1. Zero net emissions city

To become an eco-city the municipality will need to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases to zero. We will do this by massively reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and then offsetting those that remain. The interim target for this ambitious goal is to reduce the total emissions across the municipality by 59 per cent per worker and 35 per cent per resident by 2020 (from 2006 levels).

The municipality, along with all developed cities and countries across the world, must make big reductions in greenhouse gas emissions - and fast. Melbourne can be a leader in the global task of averting catastrophic manmade climate change. But on average Australians are one of the worlds highest per capita greenhouse gas emitters.

In 2000 Australian ranked as the 9th highest emitter out of 185 countries and was the highest emitters of any developed countries.1 Victoria's Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability has said "...our energy legacy has positioned Victoria as one of the highest per capita greenhouse polluting states in one of the highest per capita greenhouse polluting countries in the world". 2

Community involvement

Effective action to achieve a zero-carbon municipality requires widespread community participation. A long-term and focused communication program to motivate people will cater to our diverse community, and will cover all opportunities for meaningful contributions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Communications will also focus on increasing awareness that actions in Melbourne affect not just the city, but also the state, nation and the world.3

The City of Melbourne has reviewed and updated its Zero Net Emissions By 2020. City of Melbourne Emissions policy . The municipality and the Victorian and Federal Governments, as well as community and professional organisations, have initiated programs and projects to improve the environmental sustainability of the municipality.4

Better data is needed on the performance of inner and central city residences. From these and other initiatives we can learn what does and doesn't work, who participates and who watches, and what some of the keys to effective and lasting change are. This will help us energise the community to take the direct actions necessary if we are to become an eco-city.

Building and infrastructure

All new buildings in the municipality must be energy efficient. New residential and commercial buildings will aim to achieve a six-star or greater NABERS energy rating. An award could be instituted as celebration and incentive for this. Reducing the embodied energy contained in buildings and infrastructure is also important. The manufacture of materials such as concrete and steel is extremely resource-hungry. Careful selection of materials is necessary to minimise this problem.

New building and infrastructure are more easily rendered energy efficient. But these only make up a small proportion of the whole stock of buildings and can therefore only make a limited contribution to municipality becoming a Zero-carbon city in the short time available.

To achieve this we will retrofit our existing buildings with more energy efficient heating, cooling, lighting, equipment and appliances through initiatives such as the Clinton Climate Initiative .

Retrofitting will yield significant savings through reduced energy costs, which can be used to cover retrofitting costs. Tailored programs, including appropriate data, will be developed for retrofitting of residential and commercial buildings and could be supported by pro-active planning scheme provisions. Innovative thinking will be important. For example, roof tops could become more valuable for wind or solar energy generation and/or food production and new options for aggregating and renting these spaces put into place.

Urban transport

Changes to transport use patterns will reduce transport-related greenhouse gas emission, see City of Melbourne Greenhouse Footprint for Transport Draft Report May 2008 . Greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by changing from unsustainable modes such as cars to public transport5, bicycles and walking and also just travelling less by eliminating unnecessary trips.

Low emissions local power generation

Melbourne is heavily dependent on brown coal as an energy source. This energy-source generates high levels of greenhouse gas emissions6. Reducing these emission by pumping the Co2 underground (geo-sequestration) is being researched but full scale commercial application may be decades away. We need to adopt energy sources with low and even no greenhouse gas emissions more immediately.

Redesigning and re-equipping whole precincts and neighbourhoods to reduce net energy demands and to generate energy on-site is an emerging focus of eco-cities across the world. Partnership with key stakeholders can achieve this. The proposed Green Transformers program in the City of Sydney is one example.

Local food

In Australia food-related greenhouse gas emissions exceed transport emissions, and may prove to be more significant than greenhouse gas emissions from power generation. Changes to food production, processing and consumption patterns will significantly reduce these greenhouse gas emissions.

This very challenging goal for the municipality can only be achieved through partnerships, incentives, proactive regulation such as through the planning scheme, and the cumulative effect of many smaller initiatives.


Goals Indicators Outcomes

Residents reduce emissions

Residents reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 35 per cent per capita by 2020 (from 2006 levels).

CO2 Emissions per resident per year.

Target: 5.1t

Current: 7.8t

reported every two years

Existing houses (12,000), apartments and flats (24,000) have been retrofitted for better energy and water efficiency. Housing is comfortable and is affordable to heat and cool.

Residents are informed and empowered and make low-carbon choices.

Workers reduce emissions

Workers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 59 per cent per capita by 2020 (from 2006 levels).

CO2 emissions per worker per year.

Target: 4.1t

Current: 9.9t

reported every two years

approximately 1200 Buildings ( 70 percent of the existing commercial building stock) in the city of Melbourne have been retrofitted to cut greenhouse gas emissions through programs such as the Clinton Climate Initiative .

New commercial and institutional buildings have at least as much greenery within their plot as if they were an empty, native site.

Transport reduces emissions

Reduce transport related greenhouse gas emissions for trips within, to, and from the municipality.

Reduction in emissions for trips within and to and from the municipality per passenger kilometre.

Target: Indicator to be developed

Current: baseline to be developed.

reported every two years

Residents, workers and visitors utilise alternative modes of transport (cycling, walking and public transport) to meet their transport needs.

Report municipal greenhouse gas emissions annually

*Methodology to be determined

Greenhouse gas emissions for the municipality.

Target: interim targets to be determined

Current : 6.43 million tonnes per year.

Confidence of residents and workers that their contribution is assisting the municipality to meet its goal.


The city of Melbourne (place)
  • Per capita worker greenhouse gas emissions
  • Per capita resident greenhouse gas emissions
  • Transport greenhouse gas emissions per passenger kilometre
  • Total greenhouse emissions for the city of Melbourne.

Global city ranking

See Also


1 : Wikipedia - List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions per capita

2 : Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability (2007) State of the Environment - Energy

3 : Sustainable Development Commission, UK, Sustainable Consumption Roundtable (2006). I will if you will - Towards sustainable consumption

4 : City of Melbourne (2008) Environmental Sustainability - Introduction

5 : Transperth savings and emissions calculator

6 : Coal Fired Power Stations are Death Factories. Close them. James Hansen. The Guardian 15 February 2009

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