How Much To Fund Green Infrastructure & Stop Deforestation?
The Australian Green Infrastructure Council has been trying to put its green stamp on all major projects with a rating scheme which is ready to roll. It needs Government to officially nudge it along. Meanwhile, although no binding agreement had been reached at Copenhagen, one bright spot was the commitment by countries, including Australia, to devote billions of dollars to slow down deforestation, a major source of greenhouse gases.
The AUSTRALIAN Green Infrastructure Council has been trying to put a very green stamp of all major infrastructure in Australia for some time. It has a green infrastructure rating scheme ready to roll.
It needs Government endorsement and a pittance of Federal Government funding – $1.25 million – which is nothing when compared to the amount Governments (federal, state and local) spend on infrastructure projects in any year.
David Hood, Chairman of AGIC, is ever hopeful that green infrastructure will get the official boost it needs and with the presence of Minister of Infrastructure Anthony Albanese in Brisbane this week, there’s an added whiff of optimism in the steamy autumnal air.
It was way back in October last year when editor of WME Environment Business Magazine Richard Collins had this to say:
“I cannot for the life of me understand the hold up on funding the Australian Green Infrastructure Council and its new eco-rating scheme for new infrastructure. It is patently a good idea and, as reported last issue, needs just $1.25 million to become a reality. So will some mid-level staffer in some government, any government really, just reach into the petty cash jar for some lose change.”
In December 2009 The Australian ran a story by Cameron Cooper about AGIC and its plans:
As part of its efforts to formalise sustainability standards for infrastructure, AGICis developing the world’s first sustainability rating scheme. It sets performance benchmarks and rewards infrastructure projects and organisations that achieve high outcomes against these standards.
AGIC chief executive Doug Harland says the rating scheme will consider multiple assessment categories ranging from climate vulnerability, energy use, emissions and materials consumed to factors such as community amenity, safety and economic viability.
Harland says under the sustainable infrastructure definition, people “are starting to question the very nature of the infrastructure that is being built”.
For example, he notes that NASA scientists argue that no more coal-fired power stations should be built.
“Obviously, some people would like to shut them down tomorrow and that’sjust not an option,” Harland says. “We all need our fridges running. There has to be a practical transition.”
With an eye to the future, Harland believes society must consider infrastructure as a “whole of life” concept.
From the AGIC website is an outline of the rating scheme:
The AGIC Rating Scheme is a governance mechanism for the AGIC Rating Tool that:
• Registers and supports award applicants
• Provides the functions for independently verifying submitted applications • Recommends awards to the AGIC Board for ratification
• Provides an arm’s length mechanism for system verification and award/rating appeals that adds credibility to, and builds community confidence in, the rating scheme; and
• Issues awards.
The AGIC Rating Scheme covers the methodology required to secure a rating for a range of infrastructure projects including:
• Roads, rail, bridges and tunnels
• Ports, wharves or boating
• Airport airside facilities
• Distribution grids (pipes, poles, wires)
• Water or resource management
• Water infrastructure
• Waterway or foreshore management
Preparatory civil works for other types.
How much does it really cost to stop deforestation?
A UQ economics expert will help answer the complex question when he gives a public lecture at St Lucia later this month.
Dr Colin Hunt, a visiting fellow in the UQ School of Economics and a researcher on the economics of climate change, will present “The real costs of stopping deforestation” at 3pm on March 26.
Dr Hunt said although no binding agreement had been reached at the Copenhagen climate change conference in December, one bright spot was the agreement by countries including Australia to devote billions of dollars to slow down deforestation, a major source of greenhouse gases.
Last year Dr Hunt published a book on forests and climate change – Carbon sinks and climate change: forests in the fight against global warming. Prior to Copenhagen, he assisted the Papua New Guinean government on the costs and benefits of slowing down deforestation and helped devise its greenhouse policy.
“What is intriguing is the assumption by many researchers that it will be cheap to stop the clearing of tropical forests,” Dr Hunt said.
“This is because of a poor understanding of the multiple beneficiaries of logging, agricultural production and processing.”
Dr Hunt will present the methodology and the results of his research at the seminar to illustrate the economic and social costs of stopping deforestation in Papua New Guinea.
“Companies must be compensated for loss of profits, but so also must governments for loss of taxes. And then there are the working people who are expected to give up the income and employment opportunities of exploiting their forests. Such opportunities may be few in developing countries such as PNG.”
Dr Hunt will also discuss general problems of underestimating the cost of conservation initiatives, using the expansion of “no-take” zones in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park as an example.
“Inadequate compensation of stakeholders for their income lost can lead to a political backlash that threatens the whole conservation initiative,” he said.
“The real costs of stopping deforestation” takes place in room 103 in the Colin Clark Building (building 39) at 3pm on March 26. All are welcome.
Media: Dr Hunt (07 3349 3017, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Cameron Pegg at UQ Communications (07 3365 2049, email@example.com)