicted increase in extreme heat days (over 35 degrees Celsius), an increase in the severity of extreme weather events, changes to water availability, and an increase in the rate of sea-level rise and number of extreme sea-level events. CSIRO modelling estimates that without climate action the number of days above 35 degrees in Darwin could increase from 22.2 days to 275 days per year in 2070.
The Northern Territory is already being impacted with increased temperatures, the loss of large swathes of mangroves across the Top End, coral reef bleaching, increased weed spread and changing seasons. Unfortunately Northern Territory emissions are continuing to rise and will rise exponentially with opening the Territory up to fracking.
The Northern Territory Government’s recently released Climate Change Response: Towards 2050 is welcome but lacks detail about how the Territory will reduce emissions and even proposes an increase in carbon emissions over the next ten years.
Public submissions to the Climate Change Response are now closed however please email NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner directly firstname.lastname@example.org with your concerns.
Read the ECNT submission here
The ECNT acknowledges that the Climate Change Response is a positive first step by the NT Government and the proposal to develop a ‘Solar and Renewable Hydrogen Strategy’ and the growth of a renewable based economy provides an extraordinary opportunity for economic growth, local jobs, new industries and a viable alternative to new fossil fuel developments for the Northern Territory.
It is imperative that the NTG develops a detailed plan to achieve rapid emissions reductions to avoid the worst climate impacts, support people and businesses to adapt, build community resilience, and ensure everyone in our community has the opportunity to participate in and benefit from the transition to a zero emissions economy. This plan should include robust adaptation strategies to address the changes already impacting the NT.
The disproportionate effect that both the causes and impacts of climate change are having on Aboriginal land, culture and communities must be acknowledged. Justice for Aboriginal people and respect for First Nations’ knowledge must form a central part of our response to climate change in the Northern Territory.
THE ECNT is calling on the Northern Territory Government to commit to:
- Within the next six months, legislate targets of 100 per cent renewables by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050, supported by interim targets and clear action plans, with strong accountability mechanisms to achieve rapid decarbonisation across all industries and sectors. This response must lead to the development of a Climate Change Act for the NT to guarantee progress beyond election cycles.
- Develop and implement time-bound and measurable climate change and GHG emissions related management actions related to the above targets and in doing so enable long-term sustainable development in the NT.
- A permanent ban on fracking, recognising that the industry is incompatible with a safe climate future and will undermine the Government’s positive steps towards clean energy transition.
- Immediately lead the way with the reduction in emissions from Government operations, and embedding the consideration of climate change impacts and adaptation needs into government decision-making, including all policy, budget, procurement and capital works decisions.
- Implement an equitable clean energy and low-carbon growth strategy: ensuring all Territorians have the opportunity to share in theeconomic benefits of transition.This includes ensuring jobs and income from new large-scale renewables projects flow to local communities, providingopportunities for community-owned and operated energy projects, and supportingworkforce development in ecologically sustainable industries.
- Supporting communities to lead their own solutions. This requires listening to communities to understand how they are experiencing climate change, recognising traditional knowledge, ensuring the climate change response is informed by the experience and expertise of local communities, and resourcing locally-driven solutions.
- Adaptation planning, in partnership with communities, to address the unavoidable impacts of climate change that are already affectingour communities, including extreme heat, drought and more extreme weather events like cyclones and bushfires, prioritising planning with remote Aboriginal communities who are experiencing the impacts first and worst.
- Develop a comprehensive climate justice strategy within the policy to ensure integration of health, housing and employment are also considered as climate adaptation strategies.
- Acknowledging that deforestation is a significant source of GHG emissions in the Northern Territory. All land clearing applications must be assessed for their total greenhouse emissions and be required to offset those using accredited carbon offsets.
- Develop programs to incentivise energy efficiency investment, particularly for large energy consumers.Implement policies for energy performance improvement across all NTG operations. Energy efficiency provides the most cost-effective measures for emissions reduction and is therefore a crucial element of any net-zero emissions strategy.
- Legislate land management and development approval policies to protects and manages risks to land-based carbon sequestration and carbon offset programs. This should include protecting, enhancing and restoring old growth forests, riparian vegetation, ‘blue’ carbon sinks such as mangrove forests and sea grass beds all of which are natural carbon sinks .
- Develop a strategy to maintain and restore biodiversity across through NT in response to the major biodiversity risks posed by climate change. This could include revisiting the Territory Eco Link policy to protect land that will be important for strengthening adaptive capacity as habitat areas shift due to global heating.
- Implement a permanent ban on seabed mining. Sediments on the sea floor act as a major carbon sink. Seabed mining will resuspend sediments and release stored carbon.
- Build and maintain collaborative relationships across all NTG agencies and with NGO’s, researchers and the public that are underpinned by transparency, regular consultation and accountability for all parties. This should include working with other jurisdictions that already have climate change related polices and guidelines in place. NTG should fund this collaboration.
- Ensure that climate change legalisation, policy and management plans inform and guide existing related NTG policy e.g. the Environmental Protection Act; Land Clearing Guidelines, Offsets Policy etc
- Fund long term research partnerships throughout the NT to develop accessible and up to date robust climate change data to support industry and community to adapt to the projected changes.
- Commit to developing a comprehensive strategy to address the role of water quality and supply in improving resilience and adaptive capacity, including investigating solutions to the most pressing issues of water security for remote communities.