Office for Environmental Programs - Theses
Now showing items 1-12 of 323
Causal drivers of firm participation in private regulatory programs: A case study of the Australian Coffee Market
Australia is a leader in the global coffee world due to its dedication to high quality coffee and strong café culture. This market has become increasingly competitive as cafes and coffee roasteries have saturated urban environments across the nation. There are currently 200 Australian firms in the coffee industry participating in global supply chain certifications such as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, UTZ and ‘the Pledge,’ yet to date few independent studies have investigated the market dynamics influencing firm decisions to participate in these voluntary programs. Private regulatory programs rely on firms to make voluntary commitments to comply with the protocols and standards set out in the scheme. However, much of the academic literature provides limited insight into the motivations and drivers for firms to voluntarily comply with private regulatory programs. In response to this gap, this thesis examines a case study of the Australian Coffee Market where a number of privately governed certifications and standards are operating and competing to regulate Australian firms. On this basis, the thesis attempts to provide credible grounds to model the types of motivations to participate and identify causal drivers to inform future investigations that seek to explain firm decisions to participate in private regulation. This thesis finds evidence that firms are motivated by a number of drivers that are contextually dependent. Firms respond that respond to ethical, norm following drivers are evidence of social constructivist theories, whilst firms driven to pursue self-interest maximisation are evidence of rational business strategies. The size of the firm is an interaction variable that enables large firms to pursue their core business values, whilst impeding the ability of small and medium sized firm from pursuing their core business values.
Alienating or engaging?: The role of ontological security and consumer coping in complex sustainable consumption environments - the case of certified wine
Consumers are in many ways made to be one of the central actors in the discourse on transitions to more sustainable consumption and production models globally. Consumption naturally spans across many industries, but one of the most significant contributors to environmental degradation, entwined in daily consumption practices, is the agriculture and food system sector. Supported, in part by market-driven and neoliberal regimes and approaches to agricultural management, private regulation, including sustainability certification have emerged strongly in the past few decades. The purpose of this research is to explore the role of sustainability certification in shifting consumer behaviour to adopt more sustainable consumption practices by taking a deeper look at consumer engagement with sustainable consumption and associated certification schemes. To probe these central questions, this paper turns to theories of trust, ontological security and coping to understand how consumers process the demands of sustainable consumption and how certification plays into this processing. An inductive, grounded theory approach was taken in analysing semi-structured interview data from 14 one-on-one interviews and one friendship group with 7 participants. Findings from the study allowed construction of a novel theoretical model which describes consumer responses to the interaction with, as well as opportunities and demands of sustainable consumption. In drawing on Giddens’ framework of ontological security and theories of coping, the model makes the following four contributions to theory: (1) It maps consumers’ dynamic coping responses as called for in the coping literature (Skinner et al., 2003), (2) it extends our view of rational and emotional trust as underlying drivers of security, (3) it demonstrates new states of ontological security (as called for by Phipps and Ozanne (2017), and (4) it extends our view and definition of ‘disruption’ and associated consumer responses. Importantly it explores an area of ‘untouchable’ security, where consumers have effectively resigned from sustainable consumption efforts, and questions to what extent collective sustainable consumption offerings may indeed be alienating consumers from sustainability transitions. The findings also develop a series of hypothesis for the implications of certification as it relates to the theoretical model. This research was undertaken in the context of the Australia domestic wine industry, using the industry’s sustainability certification, Sustainable Winegrowing Australia, as a case study.
