Sydney Lord Mayor accuses state and federal governments of blocking climate action

The Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, has slammed the NSW State and Federal governments for their role in blocking or hampering the City's plans for sustainable development.

Speaking at the Climate Leadership Conference in Sydney last week, Ms Moore said that in many areas, the City faced a face a lack of collaboration and, often, active undermining.

“For example, a recent IPART determination on the wholesale price of water makes water recycling more challenging and threatens the viability of existing schemes in our city such as Central Park and Barangaroo, as well as water harvesting and recycling plans for Green Square in the CBD,” she said.

“The damaging WestConnex project ploughed through our water treatment plant in Sydney Park preventing us from using recycled water for the park's oval, nursery and depot for almost two summers and the project construction is affecting our power supplies needed for the stormwater harvesting system.

“The WestConnex project has cut down an avenue of significant paperbark trees and other natives and we are fighting to stopthe rape of 100 year old figs in the future.

“We wanted Green Square, which is one of the largest urban renewal areas in Australia – 278 hectares, $13 billion worth of redevelopment, 3.5 km from the city – to be a sustainable urban renewal precinct by taking it off the coal-fired power grid with district tri-generation. Our plans were blocked by the State and Federally controlled NABERs ( ) rules, changed in 2012 to exclude individual commercial office owners from counting district energy in their mandatory disclosure of energy efficiency.

“While sites with single ownership like Central Park and Broadway could benefit from our highest star rating, the complex Green Square urban renewal was split across several owners – 18 in the town square alone. While the NABERs change and the Federal failure to price carbon made the district scheme economically unviable, the City is proceeding with tri-gen with our own facilities at Green Square.

“And at a time of booming development, outdated state restrictions on planning controls mean that many new buildings will not meet future challenges.

“After nearly two years, the City awaits state government approval for our new Central Sydney planning controls which would significantly improve the energy performance of buildings above the minimum required by the Code.

“And local government is prevented from establishing stronger energy efficiency or renewable energy requirements and set basics for new residential buildings. This was once a world-leading tool and now its woefully out of date. In fact, our research shows that a new home built to basic standards now can perform worse than the average existing home.

“So, putting our work in context. There have been six Prime Ministers and seven premiers since I have been Lord Mayor, and while we have been implementing Sustainable Sydney 2030, there has been a fundamental failure of national leadership.

“At the City we continue to pursue change in the face of hostile right-wing media, vested interests and regulatory barriers.

“Australia remains the largest exporter of coal in the world and until recently our state sourced more that 90% of electricity from coal-fired power. Australia's 2020 and 2030 emissions targets are profoundly inadequate to play our part in averting catastrophic climate change, and in 2016 to 2017 our greenhouse gas emissions increased for the third consecutive year.

“The challenges are enormous and can only be overcome by Federal and State policy commitments and partnerships and regulations that work for, and not against climate action.”

Photo: Green Square Library and Plaza

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