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Greenhouse emission issues affect planning for city in the context of climate change


Global warming leading to climate change discourse poses a huge concern to humanity in relation to containing greenhouse gas emission. Cities and urban areas have been described as the principal culprit across the globe in emission of greenhouse gases. On the other hand, there is the realisation that greenhouse emission issues affect planning for city in the context of climate change. Using a case example of Australia and her urban areas & cities, this paper examines green house emission and adaptation such as investment in renewable energy and legislations that have been fronted so to limit increased emission and possible impacts.

Greenhouse gases Emission

Human activities in pursuit of development and modernisation have elicited numerous environmental impacts. This is as a result of the wasteful and destructive flow of resources in regard to the way humanity extract, process, transport and dispose of a vast flow of resources” (Lovins, Lovins & Hawken, 1999, p.146).One of the concerns is the global warming and climate change (Weart, 2008, p. 138 & 155). Muslin (2007, p.9) point to the fact that global warming is associated with the increase in global temperature. This increase in earth’s temperature is a function of green house gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and water vapour emitted as result of human activities. In this regard, the rise in temperature is necessitated by the fact that these gases traps heat radiated from earth’s surface. Moore (1995, p. 2-3) posits that the greatest contributor to green gas emission is the atmospheric pollution necessitated by combustions that churns out carbon dioxide as the end product.

The principal concern in green house gas emission is the utilisation of fossil fuel resources so as to satisfy humanity needs for energy as opposed to clean energy sources. Twidell and Weir (2006, p.3) opines argues that from 20th to 21st century, there has been significant requirement for energy so as to satisfy development needs of human beings. Further, they note that the increased demand has been directed towards exploitation and utilisation of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil. Urban areas constitute core points that highly contribute to emission of green house gases through energy supply, transport, industry, agriculture, forestry, waste and waste water (Dodman, 2009, p.192). In this regard, it is estimated that urban areas contribute about 70-80% of green house gases (Satterthwaite, 2008, p.540). For instance, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (2013) observes that car use contributes 50% of air pollution through emission of carbon dioxide.

It is approximated that Australia emits 1.5% of global green house gases. However, Australia ranks as one of the world’s leading polluters if worked on per capita basis. By June 2012, the national inventory emission per capita stood at 24.4 tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per individual. This is a higher figure globally and in OECD since Australia’s per capita CO2 is twice the OECD average and only ranks lower to countries such as Bahrain, Brunei, Kuwait and Qatar. The greatest contributor to the emissions in Australia is electricity at 36% followed by direct fuel combustion and agriculture at 15% respectively, transport at 14%, fugitives at 7%, lastly, deforestation & forestry and industrial processes at 5% respectively (Carbon neutral, 2014).

Further, within the context of states, in 2009/2010 greenhouse gas emission report submitted to UN, New South Wales emitted 157.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. This was closely followed BY Queensland at 157.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide or equivalent gases and finally Victoria at 117.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (Cubby, 2012). In 2006, Sydney the largest city in Australia accounted for 20.3 per capita emissions (World Bank, 2011, p.1).

Responses to green house gases

To manage the unwanted increase in greenhouse gas emissions, Australia employs mix of domestic and international emissions. These are either through ratification of international protocols, legislations such as carbon taxes and pragmatic programmes such as investment in renewable clean energy resources. This is in line with the Australia’s target policy to achieve 5%, 15% and 25% below 2000 levels compare with the targets of other key countries (Australian Government- Climate Change Authority, 2013, p.56 & 115).

The government of Australia is focused on expanding electrical generation capacity from renewable energy sources to 20% in 2020. Zahedi (2010, p.2009) indicates that by 2007, Australia had about 42 wind farms. During the same period, these farms had 563 wind turbines that generated an aggregate of 824 MW. Apart from the above, there has been expansion effort and nine more firms have been commissioned. These new nine stations will be able to generate a combined 860MW. Blakers (2000, p.224) argues that, it has been proven that wind farms can generate from 2,000 kW to 5,000 kW. Apart from mere generation, with added technology like computers control of power generation is easier. Consequently, there is chance for improved efficiency of the generation and increase the amount of electrical energy generated. Over the period of time, numerous wind farms in Australia have shown the real potential whereby they have recorded from 2MW to 22MW of electrical energy. The wind farms that have recorded these magnitudes are in Albany, Blayney and Tasmania regions (Blakers 2000, p.226).

Currently, Australia is ranked as one of first few countries that adopted and uses numerous technologies for production of electrical solar energy. Diesendorf (2007, p.157-168) argues that with the present technological advancement in electrical field, there are various possibilities of technology that can applied so as to tap and generate energy derived from solar power. Australia forms one of the bedrock of inventions of these solar technologies. Some of the technologies that have been done in Australia include crystalline silicon on glass and silver cells. One of the popular technologies used for solar power generation in Australia is solar thermal electricity. This technology is mostly used in New South Wales where water is heated by sunlight till it becomes vapour. After that the vapour is forced through the turbine for the production of electrical energy. The other popular technology is solar photovoltaic cells. This technology uses semiconductor materials to transform sunlight to electrical energy. In 2005, solar power plants using photovoltaic cells contributed a total of 60MW (Diesendorf, 2007, p.162).

To anchor these endeavours of investing in clean renewable energy resources, the government promulgated the Clean Energy Act 2011 (Cth). This legislation obliges the Authority to provide various recommendation frameworks in regard to national emission trajectory. More important, the Act introduces the concept of carbon pricing and overall reduction aspirations (Australian Government- Climate Change Authority, 2013, p.87). For instance, section 14 subsection 1 (b) directs that “a quantity of greenhouse gas that has a carbon dioxide equivalence of a specified number of tonnes is the carbon pollution cap for a specified flexible charge year; and (b) that number is the carbon pollution cap number for that flexible charge year”.


The underpinning focus of this paper was to examine greenhouse gas emission and how Australia has responded in managing the same. This based on the realisation that greenhouse gas emission issues affect planning for city in the context of climate change. The paper established that greenhouse gas emission in Australia is mostly significant in energy utilisation. The worrying realisation is that per capita emission of Australia is one of the highest in the globe more than any other OECD countries. The article found out that to mitigate the negative impact of greenhouse gases, the country has invested in clean renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Equally, the country has initiated Clean Energy Act 2011 (Cth) so as to anchor issues of clean energy through approaches such as carbon pricing.


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