A plan to revolutionise the economy and save the planet has finally been released after months of work.
The Grampians New Energy Taskforce's Roadmap to Zero Emissions document states that reducing and balancing carbon emissions can be achieved before 2050, if collaborative action is taken now.
From local actions individual councils and businesses can take in the short term, to structural changes requiring input from state and federal governments, the report explains how measures like transitioning to electric vehicle fleets or investing in renewable energy and batteries will bring the Grampians to a net zero emissions target.
READ MORE: What's the deal with net zero emissions?
Stakeholders in GNeT include councils from Moorabool to the border, the state government's Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning, and Regional Development Victoria, the federal Regional Development Australia, and local bodies like the Committee for Ballarat and Wimmera Progress Association.
The report was developed with Beyond Zero Emissions, and is the first to target a specific region instead of a country or state.
GNeT chair Stuart Benjamin said analysis of the data revealed agriculture, as well as being an incredibly valuable industry for the region, was both the highest emitter of carbon, but also the "hero of the story".
"Not only can (agriculture) get to the point where it is zero emissions, it can actually become a negative emitter and help other sectors of the economy that may not be able to get to zero by 2050," he said.
"As optimistic as we are about transport, about that becoming electrified or or the possibility hydrogen becoming a viable transport fuel, we still don't think that transport will get to zero by 2050, which means it is going to need the contribution of other sectors to do that."
The report suggests mosaic farming - given predicted weather changes, GNeT is advocating farmers consider following CSIRO advice and "a more selective and responsive use of the land, in all its variety".
That includes planting more trees and shrubs on otherwise unproductive land, which could act as carbon sinks while providing other benefits.
"Mosaic farming is really interesting because it's really no different to the way good farmers have been operating for the past 50 or 60 years, they're rotating crops, they're looking at new opportunities," Mr Benjamin said.
"If you speak to any farmer, they'll tell you they're not farming the same way they were five years ago, let alone 20 years ago, they're constantly reinventing their business model.
"Where mosaic takes it to the next level is saying we need to do that on a regional basis, and we need farmers and neighbours working together to take advantage of those opportunities - it needs to be collaborative and at a larger scale.
"Victoria produces 40 per cent of the agricultural wealth of Australia, and there's absolutely no reason why in the foreseeable future we couldn't maintain that but potentially increase that value-add."
The most exciting part of the Roadmap is its prediction that the region could be carbon neutral by 2044, Mr Benjamin added.
"The reality is, I can't really tell you what a lot of businesses will look like in five years time, let alone in 2050, but I can tell you that the sectors are largely going to remain the same, because agriculture is still going to exist, transport is still going to exist," he said.
"So if we say we know what those sectors are emitting now, and we need to get them to zero, then here are some of the ways we can do it.
"If we work collaboratively, we can get to zero not by 2050, but by 2044, potentially sooner, and that's pretty exciting, and it's a tremendous opportunity for the Grampians."
Councils are already looking at how to "bake in" the roadmap for their forward plans, and Mr Benjamin said businesses should be considering it as well, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.
"There's not a business in Australia, or the world - though let's talk Grampians - that isn't thinking 'what is my new business model moving forward, what does my business look like in five or 10 years time?'" he said.
"We'd like to think that as part of that, people are thinking what's the environmental impact, and we've produced a document saying here are the things you need to think about and the changes you need to be making.
"Some of those changes could be in 20 years, but that doesn't mean you need to wait to do it - it may not be economically feasible at this point to change your trucks to electric vehicles, but in your forward capital program, in five years time when you're replacing your current fleet, that's something you need to be thinking about, and that's quite an exciting situation to be in."
The full report is available online and below.
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