A ground breaking report has found that Australia is well placed to secure prosperity over the coming decades despite the challenges of an uncertain and possible resource constrained future.
[Music plays and model clocks, question marks and heads pan up the screen and then the image changes to show a model calendar turning the pages and text appears on the pages as they turn: Today, 2020, 2025, 2030, 2035, 2040, 2050]
Narrator: The choices we make today determine the future of Australia.
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With robust projections of the choices that lie ahead we can ensure a bright future and help prevent the loss of things we value most.
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Most predictive models and forecasts of the future have a specific focus.
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They don’t see the bigger integrated picture of our future that we need in order to choose well.
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This is why the Australian National Outlook applies not one but nine of the world’s leading economic and environmental models.
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It employees the expertise and insight of over 40 scientific researchers with a wealth of international research to create a detailed integrated evidence based map of Australia’s possible futures.
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The National Outlook charts key global and uniquely Australian drivers that shape 20 possible pathways that Australians may need to navigate over the next 35 years.
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It assesses the impact of these possible futures on energy, food and water supplies and analyses the prospects for our most material and energy intensive industries.
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Most of us already know that the world’s population is growing from seven to nine billion people in the next 35 years.
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This growth includes a tripling of the world’s middle classes from one to three billion and with it the larger consumer demand for all the resources needed to furnish this increased standard of living.
[Image appears of a circle and text appears within the circle: Energy Demand Supply and Assets, Water Demand Supply and Assets, Food Demand Supply and Assets and then text appears in the centre of the circle: People, Landscapes and Ecosystems]
The management and use of energy food and water needed for this expansion are deeply interrelated and impact upon people industries, landscapes and ecosystems.
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The National Outlook’s future scenarios show that with a strengthened growing role of innovation and new technology, Australia’s economy can continue to grow and our living standards improve with only minor impacts on the environment and some improvements but only if we make the right choices today and only if we increase innovative technologies.
Whilst this is good news, not all the possible future paths would take us there.
[Camera zooms out to show the four doors within a thought bubble and a person appears and then the camera zooms out again to show ten people with the thought bubble and then the image changes and the screen moves to the left displaying ten people inside a pie graph on the left hand side and the Energy, Food and Water circle on the right hand side with People Landscapes and Ecosystems at the centre of the circle]
The choices we make as individuals are important but the choices we make collectively are even more important and responsible for up to 90% of the impact of how we manage energy, food and water including impacts on people, landscapes and ecosystems.
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The stage has been set for a national discussion about the kind of future that would best serve all Australians and the choices that we’ll need to make to get us there.
[Image changes and the camera zooms in on a compass which eventually resolves into the CSIRO logo and text appears: Australian National Outlook, www.csiro.au/nationaloutlook]
CSIRO’s Australian National Outlook helps navigate the future so that we can enhance Australia’s long term prosperity.
However this prosperity is not a given - instead Australia’s future will be shaped by innovation and technology uptake and the choices we make as a society will be paramount.
The Australian National Outlook, released today, is the most comprehensive quantitative analysis yet of the interactions between economic growth, water-energy-food use, environmental outcomes and living standards in Australia.
CSIRO Executive Director Dr Alex Wonhas said National Outlook focused on the ‘physical economy’ that contributes to about 75 per cent of natural resource use and produces about 25 per cent of Australia’s GDP.
“The National Outlook is a first attempt to understand and analyse the connections in Australia’s physical environment many decades into the future,” Dr Wonhas said.
“It has a particular focus on understanding two aspects: The ‘water- energy-food nexus’ and the prospects for Australia’s materials- and energy-intensive industries.”
National Outlook finds a number of key insights and potential opportunities across the Australian economy.
“For example, we find strong growth prospects for Australia’s agri-food production, which are forecast to increase at least 50 per cent by 2050, provided long term productivity improvements can be maintained in line with historical rates,” Dr Wonhas said.
“There’s also the possibility of a win-win for farmers with potential growth in agri-food exports and new income sources for rural landholders through carbon farming on less productive land.”
National Outlook also finds as Australia’s population grows, so too does water demand.
“Despite projections of a doubling of our water use, Australia could meet this growth as well as enhance urban water security and avoid increased environmental pressures through increased water recycling, desalination and integrated catchment management,” Dr Wonhas said.
The results of CSIRO’s first National Outlook show that energy and other resources could remain a pillar of the Australian economy well into the future, and that energy intensive industries could be well positioned to continue to grow, even in scenarios where the world is taking global action to significantly limit greenhouse gas emissions.
“The key to this success will be innovation and application of smart technologies,” Dr Wonhas said.
“We hope the National Outlook will help Australia chart its future in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.”
The National Outlook explores over 20 possible futures for Australia out to 2050 against the backdrop of the past 40 years.
The work was undertaken by a team of 40 CSIRO experts and university collaborators, and draws extensively on observed data and analysis.
It utilises a world-class suite of nine linked models, includes input from more than 80 experts and stakeholders from over ten organisations, and has undergone rigorous international peer review.
National Outlook is underpinned by more than 10 journal papers including a Nature paper published today. The report is available at Australian National Outlook
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