Launched by the Australian Energy Market Operator on Wednesday, the zero-emissions city plan promises to “bring down the emissions intensity of the world’s cities to zero.”
The project is backed by the government and the private sector, which will help the project develop “a model for zero-carbon cities in all 50 states, territories and territories” and will help “create a new model for the Australian economy.”
Zero-emission city: ‘It is not a pipe dream’ (ABC News) The government has been clear it wants to “drive a hard bargain with our neighbours to reduce our emissions” and to make cities “the carbon capital of the 21st century.”
The government has committed to funding $400 million in new capital investment over five years.
The government also announced the creation of the Climate Action and Clean Energy Fund, which would provide $30 billion to support projects that would “improve and transform our nation’s cities”.
“This is a bold vision, but the reality is that it is not just a pipe-dream,” said Minister for Climate Change Scott Emerson.
“There are many cities already making real progress on zero-deforestation initiatives and reducing their carbon footprint by 50 per cent.”
According to the project, cities around the world will need to develop a carbon management strategy to meet the goals set out in the Paris Agreement and that means reducing emissions by 50 percent by 2030.
“Zero-deforesting means cutting all urban forests, no matter where you are, and this is the most important step to achieving our Paris commitment,” the plan states.
The Climate Action, Clean Energy and Renewable Energy Fund will support “large-scale, national carbon mitigation and storage projects” and the Climate Change Authority will support new projects “to deliver a new generation of low-carbon infrastructure”.
The plan also promises to introduce new emissions-neutral measures to make “climate resilient” infrastructure, such as electricity, “more energy-efficient and resilient to climate change”.
The Climate Action Fund will provide $40 million for projects to implement “low-carbon technologies that can make the transition to low-emitting technologies”.
The plan is backed by Australia’s National Infrastructure Commission, the Commonwealth’s Infrastructure Commission and the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
The Climate Leadership Alliance will provide “policy advice to the Commonwealth and State governments on the design and implementation of zero-and-amphibious cities”.
“The Climate Leadership Fund is a vital first step in our plan to make Australia a zero-energy economy and a carbon-neutral city,” Andrew Robb, the Climate Leadership Partnership CEO, said in a statement.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the Commonwealth to ensure this plan is developed and implemented, and we look forward to continuing to work together with the Government to make sure we have the best chance of meeting our Paris commitments.”
The announcement came after Australia and New Zealand both announced plans to phase out coal in 2020, following years of pressure from environmentalists and cities, which are both members of the World Climate Change Agreement.
In a press release, Environment Minister Scott Emerson said the Government was committed to ending the “dangerous legacy of fossil fuels in Australia’s economy and our environment”.
“This plan is a powerful message from the Government of Australia that it’s not just about cutting carbon emissions, it’s about a new, more sustainable energy future,” Mr Emerson said.
“It’s a message we will carry into the 2020s.”
Newly announced zero- and amphibious city plans have also come under fire from environmental groups, which say they are being used to push for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies that could reduce emissions.
CESC, or carbon capture, storage and processing, is the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) in liquid form, which is then sent to a chemical processing plant to be processed into energy or other materials.
Australia has already announced plans for two new cities, Sydney and Canberra, and a third, Perth, is set to come online next year.
ABC climate reporter Matt Loughin said while it was a “pretty significant announcement”, he doubted it would be enough to push the climate change negotiations ahead.
“[It] is not going to be enough,” he said.
Instead, he believes the Government should be aiming to make a “big impact” on climate change policy in the coming years.