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Is Sydney Becoming Less Green?

Friday 16, March 2012

Australia has the largest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world. According to Sydney officials in 2007, greenhouse emissions were expected to rise 40 percent by the year 2030. A lack of housing, traffic gridlock, and increasing waste and pollution are some of the factors contributing to greenhouse gas emissions in Sydney. Currently, air pollution contributes to an estimated 600 to 1,400 deaths a year in Sydney. With the increase in traffic, the death toll from air pollution is anticipated to rise to 2,380 a year by the year 2030. Approximately 70 percent of all city trips are made by car. And situation is expected to get even worse; car use is anticipated to double by the year 2030, resulting in more traffic congestion. Public transportation could alleviate some of the traffic congestion; however, it has a reputation of being unreliable. The result is that just four percent of city travel being made by rail.

CityRail operates as the main interurban network in Sydney. Most of the CityRail's double-decker trains obtain power from an electrified overhead wire. Decreased greenhouse emissions would be the outcome if more people used the rail system instead of motor vehicles however poor reliability and high fares have resulted in fewer riders. CityRail is currently undergoing restructuring, which is expected to increase the rail system's efficiency and decrease fares. In addition, a more streamlined ticketing process will be introduced to make the rail system more attractive to riders.

While changes in public transportation being implemented by CityRail may result in increased public transportation use, currently Sydney is plagued with air pollution due to vehicle emissions. Increased public transportation use and pedestrian zone are two solutions to help alleviate traffic congestion. Pitt Street Mall and Martin Place are two pedestrian-only zones centrally located in Sydney. The successful implementation of these pedestrian zones involves the availability of affordable housing so that commuters are within walking distance of their destination. Unfortunately, the lack of affordable housing is making implementing pedestrian-only zones not feasible in most areas and does little to solve Sydney's greenhouse gas emission problems. For the moment, Sydney appears to be losing the battle to become more green.