Bold action to tackle climate change

Bold action to tackle climate change

At the City of Sydney we’ve committed to reducing our city’s emissions by 70 per cent (on 2006 levels). We’ve already cut emissions by 18 per cent within our own operations since 2006 and current projects will reduce them by 29 per cent by 2016.

Ninety-seven per cent of peer reviewed science papers say global warming is happening, humans are responsible, and it’s accelerating.

A change of two degrees is all that is needed for our planet to tip into catastrophic climate change, but projections show we are headed for a four to six degree change.

The Climate Commission recently released a report calling this a critical decade for action. They warned that failing to take sufficient action will lead to potentially huge risks to our economy, society and future way of life.

What we’ve achieved so far

  • The City is the first Australian government to be carbon neutral, a status we’ve enjoyed since 2008.
  • We’ve become the first Australian city to install energy-efficient LED street and park lights.
  • We’ve embarked on Australia’s largest building-mounted solar PV network and we’ve made our buildings energy efficient with major refits.
  • The $6.9 million retrofit of 45 City properties has achieved 20 per cent reduction in energy and water use, saving $1 million on bills.
  • Nearly 300 smaller businesses are benefitting through the City’s Smart Green Business program and making big cuts to their utility and waste bills.
  • The City of Sydney is a founding member of CitySwitch, Australia’s flagship office energy-efficiency program. Beginning in Sydney in 2005, CitySwitch went national in 2008 and now covers 157 tenancies and 969,600 square metres of office space.
  • The City’s Environmental Upgrade Agreements are making it easier for building owners to access capital for building retrofit projects, allowing both owners and tenants to reap the benefits of operating a greener building.
  • Thanks to our first Environmental Upgrade Agreement with Frasers Property, 4,000 future residents of the Central Park development will be using low-carbon energy in our first trigeneration precinct.
  • Through the Better Buildings Partnership, the City is forging alliances with major property owners to cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve the sustainability performance of office buildings.

Next steps

  • Town Hall trigeneration precinct – the City will design a trigeneration precinct that includes Sydney Town Hall, Town Hall House, the Queen Victoria Building and other nearby buildings. The precinct has the potential to contribute 11 per cent of the City’s 2030 greenhouse gas reduction targets.
  • Prince Alfred Park Pool – design has started for a new low-carbon fuel cell project to heat the pool and power the facility.
  • Thermal reticulation networks – existing private sector trigeneration operators will be connected to a broader customer base who want to access the hot water produced by trigeneration.
  • Green Square Town Centre – we will preserve the option for installing trigeneration in Green Square in the future. Council has approved a Development Application (DA) for the building that will house a future trigen plant in Green Square. A DA can be valid for up to five years.
  • Solar panels – we will work to capture the economic benefits of surplus electricity exported from solar panels on City buildings.
  • Renewable gases – we are investigating the design and construction of initiatives to convert waste into renewable gases.
Renewable energy

As part of developing our draft Renewable Energy Master Plan, the City researched other countries that are moving towards a 100 per cent renewable energy system.

Cities leading the way are using precinct-scale energy networks based on cogeneration or trigeneration. They’ve been able to provide 100 per cent renewable energy, as well as renewable electricity technologies.

Renewable gas is made from garbage, sewage plants, landfill sites, livestock, agriculture and forestry waste.

Our master plan proves renewable gas is a viable option for the city and we know it works because it’s already used in Australia and around the world.

In Germany, the most industrialised country in Europe, 25 per cent of total energy consumption was met by renewable energy resources in 2012. Germany plans to increase the share of renewable energy to 40 per cent by 2020 and to 80 per cent by 2050.

The Renewable Energy Master Plan is on exhibition until 3 September 2013. You can have your say at

What we need for the future

Our plans for city-wide trigeneration networks negotiated last year with Cogent Energy are on hold due to economic and regulatory hurdles. Late last year our state and federal governments removed an incentive for different building owners to share trigeneration power through the grid.

Instead we’re investigating a precinct that services buildings we own such as Sydney Town Hall, Town Hall House and the Queen Victoria Building.

Trigeneration produces low carbon electricity from natural and renewable gas and carbon-free hot water for heating and cooling. It’s twice as energy efficient as coal-fired power stations and can halve carbon emissions for buildings connected to networks.

We will continue lobbying our state and federal governments to change the regulatory environment so trigeneration networks are encouraged the same way they are in Berlin, Moscow, Paris, New York, Vienna, London, Seoul and China.

Last updated: Thursday, 18 July 2013