New research commissioned by the City of Melbourne estimates the cost of not reducing the city’s share of emissions in support of the Paris Climate Agreement could be over $12 billion from 2020 to 2050.

The research comes as City of Melbourne Councillors this week endorsed the Draft Climate Change Mitigation Strategy to 2050 for community consultation.

Environment portfolio chair Councillor Cathy Oke said the strategy outlines the City’s commitment to bold action and collaboration with the community, industry and other levels of government to rapidly achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions before 2050.

“This commitment will be upheld by focusing on working with community, industry and government to make the switch to 100 per cent renewable energy, working with building owners, developers, community and the transport sector to achieve zero net emissions building, precincts and transport and reducing the impact of waste,” she said.

“In Melbourne we’ve made some incredible achievements in progressing the switch to renewable energy such as leading the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project to build a 39 turbine windfarm in regional Victoria.

“We want to accelerate these kinds of initiatives going forward and work in partnership with the state and federal governments to increase uptake in clean energy initiatives.”

Preliminary estimates in the research commissioned by the City of Melbourne found inaction to reduce the impacts of climate change and missed economic opportunities of transitioning to a low carbon economy will cost the Victorian economy $12.6 billion over the 2020-2050 period.

The $12.6 billion is calculated using the ‘social cost of carbon’ which is a measure of the health impacts, damage to infrastructure and lost jobs and economic opportunities resulting from high levels of emissions and a failure to transition to a low carbon economy.

The Paris Climate Agreement aims to limit the increase in global average temperature.

Australia ratified the agreement in 2016. However, without emission reduction targets in national climate and energy policy Australia cannot deliver on this commitment.

“Without policy changes in state and federal jurisdictions we will not be able to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement targets," Cr Oke said.

“Together with all different levels of government there is a significant opportunity for collaborative action to accelerate emission reductions and increase the level of ambition to deliver on our commitment.”

According to Sustainability Victoria, 87 per cent of Victorians think local governments should be taking action on climate change. The City of Melbourne isn't alone in Australia or overseas with cities in the C40 Climate Action Planning Pilot Program such as
New York, London, Boston and Paris developing similar strategies.

“Our Draft Climate Change Mitigation Strategy to 2050 sets out our commitment to science-based targets in the Paris Climate Agreement and we call on the community to have their say on how we can take collective action on climate change,” Cr Oke said.

Opinions, ideas, and feedback can be submitted via Participate Melbourne from September 5 to October 14.

A final draft of the strategy is expected to go before Council before the end of the year.

Last month Sydney Mayor Clover Moore called for planning to start on Sustainable Sydney 2050 to guide planning and development across the city.

It follows council's Sustainable 2030 plan, adopted a decade ago after extensive community consultation.

"A decade has now passed since our strategic plan was first developed and in that time the effects of urbanisation, globalisation and climate change are increasingly challenging cities around the world, including Sydney, in more urgent ways,” Cr Moore said.

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