Different Scenarios in Different Places
Australia and New Zealand provide examples of two very similar affluent countries in the South Pacific that may already be on very different trajectories and that reflect the dynamics of these scenarios. As the previous Prime Minister John Howard, proclaimed, Australia is one of the new energy superpowers. This claim is supported by the fact that Australia is the largest global exporter of coal, one of the largest exporters of gas with the seventh largest reserves, and has the largest reserves of uranium as well as many other minerals.
Australia exhibits the essential conditions for the emergence of the Brown Tech scenario.
On the other hand climate change modelling suggests Australia is perhaps the most vulnerable of OECD countries, a vulnerability highlighted by the recent and continuing drought. These are the essential conditions for the emergence of Brown Tech. The “debate” about nuclear power initiated by the Australian government and the rush to build desalination plants and super-pipelines to address the water crisis are emblematic of this trend. The change of federal government to the Labor Party is likely to further concentrate power at the federal level and could lead to a more rapid abandonment of free market capitalism, further entrenching the Brown Tech scenario.62Clearly this is only likely if there also remains enough of a global economy to buy Australia’s mineral and fossil fuel wealth (and to generate the greenhouse gas emissions that are fundamental to the Brown Tech scenario).
New Zealand looks like a strong candidate for Green Tech.
New Zealand on the other hand has very little in the way of minable energy and resources, but, relative to its population, has extremely rich biophysical resources to support agriculture, forestry and renewable energies. The local impacts of climate change are predicted to be much less severe, allowing New Zealand to take advantage of these distributed rural resources. This looks like a strong candidate for Green Tech.
Without going into a detailed analysis of the emerging trends in the Australian and New Zealand economies and politics, it is sufficient to say Australia and New Zealand have been diverging for some time. This suggests that these underlying differences between the energy and resource bases of these two countries may have been contributing to the emerging differences at the political and even the social levels.
The next section looks at how planning for these scenarios occurs at different scales.