A Bayesian analysis of climate change risks for the Japanese pulp and paper industry
The business sector is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in Japan, and it has faced various physical impacts caused by climate change. However, the knowledge of how the business sector in Japan should react to climate change risks and impacts is still limited. With regard to the significant values of the pulp and paper industry, this study aimed to identify the key challenges for the Japanese pulp and paper industry to adapt climate change risks. The review on academic literature revealed the major physical climate risks in Japan: intensive rainfall-related risks; drought risks; and extreme heat risks. Using the result of the literature review, a conceptual model was developed which describes cause and effect between climate change events and a pulp and paper manufacturer. Finally, the conceptual model was quantified as a Bayesian Belief Network (BBN) to explore the probability of risks to manufacturing and business continuity under various scenarios. To evaluate uncertainty, a sensitivity analysis was implemented to test the model and examine the influence of each variable to the key endpoints in the BBN, and best-case, worst-case and most-likely case models were developed based on the findings. The impacts of climate change on hypothetical companies were then explored using these three models. The result of the sensitivity analysis showed strong influences of ‘Drought’, ‘Suppliers risk’, ‘Financial resource’ and ‘Backup facilities’ compared with ‘Extreme rainfalls’ and ‘Extreme heat’. Similarly, two main points were obtained from the results of case studies: (1) Greater risks to a plant in West Japan than East and North Japan region; and (2) Greater risks to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) without sufficient adaptive capacities. Through running the BBN, three main implications were highlighted: (1) The importance of recognising drought risks and preparing for the risk; (2) Possible relocations of pulp and paper plants from West Japan to other areas; and (3) Challenges for SMEs to obtain financial resources for mitigating the risks to manufacturing and gaining resilience.
Risk matrices for effective environmental management
Risk matrices are the most common tool for environmental decision-making in organisations. However, it is constantly seen how organisations fail to protect the environment from the risks their activities, products and services pose to it, implying that better decisions and controls need to be made, and that environmental risk matrices should be examined as an effective decision-making tool. This problem is aggravated considering that risk is perceived, assessed and mitigated differently amongst organisations. This can become a serious problem if organisations that can pose a significant impact on the environment do not align their decisionmaking models with that of environmental regulators who initiate enforcement actions, and justice entities who determine the level of enforcement. In this regard, the current study examined the environmental decision-making tool used by organisations and their level of alignment with those used by environmental regulators, and their ability to achieve effective environmental management considering ISO 14001:2015 as a framework for continual improvement of environmental performance. Five structured interviews were performed with four organisations that develop industrial activities and one environmental regulator in Victoria. Data from the interviews were analysed using a thematic analysis methodology supported by the use of the software NVivo to determine the quality of their environmental decision-making tools and the level of alignment between organisations and environmental regulators. Results showed that despite organisations’ environmental decision-making tool can be improved, they are constantly used as a tool to support decisions to protect the environment and the achievement of objectives. In addition, it was found that there is alignment between organisations and regulators’ environmental decision-making tool which indicates that organisations are trying to incorporate the approach used by regulators with the aim to better protect the environment and prevent them from enforcement actions. This study highlights the importance of using and designing an environmental decision-making tool that effectively guides organisations to make the right decisions to protect the environment while meeting environmental objectives and being in compliance with the regulations.
Greenhouse gas emissions associated with online food delivery services
The food service industry has seen the advent of online food delivery services (OFDS), due to the development of online retailing and rise of mobile phone usage. OFDS are growing in popularity around the world and are increasing the use of take-away food packaging as well as delivery vehicles. The resource use for OFDS will have an effect on the environment and this study aims to evaluate the same. The study uses the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method to quantify the greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe) from the OFDS industry in Melbourne and Australia, limited to the use of food packaging and food delivery by OFDS. Data on the food packaging and delivery vehicles used in Melbourne were collected using structured interviews and observations respectively. Data was processed using the Packaging Impact Quick Evaluation Tool (PIQET), a streamlined LCA software. The monthly GHGe from food packaging and deliveries for four restaurants in Melbourne were evaluated, as well as the predicted annual GHGe from OFDS food packaging use from 2018-2024 in Australia. This study found that OFDS packaging contributed 0.2% of Australian GHGe from the industries and waste sectors in 2018/19. It also found that for delivering one meal, delivery by car, motorbike and electric-bicycles increased GHGe by 250%, 20% and 10% respectively over bicycle deliveries. By providing a preliminary examination of the environmental effects of the Australian OFDS industry, this study adds to the literature on OFDS, provides insights to the Australian waste management industry as well as suggestions on reducing GHGe from deliveries.
How far can community engagement go in EIA?: A case study for the MMRP in the Parkville community.
