Governments at various levels have begun to consider solutions to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas
emissions. A recent study has outlined strategies which could be used to move a metropolitan sub-region's
net emissions to zero by 2020. The research, by SGS Economics and Planning and Kinesis, focused on
the Werribee Plains region which spans eight municipalities (1). The region stretches from inner urban to
peri-urban, to rural areas, and includes the whole spectrum of urban and non-urban land uses.
Werribee Plains Study Area
Under a ‘business as usual' scenario, greenhouse gases emissions in the Werribee Plains will increase
from 15.0 million tonnes of CO2 - e to 17.4 million tonnes of (CO2 - e) by 2020. Business emissions on a
per job basis will decrease from 44.7 tonnes per job in 2006 to 32.5 tonnes per job in 2020 as industry
becomes more efficient in reducing their emissions intensity. On a per capita basis, residential emissions
will increase from 6.8 tonnes per job in 2006 to 7.6 tonnes in 2020.
The Per Capita emissions are expected to increase as a result of growing car ownership among households
and the larger average size of dwellings, requiring more energy for heating and cooling them.
For the most part, the Werribee Plains region is characterised by low density single use development.The
new housing being constructed includes some of the largest sized dwellings in the world. Both these factors
have significant implications for residential emissions.They work against the development of the higher density
mixed use centres which would reduce the high level of car dependency common within the area.
In 2006, almost half (48.1%) of the study area's greenhouse emissions was produced by Industry. Freight
contributed another 12.3% (1.8 million tonnes of CO2 - e) of all regional emissions. Residential Buildings
(16.6%) and Residential Travel (12.5%) contributed another 4.4 million tonnes of CO2 - e. Non-residential
Buildings contributed 8.1% of emissions (1.2 million tonnes of CO2 - e). Waste and Agriculture made up the
remainder of the emissions in the Study Area.
The main driver of emissions increase under a ‘business as usual' (BAU) scenario is from the growth in
Residential Buildings and Residential Travel. This is due to an additional 260,000 people locating in the area
Towards Zero Net Emissions
The report also outlined a set of solutions which can start to move the region towards Zero Net Emissions.
There is no silver bullet strategy to emission reductions and even with the ambitious emission reduction
measures outlined in the report, a Zero Net Emission target is very challenging. Achieving this target requires
a holistic policy platform that draws on the efforts of all level of government, business and households.
Reductions in emissions could be brought about by a number of key strategies including:
• Installation of Solar PV on industrial / commercial (11%) and residential (5%) roof space will reduce 2020
BAU emissions by 16%;
• Wind Power could provide a 9% reduction in the BAU emissions; and
• Reductions in vehicle emissions via greater use of public transport and renewable energy powered
vehicles can also be reasonably expected to contribute around a 7% reduction.
Source: Kinesis and SGS Economics and Planning
The successful implementation of these and other strategies will see 2020 BAU emissions reduced by 41%.
There are a number of other measures which could be used to bridge the gap to reach Zero Net Emissions.
The use of renewable energy could offset the remaining 59% required to reach Zero Net Emissions. As much
of the industrial production undertaken within the Study Area is consumed outside its borders, using renewable
energy produced outside the region to offset the emissions is an acceptable strategy to reach Zero Net Emissions.
GreenPower products already exist which can be used to transport renewable energy into the study area.
Given the scale of the emissions, this would require a focus on promoting GreenPower to the industrial sector.
Some of the strategies will save households and business money straight away while others will take longer to
recoup the initial costs of investing in new technologies. The initial costs and return on investment of emission
reductions can be heavily influenced by government policy.
(1). Werribee Plains (the Study Area) was defined as the LGAs of Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong,
Melton, Moonee Valley, Moorabool, Wyndham and the Statistical Local Area of Greater Geelong Part C.
The study was commissioned by Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), in conjunction with the
Western Alliance for Greenhouse Action (WAGA) and is reported in the Werribbee Plains Energy
Research Study: Towards Zero Emissions (2010) , available online at