Imagine the future: Australia in 2030, part 7

© Climate and Health Alliance 2021; Australia in 2030: Possible Alternative Futures

Scenario 5 Integrated

Bringing Together The Best Of All Worlds

‘A’ for Australia on sustainable development scorecard

Aussie leaders earn standing ovation at global summit

Litany                   Anything is possible/dream big

Metaphor             = (equal symbol) / weaving comprised of many different textiles, colours, thicknesses etc – together creating a beautiful new fabric

Motto                   Can do/Aim high and allow for gravity

Indicators             Australia’s Prime Minister is female, Indigenous, inspirational

Australia’s implementation of a bold new strategy for the future emerges this decade through hardship, deep self-reflection and a generous serve of resilience. Amongst the rich diversity of people who call Australia home, we depoliticise the issues by recognising the most powerful of uniting principles: We are all human.

We find common ground

In a bold response to the rapid-fire shocks of environmental disaster, a global pandemic, hostile geo-political realignment, social unrest, economic collapse and the rise of military intervention, Australians say ‘enough’. Led by newly emerging political and business leaders who directly challenge toxic sniping between political parties and states, a relieved Australia rediscovers its resourcefulness, inventiveness, great humour in the face of great challenge and commitment to a fair go for all. These qualities ‘serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills’.

The now ratified Uluru Statement captures what has become a nationally accepted mantra – let’s walk together into a better future for us all.

We begin acknowledging our wrongs

When we look into our nation’s heart to ask how we can unite and move forward, our first step is obvious: Australia officially recognises First Nations’ sovereignty and offers recompense for past injustices toward Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Land tenure and water rights reforms recognise Indigenous autonomy. There is strong progress towards closing the gap. There is a palpable shift in our willingness to acknowledge the significant lessons to be learned from the world’s oldest continuous culture. Indigenous leaders are now represented at every level of government and are in lead positions in land management. Indigenous voices and knowledge systems guide holistic solutions as with the incorporation of Indigenous approaches to environmental management and business development.

We design a sustainable future

Acknowledging the connection between environmental and human health, COVID-19 recovery spending in green growth provides lasting economic value, cutting emissions and improving people’s lives. Federal Government legislates the right to a clean and healthy environment through strengthened environmental protections. Early signs of biodiversity recovery across several Australian ecosystems include the re-emergence of brush tailed bettong populations in SA, WA and Vic.

Progressive taxation, along with cracking down on corporate and high-net worth tax avoidance, capping resource use, and legislating against planned obsolescence all contribute to a vastly more equitable economic system. There is a rise in the importance of cooperatives and communal ownership, and a massive investment in infrastructure commons (both physical and digital).

We commit to staying the course

Accepting the failure of short-termism policy, governments gain momentum in planning for the long-term. We begin the shift towards nested governance, and free, transparent flows of information. Indigenous Australians and young people engaging in community-led reform gives rise to the emergence of trusted voices and new leaders emerge.

Progress is neither perfect nor instant. However, lobbyist influence has weakened significantly and Federal and state governments (and a determined crossbench) stay the course. Major reforms are widely supported by a progressive private sector and self-organising communities who are finding their own solutions to emergencies and social challenges (as seen with the proliferation of renewable power schemes in small towns).

We discover true progress

A year after Federal Parliament passes the Climate Emergency Act in 2023, it enshrines net zero emissions by 2050 into law. An unprecedented economic, social and political corner is turned.

Roadmaps in the form of legislation, regulations and rapid action plans (RAPs) for key sectors are helping Australia transition away from fossil- fuels, cut waste and use natural resources more sustainably. In 2030 we’ve surpassed our decarbonisation target, reducing emissions by 45% since 2020.

In addition to mitigation actions, we draw on the skills of scientists and other experts to better plan for inevitable climate and public health challenges ahead. At the start of the decade, investors had already begun divesting from fossil fuels but our carbon-driven market suffered its fatal shock following a surge in stranded assets, legal actions arising from poor climate disclosure and the global transition to a low carbon economy.

Inspired by Europe’s Green Deal of 2019, Australia develops a new strategy that leads us into sustainable progress, way beyond GDP.

It directly prioritises the decoupling of economic growth from use of resources, turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities across all policy areas and making the transition just and inclusive. Vulnerable groups and regions are supported by the Fair Go For All Mechanism which addresses socio-economic impacts of the transition by supporting innovation by SMEs, re-skilling workers and diversifying economic activity in rural regions.

