Pricing Carbon

The City's efforts to reduce carbon emissions and shift to renewable energy sources will be made easier with the Federal Government's carbon pricing scheme, announced last Sunday.

Our Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan aims to reduce 2006 greenhouse gas emissions by 70 per cent by 2030, partly through a network of trigeneration systems producing low carbon electricity, initially through natural gas.

A trigeneration system also captures the waste heat from the electric generation and uses it to heat and cool buildings, reducing the need for grid power. Trigeneration systems are nearly three times more efficient than a coal-fired power station.

The efficiency and savings on distribution costs means our trigeneration systems will be cost effective to run and cheap to buy - a carbon price makes it even more economically attractive.

While there has necessarily been a lot of scrutiny about the Government's announcement to put a price on carbon, some of the debate has been overtaken by misleading comments and hysteria.

It's important to keep in mind why a price on carbon is important - why acting on climate change is critical.

The Federal Government's Climate Commission's review of the science of climate change recently concluded that climate change is real, is occurring at a rapid rate and that two degrees is the maximum temperature change before our planet risks tipping into catastrophic climate change.

We are in 'the critical decade' and that the decisions we make from now up to 2020 will determine the severity of climate change our children and grandchildren experience.

At a conference on climate change this week in Melbourne, keynote speaker Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the director of the Potsdam Institute, and former climate adviser to the German Chancellor and the EU, asked rhetorically: "What is the difference between two degrees (of temperature increase) and four degrees?" His answer was concise.

"The difference is human civilisation".

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