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Author: L. Cormac
Source: The Age
Date: 18th September 2015

Ever heard of Shenzhen? Once a small market town, it is now known as China’s Silicon Valley, and despite a population of 15 million people, the city runs on 60 per cent renewable energy.

Shenzhen was just one of 13 global cities represented this week at the C40 energy efficiency network forum, discussing ways to improve energy efficiency, reduce emissions and tackle climate change globally.

Shenzhen’s commitment to renewable energy was on show at the conference, designed to allow some of the world’s biggest emissions-producing cities to swap ideas on sustainability.

Representatives gathered from New York, Houston, London, Singapore, Seoul, Melbourne, Tokyo, Wuhan, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Shenzhen and Sydney at the event, which some likened to the global city edition of the United Nations climate conference in Paris later this year.

“I might even say, a lot more will be achieved here than in Paris,” said head of the C40 Energy Initiative Zoe Spriging, who travelled from London for the conference.

“We’re also gathering cities in Paris as well, because we think it’s so important that even if national governments don’t lead the way, we hope you can always turn the spotlight on cities.”

C40 is a network of the world’s megacities, which are committed to addressing climate change.

The network was designed to offer cities a forum in which they can collaborate, share knowledge and drive sustainable action on climate change.

C40 is supported by 80 member cities around the world, with its headquarters in London. Ms Spriging says the global nature of the organisation presents obvious logistical challenges.

“On a day to day basis pretty much all my meetings are virtual, with city officials. That’s one of the hard things with Sydney, the timezone, and getting everyone on the call at the same time … we have San Francisco calling in at 5am, Londoners calling in at 11pm at night.”

The thinking behind C40 is that one city’s successful approach to sustainability could easily be mimicked in another. Ms Spriging says, it’s a case of “not reinventing the wheel.”

As an example she pointed to the City of Sydney’s new master plan for energy efficiency, which shows businesses and residents how to slash greenhouse pollution and save more than $600 million in energy bills by 2030.

“In its evidence base [the master plan] included case studies from 10 C40 cities who have made really ambitious energy efficiency policies. Sydney used that information to decide what options to look at for its own masterplan,” Ms Spriging said.

“Tokyo very generously commissioned some research that captured all of that and they used that themselves for promoting and boosting support for their emissions trading scheme.”

And then?

“Toronto used the same research to form a new bit of legislation they are bringing in on energy efficiency. The best way we see change is where a city learns from another and builds on that.”

Other programs showcased by the City of Sydney were a number of initiatives committed to improving the energy performance of buildings across the city, while making significant financial savings, the main focus of this week’s conference.

The City of Sydney has an ambitious emissions reduction target, to cut emissions by 70 per cent by 2030, based on 2006 levels and an energy efficiency improvement target for buildings of 31 per cent by 2030.

 Read the article on The Age