The Prime Minister announces Australia’s first ‘Wellbeing Budget’ as part of the annual budget package, saying: “Well-being must serve as a central goal for our society, and we must ensure we use our shared resources – our taxes – to deliver it.”

Policies support a thriving culture of human and technological innovation from industry.

Bold decisions pay dividends, such as pivoting our energy priorities to renewables, which now power a vibrant and innovative new era in manufacturing. There’s strong investment in green technology across all sectors, including our built environment and transport. Both are quickly moving towards complete decarbonisation, proving far cheaper and healthier to run. After the demonstrated failure of big-ticket resource projects such as the Adani coal mine to deliver as hoped, new approaches were essential and Australia quickly becomes a leading contributor to the knowledge economy.

We reimagine how we might live

With the rising voice of social movements, communities are recognising their resilience and power to affect change. Growing numbers begin organising and mobilising to form non-violent protests and taking united action to defuse racial, religious and poverty tensions.

At the national level, a new sustainable approach to food and agriculture questions how we might improve nutrition, safeguard the environment and hardwire resilience to global shocks like pandemics. This immediately contains and begins eliminating migration of tropical diseases, weeds and pests. Locally grown food, knowledge systems and a holistic approach to caring for natural resources all contribute to shorter food supply chains, improving human and environmental health.

Eating habits have changed, with many people recognising that food has been a big contributor to poor health outcomes and contributes to carbon emissions. Many hospitals now purchase direct from organic farmers, helping to create jobs and leading to shorter in-patient stays.

We champion truth and accountability

The toxic influences of disinformation, vested interests and media empire building all come crashing down as society demands that major media is accountable to all citizens. Truth in journalism undergoes a global renaissance and evidence-based traditional media re-emerges within a new framework of data and technology- supported ethics and fact checking.

A uniform approach to political donations across Australia has strengthened our democracy, with donations capped at $1,000 per annum, and significant penalties introduced for breaches.

We rethink what is needed from technology

Accepting that technology should be designed to support human needs, we integrate social and ecological knowledge into technological advance. We shift to prioritising prevention over diagnostics in healthcare (with more public funding to achieve this). This steers us away from immediately outsourcing solutions to technology, reasserting the value of human intervention when dealing with complex and urgent problems

A day in the life of Audra Hoang, entrepreneur, Perth, WA

Audra Hoang stands in the park where her favourite café is located, overlooking Derbarl Yerrigan, formerly known as the Swan River in Perth. She is meeting up for a coffee

with her business partners for a quick catch up ahead of an important meeting. They are due to present their six month update to the panel representing the community shareholders who collectively seed-funded the fully electric aircraft design company she runs with two others – one an aerospace engineer and the other an electrical engineer. Their business, TechAer, is in final stages of designing a commercial aircraft that is fully powered by renewable electricity.

They live in a decade which is revolutionising how the aeronautics industry impacts the global environment. Only ten years ago, airplanes were releasing around 500 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere globally. Then the pandemic hit – and virtually grounded almost all passenger flights overnight. While electric planes were already on the drawing board at this time, enormous opportunities – and massive funding interest – were unexpected side-effects to come out of this period when global emissions ‘hit pause’.

TechAer was one beneficiary of the new green industry to boldly emerge from those times. Their prototype was a small aircraft that flew non-stop for 500 kms and emitted zero emissions, powered by a single battery.

Total energy cost for the maiden flight was just under $10.

The next phase is a commercial aircraft that will carry over 100 people internationally.

Their innovation is a long way from ‘Alice’ – a nine passenger all-electric aircraft launched by a start-up business in 2022. Alice was a phenomenon in her time, but TechAer’s craft is set to beat that record, with a 120 passenger aircraft that will fly 2,000km on a single charge – closer to the fossil-fuelled Boeing 747 which used to fill our skies.

Australia has become a nation of innovators. The knowledge economy and green industries have spurred Australia and the world in a race to the top. But this new era for Australia is also being led by a human-centred approach to our future. One which carefully takes stock of the social and cultural impacts of each new idea. After some early mistakes when it was assumed technology would solve our problems for us – it did not – a nested governance model now provides transparent checks and balances by distributing decision-making through many levels of society. This ensures individuals, communities and all who would be impacted by a change, can participate in exploring, reviewing and implementing that change.

