Australia, From the magazine, Oil, gas and energy

Prioritising health in a post-COVID climate

by Sophie Venz, Assistant Editor, Great Southern Press

Australia has committed to the Paris agreement with its climate change target being a reduction in national emissions by 26–28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030. Through direct action policies that reduce emissions, increase energy productivity and improve the health of the environment, the Federal Government says the nation is on track to meet its 2030 target.

Trenchless technology tackles the target

Trenchless technology, when compared to open cut methods of excavation and construction, eliminates the need to remove and then replace large sections of material aboveground, saving a considerable amount of time, manpower and – most topical of all – energy.

The March edition of Trenchless Australasia featured a thorough look at how trenchless companies can drill down on their operational emissions, with the article discussing how companies that have not adjusted their operations to prioritise a cleaner future are often on the wrong end of public sentiment.

Because of such public pressure, major projects – such as the Metro Tunnel project in Melbourne, Victoria – are monitoring, managing and mitigating the emissions produced by construction works in accordance with international, Commonwealth and state-specific legislation, objectives and requirements.

However, these changes are not only being enforced by construction projects and their contractors.

Across the Australasian region, utilities, corporations, associations and societies are putting forward their objectives to work towards net-zero emissions. For example, global fuel additive company Cataclean’s aim is to drive down carbon emissions, with Director Jason Sharman saying mining and infrastructure industries amount to approximately 25 per cent of the world’s carbon pollution.

“While heavy machinery is working hard output is high in both emissions and fuel consumption. Cataclean can reduce both of these environmental dangers, save money and [help] with the ever-increasing demand on companies to reduce emissions,” he says.

Additionally, speaking on behalf of the ASTT about the currently in-development Carbon Calculator, Mott MacDonald Water Sector Lead New Zealand Thomas Haarhoff says “reducing carbon emissions has almost become a moral obligation,” rather than simply an option.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, this push for a cleaner future does not solely involve the benefits to counteracting climate change and the health of environment but the health of the population itself.

Creating a climate of health

Although the health benefits of a low-carbon world are currently topical, it is not a new phenomenon. In 2012, a Health and Environment Alliance report stated climate change and human health are deeply intertwined, which should be considered when new policies are developed.

“Moving to a low carbon economy will be associated with substantial health benefits,” says the report.

“These health benefits have a substantial economic impact everywhere, including in industrialised countries.”

While there are many health concerns associated with the human consumption of carbon emissions, notable occurrences include increasing air pollution levels that will lead to more widespread diseases, more cases of respiratory illnesses such as asthma and, ultimately, a higher fatality rate.

Counteracting these issues with low carbon emission solutions would benefit both humans and the environment, and help prevent a future wear protective masks are necessary to combat both contagious viruses and the air itself.

Change for change

‘Population health’ stems even further than the physical wellbeing of individuals and extends to the economy as well. Australia’s economy – like many others across the globe – has been severely affected by COVID-19; however, reducing emissions may be able to play a helping hand in bringing some much-needed pocket-change into Australia’s finances.

In 2019, the Melbourne Sustainable Societies Institute at the University of Melbourne released a report that found the nation would spend AU$535 billion on economic damage alone within the next decade if emissions continue at the current rate.

This means, by reducing carbon emissions and curbing the impact of damaging climate actions, the Australian economy would be AU$550 billion better off by 2030.

“Overall, the costs of emissions reduction are far less than the damages of inaction – even with modelling underestimating damages from climate change and overestimating the costs of emissions reduction,” the report says.

The reports authors Tom Kompas, Marcia Keegan and Ellen Witte find the change would present Australia with a sound economic development, where “the economic benefits of a transition to a clean economy easily outweigh the costs”.

Whether a company’s desire is to reduce its carbon emissions for the sake of counteracting climate change, preventing further illnesses from spreading to the population or to assist with economic recovery, it is clear the benefits of a low carbon economy can provide a brighter global future.

This article was featured in the September 2020 edition of Trenchless Australasia. To view the magazine on your PC, Mac, tablet or mobile device, click here.

If you have news you would like featured in Trenchless Australasia contact Assistant Editor Sophie Venz at

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