Climate change is the defining issue of our time. It affects our economy, our infrastructure, our ecosystems, and our quality of life in the Six Cities Region.
To become a net zero economy, we need to transform how we build our cities, our transport and urban systems, and how we do business across our region.
Meg, there are four core themes to the Climate-resilient green cities Region Shaper. Accelerating the shift to renewable energy, transitioning to a circular economy, creating climate-resilient cities and sustainable homes and buildings.
Let's start with planning for our future as a net-zero region. A Net Zero future - what does that look like and how do we get there?
It means a rapid build out of renewable energy and electrification of our cities, our transport, our homes and our industry. That's all key to creating a successful net zero emissions region. And that's why it's at the core of our sustainability vision. It makes it critical that we take a forward looking, collaborative approach to build our city planning around things like accelerated availability of electric vehicles and zero emissions public transport.
And the Commission will lead by example. Our global innovation districts will have embedded decarbonisation and electrification infrastructure. And our target is for these districts to be net zero by 2030.
Moving to a circular economy will also lower emissions. Can you talk to some of the key principles of a circular economy and the opportunities it affords?
A circular economy is one that manages resources well and where products and materials are recycled and reused in an effective and productive way. As well as reducing emissions, a circular economy makes sound economic sense. It could deliver New South Wales $29 billion per annum in direct economic benefits by 2040.
There's a real opportunity for infrastructure and construction projects to make greater use of recycled materials, and this can create new local industries and strengthen local supply chains. We want to see at least one circular economy hub in each of the six cities, with infrastructure that allows for upcycling, and which facilitates the use of food and organic waste to generate renewable energy.
We've seen the very real impact of climate change on our people and ecosystems in the region. I'm especially thinking about the 2019-2020 bushfires and the recent flooding. How will the Region Plan and the City Plan address these challenges to make climate-resilient cities?
These extreme climate events are having widespread impacts on our communities, ecosystems and our economy and infrastructure. And we expect that these extremes will increase in frequency, intensity and duration. So we have to take steps to effectively manage this climate vulnerability. We need a more resilient built environment so it can withstand urban heat, flooding, bushfires and coastal erosion.
Adaptation and resilience will be a priority for the Region and City Plans, and we'll be drawing on learnings, data and responses to these recent events to make informed planning decisions. This will also need to involve tree canopy investment strategies, as well as green space and water management and how we can incorporate recycled water infrastructure.
Urban heat is such an important issue as heatwaves and extreme heat days continue to increase. It's a major problem for people in Western Sydney in particular. How do we build sustainable homes and buildings that are comfortable and resilient?
Well, there's ample evidence that we can mitigate the risks from increased urban heat by using cooler buildings and paving materials and retaining more water in the urban landscape and creating more tree canopy and green cover. The Region Plan will include updates to urban design guidelines, so we will be planning and building to strengthen our resilience to urban heat.
In addition to targets for greater green cover, we'll be looking to achieve more climate-resilient, energy and water-efficient infrastructure and buildings and targets for low embodied emissions in construction. This is critical in making our cities safe in the face of climate change and to making them great places for people to continue to thrive in.
Meg, thanks for sharing your insights on how we can shape climate-resilient green cities and thanks for taking us through some of the ideas explored in the Six Cities Discussion Paper.
Thank you, Wendy.