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City council backtracks on carbon neutral leadership goal

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An axed ambition to make Adelaide “one of the world’s first carbon neutral cities” by 2025 has been reinstated by city councillors, who say the council should show global leadership on climate change.

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InDaily reported last week that the council had proposed to drop its target of world leadership on carbon neutrality, amid rising transport emissions and competition with interstate and overseas cities.

In 2015, the council signed an agreement with the Weatherill Government to make Adelaide the “world’s first carbon neutral city by 2025”.

That target was replaced in 2017 with the less lofty ambition of making Adelaide “one of the world’s first carbon neutral cities by 2025” (emphasis added).

In its 2020-2024 draft strategic plan, the council dropped the global goal altogether, stating Adelaide would simply become “a carbon neutral city, where sustainability is core”.

But elected members unanimously voted to reinsert the leadership target at Tuesday night’s council meeting to finalise the plan.

“I must admit that the (omission of the) ambition of being one of the world’s first carbon neutral cities was something that passed me by,” said area councillor Robert Simms, who proposed the amendment.

“Having now become aware of that I would like to remedy it.

“I think it is important that we have a big, global ambition when it comes to climate change, when it comes to reducing emissions in our city.”

Carbon neutrality, or having a net-zero carbon footprint, is achieved when the amount of greenhouse gas emissions emitted into the atmosphere is balanced by the amount being removed.

According to Adelaide’s latest carbon neutral status update published in July last year, carbon emissions in the Adelaide City Council area reduced by 15 per cent from the 2007 to 2018 financial years.

Deputy Lord Mayor Alexander Hyde said he would be happy to have Adelaide be “the world’s first carbon neutral city”, but “often some of the ways that carbon neutrality is achieved is by purchasing carbon credits, which is probably not the most productive way to get there”.

Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor described the amended strategic plan as a “great outcome” for the city.

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