Sydney aims for net zero emissions by 2050

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The City of Sydney has taken a major step in what is fast becoming a defining year for sustainability, with the adoption of an action plan to make the city achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said Environmental Action 2016-2021 sets targets for net zero emissions and 50 percent renewable power by 2050.

“The C40 Mayor’s Summit in Mexico reinforced the scale of the challenge, and the urgent need for world leaders to redouble efforts on climate change,” the Lord Mayor says.

“The research paints a grim picture if we don’t act now, so we’ve responded with the strongest possible plan to urgently reduce emissions.

“The next four years are crucial – they will determine if we meet the Paris Agreement’s commitment to less than two degrees Celsius temperature rise.

“Environmental Action 2016–2021 sets out a plan to transform Sydney into a low-carbon city that diverts waste from landfill, saves potable water, is connected with green parklands and spaces, and buildings that feature outstanding environmental performance.

“In December, Council supported my proposal to accelerate the implementation of the action plan, including in our own operations. Now the plan has been adopted, we can press ahead with this vital work.”

The City will start a range of actions over the life of the plan, including:

  • Initiate a net-zero emissions building challenge,
  • invest $10 million to accelerate the uptake of renewable energy,
  • facilitate large-scale water recycling project, and
  • develop sustainability plans for the commercial office, accommodation and entertainment sectors.

“We’re looking at how we can improve the City’s environmental performance through our capital works projects, our property portfolio and our operational waste management,” says the Lord Mayor.

“We’ve partnered with the C40 City Solutions platform to determine the most effective way to invest our $10 million allocated for renewable energy uptake.

“With our partners at the Better Buildings Partnership, we’re pushing for innovation and excellence in new building design. Buildings are responsible for around 80 percent of emissions in our local government area and if we want to achieve our ambitious targets, we cannot have a business-as-usual approach to design and construction.

“We will step up our advocacy to the state and federal government, calling for higher BASIX targets for water and energy, changes to our federal energy regulations, and adjustments to water pricing to encourage more recycling.”

BASIX apartment sustainability targets were established by the NSW Government in 2005 and commit builders of high-density housing to a BASIX Energy score of 20. The City recommends this target be doubled to 40.

In the coming months, Council will also consider a new waste strategy, sustainability sector plans for the commercial office, accommodation and entertainment sectors and a refresh of the City’s long-term plan, Sustainable Sydney 2030.

“These new plans will help us achieve better environmental outcomes for our city and make 2017 a defining year in our long-term commitment to action on climate change,” says the Lord Mayor.

The City’s other sustainability achievements to date include:

  • Replacing 6,604 street lights with more efficient LEDs, reducing energy use from street lighting by nearly 45 percent and saving up to $800,000 in electricity bills and maintenance a year,
  • installing solar photovoltaic panels and hot water systems on 40 City-owned buildings,
  • ensuring a zero increase in emissions from the City’s fleet of vehicles since 2014,
  • planting more than 11,000 new street trees since 2005 to absorb pollution and provide shade, and
  • harvesting and treating 590 million litres of stormwater through a water reuse system at Sydney Park.

Image copyright: mariusz_prusaczyk / 123RF Stock Photo

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