Australia’s first Regional Low Carbon Growth Plan will be presented at a public forum today, outlining the financial benefits of a lower carbon future.

The forum is the public launch of the Future Proofing Geelong program and the Low Carbon Growth Plan for Geelong, a practical plan produced by Climateworks Australia for how Geelong can achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and build a low-carbon economy.

At the forum, Climateworks will outline relevant funding programs that could be matched to the projects identified in the Low Carbon Growth Plan for Geelong.  The Climateworks Australia report outlines over 30 actions that could be taken in Geelong to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 14 per cent below the business as usual level by 2020, using existing technology and without changing the business mix or making significant lifestyle changes.

Climateworks Executive Director, Anna Skarbek said the report identified a range of opportunities, across all sectors, to reduce emissions while continuing to grow the local economy and saving businesses and households money.

“We are pleased that Geelong has taken a leadership position in being the first city in Australia to develop a Regional Low Carbon Growth Plan for building an economy wide low carbon future,” she said.

The plan clearly sets out actions local government, industry, business and individuals can take to reduce Geelong’s greenhouse gas emissions at the lowest possible cost.

Anna Skarbek

“It has been developed as part of an innovative sustainability covenant between Victoria’s Environmental Protection Authority and the City of Greater Geelong, with input from major Geelong employers such as Shell, Ford, Alcoa, Boral Cement, Godfrey Hirst, LyondellBasell and Terminals.

“Under this plan, Geelong can create jobs and opportunities in waste management, vehicle upgrades and building efficiency and deliver projects that could attract inward investment of $1 billion to Geelong.”

Ms Skarbek said under the plan, Geelong could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 1 million tonnes by 2020 while generate net savings of $60 million a year across the region.  A further 330,000 tonnes of reductions can be achieved for a higher average cost of $65 per tonne.

Together, this offers a 6% reduction below 2000 emission levels by 2020, equivalent to eliminating the emissions produced by all of Geelong’s households each year.

“Interestingly a 6% reduction is greater than the national bipartisan emissions reduction target,” she said.

“The reduction in emissions can be achieved by generating local power using cleaner technologies and implementing energy efficiency measures.”

Ms Skarbek said the plan showed what could be achieved when government, business and the community worked together to take action on climate change.

“The debate on climate change has become too negative and many people are becoming confused about what can be done to reduce emissions.  This plan provides Geelong with practical steps to reduce its emissions and shows that acting on the recommendations can save participants money and can bring investment into the local region.” 

Other key findings of the Low Carbon Growth Plan for Greater Geelong include:

  • Within Greater Geelong, the largest financial savings can be captured through improving the energy efficiency of Greater Geelong’s commercial buildings. This could save an average of $12.50 per square metre for building occupants, or a total savings of $25 million across the Geelong economy each year. The largest savings can be found in the Retail, Education and Offices sub-sectors.
  • Greater Geelong’s industrial sector controls 40% of the identified abatement opportunities. One third of these opportunities already offer financial savings through improved energy efficiency, materials substitution or process improvements. Other opportunities will only become financially attractive with government support or the introduction of a carbon price.
  • Significant abatement can be achieved in Greater Geelong through local generation of cleaner power. Waste to energy, cogeneration, geothermal and solar photovoltaics can help to reduce emissions and improve long term energy security in Greater Geelong.
  • Businesses, government organisations and households can all benefit from the financial savings that come from reducing emissions in transport. Shifting to more fuel efficient vehicles, improving driving practices to minimise fuel consumption, and switching some urban car trips to walking, cycling or public transport could save $10 million across the Greater Geelong economy each year.