Australia’s major cities now  know by how much they can slash greenhouse gasses and they have a road map to achieve this, thanks to new research released last week by a coalition of capital city mayors.

The research, Examining the Abatement Potential of Australia’s Capital Cities by 2020,  undertaken by consultancy Kinesis, for Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore on behalf of the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors, estimates “collective greenhouse gas emissions savings of 57 megatonnes (million tones) a year could be achieved by 2020 – equal to 41 per cent reductions on projected pollution figures if no action is taken nationally.”

The work will form the basis of Australia’s commitment at the Climate Summit for Mayors organised by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and the international Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) where the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore and the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle will be Australia’s delegates.

Key to potential emissions reductions in capital cities outlined in the Kinesis work are:

  • Residential and commercial building efficiency retrofits: All the capital cities support the CitySwitch program. Approximately a 40 per cent reduction in lighting electricity consumption by 2015 through the introduction of more efficient lighting technology; and a 10 per cent reduction in appliance electricity consumption through Minimum Energy Performance Standards by 2020.
  • District combined cooling heat and power (CCHP): Use of natural gas to generate electricity and harvest waste heat for the thermal loads in approximately 11 per cent of residential dwellings and 13 per cent of non-residential buildings in urban core areas and 6 per cent of non-residential dwellings in non-core areas by 2020. (Due to the low greenhouse intensity of hydro-electricity in Tasmania, CCHP was not applied to buildings in Hobart).
    Waste to energy technology: Divert 50 per cent of the non-recycled residential and non-residential waste stream from landfill by 2015 to produce methane for electric generation.
  • Street lighting efficiencies: Convert 100 per cent of the urban area’s street lighting to high efficiency LED lighting by 2020.
  • Transport improvements: Reduce emissions through improving public transport, encouraging the uptake of cycling, improving private vehicle fuel efficiency by approximately 50 per cent, and converting a proportion of vehicles to sustainable energy by 2020.
  • Employee Density/Residential Density: Reduce the commercial floor area per employee by 20 per cent by 2020, thereby reducing the energy requirements to accommodate employment growth. Also, increase population density, moving people closer to services, and building urban areas.
  • Renewable energy: Replacing 100 per cent of low density residential, 80 per cent of multi-unit and 30 per cent of commercial building hot water systems with solar hot water.  In addition, 25 per cent of the remaining electricity used by residents and businesses in the urban boundaries is generated from renewable energy.

Sydney Lord Mayor  Clover Moore said the City of Sydney had already committed to a seven point action plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions in the lead up to Copenhagen. Highlights include:

  • target of emissions reductions of 70 per cent by 2030 – carbon neutral profile, (purchase 100 per cent green power and accredited offsets for non electricity emissions)
  • Combined Cooling, Heat, and Power (CCHP)
    Developing a decentralised energy plan which could produce enough electricity to supply 70 per cent of the power needs of Sydney CBD and inner city villages without coal fired power stations
  • A network of tri-generation plants
    Award of a tender to Kinesis to develop a masterplan.
    Investigating local plants to service our five pools
    Potential for CCHP to reduce the City’s emissions by around 30 per cent.
  • Lighting
    Retrofit of the lighting systems in a number of buildings
    Lighting control systems, occupancy sensors, efficient fittings and lamp upgrades
    Average the efficiency of lighting systems to improve by around 25 per cent
  • Minimum Energy Performance Standards
    Federal Government initiative where appliances such as fridges and freezers are given an energy rating – such as three of four stars
    support and encouragement for the idea of making these ratings mandatory across appliances
    Electrical motors used in the City’s fountain pumps and pool filtration will be upgraded for higher efficiency motors.
  • Solar Energy
    Panels on Town Hall and all community centres
    A renewable energy master plan to see how toget solar energy into the city
  • Waste to energy
    Looking at feasibility of Alternate Waste Treatment Facility near the City through a
    master plan, start of delivery of half of the City’s domestic waste to Jacks Gully Waste
    Treatment facility
  • Travel and vehicle
    By 2030, at least 10 per cent of trips by bicycle and 50 per cwnt by walking, with more than 80 per cent of people using public transport to travel to work in the City centre.Spending $76 million over next four years to build a 200km cycleway network
    Working with other councils on a regional network
    Educational campaign to improve relationship between drivers, pedestrians and vehicles (including etiquette and cycling campaign).
    dedicated north-south public transport corridor along George Street, linked by a series of public squares
    improve the environment for pedestrians: footpath widening, 40km/hr traffic speed limit, shorter pedestrian waiting times, shared zones, pedestrian priority routes, adjustment to kerbs and crossing opportunities.
    Pushing for State and Federal investment for light rail network because it’s less polluting, reduces congestion, and has greater capacity