The Australian National Outlook 2019 (ANO), a new report from the CSIRO, NAB and more than 20 partners, states Australia could face a “slow decline” if significant action is not taken on environmental challenges.

But, according to the ANO, if these challenges are tackled head on, then Australia could look forward to a positive outlook vision, with strong economic growth, net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, affordable energy, and more liveable major cities.

ANO 2019 draws on the latest scientific data and modelling from leading experts at CSIRO and input from more than 50 senior leaders from across industry, non-profit and university sectors.

Among the recommendations in the report, the authors are calling for a considerable energy shift, where the industry and consumers work to adopt low-emissions technologies in electricity and transport, triple energy productivity, and pursue opportunities for low-emissions energy export.

CSIRO Chief Executive, Larry Marshall, said, “The ANO is a unique way of uniting the power of science with the lived and hoped-for experiences of Australia’s industry leaders and chart a path to prosperity that gives all Australians a better quality of life.

“To put Australia on the path to the most prosperous future though requires a new way of thinking and a new type of leadership which cuts across all walks of life in our great country.”

NAB Chief Customer Officer Business and Private Banking, Anthony Healy, said Australia’s largest businesses have a responsibility to make decisions that create a better and stronger nation, to take a long-term view and invest now for a better future.

“A key outcome of the ANO 2019 must be leadership and action. NAB will be making commitments to drive positive change that helps customers take advantage of new opportunities and encourages growth in Australia.”

The report outlines some of the outcomes Australia might enjoy if we adopt the positive outlook vision future by 2060, which include:

  • Our living standards – as measured by GDP per capita – could be as much as 36 per cent higher in the Outlook Vision compared with the Slow Decline scenario
  • Average real wages (adjusted for inflation) could be 90 per cent higher than today
  • Passenger vehicle travel per capita could decline by up to 45 per cent in our major cities, with more people living closer to work, school, services and recreation
  • Household spending on electricity – relative to incomes – could decrease by up to 64 per cent
  • Greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced to “net zero” by 2050

In addition, the report identifies five key shifts needed to achieve the positive outlook vision:

  • Industry shift – boost productivity in established industries, prepare the workforce for the jobs of the future, and invest in innovative, high-growth industries
  • Urban shift – increase the density of our major cities, create a wider mix of housing options, and improve transportation infrastructure
  • Energy shift – adopt low-emissions technologies in electricity and transport, triple energy productivity, and pursue opportunities for low-emissions energy export
  • Land shift – invest in food and fibre industries, find new and profitable ways to use our land, and build resilience to climate change
  • Culture shift – restore the trust in institutions, companies and politics.

To help solve the challenges raised in the report, ANO participants will shortly announce commitments to support the outlook vision.

CSIRO Futures Director, James Deverell, said “We hope the ANO 2019 serves as a clarion call for Australia.

“We believe the positive outcomes in this report are all achievable, but they will require bold, concerted action and long-term thinking.

“Emerging technologies will play a key role and Australian companies need to be aware of both the opportunities and challenges they will create.”

This is the second Australian National Outlook report.

The first report in 2015 focused on the water-energy-food nexus, and prospects for Australia’s energy, agriculture, and other material intensive industries.

The report was nominated for a Eureka Science Award and published in the journal Nature.

The Australian National Outlook 2019 and the Technical Report can be found here.

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