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Reducing Energy Consumption – Increasing Conservation Action
A recent visit from a retired top UK scientist reminded me to look at trends and what they can tell us.
John Allen returned to Crystal Creek Meadows three years after planting his River Peppermint seedling (15 cm) to be amazed that it had grown 4 metres in the intervening time. That’s a 266% growth. Such positive outcomes are wonderful experiences for returning guests who can build a strong bond with the destination and draw from the results of their action (he has now planted seven She-oaks as a memory for his nieces).
Interestingly John was a leading British Government scientist during the 1970-80s and a negotiator at the Geneva Convention to establish a framework to reduce air pollution and acid deposition to control acid rain (caused in part by burning fossil fuels and the subsequent sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions - mainly from electricity generation). “At the convention I added the recommendation that we needed to reduce energy consumption. At the time there were very few scientist considering energy reduction, while today there are a much larger number of scientists advising the UN on energy reduction,” recalls John.
This change in attention to reducing consumption is essential as trends data shows.Energy consumption in Australia has greatly increased from the time of acid rain negotiation. Residential energy consumption has risen 57% since the 1970s to 426 PJ (1 million tonnes of oil = 41,868 PJ [pela joule]), electricity generation has climbed 326% to 1,760 PJ (figures compare 1974-5 with 2007-8). So industry and residential consumption of energy is raising despite new energy efficient technologies. As John had originally recommended we should look at energy reduction ( particularly because 76% of Australia’s electricity is generated by coal). If we are to protect the natural environment (a key tourism asset) then we must urgently reverse the long term trend. The trend in energy generated from renewables has only increased 10% since 1990-1 and accounts for just 5% to Australia’s energy consumption. It therefore represents an opportunity for growth
Tourism can play its part in reducing energy consumption by becoming a co-producer of renewable energy and encouraging guests to use less. For example Crystal Creek Meadows in Kangaroo Valley has a 6 kwh solar farm, 500 tree firewood plantation, buys 100% Green Energy and operates an E10 fuel policy.
It is important that we recognise that reversing the negative trend in energy and electricity consumption will not be achieved solely through eco saving technologies. The combination of using less, promoting renewable energy and increasing conservation (e.g. tree planting) will help build guests' positive thinking about the future, an important step in initiating change and help tourism cut consumption and keep costs down.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013)
Energy in Australia 2010 - Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (2010)