Saturday, August 1, 2020

Zero net emissions targets and climate action plans need to be reflected in 2040 Hume Council Horizons Vision - Submission

My submission to the Draft City of Hume Horizons 2040 document to Hume Council. Quickly pulled together with 24 hours notice and submitted an hour before the midnight deadline. The Hume 2040 Horizons document can be read and tracked through the engagement process.

The effort that has gone into developing the Hume Horizons 2040 Plan and the vision in that plan and the opportunity to provide comments is appreciated.

Main areas of comment in this submission relate to Theme 2: A healthy and safe community and Theme 4: A sustainably built and well-maintained city with an environmentally engaged community. This submission largely concerns a lack of encompassed vision on emissions reduction in being aligned with Paris Agreement climate targets.

Hume Council 2040 needs to strongly embrace a zero net emissions community vision. Long term plans need to develop climate resilience and also be pro-active in setting meaningful operational and community targets for emissions reduction and action plans to achieve targets.

This is not a situation to be left up to Federal or State Government. There is a highly meaningful role for Hume council to have significant policies, strategies, targets and action plans to reduce emissions and aim for zero net operational and community emissions by 2050, as established by the UNFCCC Paris Agreement, as signed and ratified by Australia. There are many cities globally and in Australia already taking action as exemplified by the C40 cities and Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) networks.

As a developed nation Australia should actually be aiming at achieving targets in excess of the global target, as a matter of global social equity.

Climateworks Australia, in collaboration with Monash University and Monash Sustainable Development Institute, prepared the Net zero momentum tracker – local government report, (February 2020), which compared 57 Australian local governments in their ambition and climate action in being aligned with the Paris Agreement. While Hume Council is taking some action, it was found to be not aligned with the Paris Agreement and in the lower 40 percent of Councils.i

The science for the need to reduce emissions to limit temperature rise to 1.5C this century is very clear in the IPCC special report on Global Warming of 1.5C. The Summary for Policymakers applies as much to Councillors and Council staff as State and Federal Government policymakers.ii

Summary of Hume Council climate ambition

Information for this has been taken from ClimateWorks Australia local government comparison report on climate ambition, published February 2020.iii

1. Hume Council has not set any net zero ambition target

While Council has put in place some policies and programs to reduce emissions, there is no target, or any associated plan. Targets and plans can be set for both Council operations and community emissions. Council’s own Operations are not currently operating as carbon neutral.

Source: See Table 1 of Climate Works Australia Net zero momentum tracker – local government report (3/2/2020) pp14

2. Council Operational Emissions Reduction

Climate Works Australia has assessed that while there are detailed strategies in place for Energy conservation, Renewable Electricity, Electrification/fuel switching, Non-energy targets, there is no Specific target that aligns with net zero emissions before 2050.

Climate Works noted the following Operational Activities: (pp33)

  • New facilities’ emissions to be at least 25% below the modelled emissions of the National Construction Code.

  • Reduction in energy use through energy efficiency measures to upgrade lighting and optimisation.

  • Solar installs on buildings and 10% Green Power purchase for all council buildings to reach at least 1.2 MW solar generation by 2021/22.

  • Increase ratio of emissions efficient fleet vehicles to 20% by 2020.

  • Implement gas capture and use for at least 75% of emissions from landfill.

Source: See Table 2 of Climate Works Australia Net zero momentum tracker – local government report (3/2/2020) pp16

3. Community Emissions reduction Commitment

Climate Works Australia has assessed that for Energy conservation, Electrification/fuel switching, and Non-energy targets, there are activities being undeertaken but without a detailed strategy or target that will reduce emissions.

Renewable Electricity was reported as Activities to reduce emissions supported by a detailed strategy or target.

Climate Works noted the following Community activities: (pp33)

  • Support energy efficiency and renewable energy for the community.

  • Programs to reduce waste and support sustainable transport modes.

Source: See Table 3 of Climate Works Australia Net zero momentum tracker – local government report (3/2/2020) pp18

Hume Emissions Profile

Beyond Zero Emissions, working with Ironbark Sustainability, have recently loaded municipal emissions profiles for all local government areas around Australia at a new website. These emissions profiles are based on a standard applied international methodology.iv

The 2018/19 Hume municipal emissions profile is:


Ideally Hume Council should be setting ambituos targets of zero net emissions by 2040, ahead of the general mandated global target. Specific targets should be set within each sector with plans outlining emission reduction pathways.

