Date: June 12 2012
Australia's major cities are lagging behind those in Europe, South America and the United States in rolling out innovative green programs to tackle climate change, a new global report reveals.
The Carbon Disclosure Project, an independent green business think-tank based in London, analysed data on greenhouse emissions and green programs provided by 73 cities, including Sydney and Melbourne.
Its report shows that while Sydney has pledged to cut greenhouse emissions by 70 per cent by 2030, it has not developed a city-wide plan to build resilience to climate change. Data provided by Sydney for the report also dated from six years ago.
And while Melbourne aims to be a carbon neutral city by 2020, it has no city-wide program in place to verify its greenhouse emissions data.
Although Canberra is not among the cities that signed up to be scrutinised by the global project, recent cuts to green programs outlined in the ACT budget appear to be at odds with trends outlined by the report. Among last month's ACT budget cuts was a $2 million grants program intended to help owners of commercial office buildings improve energy efficiency. The Gillard government also axed its $1 billion Green Building program, which had promised tax breaks for commercial building retrofits.
According to the Carbon Disclosure Project, building retrofits are among the top three green urban initiatives. London has already retrofitted almost 90 commercial buildings, and Moscow has also embarked on an ambitious program. In the US, Portland, Oregon, has already rolled out a $25 million energy retrofit program that pays up-front costs of building retrofits, with the loan repaid on energy bills over a 20-year period. In its first two years, the program has created 400 new jobs.
While the ACT has announced it will spend $429 million on new roads, Rio de Janeiro is expanding the city's bicycle network to cut car dependence, congestion and greenhouse emissions. In the US, Seattle is also developing a new urban master plan to place greater emphasis on walking and cycling.
Paris has a biodiversity plan, aiming to create 32 hectares of green urban spaces, 17 hectares of green roofs and 40 new wetlands across the city by 2020. The Carbon Disclosure Project's cities program leader, Conor Riffle, said cities were now ''major players in the fight against dangerous climate change''.
The report shows a majority are using municipal funds and corporate sponsorships to fund green initiatives, rather than waiting for federal grants to finance innovation.
Mr Riffle said the 73 cities surveyed in the report, published ahead of next week's United Nations Earth Summit in Brazil, account for almost one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions - ''roughly equivalent to the total emissions of Brazil and Canada combined.'' The report also showed cities had identified economic benefits from tackling the effects of climate change, with 82 per cent of those surveyed already tapping the potential for green jobs.
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