Decarbonising Australian cities: A new model for creating low carbon, resilient cities
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Copyright © 2011 The Authors and MSSANZ
Australia currently has one of the largest per capita carbon and ecological footprints in the world. It also has a rapidly rising population with significant growth expected into the future. This paper analyses Australia’s existing infrastructure and urban form, the carbon implications associated with it, along with the resources needed to sustain this way of life. The paper demonstrates how the current design of Australian cities based on large houses in low density, dispersed suburbs, which are highly car dependent is extremely resource and emission intensive and ultimately unsustainable. It is argued that the large scale, centralised management of resources, based on outdated technologies and compounded by aging infrastructure further exacerbates the problem. If Australia continues under this ‘business as usual’ scenario, an increase in emissions, along with numerous resource concerns can be expected. The authors contend, therefore, that Australia urgently needs to transform its cities to embrace new low carbon designs and more efficient and resilient urban systems and processes to ensure the long-term viability of Australian cities. A new model for cities is thus proposed, which is based around the concept of decentralized management of resources using new, low carbon technologies that appear to function best at the precinct level. These can help to create more integrated and resilient infrastructure systems within our cities that will greatly improve efficiency.The technologies outlined, however, are dependent on the urban form in that they are only effective and economically viable if sufficient density exists. In the case of Australian cities, this would therefore involve increasing the density in many areas, especially new centres. Adding density has numerous other benefits such as enabling better public transport infrastructure, which will reduce car dependency and the related transported emissions. Using density to transform cities can also improve quality of life by offering more local amenities and better lifestyles.
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