Urban Policy Forum

(12pm, Wednesday 17 October, Maddocks, 123 Pitt Street)

 

Thank you for your invitation today.

Before I begin, I'd like to acknowledge the original custodians of our land, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and pay my respects to their elders both past and present. I also acknowledge the people of the 200 nations who live in our city.

The Federal government has recognised the importance of our cities for the national economy, the challenges they face, and the need for coordination between all levels of government.

Today's forum is a valuable component of the Federal Government's Urban Policy Forum—an opportunity to build collaboration and knowledge for creating liveable and sustainable cities.

TARGETS AND INDICATORS

Our focus today is the role of targets and indicators in making cities more sustainable and liveable.

This was a central theme at the 2011 C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group summit in São Paulo, which I attended, representing Sydney. C40 is an international organisation of large cities committed to local climate action to help address climate change globally.

Climate change is a key challenge in keeping our cities productive, sustainable and liveable. The world's cities cover only two per cent of the earth's land surface but they have more than 50 per cent of the population and give rise to 75 per cent of the world's greenhouse emissions.

At the 2011 summit, C40 Chair and New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, released the first report on member cities' emission reduction targets, reporting and action. He stressed, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it… Only by regularly and rigorously measuring and analysing our efforts can we learn what works, what doesn't and why, and take effective action."

The C40 uses standardised reporting to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)—an independent not-for-profit organisation that works with thousands of companies and cities globally. The City of Sydney discloses its data to CDP, as one of 45 participating C40 cities (75% of the C40 membership).

The second annual report, released in June, demonstrates a strong relationship between targets and action. Cities with targets reported three times as many reduction activities as cities without targets.

SUSTAINABLE SYDNEY 2030

In 2006, the City of Sydney began work on Sustainable Sydney 2030, the long-term plan for our city's environmental, economic, social and cultural sustainability. We commissioned extensive research and commenced historically broad consultation with residents, business, government, retail and other sectors.

We wanted a vision that could inspire support—so that vital long-term work continues, notwithstanding who is in government in George Street, Macquarie Street or indeed Canberra. We developed a plan with strong targets and ambitious projects.

Today, I will focus our targets and strategies for emissions, water and urban renewal.

GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSION TARGETS AND MEASURES

A central target in Sustainable Sydney 2030 is the reduction in our greenhouse emissions by 70 per cent on 2006 levels by 2030. Without strong action, greenhouse gas emissions in our local government area will rise to over six million tonnes per annum by 2030. Our aim is to achieve this target as an organisation and to work with residents and business to achieve this target in our LGA.

The City organisation has been measuring, reducing and offsetting its own greenhouse gas emissions since 2006/07. In 2011, we became the first government in Australia to be certified as carbon neutral under the National Carbon Offset Standard. We remain carbon neutral through emission saving projects and accredited offsets equivalent to 100 per cent of the organisation's emissions.

Our research for Sustainable Sydney 2030 identified the range of strategies needed to achieve our 70 per cent reduction target city-wide—which we graphically depicted in our waterfall table.

I'm pleased to say that our work puts us on track to meet our target and to overcome the 17 per cent shortfall that we identified in 2008.

Our environmental progress is reported publicly to Council each quarter, with this chart updated to reflect more accurate results from subsequent work.

This current version of the waterfall chart conservatively anticipates a reduction in the deficit to 11 per cent.

It does not take into account new technologies—and it does not incorporate all of the potential energy resources and the scale of demand reduction measures that Council is now seeking to deliver.

EMISSIONS RECUCTION ACTIONS TO MEET THE TARGET

As an organisation we've awarded a $6.9 million tender to Origin Energy to retrofit our major buildings with energy and water saving measures. This aims to reduce greenhouse emissions by 23 per cent a year and water consumption by over 53,000 kL. This project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

We've also begun installing LED lights across the city - with the aim of replacing 6,450 conventional lights, saving almost $800,000 a year in electricity bills and maintenance costs. We are installing trigeneration in Green Square and Prince Alfred Park Pool to meet our organisational targets.

Our Green Infrastructure Plan is setting up an integrated approach to energy, water and waste, enabling by-products of one process to be used in another. It comprises five master plans, including plans on Trigeneration, Renewable Energy, and Decentralised Water.