Audra sees her colleagues, Edison and Ray, approach. Ray, is the electrical engineer and also a new era celebrity thanks to their genius intellect and proud championing of their non-binary or enby status. In Ray’s lifetime so much has changed for LGBTQI communities, now able to live, dress and have their gender respected at work, school and in all public places. (The Who?Ray! trope celebrates this shift in Aussie culture.)

With the team now together, they order their drinks and begin planning their week.

Scenario 5    Integrated Case Study

A day in the life of Yasmina Harris, biomedical engineer, Melbourne VIC

 Yasmina loves it when her work and personal lives overlap. As she drives away silently in an electric vehicle having visited her Mum at home, she cannot wipe the smile off her face. She also loves the share economy – which right now means being able to drive anywhere without owning a vehicle or having to find somewhere to park it in her highly densified suburb. The revolution in share driving and autonomous vehicles led to car ownership all but disappearing.

Although the vehicle she travels in tonight does not need human interaction, an excited Yasmina has decided to wait before making her phone call. It’s a beautiful night after all, and the sky is clear.

Once the long drive back into the city delivers Yasmina to her own apartment, she dials her best friend.

“I just saw Mum.’ She begins happily. ‘And she is wearing the data patch I helped design!”

Yasmina’s mother Yvonne suffers a long-term chronic illness, which requires constant monitoring. Yvonne, a Ngarrindjeri elder living on country in the Coorong in South Australia, cannot easily access medical services. So the technology behind data patches was a game changer. A small, ultra thin piece of electronic skin, the data patch can be worn continuously and monitors Yvonne’s vital signs like temperature, blood pressure and electrical signals, including running remote electrocardiograms to monitor her heart. The data is instantly transmitted to the health centre where her specialist works alongside a team of patient advocates and social workers who together support Yvonne’s needs.

Yasmina works in Melbourne as a biomedical engineer. At the forefront of her field and largely focused on developing health solutions to support Australia’s ageing population, she enjoys a growing demand for her expertise. The idea of wearable technology particularly appeals to Yasmina and her screensaver features a sci-fi looking image of a woman wearing a SecondSkin. These are being developed as an adaptive technology for people living in extreme climates. Thinner than cotton, they are designed to keep the wearer’s body temperature regulated and hydrated no matter how hot the weather, and to recycle the body’s waste. The impacts of a changing climate are now dramatic across Victoria. With the benefits of strong decarbonisation legislation yet to be felt, Australian city dwellers are also adapting through actions including the introduction of extensive green spaces, biodiversity corridors and zero emissions buildings.

Yasmina ends her call outside her own building to realise she is hungry. Like all Australians, her mostly plant based diet is grown using regenerative practices that improve rather than deplete the overall health of local ecosystems. Urban and peri- urban farming have shortened supply chains and strengthened the community’s connection with food and the farmers who grow it. Packaging today (where needed) is fully biodegradable. Surplus food is redistributed with by-products transformed into organic fertilisers, biomaterials, medicines, and bioenergy. And healthy food is no longer affordable by only an elite few. It is now the norm, easily available and preferred by young Aussies, thanks to marketing and education that reshaped our preferences and habits (plus the introduction of a sugar tax!).

All this thinking about food isn’t helping: It’s getting late and Yasmina is ready to eat!


We set out in this ambitious project to bring people together to use the moment of disruption provided by the COVID-19 pandemic to imagine different future worlds. This process was intended to provide us, and others, with the opportunity to consider possible alternative future scenarios, and better understand their accompanying uncertainties.

While many of these possible futures are sobering, they are possible.

We hope through the dissemination of plausible alternative future scenarios, we can communicate how different choices may play out, and help to build support for action to achieve a preferred future.

We have subsequently used a process of backcasting to develop a pathway to our preferred future scenario: Our Island Home. This policy agenda is called Healthy, Regenerative and Just: Our Vision for a Better Future.

This future is one in which we prioritise planetary health, recognising the links between our own health and Earth systems (Healthy); the protection of ecosystems on which our health depends (Regenerative), along with a culture of cooperation for collective benefit (that’s ‘Just’).

A healthy, regenerative and just future is available to us. It is scientifically, economically, culturally, socially, and technologically feasible.

