Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery says he has already met with BlueScope to discuss its plans to reduce greenhouse gases, as the city begins to work out exactly how it plans to become carbon neutral within 10 years.
Councillors spoke passionately about climate change on Monday night, eventually agreeing to a unanimous vote to "send a powerful message" about where the city stands.
Under their new targets, the council's own operations will be carbon neutral by 2030, and the rest of the city - including residents and big polluters in the industrial sector - would have net zero emissions by 2050.
The community target will be reviewed in five years with a view to reducing the timeline to 2030 in line with the council's target.
With bushfire smoke blowing in to cloud the view from the council chambers during the debate, Greens councillor Mithra Cox said it was vital for the council to show leadership on the complicated issue of cutting emissions in an industrial city.
"The fires we can see outside are the result of pollution that went into the atmosphere 20 years ago, so no matter what we do now we will continue to warm for the next 20 years," she said.
"We are fast running out of time. [But] this motion gives us a framework to begin reducing our emissions, and we can begin tomorrow."
Cr Cox said some countries were already making moves towards zero emissions steelmaking, with Germany running a blast furnace using hydrogen power.
"If we are truly a city of innovation, we should be racing against the clock to make the world's greenest steel because we are going to need steel to build wind turbines, railways and solar panels to make this transition," she said.
Like Cr Cox, Cr Bradbery said he was hopeful the city's emissions target would be met sooner than 2050, thanks to passion shown by residents in recent weeks.
During the public exhibition period about the carbon emissions target, 444 submissions were received, with only three people objecting to setting a target.
"I've started talking with BlueScope Steel and asked them to engage more with our community in looking at ways we can ameliorate the impact of the industrial sector on our city," Cr Bradbery said.
"They are one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters and they know it.
"Tonight we start a filter by which we address and assess all that we do in this city.
"Whether it be as individuals, or a council, or a larger community we have a mechanism by which we are saying, we want to bring greenhouse gas emissions [down].
In the coming months, the council will develop a Climate Change Mitigation Action Plan to achieve the emissions reduction target for Wollongong.
To meet its own 2030 target, the council says it will pursue activities to reduce landfill emissions, which account for 85 per cent of emissions.
Measures will include the Whytes Gully Renewable Energy Facility and a possible roll-out of FOGO across the city, and the council predicts a 45 per cent emissions reduction in the next 10 years through these planned activities.
Consideration of additional initiatives such as a second renewable energy unit at Whytes Gully, replacement of high-wattage street lighting, solar panels on council buildings and alternate fuel vehicles could achieve an 88 per cent reduction, the council said.
Technological developments over the next 10 years will help the council to reach 100 per cent.