(9.30am, Wednesday 30 October 2013, Lower Town Hall)
The latest report of the International Panel on Climate Change only underlines the perilous situation we are now in: that climate change is already happening, that it's caused by humans and that it is only going to get worse unless we act soon.
We at the City of Sydney know how important it is that city governments take action on climate change because even though cities occupy only responsible of 2% of earth's surface, over half the world's population live in cities (even more in Australia) and as cities generate 75-80% of world's emissions, it's in our cities that we can make effective cuts.
In our long term plan Sustainable Sydney 2030 we have committed to reducing our emissions by 70% by 2030. We have set targets to achieve that goal and we have quarterly reporting to ensure we are meeting those targets.
Firstly, in getting our own house in order:-
- We have retrofitted 45 of our buildings for water and energy savings.
- We are rolling out LED street and park lights across the city and this will save $800,000 per annum and reduce light emissions by 51% (NSW Government across the State).
- We have installed Sydney's largest building based solar photovoltaic system.
- Our plan for precinct based Trigeneration has stalled. Trigen is combined cooling, heating and power provided locally and will help us achieve our 70% reduction goal. This has been made difficult by Federal and State government's failure to change regulation which has resulted in it being too expensive to sell electricity to owners of adjoining buildings. So we are, for the moment, focusing on the Town Hall precinct - Town Hall, Town Hall House and QVB which we own.
- But we have enabled an innovative finance agreement (an environmental upgrade agreement) that will deliver trigeneration to 4000 future residents of the Central Park development (being built by Frasers Property Australia and Sekisui House Australia) on the former Carlton United Brewery site at Broadway.
- Decentralised Water Masterplan is important because only 2% of drinking water is used for drinking. Over 50% is used for flushing toilets, air conditioning cooling towers. We're meeting out goal of reducing water usage by 20% by the end of this year.
- We have the city's largest water harvesting project underway in Sydney Park, one of our major parks.
- We have planted 9000 trees (green roof/walls) since 2005 which is part of our plan to increase our canopy by 50% 2030. This reduces temperatures in a hot climate and provides oxygen, filters pollutants and carbon, and controls storm water run-off.
- We are constructing a 200km cycle network, 55km will be separated paths.
- We have a program that is reducing fleet emission (switching to hybrid/electric vehicles - powered by solar from our own buildings).
- We have advocated for light rail in our city for many years and together with the Sydney community greatly welcome the government's announcement to proceed, and have committed $220 million to the State's project for George Street public domain.
- Waste - recycling 65%. No domestic waste to landfill instead to advance waste treatment.
Secondly, we are working with others:
- We are working with residents - "Smart Green Apartment's program" - 30 action plans.
- We are working with property owners and businesses - BBP - 25% reduction $25million.
- We are working with commercial tenants- City Switch (105 commercial tenancies) signed up and project taken up across Australia)
Yet even while we're progressing on those fronts, we have a new Federal Government deciding to close the Climate Commission, the Climate Change Authority, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and is having a bill drafted to remove the carbon price.
Can I urge you all to do what you can, to support the Australian Climate Council set up by the former Climate Commissioners, under the chairmanship of Tim Flannery. We are going to need their strong, independent voice to help us win this battle for our children's future.
We're also going to need every single person to play a part in reducing their own footprint. So we were pleased to support the Women Power pilot initiative with a City Environmental Grant.
Committed women can make a difference, and today you'll hear how the 10 women, and their diverse households, take action to reduce their energy use.
I understand that the average saving across the Women Power participants is about 45% of their energy consumption, which is extraordinary â€¦ if it were replicated across the city it would make our target so much easier â€¦ across the country it would change the energy equation for Australia.
I hope your experiences will encourage every one in this hall to take up the challenge and make Sydney the fabulous, green sustainable city it can be for the future.