As a planning tool, public participation has been encouraged in environmental impact assessment (EIA) to evaluate the possible impacts any development project could cause to the urban setting (Christie, 2008). Nonetheless, public participation has been sparsely addressed in the Australia EIA process (Thomas & Elliot, 2005). Hence, my research examined the extent to which EIA enables public participation in the context of a large project in Melbourne, Victoria. I expanded on my analysis by examining the limitations, challenges and opportunities of the EIA’s community engagement process to foster citizen participation. I used a single-case study methodology using the Melbourne Metro Rail Project (MMRP) in the Parkville community as the case. I collected the data through an extensive document and media analysis, and a semi-structured interview. For the data analysis, I developed a collaborative planning evaluation framework (CPEF) which builds from Healey’s (2006) imperatives of collaborative planning. The CPEF constitutes in evaluating (1) the identification of stakeholders considering their social networks, systems of meaning, and power relations, (2) the integration of innovation and different types of knowledge which covers as well the participation of stakeholders in the problem framing phase, (3) the inclusion of stakeholders, and (4) the accountability of the participation process. The analysis showed that an EIA’s engagement process is rigorous in at least one characteristic of each of these 4 evaluation categories. The EIA’s engagement process identifies and includes stakeholders, while safeguarding the accountability of the process and integrating local initiatives into the EIA process. Nonetheless, the participation of the stakeholders in the problem framing phase is limited by the Victorian legislation. Additionally, the engagement activities (stakeholder inclusion) are predetermined by the stakeholders’ identification, which is faced with the challenge of not considering the social networks of the stakeholders. EIA’s participation process is faced with the challenges of identifying the stakeholders’ social networks, acknowledging the power relations between stakeholders, and integrating different types of knowledge into the EIA process. Finally, EIA’s participation process has the opportunity to foster citizen participation by expanding on the assessment of the stakeholders’ systems of meaning. Further opportunities to encourage participation remain outside the EIA process itself, such as engaging stakeholders before the start of the EIA process or creating a new participation platform as part of the Environment Performance Requirements (EPRs) of the EIA.
Shifting ecological awareness through ArtScience experiences.
Human activities are having a profound detrimental impact on our planet’s biodiversity, yet we have not observed a commensurate shift in people’s mindset to achieve a more harmonious relationship between people and nature. As such, the need to shift the public's’ understanding of our ecological impact continues to drive the role of science communication. There is mounting interest in integrating art with science as an influential communication practice to tackle the ecological crisis. Creating art inspired by science can increase the public’s understanding of biodiversity through provoking a mindful and emotional response. The arts can provide a dais for expression and reflection on critical issues which traditional education and outreach methods typically cannot. Building on the mounting interest in ‘ArtScience’, this study sought to design a synergistic approach to communicating the importance of biodiversity in urban environments by integrating participatory art and ecology. My study evaluated the outcomes from three participatory ‘ArtScience’ workshops delivered at The Living Pavilion, a temporary, Indigenous-led event space that took place in Melbourne during three weeks in May 2019. This research revealed three key themes emerging from the participants’ experience: 1) discovery (cognitive/’head’ learning); 2) being in ‘flow’ where the participant is intrinsically motivated, focused and enjoying the activity (practical/’hands-on’ learning), and; 3) ‘attunement’ where participants connect with nature (emotional learning/’heart’). I illustrate the effectiveness of integrating the transformative model of head (cognitive), heart (emotional) and hand (practical) learning into ‘ArtScience’ experiences which provides critical reflection, relational knowing and deep emotional engagement. This approach contributes to participants’ embodied knowledge, shifts their ecological awareness and mindfully fosters a deeper connection with nature.
