We have delivered against our commitments to protecting the environment and conserving biodiversity during the year. In particular, we worked with multiple industries, government, the community and other scientific institutions and agencies on programs and projects dedicated to conserving and sustainably managing tropical marine resources. As a community leader and a Commonwealth statutory authority, we have both a moral obligation and a statutory obligation under the EPBC Act to protect and maintain the biodiversity and heritage under our control. Accordingly, we carefully guard against any avoidable adverse impacts on the environment arising from our own activities and work proactively to minimise the environmental footprint of our operations.
Reducing Our Environmental Impacts
In 2019–20, with the commissioning of the PV solar array in Townsville, AIMS generated 1396 megawatts of renewable energy. Combined with other power savings, we achieved an overall reduction of our annual electricity consumption of 1585 megawatts compared to last year. This equates to a reduction in AIMS’ carbon footprint of 1,600 tonnes CO2.
In 2019-20, AIMS also purchased 602 tonnes of carbon certificates to offset air travel and the petrol consumed in our vehicle fleet and small vessels. The AIMS Strategy 2025 includes a target to reduce our carbon footprint by 25% compared with 2017-18. The overall reduction in carbon footprint in 2019-20 is 2,202 tonnes CO2, which represents a reduction of 21.8%.
This year a key focus was to reduce solid waste to landfill, especially at our headquarters in Townsville. Through the introduction of the co-mingle recycling program we diverted 32 tonnes of waste to landfill, a 33% reduction compared to last year.
Our alignment to ecologically sustainable development
Table 9: our alignment to ecologically sustainable development
Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) Principle
Our Alignment and Contribution
Decision-making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations.
All AIMS work is assessed with ESD impact in mind. Projects are selected based on their environmental, economic, and social net value to the organisation, community and country in line with the AIMS Strategy 2025.
If there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.
AIMS complies with all major environmental laws and requirements in its operations and capital works.
Environmental protection is mandated when planning and undertaking major capital works. Any proposed activities that may fall under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 are assessed for referral to the Department of the Environment and Energy. Proposals for new or modifications to existing facilities undergo rigorous internal safety, regulatory and environmental processes with independent oversight.
A continuous improvement program is in place to reduce environmental impact through reducing energy and water consumption and waste generated.
AIMS conducts large scale environmental monitoring programs and risk-based modelling to provide impartial advice on management and policy for government and industry decision makers. The organisation is leading the Australian research effort to identify innovative ways to assist coral reefs to recover from the impact of existing environmental conditions.
The principle of inter-generational equity – that the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations.
AIMS’ Project Management Framework includes evaluations of future impact (targeting net social, economic and environmental benefits) for Australia. The organisation leads the global research effort to assist coral reefs in adapting to future environmental conditions to ensure the benefits of coral reefs are sustained for generations of Australians to come.
AIMS actively integrates environmental responsibility and sustainability into our operations, minimising our environmental footprint through building infrastructure and behaviour change, and preventing, minimising and controlling pollution. Reducing our consumption of energy, water and resources not only supports sustainable objectives, it also contributes to our financial sustainability and allows us to redirect more funds into our science.
The conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental consideration in decision-making.
AIMS provides monitoring, modelling and research ensuring that the impact of policy and decisions on biological diversity and ecological integrity are understood by tropical marine managers. AIMS works with managers and decision makers to deliver sustainability.
Improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms should be promoted.