Carbon Neutral Fremantle?

I thought I’d do something different for EarthCare this month; I’d like you to do some work as well as me.

Deliberations in Fremantle Council’s Climate Change Working Group and in my academic discussions frequently turn to the issue of low carbon, or carbon neutral cities; and could Fremantle be one, in short is our community up for it?  Your job will be to give a clear message about how far Fremantle should go towards transformation to a Carbon Neutral city.

I’m sure you all know Fremantle Council as a business is Carbon Neutral, and proud of it; funded, in the main through car-parking revenue, at least some of the emissions from vehicles that drive to Fremantle help to pay for those carbon reductions.  But can we extend this to all of Fremantle?  Such a move may be encouraged and facilitated by Council, but the final decision remains with the community.  The four main CO2 emitters are Power, Transport, Waste and Water.  So let’s examine what’s involved.

Power is the greatest domestic emitter of Greenhouse Gasses (GHG) it is also one of the easiest to offset through purchasing ‘GreenPower’.  But what if our community could generate its own green power and sell any excess back to Western Power?  Some communities are already investing in renewable generation and doing just that.  Though an increasing number of us have PV on our rooves and reap the benefits already, what I am discussing here is medium scale community projects where the whole community gets to capitalise on the economies of scale.  Alternatively, supporting the proposed wind farm on Rous Head and the community negotiating buying power from them would reap the economies of scale and deliver green power significantly cheaper than we now pay for it from Synergy.  Fremantle will be visited later this year by Alan Jones, the man who helped the UK city of Woking substantially reduce its carbon footprint by localising power and heat generation with co-generation plants.  Would this work for Fremantle?  South Australia has their ‘1,000 rooves’ project through which they aim to get PV on 1,000 roofs in the State, capitalising on bulk purchase discounts unavailable to other buyers.  Perhaps Fremantle could aim for 100 roofs?  Such bold moves will reinforce Fremantle as a leader in the field while offering long term savings, but require upfront investment.

Transport is not far behind power as a major emitter of GHG.  In W.A. it is just too easy to make journeys by car, often as the only occupant.  Travel Smart assists people choose alternatives to using their cars but the successes have been modest.  My return to cycling was as simple as seeing a new Malvern Star outside Mercer’s for less money than I had just spent at the bowser.  The road to Damascus?  No, the road to Fremantle!  Transport in WA is the aspect of carbon reduction that will take real will power, or the purchase of significant offsets through schemes like those offered by businesses such as “Carbon Neutral”.  I think Fremantle Council should give every resident who has to pay a parking fine a ‘Smartrider’ to help them make the switch to public transport.

Waste.  Fremantle is doing well when it comes to domestic recycling and diverting waste from landfill through membership of the Southern Metropolitan Regional Council (SMRC).  However the commercial sector is not so well catered for.  Large businesses, shops and supermarkets use commercial operators, but small shops and offices do not have the space or quantities to make commercial collection viable.  Landfill gas (methane) is 20 times more potent as a GHG than CO2 so reducing its emission is crucial.  Should green and yellow topped bins be made available to small businesses and if so who should pay?

Water is precious and hopefully we all do our bit to stop wastage.  Did you know the Water Corporation is one of Verve Energy’s biggest customers?  Purification, reverse osmosis, desalination and pumping water all use large amounts of power.  Reducing your water usage also reduces the State’s power consumption and GHG emissions.  Interestingly, Verve Energy is also a large user of water, so they tend to feed off each other, lets break that cycle.

Having considered some options do you think Fremantle should follow the Council’s lead and aim to become carbon neutral and if so how?  Write into the Herald or log onto http://www.jonstrachan.com and leave your comments please.  Let us know LOUD & CLEAR what you think.

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