Reducing emissions

Climate change is the most serious environmental challenge that human beings have faced. It is the defining issue of our time.

Globally, the largest contributor to climate change is the burning of fossil fuels for energy. Burning these fuels releases emissions that create a greenhouse effect in the atmosphere. This traps increasing levels of solar heat and causes warming. An energy transition to renewable energy is already well underway. To avert the worst consequences of climate change, we need to accelerate this transition.

There’s plenty we can do individually and collectively to stay globally competitive and reduce the impacts of climate change on Sydney and the wider world.

What you can do

Every resident and business in the City of Sydney local area has the power to make a real difference in the fight against climate change.

Some of the actions you can take are:

  • calling your energy provider and telling them you want to switch to a GreenPower electricity plan
  • installing rooftop solar panels at your home or business
  • reducing your use of cars by taking public transport, walking, cycling and carpooling
  • helping increase the amount of green space in our city by planting trees and plants or asking your council to plant greenery in your neighbourhood
  • changing your bank to one that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels you can find a clean lender at the Market Forces site
  • joining one of our sustainability programs, which will help your business to shift to renewables and reduce water, waste and energy consumption
  • See what else you can do to help.

What the City is doing

Australia took a step in the right direction when it signed the Paris Agreement in 2016 and committed to limit global temperature increases to less than 2˚C. But progress at a national level has been slow.

That’s why the City of Sydney is pursuing ambitious but achievable goals of our own as part of our climate emergency response. Our vision is for a resilient, sustainable Sydney that remains one of the world’s most vibrant and liveable cities for decades to come.

We’ve drawn up targets for the City of Sydney local area:

  • 50% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030
  • 70% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from 2006 levels
  • net zero emissions by 2050.

The benefits of achieving these targets are large and wide-ranging, and will have a positive impact internationally as well as locally. In the City of Sydney local area, we can look to cleaner air, a stronger economy and a healthier population.

Globally, a general move towards a more sustainable way of living can help to avoid the destabilisation of communities, the extinction of species and an increased regularity of catastrophic weather events.

Find out more about what the City is doing.

Our approach

Our strategies and plans help guide our action on climate change.

The environmental action 2016–2021 strategy and action plan sets our overall environmental strategy and outlines detailed action that will help us achieve it.

The adapting for climate change strategy explores the impacts our city will experience in the coming decades and the risks this will pose to our community. It also outlines how we need to adapt to these changes.

The energy efficiency master plan explores the opportunity to reduce energy use in different sectors in our local area.

The decentralised energy master plan: renewable energy 2012–2030 identifies the potential opportunities to implement renewable energy initiatives across the city.

Climate change impacts

The consequences of climate change are being felt in Australia already. These include:

  • the average surface air temperature has increased by 0.9°C since 1910, leading to more very hot days and fewer very cold days
  • bushfire season has lengthened and the type of extreme weather that commonly creates conditions for bushfires has increased
  • the sea level has risen at a rate of 3.2mm a year for the past 20 years.

For the City of Sydney area – as across the country – these changes are projected to get worse in coming years. That will mean by 2070, Sydney’s climate is likely to be hit by a further increase in average temperatures, greater levels of air pollution, more extreme weather events and a spike in the number of extreme heat days each year.

There will also continue to be a marked variability in yearly rainfall, an increase in drought and bushfire conditions, and a severe threat to many coastal areas through sea-level rise.

Poor and hazardous air quality that is dangerous to our health, especially those with respiratory problems.

Read more

Sydney and the climate crisis

The City of Sydney is tackling climate change head-on by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Our focus on climate change

The City of Sydney is adopting a diverse approach to tackling climate change and its effects.

Your role to reduce emissions

Here are things you can do to fight climate change and help take care of our environment. It’s easy to get started.

Last updated: Friday, 26 June 2020