World Environment Day is an annual reminder that we live on a fragile planet. The environment is not something separate from us that can be discussed abstractly - it is the fresh water, clean air, healthy and abundant crops and farmland as well as the remarkable biodiversity which keeps us all alive.
We face urgent problems including a dramatic decline in biodiversity, the depletion of natural resources and dangerous climate change.
That is why the City of Sydney is getting on with the job of reducing our impact. For too long politicians have talked about doing the right thing and failed to deliver.
The City's program to reduce carbon pollution by 70 per cent by 2030 is one of the most ambitious targets of any Australian government.
I am proud of the City's investment in reducing our energy use. We are building 4 low-carbon zones which will use trigeneration to deliver electricity, heating and cooling to business and residents. Energy use in these zones will be 30% lower thanks to much greater energy efficiency and switching from coal to gas will further reduce pollution.
Sydney's trigeneration plants will be fitted with the latest air quality control technology to make them as low impact as possible. In fact, exhaust from the plants will contain 80% less nitrogen oxide than allowed under current air quality standards.
Trigeneration systems are more than twice as energy efficient as coal-fired power stations plants. Too much energy is wasted, and pollution created, in transmitting coal-fired electricity from the Hunter Valley to the centre of Sydney.
I support the goal of moving Australia to 100 per cent renewable energy, but gas fired trigeneration is an important way to reduce pollution now while making the transition to 100 per cent renewables.
It's important to develop non intermittent renewal energy resources, such as gases from waste, if we are going to achieve a 100% renewable energy society.
The City is working to make this a reality by developing a renewable energy master plan. We will investigate sources of renewable gases from household waste, sewage and agriculture.
These are the kind of large-scale, long-term plans that our city needs, but without action from you they are not enough.
To really tackle the urgent environmental problems we face, each of us needs to act. I hope on World Environment Day you can think of a contribution you can make to this effort.