Technology will be crucial to achieving sustainable prosperity, according to a new report by the Commonwealth Scientific and industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
The Australian National Outlook 2015 report has examined how well-placed Australia will be in the future by looking at the interactions between the country's economic growth, water-energy-food use, environmental outcomes, and living standards.
It found that while Australia is well-placed to secure prosperity, the country's future will be shaped by its technology uptake. It noted that technology innovation will be needed to boost productivity and resilience in all sectors, in particular agriculture, as well as other sectors such as energy, water, and transport, to achieve cost-effective emission reductions.
The National Outlook also recognised that while new technologies are substantially more efficient than old ones, the pace and causes of deployment technology varies, which could also impact the uptake of new technologies. As a result, the report suggested that long-term policy setting is therefore essential to minimise investment risks and offer cost-effective solutions.
"Personal choices on vehicles, refrigerators, air-conditioners and appliances can replace the current asset stock over 10 to 15 years, and could do so again before 2050. But it would generally take a decade or more to decide on and build significant new water and energy infrastructure assets, and a long operational life is needed to repay large capital investments," the report said.
The report also warned that while achieving efficiency improvements and cost reductions can be possible through existing and emerging technologies, it should not be taken for granted.
It also added that sustainable resource use and economic growth can be partners, not competitors, explaining that Australia has the technology to pursue both at the same time, it's just a matter of having the right policies and institutions in place to make it happen.
CSIRO executive director Dr Alex Wonhas said the results of the National Outlook show that energy and other resources could remain a pillar of the Australian economy, and the country could be well-positioned to continue to grow in this sense if certain steps are taken to encourage it.
"The key to this success will be innovation and application of smart technologies," he said.
"We hope the National Outlook will help Australia chart its future in an increasingly complex and interconnected world."