The City of Sydney has reduced its net zero carbon emissions timeframe by five years to 2035, in a move to help avert catastrophic climate change.

The moving of the timeframe is mainly due to new research that says Australia and the rest of the world need to reach net zero emissions by 2035 to avoid the catastrophic consequences of more than 1.5 degrees of global heating.

The City will attempt to slash local area emissions by targeted programs to manage waste, energy and fuel. The target timeframe alteration will be included within the City’s proposed new Environmental Strategy 2021-2025.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore says the revision underscores the City’s commitment to action on climate change.

“We’re in the middle of a climate emergency, yet the Federal Government continues to ignore the community, expert advice and international pressure,” she says.

“Australia’s emissions have been going up since 2014, and in the face of the Government’s shameful inaction we are stepping up to reduce our emissions steeper and sooner.

“The City of Sydney was the first local government in Australia to become carbon neutral in 2007 and our operations are now powered by 100% renewable electricity.

“This year we’ll meet our 2008 goal to reduce emissions by 70 per cent by 2030 - nine years earlier than initially targeted. We’re leading by example to tackle the climate crisis and reaching net zero as soon as possible is the next step.”

Energy consumption produces 73 percent of the local area’s greenhouse gas emissions. By encouraging businesses, residents and other organisations to use renewable energy sources and switch to Green Power, the City plans to significantly reduce this number. The transport sector comes in second with 16 percent of total emissions, that the City plans to reduce through the means of encouraging a shift away from private vehicles and towards public transport, walking and cycling, as well as supporting businesses shift to electric vehicles.

Environmental Strategy 2021-2025 targets waste reduction across the residential sector, aiming to divert 90 percent from landfill by 2030. The City is running a food scraps recycling trial, with around 11,000 households currently able to access the scheme – with another 10,000 households expected to have access by September 2021. Every tonne of food waste diversion saves 1.69 tonnes of carbon emissions.

The City will support the development of energy efficient buildings and will also take action to further improve the environmental performance of its own operations.

“Overwhelming climate research tells us we cannot afford to take our time reducing carbon emissions in Australia – emissions need to plummet now,” says Moore.

“While the City of Sydney cannot tackle the climate crisis alone, we can lead and encourage others to do the same within their communities.

“Achieving net zero means the greenhouse gas emissions produced in an area must not exceed the greenhouse gas emissions taken out of the atmosphere through offset programs. The only realistic way to do this is by slashing the amount of emissions generated in the local area.”

The City of Sydney Councils Environmental Strategy 2021–2025 addresses the regeneration of polluted waterways, air and land as well as planning for how the area can adapt to the climate crisis. The strategy will be presented to Council for approval this month. Following approval, the draft strategy will go on public exhibition from 19 May to 16 June.

To read the proposal, click here.

Image: The Conversation