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Clover Moore urges Sydney renters to take up green energy to meet net zero target

The Guardian
The Guardian
 2022-06-07
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solar panels on a roof Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian

Sydney’s lord mayor, Clover Moore, has urged renters and apartment dwellers to do their bit to help the city reach net zero by switching their energy supply to renewable sources.

Moore’s plea comes amid spiralling energy costs and increased pressure on household budgets , with the New South Wales Tenants Union noting while many renters wanted to make green choices, it was not always a simple equation.

The lord mayor said the city of Sydney has reduced emissions in its own operations by 70%, nine years ahead of council’s 2030 schedule, but meeting its goal of net zero by 2035 would require residents doing their part.

“Many of our residents believe they can’t go renewable if they are renting or live in an apartment block, but there’s more to renewable electricity than just putting solar panels on the roof,” Moore said.

Related: Labor needs to double the pace of its renewable energy rollout to meet 2030 emissions target. Can it be done?

“Switching to GreenPower is the single biggest and, probably easiest, thing you can do to help tackle the climate crisis.

“It may seem an odd request to make of the residents and business owners to change electricity plans, but to achieve the city’s goal of net zero by 2035 we must reduce emissions not only in our own operations but also across the broader local government area.”

GreenPower is a government-managed scheme that lets households buy certified renewable energy through electricity retailers. It involves paying an extra tariff for each kilowatt hour of energy consumed; based on the average NSW consumption for a household of three it costs about $5 a week. Council switched to 100% renewable electricity in 2020.

A survey by council found a third of residents who were not already using a GreenPower accredited plan did not know what they were, and about 12% did not trust electricity companies to use the money to fund renewable energy generation.

The Clean Energy Council’s chief executive, Kane Thornton, agreed that switching plans was a good option for people who can’t install solar.

“When you choose GreenPower, you’re helping to drive Australia’s clean energy transition,” he said.

“The greater the demand, the more renewable energy is added to the grid, helping to support Australian jobs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Erskineville renter Alice Gonnet, 33, said there had been a “small” extra cost when she compared certified green plans against traditional energy offerings, but she had decided it was worth making sacrifices in other areas of her life.

“I have to do my best to have the least impact on the planet,” she said.

“I see people eating UberEats every day – I’d prefer to cook and have sustainable power.”

But not everyone has extra cash lying around, and cost pressures on renters are increasing , according to the NSW Tenants Union’s chief executive, Leo Patterson Ross.

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“Most people are conscious that they could be doing something different, something better for the environment, the question is, are they empowered to do that?” he said.

“Do they have the ability to make changes that really impact energy consumption, that also doesn’t put them in harm’s way or significantly increase their costs so that they’re having to forego other essentials?”

Patterson Ross said the onus should be placed on owners and governments to raise the standards of rentals so they were more energy-efficient.

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