As it is impossible to thoroughly plan for all the possible behavioural and technology changes in a 20 year plan, shorter 5 year action plans should be drawn up, which then feed in to subsequent plans to achieve the long term targets.

It is clear there are opportunities in electricity and gas for reduction in emissions both from residential and industrial users with adoption of renewable energy and advocacy to state government to increase the level of grid renewables and grid level storage

Electricity

Hume Council already has policies supporting energy efficiency and renewable energy for the community which can be further built upon with firm targets.

With Industrial users at over 23 per cent of the total community emissions profile, an action plan is needed for business and industrial conversion to using renewable energy. This involves education and advocacy and liason with the state, and possibly Federal government.

Gas

By 2040 gas use in residences, commercial and industrial premises should be near zero.

Gas is a fossil fuel with fugitive emissions at every level of the distribution chain. Several studies rate gas carbon intensity as similar, or even worse, than coal once fugitive emissions are factored in.v

Council should be discouraging new gas connections in new residential developments through its planning and development controls.

There should be a program for conversion of existing homes with gas to all electric. This also improves household safety from gas heaters and reduces indoor toxic pollution from gas appliances (heaters, stoves, gas cooktops)vi

Transport

Transport is one of those areas that does involve significant work at all 3 levels of government, and in community behaviour change, to achieve ambituous emissions reductions

Domestic Aviation

Emissions from Domestic Aviation Travel will be extremely difficult to change and will definitely require advocacy to other levels of government for progress.

Melbourne airport and domestic aviation emissions is nominally within the Hume Council community profile. The Federal Government having responsibility for regulating and reducing airport and domestic aviation emissions. There is certainly a strong advocacy role that Hume Council could undertake on Domestic air travel emissions. (For the articulation of the problem with aviation emissions see Mark Carter, The Elephant in the Sky (2018)vii

Advocacy for development of high speed intercapital rail network to reduce domestic air travel is one action Council could support. The route of a High Speed Rail line is likely to pass through Hume and may involve a secondary Melbourne station.

Local Transport

Local transport vision for Hume in 2040 is a much better connected city, with rapid suburban rail links to the Melbourne CBD, and access via the suburban rail loop to other activity centres around Melbourne. Frequent bus services will co-ordinate with rail timetables or are at such frequency that they are considered turn up and go.

Rail and bus network

The suburban rail network line will be extended, electrified and duplicated to Wallan to serve the new residential suburbs in the north of the municipality.

The Upfield line will have new stations at Campbellfield and Upfield, the line duplicated to Upfield and extended along the Somerton Link with a new platforms at Roxburgh Park and Craigieburn.

The extension of the Upfield line is highly important to share the capacity from the residential growth in Craigieburn and suburbs further north in the next decade. Infrastructure Australia has assessed the Hume corridor being a major congestion point if rail capacity is not expanded in the next decade:

"The Audit also projects that demand for rail transit in the corridor, on the Craigieburn Line, will exceed capacity by a factor of four by 2031. In the absence of transport capacity improvements, the Audit indicates that daily vehicle movements on the Hume Freeway would grow from 43,100 in 2011 to 107,400 by 2031, making the rail line the most crowded in Melbourne.”viii

Hume Council should be lobbying very strongly for rail network extension to Wallan and upgrade and extension of the Upfield Line before 2030.

Vehicle Fleet

Most of the private vehicle fleet in Hume by 2040 should be either battery electric, hydrogen fuel cell or hybrid electric, which will reduce road transport greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.

The CSIRO advises Australia’s entire car fleet could be fully electric by 2050, with the share of EVs in new car sales reaching more than 70 per cent as early as 2030 and 100 per cent of new car sales by 2040.ix

Council need to incorporate in planning and development residential vehicle charging and installation of a public vehicle charging network. There are very few publicly accessible vehicle charging stations currently present in the City of Hume.

Active Transport

The 2040 vision for Hume should include a highly developed network of dedicated and shared use bicycle paths, and some on-road bicycle lanes connecting local activity centres, schools and railway stations with the Melbourne Principal Bicycle Network and Strategic cycling Corridors.

Shared Use paths should be constructed along the Craigieburn railway line (Moreland is constructing the Craigieburn express pathway) and the Upfield Rail line (Extension of the Upfield Bike Path following the rail line eventually to Wallan)

Well before 2040 the Northern Region Trails Strategy should be complete. This will entail both budget commitment by Hume Council and liason and advocacy to the Victorian State Government and Department of Transport. According to the Northern Region Bicycle Trail Network strategy (2016) it would cost $162 million to develop and construct 480 kilometres of new bike paths in the northern region of Melbournex.