Like Icarus ascending: divergent rationalities in the climate movement on solar geoengineering
Solar geoengineering has emerged as a controversial proposal to address global heating by modifying the reflectivity of the earth, reducing incoming solar radiation. This research comprises a qualitative investigation into why individuals who share concern regarding the climate crisis disagree about the acceptability of solar geoengineering as a response. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with members of the climate movement in Australia in an effort to understand the values and arguments underpinning their perspectives on solar geoengineering. The data was analysed through the lens of the theory of sociocultural viability (cultural theory) and insights derived from science and technology studies (STS). The research suggests that participants diverge in three significant respects: their experience of uncertainty, their modes of ethical reasoning, and their ideal conception of decision-making on solar geoengineering. This thesis argues that these variances are not random, but reflect divergent rationalities derived from biases that accord with disparate yet coherent ways of seeing the world. Four ideal-type perspectives are introduced to characterise this variance. Millenarian thinking—the idea that the present era will soon end—is suggested as one compelling drive towards further polarisation, although its significance varies in line with each way of seeing the world. The thesis concludes by offering cautions and recommendations for the rejuvenation of climate discourse in Australia, with special reference to the treatment of science and the interpretation of competing claims.
A review of opportunities and challenges in restructuring integrated watershed management in federal Nepal
This research review is entirely based on a systematic review of relevant literature on Integrated Watershed Management (IWM) practices around the world, in order to draw learnings for Nepal—as it is moving towards practicing decentralised form of natural resource management after its recent federal restructuring. Hence, cases mainly from three countries with federal structure: Canada, USA, and Indonesia, were analysed, to understand their approaches in IWM. Based on the analysis, some learnings that seem relevant for Nepal were identified. These include: i) the need of flexibility in applying different forms decentralisation, ii) call for clear jurisdictions over water resources in water policies, iii) benefits of considering smaller unit of management for IWM such as at sub-watershed level, iv) call for establishment and capacity building of watershed/sub-watershed level institutions, and v) crucial role of stakeholders’ participation and engagement in the entire process and proceedings. Further, it also examined some opportunities and challenges of adopting decentralised IWM in the current context of Nepal. Appropriate circumstances to act on forming and revising water acts and policies; engaging multi-national agencies such as USAID, EU and IMI already working in IWM in Nepal; and strengthening pre-existing local institutions as watershed/sub-watershed-level institutions were some of the opportunities identified. Meanwhile, there are some challenges associated with making a balance between decentralisation and integration, getting commitment and consensus of multiple stakeholders and timely accomplishment of IWM plans and policies.
Mining the rural: a Foucaultian exploration of power, identity and transition in south-central Queensland
Over the last decade, mining and energy development in Queensland rapidly increased, spreading into regions previously dominated by agriculture. This process has had uneven effects on local communities and has provoked widely varying responses, including political struggles, conflicts, business relationships and political alliances. Guided by Michel Foucault’s genealogical strategy and concept of governmentality, this thesis investigates how local responses to mining have been influenced by culturally embedded knowledge and taken-for-granted understandings or truths that emerged from a variety of governing practices, technologies and strategies in the past. The essence of this study is to understand how power functions through knowledge, which shapes and structures the field of possibilities, i.e. what can be thought, said and done at a particular time and place. This research project takes a qualitative case study approach. The case is a small rural district in the Darling Downs, south-central Queensland, which has been substantially affected by coal and gas development activity in recent years. Consistent with a case study approach, I used multiple methods of data collection, namely, semi-structured and life history interviews, informal group discussions, observation and a wide range of documents. By using these methods, I acquired detailed experiential knowledge about the case, while also gaining an understanding of how it connects with and has been affected by wider systems (social, political, economic, environmental) over time. Data was collected over 5 periods of fieldwork, which was undertaken during the period from 2014 to 2016. In total, I interviewed 45 inhabitants; the majority (41) were permanent residents and four were temporary residents. The findings of this investigation demonstrate the legacy effects of practices of governing, including colonial-agrarian, Fordist and neo-liberal, which reorganized the landscape - altering its meaning and functioning and the identities and mentalities of inhabitants - according to particular logics. These logics continue to shape and constrain social practices in the present, including how people make sense of and respond to mining interventions. Although responses are inevitability diverse and include some forms of resistance, they have the same political impact, which is to reify the current configuration of power and enable (not disrupt) the State Government’s development policy agenda. This finding demonstrates the inexorable link between rural identities and the State, where maintaining identity (which offers recognition and power) is contingent on submitting to and performing consistently with the interests of the State. The paradoxical (empowering and subordinating) character of identity has been reinforced over time, through multiple technologies that have cultivated enabling capacities and enhanced status of rural people, while also rendering their positions increasingly precarious. Precarity, like hardship and trauma, is tolerated and normalised through habitual practices that reinforce rural subjection. Recent mining activity has contributed to rural precarity and repeats the subjection of local inhabitants, by offering them some power, while at the same time, diluting their autonomy and control of the land. They are therefore in a double bind: in order to maintain positions of power in the landscape they must participate in a development process that renders their positions more vulnerable to exclusion.
