CREEL aims to engage in these legal matters with respect to contemporary developments and issues in Australia, Asia-Pacific, internationally, and in selected regions.
If adaptation is the attempt to manage the unavoidable, mitigation is trying to avoid the unmanageable. Any perceived gains of a slow societal response to climate change have to be weighed against the risks of severe or abrupt climate change. The precautionary principle, therefore, leads many researchers to recommend the development and adoption of measures that will help mitigate climate change.
One measure is to enhance the natural sequestration of carbon. Forests act as carbon stores, locking up their carbon and keeping it from being released into the atmosphere for decades or even centuries. Plants also absorb carbon dioxide by the constant process of photosynthesis. When reforestation - especially in tropical regions - expands the area or density of forests, these act as carbon sinks, soaking up carbon dioxide. The adoption of strategic fire management, such as conducting controlled burns early in the dry season, can reduce combustion of overall biomass, and carbon releases. It can also preserve valuable existing sequestration.
Soils also sequester carbon. This can be enhanced by farming practices like residue mulching, crop rotation, cover cropping, and no-till farming. The oceans also absorb carbon dioxide and store carbon in their biomass. The healthier our oceans the better they can function in this way. Some researchers are investigating the viability and safety of geo-engineering the oceans. Ocean nourishment is the purposeful introduction of nutrients, such as phosphate, while ocean fertilisation is the introduction of iron. Both are being considered as a way of increasing the marine food chain, thereby sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The buffering effects of natural sequestration need to be complemented by changes in human activities. Greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by innovation. Low carbon practices involve less carbon dioxide releases in the entire lifecycle of goods and services. For example, the development and adoption of hybrid-electric or fully-electric cars can reduce the emissions that would occur from the traditional engine. Another way to reduce emissions is to increase efficiency gains in otherwise carbon-intensive activities. For instance, car engines which can strategically switch off some of their cylinders can save petrol. Greater recycling of materials can help get the most out of the carbon that has already been put into the atmosphere in their production.
Many researchers are convinced that it will take the roll-out of genuinely renewable energy to achieve significant levels of mitigation. Currently available technologies include solar power, tidal and ocean energy, geothermal power, and wind power. More controversially, the nuclear reactor is perceived by some to be a cleaner, greener alternative to the coal-fired power station and, moreover, to be the best chance at seriously reducing coal use. Others favour the development of carbon sequestration technologies which might convert coal power stations into non-emitters.
Some nations are trying to reduce carbon emissions by manipulating the market mechanisms of supply and demand. This might involve issuing carbon credits in a capped emissions trading scheme, or it could take the form of a carbon tax. Most mitigation proposals require global fossil fuel production to reduce during the coming decades. But a growing global population and the planned economic growth of nations based on current carbon-intensive technologies are counter-productive to mitigation measures. Accordingly, some see the bottom-up influence of individuals and businesses changing their lifestyles and practices as a crucial factor in any effort to mitigate climate change.
Second Generation Biofuels Federal Funding: Biofuels from Micro Algae
Tree growth, biomass yield and resource use as affected by species, site factors and silvicultural system interactions
Prof Peter Singer - Climate Change as an Ethical Issue (ABC Radio National, Sustainable Living Foundation)
Climate Change Law: Australian and Overseas Developments - a blog by A/Prof Jacqueline Peel of CREEL
Overview of Bioenergy (Melbourne Energy Institute)
Carbohydrate Analytical Facility
Future Farm Industries CRC Research Program P3 New Woody Crop Industries