As the IPCC’s most recent report on climate change makes clear, the consequences of unchecked global heating over the next century will be severe. Increased temperatures, water shortages, and more extreme weather events will impact people across Australia and the world - and Canberra is no exception.

So it’s worth highlighting why planning policy is a crucial tool in the fight against climate change. Believe it or not, local decisions within our cities can make a big difference on a global issue.

Less sprawl means less emissions

Canberra’s population is projected to grow by 50% by 2050. How we house these new residents makes a huge difference to our carbon footprint.

Under current policies, many of the new residents we’ll welcome over the coming years will be forced to:

  • Build on greenfield land, rather than in existing urban areas
  • Rely on polluting cars rather than bikes or public transport
  • Live in freestanding homes with inefficient climate control systems, rather than more efficient joined-up building designs

All of this increases our carbon emissions.

Current policies also force new developments to build out rather than up, meaning more roads and car parks, more emissions, and less space for cool green areas. And unnecessary suburban sprawl leaves Canberra’s newest residents out in the heat as temperatures rise.

As this greater map of emissions in the US from the CoolClimate Network shows, when it comes to climate change, density means lower emissions.

Map showing that urban areas in the US have lower carbon emissions per person than suburban and regional areas.

We can do better for our planet and for our city

Greater Canberra is committed to making sure sustainability is built into our city’s design, rather than being an afterthought. By legalising more medium density housing options and supporting more sustainable urban living, we can make sure Canberra lives up to its green reputation.