Our plan for trigeneration, developed by Kinesis with Origin Energy and Cogent, is the real game changer for reducing emissions and supplying energy more efficiently. It could reduce greenhouse emissions by up to a third and supply 70% of energy locally.

Already there are many stand-along trigeneration systems, but our modelling showed us that tri-generation hubs serving all the buildings in a precinct would be more effective.

The Federal Government has recognised the benefits and awarded us a $3.75 million grant under the Liveable Cities Program towards the Green Square hub and $5 million towards our Prince Alfred Park and Town Hall projects.

Renewable energy is another important part of our strategy, and the renewable Energy Master Plan is expected to be released soon.

We're aiming to produce 30 per cent of the City's electricity from renewable sources by 2030, with solar electric panels, solar hot water, onshore and offshore wind and geothermal and renewable gases.

Over half of our renewable energy target can be sourced from within the city, with the balance coming from within a 250km range. This will reduce the city's emissions by over 30%.

In Council's operations, we've already installed solar panels on the roof of Town Hall and 17 other sites - reducing carbon emissions by 180 tonnes a year - and we've awarded a contract for the installation of solar panels across about 30 of our other buildings.

We also plan to identify suitable waste streams that could be converted into a usable gas resource enabling trigeneration to be powered by renewable sources in the future.

WATER MANAGEMENT

The City of Sydney has the oldest water supply and sewerage in Australia, and it's time to rethink how we deliver the City's drinking and non-drinking water supplies.

A 2010 federal status report showed that metropolitan Sydney recycled only seven per cent of its wastewater compared to the other major cities that achieved 20 per cent or greater.

Our targets for this local government area include a zero increase in mains water by 2015—which we are currently matching—and a 10 per cent reduction in potable water use through efficiencies by 2030.

We've already installed rain gardens, rainwater tanks and stormwater harvesting. We've improved park irrigations systems and - as I mentioned earlier - begun retrofitting our buildings.

We have developed and exhibition a draft Decentralised Water Master Plan that identifies local water sources could produce up to 12 billion litres of local recycled water each year. The plan proposes $93 million worth of projects over 18 years.

At a building level, the strategy includes improving metering and reporting. Providing information to water users has been found to result in water saving behaviour by providing a feedback loop. This is particularly important for apartments, where there are often no meters at the unit level.

URBAN RENEWAL AND DEVELOPMENT

Finally, I'd like to close with a few words on urban renewal and land use planning.

An extra million people are predicted to be living in Sydney by 2036, and all levels of government are looking at how to support that growth. Over the last decade, the City of Sydney has been the largest and fastest growing Local Government Area in residential population terms in the entire state.

Under the State Government's targets, the City has to provide 61,000 new homes and 114,000 new jobs by 2036. To protect heritage areas, the City has focused capacity on former commercial/industrial sites like Green Square, Harold Park, Ashmore Estate, the CUB site and Barangaroo.

Earlier, I referred to the C40's 2012 global report, Measuring for Management. One of its challenging conclusions is that larger, denser cities tend to produce lower greenhouse gas emissions per capita.

The City believes urban consolidation can work, and work well - but it must be supported by clean, efficient transport, community facilities, improved open space and design excellence.

Of these, transport is the most critical to reduce emissions, boost our economy and enhance liveability. If bold action is not taken, the CBD will be close to standstill in 20 years as we try to cope with 300,000 more people and another 1800 buses per day.

The City recently exhibited our strategic transport plan, Connecting our City.

It complements the NSW Government's transport targets, including increasing the share of commuter trips by public transport to the CBD in peak hours to 80%, more than doubling bicycle trips, and increasing the share of walking trips to 25% all by 2016.

And it contains practical and cost effective strategies, such as our growing network of cycleways. Independent bike counts show an 82 per cent increase in bike trips over the past two years.

Our research shows that light rail is the solution to the gridlock our city centre faces. It would drastically reduce traffic congestion, regenerate George Street, and make it easier for bus passengers, cyclists and pedestrians to get around.

CONCLUSION

We've set ambitious targets for a more sustainable and liveable Sydney and we're putting in place realistic plans to get us there. Targets are the basis of action plans and a means of monitoring success.

Thank you.