TECHNOLOGY offers new ways to avert a climate catastrophe, argues former Australian of the Year Professor Tim Flannery in his new book, Atmosphere of Hope.
In Adelaide to launch University College London’s report “Climate Crisis: Emergency Actions to Protect Human Health”, the scientist has given the first glimpse of his latest title.
“People think at the moment it’s all about emissions abatement and clean energy, which is a big part of the solution but it’s not going to be enough,” he said.
“We have to acknowledge that I think and start investing in R&D now for the new technologies that we really need 10, 20, 30 years from now.”
He told The Advertiser there was a “third way” to fix the climate problem.
“Third Way technologies are all about drawing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and then either storing it or doing something useful with it,” he said.
“There’s a whole series of things, from carbon-negative cement, to biochar, to making plastics from CO2 in the atmosphere – a range of exciting options.”
Our state stands to benefit from this new wave of technological innovation. Someone will be making lots of money in coming decades; it might as well be us.
“There’s a few tiny companies around the world detailed in the book that are experimenting with this in one way or another but it’s an open field at the moment, it really is,” Professor Flannery said.
“Whoever jumps in first is going to be very well positioned hopefully to take advantage of changes in the future. Some of the industries are trillion dollar a year industries, just massive. Cement making is a good example.”
And it makes perfect sense for a state in search of new industry, with abundant wind and solar resources.
“There’s no better state to do it in, because South Australia really has done so well out of the renewable energy initiatives,” Professor Flannery said.
“You might say let’s start laying the ground now, so our state can benefit.”
A decade has passed since the former SA Museum director published the international bestseller The Weather Makers but little has changed.
The planet is still headed for a climate crisis, unless we get smart, fast, he said.
“It’s going to be very difficult now to stay within a two degree safety rail with climate change,” Professor Flannery said. “We need to draw CO2 out of the atmosphere at a fairly gargantuan scale.”
Now at the University of Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, Professor Flannery is keen to “refocus the public’s mind” on solutions to climate problems.