Fostering walking and cycling for recreation, and for short journeys, enhances health outcomes, as well as reducing transport emissions. This includes reducing obesity in outer urban communities of Melbourne’s north.xi

Cycling routes should connect with the Principal bicycle network for commuting to work and major employment centres across Hume and to the Melbourne CBD.

Parklands should have a developed shared use path and trail network for residents to explore the volcanic plains ecosystems, creek environments, and aboriginal cultural heritage in the municipality.

Conclusion

Health

The expectation “Well-connected commuter and recreational cycling and pedestrian networks and amenities encourage active lifestyles and lower costs of living” needs to be fast tracked both for livability and reduce transport emissions. Emissions reduction and Climate action also contributes significantly to improve and is a driver of population wide health outcomes.

Sustainably Built and engaged community

The expectation “Carbon and environmental impacts are minimised through strong leadership in the uptake of renewable energy, waste reduction, efficient use of resources and sustainable practices, and Council activities and services” fails to encompass a net zero carbon vision for Hume municipality in 2040.

The expectation “The safety and wellbeing of people and property is enhanced through well-designed buildings and public spaces and safe, respectful behaviour within Hume’s community” needs to factor in gas as an indoor pollutant and safety issue. There needs to be a transition plan to reduce gas use.

Hume Council should formerly consider joining the Beyond Zero Emissions Zero Carbon Communities program. https://bze.org.au/zero-carbon-communities/zcc-councils/

There are many points in the vision document which are excellent and the advice above is given in order to improve and refine Council’s 2040 vision.

Background:

I am a grassroots climate activist researching and advocating for ambitious action at Local, State, and Federal levels and internationally. I have attended the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference as an NGO observer for the Climate Action Network Australia in 2015 (COP21), 2016 (COP22), 2017 (COP23), 2019 (COP25). I am a member of Hume Climate Action Now.

End Notes

i Climateworks Australia (3 Feb 2020) Net zero momentum tracker – local government report. Accessed at
https://www.climateworksaustralia.org/resource/net-zero-momentum-tracker-local-government-report/

ii IPCC (2018) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C.
Accessed at: http://ipcc.ch/report/sr15/

iii Climateworks Australia (3 Feb 2020) Net zero momentum tracker - local government report. Accessed at https://www.climateworksaustralia.org/resource/net-zero-momentum-tracker-local-government-report/

iv Snapshot: Hume 2018/19 municipal emissions snapshot. Accessed at https://snapshotclimate.com.au/locality/australia/victoria/hume/

v The Australia Institute (2016) Australia’s unaccounted for emissions could cause Paris target failure. Accessed at: https://www.tai.org.au/content/australia%E2%80%99s-unaccounted-emissions-could-cause-paris-target-failure
See also: Dimitri Lafleur, Tim Forcey, Hugh Saddler and Mike Sandiford, Climate Energy College, Melbourne University, A review of current and future methane emissions from Australian unconventional oil and gas production (October 2016) http://climatecollege.unimelb.edu.au/review-current-and-future-methane-emissions-australian-unconventional-oil-and-gas-production

vi Logue JM, Klepeis NE, Lobscheid AB, Singer BC. 2014. Pollutant exposures from natural gas cooking burners: a simulation-based assessment for Southern California. Environ Health Perspect 122:43–50; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3888569/
See also: Byard, R.W. Carbon monoxide – the silent killer. Forensic Sci Med Pathol 15, 1–2 (2019). Accessed at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12024-018-0040-5
See Also: Vic Health Advisory (15 May 2020) on Carbon monoxide and gas heater safety. Accessed at: https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/about/news-and-events/HealthAlerts/carbon-monoxide-gas-heater-safety

viii Infrastructure Australia ( 26 Feb 2020) Infrastructure Priority List 2020. Accessed at
https://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/publications/infrastructure-priority-list-2020

ix The Driven (18 June 2020) CSIRO says Australia’s car fleet could be fully electric by 2050. Accessed at: https://thedriven.io/2020/06/18/csiro-says-australias-car-fleet-could-be-fully-electric-by-2050/

xi Obesity-related health impacts of active transport policies in Australia – a policy review and health impact modelling study, Brown, Vicki, Moodie, Marj, Cobiac, Linda, Mantilla, Herrera and Carter, Robert (2017), Obesity-related health impacts of active transport policies in Australia – a policy review and health impact modelling study, Australian and New Zealand journal of public health, vol. 41, no. 6, pp. 611-616, doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12726

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