Responsible Investment in Blue Carbon Resources: “Constraints and potential motivations to attracting large-scale private capital investment in blue carbon resources”
Coastal marine ecosystems provide critical climate change mitigation benefits and ecosystem services. The moniker blue carbon can be applied to coastal marine ecosystems comprising mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses. These blue carbon ecosystems are increasingly being recognised for their highly effective carbon sequestration capacity, often factorially more effective than terrestrial ecosystems. Despite this, private investment in blue carbon resources (BC) is infinitesimal and confined to specialised niche projects. While blue carbon science and policy research advances private investment perspectives in relation to BC are limited. Within this context there are emerging shifts in global, private capital markets aimed at more measured capital deployment or responsible investment (RI). Such shifts often aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and are guided by initiatives such as the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). This research utilises an anonymously distributed online survey and quantitative exploratory analysis of perspectives from 44 private investment respondents. Respondents were segmented into those actors with for- profit and not-for-profit motives. Key research findings were the comparatively low level of familiarity amongst respondents for blue carbon, when compared with similarly themed terms. This finding was supported by respondents indicating a low level of knowledge relating to broader carbon market investment. Additionally, notwithstanding the growing responsible investment market respondents remained predominantly return on investment focused. Despite this and encouraging for BC stakeholders is the high proportion of respondents whom view co-benefits as an important factor for large-scale investment. For BC stakeholders this research expands on existing knowledge on investment, with a more targeted focus on private large-scale investment motivations and constraints. The research largely comprises Australian based respondents.
Carbon implication of demolition and construction in urban China: Changsha City as a case study
Ever-increasing emissions of greenhouse gases have triggered global warming, severely limiting the sustainable development possibilities of human society. China is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and is currently undergoing the process of urban-rural integration. Large population inflows into cities have led to a massive demand for housing, resulting in a great deal of large-scale demolition and construction in China. The lifespan of Chinese buildings is very short compared to in developed countries in the West. Therefore, this paper aims to examine the implications that carbon emissions have for urban renewal processes by taking ‘X’ area in Changsha as a case study. In order to explore the temporal and spatial changes in carbon emissions from the case location, the study employs both qualitative and quantitative methods. From the perspective of total carbon emissions, the carbon emissions of the ‘X’ region are very large, and residential buildings have the largest proportion of emissions. Furthermore, carbon emissions which occur during the demolition process are very low compared to carbon emissions resulting from the construction process. In addition, the carbon emissions of concrete and steel in the construction process account for the majority of carbon emissions. From the perspective of carbon emissions over time, the amount of carbon emissions is continually increasing, although the total amount of new buildings is decreasing. Carbon emissions in recent decades have shown that the government's low-carbon policy is not sufficient and has not achieved significant results. The demolition process involves severe carbon losses because there is no specific construction waste recycling plan in Changsha, which causes serious waste of construction materials. As can be seen from the spatial arrangement of carbon emissions, carbon emissions have occurred in the form of clusters for nearly two decades, as the gated community has become a new norm for Chinese society. The impact of rapid urbanisation on carbon emissions is noticeable. After China's reform and opening up, the influence of the market gradually emerged, leading to property-led reconstruction, local boosterism, urban development companies and site construction. The reason China's buildings are typically short-lived is due to irrational urban planning, and understaffed municipal facilities cannot meet the growing demand for housing. Only by increasing the efficiency of recycling construction and demolition waste can the construction industry avoid overuse of new materials in buildings, which generates additional carbon emissions. The City Planning Bureau and the Urban and Rural Construction Bureau together need to protect buildings and reduce short-lived buildings. In addition, construction and demolition waste recycling systems need to be built to facilitate the recycling of construction waste.