World Heritage Magnetic Island - worth caring for...
MINCA'S 2010 LOW CARBON DIET INTER-BAY CHALLENGE
In 2010, while both of the major political parties were promising
less action on carbon emission reduction than voters were saying they wanted, 24 households on Magnetic Island took the issue into their own
hands. Between them, the householders reduced their electricity use by an
amazing 32.5% during their 3-month participation in MINCA's Low Carbon Diet
The Challenge, organized with assistance from Townsville Solar City and funding from
the Department of Environment and Resource Management, saw teams of households
competing to reduce their electricity use, and win cash prizes in the process.
Challenge organiser Wendy Tubman told Magnetic Times that ‘In total,
9.8 tonnes of CO2 didn’t enter our atmosphere because just 24 households
reduced their electricity use for just three months.’
Bill Wicks of HSB took out the prize for ‘Best on Island’,
cutting his power consumption by a colossal 71%, largely by changing over to
gas cooking and solar hot water, as well as by being more energy-conscious.
The ‘Best Team’ award went to ‘Arcshoe’ (a mix of households
from Arcadia and HSB), where average reduction across the five households was
Winners within each of the four teams were the Cooper household
(Team Piclly), the Paul Groves household (Team Nelly), the Mackiewicz household
(Team Arcshoe) and the Buxton household (Team Horseshoe).
The Coopers also won a special award for ‘greatest loser’,
cutting their electricity consumption by a massive 2907 kwh over the 3 months
of the Challenge. Given that the Coopers rent their house and so had to relay
on changing their behaviour rather than on changing their energy systems, this
is particularly impressive. And, as Kerri Cooper told the audience at the
‘Awards Picnic and Cricket Match last Saturday, ‘Not only do we no longer dread
the arrival of electricity bills, but, by turning off the TV to save
electricity, we have started talking more and have come closer together as a
Kerri Cooper (left) accepts her prize from Challenge organiser Wendy Tubman
(Photo: George Hirst)
Team Piccly leader Pen Sheridan (centre) spurs on her team with power-saving tips
(Photo: Wendy Tubman)
Even very low users were able to make significant savings. Di Bee from Arcadia cut her average daily consumption from just 4 kwh to 3.4 kwh. ‘Brian [Kerr from Solar City] persuaded me that it was crazy to use an electric jug to boil water for tea when I had a gas cooker’ she explained.
Participants in the Challenge were also asked to indicate what other changes they could make that would help reduce carbon emissions. Taking into account, reductions in car use, eating less meat, sending less to landfill, having shorter showers, turning off appliances, and so on, the 24 households look set to reduce their carbon emissions further over the next 18 months by an astounding 186,000 kg, or 186 tonnes.
Wendy Tubman was keen to emphasise that the household changes, while they are fantastic, show how individual action can augment industry and government action – not replace it. While individuals are making very real efforts to ‘do the right thing’, Six Degrees, the Brisbane-based coal and climate lobby group states that current expansion plans for Queensland coal exports will emit an additional 460 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere per year.
‘The efforts of participants in the Challenge should be seen as very real evidence of the community’s desire for action on carbon emission reduction at all levels’ she said.
‘The results would also suggest that individuals and governments may be overly fearful of rises in electricity prices. Seventy five per cent of participants were able to cut their consumption by over 10%; two-thirds cut by more than 20%. This would suggest that the majority of houses (especially the high users) could absorb a rise in price by a reduction in use’ Wendy contended. ‘So while a price rise may not have a terribly impact on household budgets, it could encourage and fund greater investment in alternative energy.’
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