It is our hope these narratives will help build consensus around a shared vision for a healthy, regenerative and just future for all, and fuel effective change.


Steering Committee

Climate and Health Alliance would like to acknowledge the support and advice of the Steering Committee for this project:

Tony Capon Arnagretta Hunter Melissa Sweet Lucie Rychetnik Melissa Haswell

Tarun Weeramanthri Simon Quilty

Ian Lowe Steve Cork

Charlotte Turner Ingrid Johnston Nick Talley Selina Lo

Futures Experts

Thanks to Professor Sohail Inayatullah for helping us to design the process for

developing these scenarios, and Dr Colin Russo for helping us design and deliver it.

Thanks to Dr Steve Cork who provided wise counsel throughout.

Thought Leaders

We are grateful to the over 100 thought leaders from so many different fields who shared their knowledge, ideas, experience, and critiques to help develop these scenarios:

Adam Pulford Aditya Vyas Adrian Bauman Alex Fuller

Alex Schlotzer Alexandra Barratt Alexandra de Blas Amanda Adrian Andrew Nicholson Angela Cartwright Angela Priestley Angie Bone

Annie Butler Anthony James Aparna lal Arnagretta Hunter Ben Cox

Berry Liberman Bill Bellew

Billie Giles-Corti Brett Sutton Bronwyn Gresham Carol Behne Carolyn Stapleton Catherine Maloney Charlotte Turner Colin Butler

Colin Russo Corey Watts Damon Gameau Daniel Pediaditis Daniel Zou

Daryl Taylor

David Ritter Debra Parkinson Debra Parnell Denise Cauchi Donna Green

El Gibbs Elodie Honore

Fiona Armstrong Fran Baum Georgia Behrens Georgia Brown Greg Ford

Helen Brown Hilary Bambrick Ian Dunlop

Ian Lowe

Ida Kubiszewski Imogen Jubb Ingrid Johnston Jaime Farrant Jane Stanley Janet Baillie Janine Mohamed Jeni Miller

Jessica Kneebone Jessica Rosien

Jo Abbott Joanne Walker Joel Negin John Quiggin John Wiseman

Jorge Alvarez-Romero Josh Floyd

Josh Karliner Kaj Lofgren Karen Booth Karina Martin

Karyn Bosomworth Kate Charlesworth Kathryn Bowen Kerry Arabena

Kim Loo Kristy Hill

Lai Heng Foong Laura Beaton Lauren Rickards Leanne Wells Lin Oke

Lisa Cliffe Liz Hanna

Lucie Rychetnik Luke Taylor Malcolm Sim Maree Grenfell Marianne Cannon Marion Meloni Mark Howden Martin Hensher Martin Rice Matthew Warnken Megan Williams Melanie Davern Melissa Haswell

Melissa Nursey-Bray Melissa Sweet Michael Brydon Michael Wheelahan Michael Zyphur Michelle Isles

Mike Forrester Miranda Leckey Nuala Stewart Oliver Costello Paddy Manning Pam Garton Paul Sinclair Peter Brooks Peter Sainsbury Peter Schneider Peter Tait Rachel de Sain

Rebecca Andrews Rebecca Haddock Rebecca Ivers Rebecca Patrick Remy Shergill Rhonda Garad Richard Yin

Ro mcfarlane Rob Kelly

Robert Costanza Robyn Clay-Williams Robyn Lucas

Rod Glover Rosalie Schultz Sally Fawkes Sam Hurley Sandro Demaio Sarah Barker

Sebastian Cordoba Selina Lo

Serena Joyner Sharon Campbell Sharon Friel Simon Bradshaw Simon Quilty Sophie Lewis Sophy Athan Steph Cunio Steven Cork Stuart Candy Sue Wareham Susan Cooke Susie Moloney Tara Nipe

Tarun Weeramanthri Tony Capon

Wendy Hird Will Grant Willow Berzin Xiaoqi Feng Ying Zhang


Thanks to Nicky Chudleigh who helped to weave the thoughts and ideas generated at three Roundtable events and several interim meetings into a coherent narrative and accompanying case studies.


 Thanks to the five artists who produced the images to depict key elements of each of the scenarios:

Cover           Nick Pedersen

Scenario 1      Belinda Richards

Scenario 2       Keren Dobia

Scenario 3 Kris Anderson

Scenario 4          Karen Alsop

Scenario 5    Karen Alsop



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