Cities unite behind new climate targets

By Sean Car

The City of Melbourne is following Sydney’s lead in adopting more ambitious targets to reduce its carbon emissions. 

Lord Mayor Sally Capp was joined by Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore at Melbourne Town Hall on February 14 at the National Climate Emergency Summit, with the two leaders using the opportunity to promote accelerating climate action.  

At its February 18 Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) meeting, councillors supported a review of a range of possible actions as a result of the council’s declaration of a climate emergency last year including: 

Reaching its zero emissions target for the municipality 10 years earlier by 2040;

Moving all council operations out of fossil fuels such as gas and petrol;

Fast-tracking the delivery of 44km of protected bike lanes;

Stimulating circular economy solutions for waste; and 

Developing a policy to provide rates incentive for energy efficient buildings. 

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the Emergency Response documents codified and built on each city’s climate emergency declaration. 

“Preventing severe climate change is a global challenge and Australia must pull its weight. Sydney has just endorsed a new target for zero emissions by 2040 and Melbourne is looking to do the same,” the Lord Mayor said.

“Our cities are taking action to cut emissions, embed cleaner energy and green our streets. Melbourne and Sydney will both be striving for the ambitious goal of zero net emissions by 2040.”

“However, we can’t do the heavy lifting alone – we need a serious national response to drive deep, effective change. Federal, state and local governments must work together if we are to avoid the worst impacts, which are already being experienced across our communities.”  

“There are also significant economic opportunities to be gained by taking strong action. As drivers of the national economy, the cities of Sydney and Melbourne will be examining what role they can play in further facilitating investment in and implementation of cleaner technology and encouraging behaviour change.”

Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore said the documents allowed business units within each council to budget and determine the resourcing needed to deliver on key new priorities that addressed climate change.

“The bushfire crisis this summer has been a wake-up call for many people across Australia. The climate emergency that scientists have been warning us about has suddenly become very real,” she said. 

“But when it comes to reducing emissions and taking strong action on climate change, we are a global laggard. It’s shameful. As one of the wealthiest nations on Earth, with access to some of the best renewable resources, and some of the world’s most innovative and creative thinkers, it’s our responsibility to move faster.”

“Cities generate around 70 per cent of global emissions, so while national governments fail us, cities like Sydney and Melbourne getting on with the job can make a real difference. Reducing emissions is a global challenge that requires collective action.”

More than 1300 councils across 26 countries have now made a climate emergency declaration.

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