Wollongong, Australia's steel city, commits to be carbon neutral by 2050 - Illawarra Greens

Wollongong, Australia's steel city, commits to be carbon neutral by 2050

Wollongong has set itself the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. The city council has committed to an even more ambitious operational target of zero net emissions by 2030. It is the 26th council in Australia to adopt a timeline for a whole-of-community reduction.

 Greens councillor Mithra Cox said the commitment was welcome but overdue.

"I am glad we are here, but it is not just six months too late, it's 30 years too late," she said. "Our city unfortunately, is one of the highest emitters in the country, however, it does mean that we have considerable scope to reduce our emissions. When you come from a high base like that, you have a greater capacity to make a difference than if you were already low."

The initial target will equate to a reduction of 2.7 per cent — 74,251 tonnes — per year for its carbon-intensive economy. Council expects to achieve almost half of its savings through landfill gas capture, but it will likely have to invest in hundreds of thousands of dollars in offsets to achieve the goal.

Read the article by Kelly Fuller from ABC Illawarra, 11 December 2019

Wollongong, Australia's steel city, commits to be carbon neutral by 2050

Posted Wed 11 Dec 2019, 6:26am

Wollongong, home to Australia's biggest steel producer, has set itself the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Key points:

  • Wollongong Council wants to be carbon neutral by 2050
  • The city if home to Australia's 15th biggest corporate emitter
  • The Lord Mayor says the rest of the country has a moral imperative to help the Illawarra manage its emissions

 

The city council has committed to an even more ambitious operational target of zero net emissions by 2030.

It is the 26th council in Australia to adopt a timeline for a whole-of-community reduction.

The initial target will equate to a reduction of 2.7 per cent — 74,251 tonnes — per year for its carbon-intensive economy.

Council expects to achieve almost half of its savings through landfill gas capture, but it will likely have to invest in hundreds of thousands of dollars in offsets to achieve the goal.

 

Greens councillor Mirtha Cox said the commitment was welcome but overdue.

"I am glad we are here, but it is not just six months too late, it's 30 years too late," she said.

"Our city unfortunately, is one of the highest emitters in the country, however, it does mean that we have considerable scope to reduce our emissions.

"When you come from a high base like that, you have a greater capacity to make a difference than if you were already low."

Home to 15th biggest corporate emitter

One of the city's biggest industries, BlueScope Steel, produces half of its 6 million tonnes of steel a year at the Port Kembla works.

It generates 7 million tonnes of carbon emissions through production and electricity use per year across all of its operations in Australia, which is 1.4 per cent of the nation's total.

The steelmaker has committed to a 1 per cent emissions reduction year on year through to 2030, but its chief executive, Mark Vasella, said carbon neutrality was not technically possible.

 

"To date, there is not a technology that is commercially available or viable that sees virgin steel produced with coal and iron ore that is carbon neutral," he said.

Illawarra Business Chamber executive officer Adam Zarth said across the economy some companies might have to do more heavy lifting if other businesses were struggling to transition.

"BlueScope has acknowledged that we are a way off less carbon-intensive steelmaking in terms of a technological solution, so that is where we need to look to others including council to reduce their emissions," he said.

Moral imperative the rest of Australia helps

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery believes the rest of Australia must share in the burden of managing the Illawarra's carbon emissions.

 

"There is a moral imperative for the rest of Australia to help the Illawarra manage the responsibility of emissions from the local steel industry," he said.

"Wollongong has shouldered the weight of Australian heavy industry for a long time, and the rest of the nation needs to help."

In 2016, the NSW Government set a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and allocated $500 million over five years to help the transition to renewable energy.

Under the Paris Agreement, Australia is committed to reducing emissions by up to 28 per cent on 2005 levels within 11 years.

The European Union is poised to go much further, with a target of zero net emissions by 2050 expected to be announced on Thursday.