In February 2020, the Cities of Sydney and Melbourne announced their intention to bring forward their community-wide net zero emissions target by a decade to 2040. Both councils are already carbon neutral for their operational emissions, and both declared a climate emergency in 2019.

Sydney is one of Australia’s fastest growing local government areas in terms of population. Despite an increase in residents of 45 per cent since 2006 and economic growth of more than 50 per cent over this period, community emissions have fallen by 21 percent. The city’s council is now developing Sustainable Sydney 2050, a revision of its long-term sustainability plan, which will incorporate accelerated climate actions to support its 2040 target. The council intends to use planning and development controls and work with community and industry partners to improve the green credentials of commercial and residential buildings and provide community access to onsite and offsite renewables. The city has committed to source 100 per cent of the council’s electricity consumption from renewable sources.

The City of Melbourne estimates that their emissions per capita in 2017 were amongst the highest in the world for a municipality. The council has identified a number of priorities for accelerated action based on potential impact. These include delivering over 40km of bike lanes within four years, providing a rates incentive for energy efficient buildings, mandating zero emissions buildings through the Planning Scheme, implementing circular economy solutions to minimise waste and accelerating the purchase of renewable energy by businesses and residents.