David Risstrom - Greens Melbourne City Councillor 1999-2004
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ACHIEVEMENT: The City of Melbourne establishes a zero net greenhouse gas emissions strategy and makes the intellectual property and practical information available to all Asia-Pacific cities who wish to do likewise.

TARGET DATE: June 2003 for adoption and action on the strategy. 2020 for the achievement of zero net emissions in the City of Melbourne. PROGRESS: Achieved.

DESCRIPTION: The City of Melbourne as a geographical location is aiming to reduce the amount of net greenhouse gas emissions dramatically to a point that any remaining emissions are offset by carbon sinks financed by the City. Once the Strategy is formed and ideas gained through its implementation, the City of Melbourne has committed to make the intellectual property and practical information available to all Asia-Pacific cities who wish to do likewise.

The Zero Net Greenhouse by 2020 strategy has been adopted by Council. Complete implementation of the strategy is set for the year 2020.

While I was Chair of the Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee, I presented a proposal to a Canberra meeting of the APEC Sustainable Cities Working Group for the City of Melbourne to develop a Zero Net Greenhouse Gas Emission by 2020 proposal. The strategy was enthusiastically welcomed, with a view to making the benefits of the work available to all Asia-Pacific cities who wish to adopt it.

In January 2002, following further development, I presented details of the proposal for political sign off at a further APEC Sustainable Cities Working Group meeting in Wuhan, China.

The final strategy was adopted by Melbourne City Council in 2003, with implementation underway.

A copy of the Strategy is available as a PDF download [1.3 MB] by clicking on the title: Zero Net Emissions by 2020 - A roadmap to a climate neutral city.

A short article I wrote titled 'Zero Net Emissions by 2020: Melbourne City Council’s Roadmap to a Climate Neutral City', describing the strategy and its development is shown below and is available as a PDF or word document by clicking on the underlined format you prefer.

Zero Net Emissions by 2020: Melbourne City Council’s Roadmap to a Climate Neutral City

What distinguishes the world today from previous epochs is that the hazards which society has to defend itself against are those resulting, not from the thunderbolts of the gods, or the blind chance of an inscrutable nature, but from human decisions.
McDonell, 1993, Risk Management And The Precautionary Principle: Coping With Decisions

There is now widespread scientific agreement that modern societies are producing more greenhouse gases than the atmosphere can accommodate, resulting in changes in global climate. There is also a growing realisation that uncertainty about the extent and effect of human-induced global climate change is no longer a justification for inaction.

Having completed a science honours degree in climate change, on election to Melbourne City Council in 1999, I felt it was important to catalyse practical and substantial action. While Chairperson of Melbourne City Council’s Environment Committee, as part of its membership of ICLEI’s Cities for Climate Protection Campaign, Council set targets for 30% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2010, and was on target to achieve them. (This at the same time as the Federal Government maintains that Australia’s Kyoto protocol target of an 8% increase is too difficult to achieve!)

Despite having set the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets of any local government in Australia, to its credit, Melbourne City Council decided to achieve more and to look beyond its own boundaries to effect change. With the support of Melbourne City Council, I presented a proposal for a Zero Net Emissions Strategy to the APEC Sustainable Cities Energy Working Group in Canberra in 2000, and to a further APEC meeting in Wuhan, China in January 2002 for political endorsement. As far as I am aware, the Zero Net Emissions Strategy was the first, and only, environmental project of its kind endorsed by the group.

Three strategies underpin the action plan to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2020:
1. Leading edge design, by using the natural cycle of rebuilding and refurbishing to achieve a 50% reduction in energy use by commercial and residential building stock.
2. Greening the power supply, by stimulating demand for renewable energy and energy-efficient power, such as combined cycle coal gasification and fuel cells, as well as encouraging cogeneration and embedded energy supply, particularly in industrial applications. The aim is to increase the use of renewable energy to 45% of projected demand by 2020 and achieve a 50% reduction in emissions from non-renewable resources.
3. Carbon sequestration, by investment in carbon sequestration to offset remaining emissions, and by stimulating investment in regions of Victoria that are linked to the City’s economic viability, environmental impact and social equity: 50% of the City of Melbourne’s corporate emissions are to be offset by sequestration by 2010.

The major initiatives of the strategy include:
· Privately financed world-class green buildings, catalysed by the City of Melbourne from the growing consumer and developer interest in green buildings.
· A centre for Greenhouse Expertise and Technology, to ensure access to leading edge design and innovation.
· Active marketing of a green productivity profile that promotes Melbourne as a location for knowledge based industries with high worker productivity and quality lifestyle based on a commitment to the principles of sustainability.
· A voluntary carbon market, to allow businesses greater flexibility in emissions management.
· The progressive strengthening of regulation on energy performance for buildings.
· A green supply chain with progressively strengthening standards.
· A city led buying consortium stimulating renewable and efficient energy demand.
· A pilot sequestration investment in blue mallee eucalyptus; and,
· Access of businesses to investments in carbon sequestration projects.

Development of the strategy has involved working with the Department of Sustainability and Environment, the Property Council of Australia, the Building Commission, the Australian Greenhouse Office, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Victoria, the Department of Infrastructure, CSIRO and the Docklands Authority. While the cost to the City of implementing the strategy is an estimated $1.75 million over 5 years, it is clear that the investment in environmental protection is well worth making. Furthermore, as a means of expanding its reach, the strategy will be made available to all Asia-Pacific cities that wish to adopt its principles.

Melbourne City Council’s adoption of its Zero Net Emissions by 2020 is a good example of how the Greens’ influence on government can make a real difference. By framing debate and demonstrating that environmental progress is achievable, green achievements in councils and governments Australia-wide are playing their part in helping their communities move towards a more sustainable existence.

Given the predicted effects of global climate change on the biosphere and the human communities it supports, there is a lot at stake.

Melbourne City Greens Councillor David Risstrom.

FURTHER INFORMATION: The following MCC Media Release of October 16 2000 describes early work on the strategy:

Melbourne Develops APEC Environment Blueprint

The City of Melbourne has developed a blueprint for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) organisation to help cities achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
The blueprint sets objectives for cities to:
· Reduce energy demand through improved building and urban design
· Increase renewable energy use through preferential purchasing by public and private groups
· Invest in carbon fixing projects
· Apply renewable and emerging technologies to create on-site energy generation
· Refurbish existing buildings to improve energy efficiency

Cities will be able to develop actions suitable for local conditions to achieve each of the objectives, allowing them to aim for zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Chair of the Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee, Cr. David Risstrom, said that the blueprint would assist cities to use market forces, investment, design and appropriate regulation to achieve the goals. "The City of Melbourne will develop and implement actions using this framework, in the process developing partnerships with international, national and state organisations.

"Melbourne was asked to lead this project by the APEC Sub Group on Energy for Sustainable Communities, which is a recognition of Melbourne's international reputation at the forefront of environmental issues. "The work that we are doing is opening avenues for marketing local expertise in energy management and renewable energy development in the Asia-Pacific region. "As well as improving our local environment and guiding other Asia-Pacific cities, the blueprint will also result in reducing operating costs and improving competitiveness for Melbourne business. "This plan extends the Council's current goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the municipality by 20% by 2010." City of Melbourne Chief Executive Officer Michael Malouf was invited to be the Australian delegate to the APEC Sub Group on Energy for Sustainable Communities in December 1998. The blueprint will be presented to the group in November.


Cool Green Tip Of The Week -

23 April 2017: Only those who decline to scramble up the career ladder are interesting as human beings. Nothing is more boring than a man with a career: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918 -1956.

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