SYDNEY If Sydney's obsession with the car
continues at its current rate, by 2030 air pollution could kill
one resident every four hours -- eight times the number of
people killed in road accidents, its mayor said on Wednesday.
Sydney Mayor Clover Moore said Australia's biggest city was
devouring its environment as urban sprawl and pollution spread
and needed a long-term plan for a sustainable future.
"The predictions paint a bleak picture for Sydney in 2030
if nothing is done. The time to prepare and prevent this
happening is now," Moore said in launching "Sustainable Sydney
The last long-term plan for Sydney, a city of four million,
was developed in 1971, but environmental pressures demand a new
urban plan, said Moore.
"Environmental imperatives alone mean that we need to
rethink the way we build, operate and live in our cities. But
they also present unparalleled opportunities to re-imagine our
cities...," Moore said in a speech to business leaders.
"The great cities of the 21st century will protect their
unique character and heritage, while setting the highest
standards for new development," said Moore.
"They will accommodate greater numbers of people in better
environments and...they will be economically competitive while
being environmentally sustainable," she said.
Sydney's environmental footprint, the amount of land needed
to support the city, is currently 49 percent of the state of
New South Wales (NSW), Australia's most populous state and the
country's biggest state economy.
If Sydney continues its current growth it will be home to
an extra 1.1 million by 2030 and its footprint will reach 95
percent of NSW by 2031. Such a footprint was "unsustainable for
Sydney, for NSW and for the nation," said Moore.
Sydney is already grappling with population pressures and a
lack of housing, traffic gridlock and rising waste and
Sydneysiders are amongst Australia's top consumers,
disposing of 1.1 tonnes of waste per person in landfills each
year, making them per-capita one of the world's worst
generators of waste.
Sydney's greenhouse emissions are predicted to rise by 40
percent by 2030 without a reduction plan, said Moore.
Unnreliable public transport means 70 percent of all city
trips are made in cars and just four percent by rail.
Car use is expected to double by 2030 from 2002 levels and
the cost of traffic congestion, around A$18 billion (US$15
billion) in 2005, and could rise to A$28 billion by 2030, said
"Our transport systems are struggling to cope with one
million people who travel around the city of Sydney each day,"
And despite a postcard image, Sydney's air pollution
contributes to between 600 and 1,400 deaths a year.
With a doubling of car travel and container truck traffic
predicted by 2030 the number of deaths caused by air pollution
could rise to around 2,380 a year, or four per hour, said
She said Sydney needed to curb car travel, cut water and
electricity usage and create more sustainable housing.
Her vision for Sydney involves greater use of public
transport, easier access for pedestrians and cyclists,
buildings that collect rain and cool themselves naturally, and
stormwater used for watering parks and gardens.
"Sustainable Sydney 2030 is our chance to make a difference
to Sydney's future," said Moore in calling on business,
politicians and the community to develop Sydney's future plan.
($1 = A$1.20)