Sydney is first carbon neutral council

Sydney is first carbon neutral council

The City of Sydney has become the first council in Australia to achieve formal status as carbon neutral as a result of its benchmark greenhouse gas reduction programs.

Federal Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Minister Greg Combet presented the certificate (on behalf of Low Carbon Australia), to Lord Mayor Clover Moore at a carbon price forum at Sydney Town Hall last month.

"This carbon neutral certification demonstrates the City of Sydney's commitment to sustainability and tackling climate change. It is one of the ambitious sustainability goals the City has adopted," he said.

"I commend the City of Sydney for this achievement and congratulate the Lord Mayor and the city councillors for the leadership they have shown on climate change."

The City's carbon neutral status was officially confirmed under the new National Carbon Offset Standard, introduced by the Australian Government in July.

The City has reduced and offset its carbon pollution by 210,000 tonnes since unofficially achieving carbon neutrality in 2008.

According to the Federal Government's Green Vehicle Guide this reduction is the equivalent of taking 70,000 cars off the road for a year.

'Carbon neutral' means the City's net emissions are zero. Carbon emissions by the City's vehicles, the coal-fired electricity it uses and other emissions sources are reduced by actions such as improving energy efficiency and installing solar panels.

Buying carbon pollution credits from projects such as wind farms offsets remaining emissions.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said this national accreditation is the seal of approval for the City's commitment to achieving real reductions in carbon emissions.

"We are on track to reach one of the most ambitious emissions reduction targets of any Australian government - 70 percent by 2030 from 2006 levels," she said.

"We've already reduced the City's 2006 carbon emissions by six percent and, we're on track to reach our 20 percent target by 2012." she said.

The Lord Mayor said Australian capital cities are responsible for nearly a quarter of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. If they were to adopt similar programs to the City of Sydney they could contribute 40 percent to the national five percent reduction target.

Low Carbon Australia CEO Meg McDonald congratulated City of Sydney for their significant efforts in this Australian first.

"As one of the world's iconic cities, Sydney's achievement is an important demonstration of leadership, backed by a comprehensive sustainability strategy to reduce their carbon footprint and offset emissions," she said.

The City will cut more emissions with the rollout of energy efficient LED street lighting, a $12 million solar panel project and installation of a low carbon tri–generation energy network to produce electricity, heating and cooling for buildings.

The Lord Mayor said Australia's per person emissions are the highest in the OECD and among the highest in the world.

"But Sydney is leading the way on reducing carbon pollution," she said.

"We're also attracting forward looking businesses seeking to reduce their carbon pollution and potential liabilities under a carbon price."

"It is in our best interests to cut carbon pollution because we face potentially devastating climate changes, including more intense heatwaves, droughts, bushfires, cyclones and the spread south of tropical diseases."

The new National Carbon Offset Standard gives a guide to genuine offsets and sets minimum requirements for calculating, auditing and offsetting the carbon footprint of organisations and products to achieve 'carbon neutrality'.