The City of Sydney Australia and the Lord Mayor Clover Moore have been championing climate change, and have led a campaign to push the sustainability agenda. Every new year there is the “Mayor’s New Year’s Eve Party” held at the Sydney Opera House. But this year the mayor is cancelling it and the $750,000 in Canadian funds will be going towards “10 new urban parks over the next year, a zero-carbon building competition, efforts to help tenants access renewable energy, retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency and expanding efforts to help commercial buildings cut their emissions.”
Last year at a meeting of the C40 city network on Climate Change the Mayor noted that in order to meet the Paris Agreement, cities had to do twice as much in half the time.” Emissions cutting is part of the Sustainable Sydney 2030 Plan which will reduce the city’s emissions by 70 per cent by 2030 and be completely carbon neutral by 2050.
“People can’t see emissions reductions,” she said. But giving residents visual signs of green progress – amenities they want that also happen to cut emissions – “creates some ownership,” said the mayor, who walks in the city’s parks most days with her husband and dogs.
By “upgrading the city’s car fleet to hybrid vehicles, planting 10,000 trees, promoting car sharing, installing solar systems and water harvesting, and working with businesses to cut emissions” through building design resulted in a 25 per cent emission reduction since 2006. This reduction happened even though there’s been a 25 per cent increase in population and $26 billion (Canadian dollars) of development in the same time.
The hostile attitude of the former federal government under Prime Minister Tony Abbott did not deter the mayor. Despite the fact the Prime Minister stopped carbon reduction efforts and was seen as a climate change obstructionist, Mayor Clover Moore has served four terms as Sydney’s Lord Mayor. She received criticism that bike lanes would worsen traffic congestion-they did not. The Mayor perceives the Sydney business community as being her strongest ally.
“Leadership is absolutely crucial,” she said – and she thinks city governments are well placed to provide it, particularly with national action faltering in parts of the world. We get up in the morning and do something. That’s the fantastic thing about city government. We do things and we change people’s lives.”