Peak Oil in Tasmania

by Christine Materia

Tasmania, like the rest of the world, is facing ‘The Long Emergency’ – the greatest challenge that it is likely to ever face. Oil depletion is at the core of this challenge.

The hard cold truth is that Tasmania is part of the world and although we may produce plenty of hydro-electric power, hydro provides just one third of our direct energy consumption – oil and gas provide the rest. (We actually consume even more in embodied energy – particularly in the foods, fertilizers and all of the manufactured goods that we import.)

Each and every Tasmanian – young and old – consumes on average two tonnes of liquid fuel each year. We import over one billion litres each year and the cost of these imports comes to over 1 billion dollars annually.

In Tasmania, over 90% of all travel is made by car. Our freight & food supply systems are heavily dependent on oil. Transport and food represent most of Tasmanians’ weekly expenditures.

Our economy is also heavily reliant on imported oil. As petrol prices rise, transport costs for business will increase. So too will export costs. These costs will then hit consumers. Without support, sectors of our economy and society will face hard times.

Peak Oil will have profound implications across the board – in all sectors of the economy, for farmers, for fishermen, for tourist entrepreneurs, for transport planners, for local governments and for ordinary folk who just make a living and go to work.

How will our economy fare when oil prices go through the roof? How will we cope when the constant drip of oil disrupts our normal everyday lives? What lies in store for the next generation?

Tasmanians may feel safe and disconnected from the rest of the world, but we are locked into an oil-consuming culture that has reached a climax point and is going to radically change.

On the bright side, Tasmania is well resourced to develop liveable cities and towns and an economy that is much less dependent on dwindling oil supplies. But such a future is only possible if the Tasmanian government acts quickly.

The pages in this website will give you a feel for the challenges we all face and the urgency with which we, the Tasmanian people, should be addressing them. Most importantly, we hope they reach the ears of our political decision makers who have a duty of care to respond appropriately. Strong policies are needed that will build economic resilience and enable vulnerable Tasmanians to cope with sky rocketing fuel prices.

There are some great people in all parts of this island who have become awakened to these challenges and who are creatively changing their lives to meet them. Please do feel free to join with this great ‘living adventure’.

(Christine Materia has worked extensively with local government in Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria in the area of climate change, sustainability and natural resource management. She was responsible for establishing the Tasmanian Local Government Carbon Pollution Reduction Program, Tasmania being the first state or territory in Australia to have it’s councils undertake independent monitoring, benchmarking and reporting of their greenhouse gas emissions.)

3 Responses to Peak Oil in Tasmania

  1. Nicole Foss says:

    Hello Christina,

    I am a systems analyst and international lecturer working in peak oil and finance, and I will be lecturing in Hobert and Launceston on March 13th and 15th. It would be interesting to have a chat while I am in the neighbourhood.


    Nicole Foss (Stoneleigh)

  2. Craig says:

    Hi Christina,
    LGAT no longer appears to be resourced to support Local Government through the Tas LG Carbon Pollution Reduction Program. However, Meander Valley Council is continuing to work through the Environmental Action Plan that was developed as part of the Program; hopefully other councils are doing the same.
    Do you know if there is assistance for local governments undertaking they’re own emissions inventory?
    Cheers Craig

    • Chris Harries says:

      Hi Craig,

      I hope Christine sees your message but she no longer works at LGAT.
      When the national carbon price scheme comes into being this coming Sunday, take note that the Clean Energy Initiative (funded via the carbon tax fund) provides funding for local government abatement programs. The Tas Climate Change Office could provide the correct contact for you if you wished to investigate that program. I expect the funding is most relevant to councils that go beyond inventory and have energy savings initiatives for which they need support funding.

      With thanks, Chris Harries (web editor)

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