Climate change is real. Leading scientists agree we've reached a critical decade. It was terrific to read yesterday's Daily Telegraph calling for measured, rational and sensible action to cut carbon emissions.
Cities cover only two per cent of the earth's surface but are home to more than half the world's population - closer to 80 per cent in Australia.
Cities generate up to 75 per cent of carbon emissions, so its action in cities that provides us with the greatest opportunity for deep cuts. Sydney businesses are already on the case reducing their energy and power bills and helping the environment.
As part of a partnership with the City, companies that own over half the city's commercial office space revealed that by making their buildings more efficient, they had cut emissions by 25 per cent.
From changing their light globes to using more energy efficient air conditioning systems, they also saved more than $25 million a year on electricity bills. That's real value for their bottom line.
The national CitySwitch office energy-efficiency program helps commercial office tenants reduce emissions. The program is growing fast with over 400 signatories covering nearly two million square metres of office space in Australia. In one example, Sydney legal firm Norton Rose Fullbright saved $42,000 a year on energy bills.
Recently the City, Eureka Funds Management and Frasers Property signed a historic $26.5 million Environmental Upgrade Agreement to install a gas-powered trigeneration plant in the Carlton United Brewery development in Broadway.
Trigeneration is an environmentally sustainable way of generating electricity - an engine runs on natural or renewable gases and produces low-carbon electricity, heating and air-conditioning.
The City's program to replace street lights with LEDs is the first of its kind in Australia. LEDs use 40 per cent less electricity than conventional bulbs and produce 40 per cent less carbon pollution.
After we showed the project had saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy bills and reduced our energy use by more than 25 per cent, the NSW Government started encouraging other councils to do the same.
The only way to tackle this crisis is to test new ideas and take the most effective and achievable steps available.
Businesses have shown that they are willing and able to work with the City to take action. Now we need state and national political leaders to do the same.
Our future depends on it.
(This article first appeared in The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday 15 October)