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If politicians adopted a systems-thinking approach, would Australia's energy policy still be a mess?

What would effective leadership on energy look like? It might look like politicians talking less, and observing and listening to people more. They'd hear Australians asking for large-scale energy transitions, and see us taking our own forms of action as we install rooftop solar at record rates. They'd tap into the depth of knowledge that subject matter experts, Australian scientists, offer.

If our politicians took a systems-thinking approach, they might stop obsessing over today's opinion poll, and start growing tomorrow's gardens. They might begin by studying the interconnectedness of social, ecological and economic systems, and appreciate that an energy policy cannot be extracted from their policies of education, immigration, employment, housing, or health. They might start taking a long-term view, just as big business are doing, because they realise that working towards low-carbon economies is a long-term investment strategy.

Effective leaders would take a strong interest in clean-energy innovations and technologies. They would support this R&D activity without demanding 'return on investment' guarantees, just to see how systems-change emerges.

The leaders we envision would bring interest groups together  citizens, scientists, businesses, startups, economists  in order to co-design compelling visions of net-positive energy lifestyles for 2035 that would give us all something to work towards. Then, at least we'd have a common goal and different ideas for how to get there.

— the PG team

First, some good news

Recommended by Jess Allison Like many of you, we read the IPCC report. Like probably all of you, we found it harrowing. But we also see hope in the fact that so many governments are taking serious action. Since we can't opt out of the challenge ahead, there's nothing to be gained from pessimism.

For a clear-eyed picture of both the battle ahead and the reasons for hope, check out Future Crunch's deep dive.

Carbon dividends: an emissions tax that's guaranteed to be popular

Recommended by Priscilla Hough-Davies
The idea is fairly straightforward. Institute a carbon tax and give all revenue from it back to citizens. You get alleviation of poverty, economic stimulus (because much of the money given to citizens would be put directly back into the economy through spending), bipartisan voter support and a cost-effective way of reducing emissions.

And in the US at least, major corporations like General Motors and PepsiCo support a carbon dividends program.

This isn't the only approach that could work. But it's the kind of bold idea we want to see more of (and see implemented).
Technology alone won't save us, but it is pretty cool
Recommended by McKinley Valentine
There's no silver tech bullet that's going to let us keep consuming at the same rate without making any sacrifices or major structural changes. But tech still has a role to play, from batteries that keep the flow of wind power reliable, to perovskite crystal solar cells.

Automated drones are being used to inspect offshore wind farms in the UK for any maintenance issues. Since it's not that easy to personally inspect a turbine that rises 80 metres out of the sea, this is a huge cost saving, and cuts turbine offline time from 2 hours to 20 minutes.

And in Bangkok (and other places), residents and business owners are using the blockchain to trade renewable energy peer-to-peer, cutting out the middleman.

As far as carbon sequestration goes though, the most effective technology we have is still a forest.

The biggest ways to reduce climate change might surprise you

Recommended by Priscilla Hough-Davies

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming is a data-driven analysis of the effectiveness of various climate change interventions. Reducing food waste and switching to a mostly plant-based diet are in the top 10, as you might expect, as is refrigerant management, which you might not.

But the biggest 'obvious when you think about it' takeaway for us was the effect that educating girls has on climate change. It's well established that educating girls lowers the birthrate substantially, and of course there is very little you can do at an individual level that has a bigger carbon footprint than having a child. Educating girls and family planning together would have a bigger impact than the total gains from on and offshore wind processing.

Read an interview with the authors.
Thanks to electric cars, cities are getting quieter
Recommended by Kate Goodwin

Shenzhen, a megacity just north of Hong Kong, is home to the highest concentration of tech entrepreneurs, hackers and makers in the world. Due to its status as a 'special economic zone', it was also home to 'cars, highways, delivery trucks, sirens, buses, factories, power plants, shipping facilities, trains, and innumerable motorbikes', creating a 24/7 cacophony. But the future has always arrived a little earlier in Shenzhen, and the future is electric vehicles. And electric vehicles are quiet.

There is a strange sort of positivity in knowing that things cannot keep going as they are. They may get a lot worse. But if they don't if governments take the regulatory actions needed to save the planet then we are going to have quieter cities, greater gender equality, cleaner air, cheaper electricity, better public transport systems and maybe even rental properties with decent insulation.

Innovation in Not-for-profit: 'Pragmatic design' in the social sector
This quarterly meetup is for anyone keen to promote innovation in the social sector and share practical lessons with those in similar roles. In this first session, join speakers from Mission Australia, The Smith Family, Australian Red Cross and Paper Giant in a discussion on 'pragmatic design' - or, how much can you compromise on good design before it becomes bad design?
October 30, Melbourne
Event details

Radical Plays workshop
This is a two-day workshop on using game design (and play) to tackle organisation and community challenges. It will be very hands-on – a combination of playing different types of games and discussing with peers how to adapt them to different challenges. Participants will walk away with new activities, resources and a summary of all the games in the workshop.
October 30 & 31, Melbourne
Event details and booking

The Australian Loneliness Dialogue
Australia's first national conference on loneliness: breaking the stigma of a hidden suffering. Participants will work together to understand loneliness in our communities, raise the profile of this issue across sectors as well as the media and develop recommendations for actions required by government, policy makers and practitioners.
November 13, Melbourne
Registration and program

Workshop: 'Make Meaningful Work' to build great team cultures
This workshop will help teams spend more time on meaningful work, on projects where people's skills and practice strengths are working well together and individuals are able to learn, improve and thrive. Especially for those who've struggled to find time for reflection, practice and learning outside of the project deliverables and the pace of day-to-day work.
November 22, Melbourne
Workshop details and tickets

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