Moreland Council cuts funding to Carbon Management Strategy
It seems Moreland Council is playing games with being serious about a long term climate action strategy. In this years budget they set aside $525,000 for a carbon management strategy which is to be highly commended. Yet at an early hurdle at the Council meeting on 9th July, Councillors chose to transfer $100,000 out of this budget to footpath maintenance following another decision to transfer money from footpath to upgrade lighting in Brunswick.
This is a very retrograde step and is very poor timing given the Federal Government abolition of the carbon price mechanism and continuing attacks on the clean energy framework and Renewable Energy Target. We expect Moreland Council, which is known for it’s positive positions with regard to achieving carbon neutrality, climate change and sustainability issues, to maintain the current budget measures for carbon management, which has a substantial long term health and environmental benefit to the residents and ratepayers of Moreland. The Carbon Management Strategy budget funds renewable energy and emissions reduction technologies and capital infrastructure (i.e. solar panels for council buildings etc.).
The Councillors who argued in favour of these motions, say that upgrading to energy efficient LED lighting in Brunswick is a win-win scenario. While it does have some energy efficiency and carbon reduction benefit, it is not a win-win. It comes at the expense of budgeted and planned long term carbon reduction and mitigation action. Long term mitigation action is essential for reducing adaptation measures (and reducing costs) in the future. It is a short term gain at the expense of long term action. Climate action is one area where we need to think and act strategically for the long term.
This last minute major amendment to Council’s budget was supported unanimously by the ALP Councillors. (Those who voted for the budget cut- Crs Teti, Tapinos, Hopper, Gillies and Yildiz. Those against; Crs L Thompson, R Thompson, Davidson, Bolton, Ratnam). Just to highlight the inconsistency, at the very same meeting Council voted unanimously to investigate action to combat the urban heat island effect. This is important given Moreland has a high social vulnerability to the health impacts of heatwaves and hotspells.
The following attached statement on behalf of Climate Action Moreland was endorsed at our meeting, and also endorsed at the meeting of Sustainable Fawkner, for consideration of Council. In this statement:
- We requested that Moreland Council reconsider their funding decision in the light of our statement.
- We think the decision to maintain funding for footpaths highlights another important issue: the need to use low carbon and cool pavement technologies for road and footpath surfaces. We urge Council to implement a strategic review of the Road Management Plan for consideration and incorporation of low carbon and cool pavement technologies for road and footpath surfaces as part of strategies to mitigate the urban heat island effect in Moreland.
What can you do?
Write or email the Mayor and your councillors objecting to this last minute change to the budget.
Come along on 7th August to our Empowering Moreland – Community Climate Action Forum to discuss further actions we can take together.
Climate Action Moreland will be taking this further.
Statement on Moreland Council Transfer of funding from Carbon Management Strategy to Footpath maintenance
By Climate Action Moreland 21 July 2014
Endorsed by Sustainable Fawkner
At Moreland Council’s meeting on Wednesday 9th July 2014 Council passed a motion that $100,000 would be taken out of the $525,000 current environment budget for the carbon management strategy (CMS) and used for footpath maintenance. This decision was made to offset a previous decision to take money out of footpaths to upgrade lighting in Brunswick.
Firstly, we ask Council to reverse this decision and to find money for footpath maintenance from other areas. We think this is a retrograde step for money specifically allocated to reduce Council’s carbon emissions and climate footprint.
We note the decision to transfer this money raises a much larger issue. We think Council should be implementing best practice climate adaptation and carbon management strategies in all areas of service delivery, including the Road Management Plan and footpath replacement.
We also note Council voted unanimously at the same meeting to investigate action to combat the urban heat island effect.
Secondly, we therefore urge Council to implement a strategic review of the Road Management Plan for incorporation of current low carbon and cool pavement materials and technology and develop best use guidelines for immediate use of these in the municipality as part of mitigating the urban heat island effect.
We think there is sufficient evidence available from trials elsewhere for Moreland to be able to act on this, rather than do a trial of its own.
Background on Cool Pavements for moderating the Urban Heat Island Effect
We think it is an opportune time to assess the use of pavement surfacing materials and encourage use of materials with lower embedded carbon for pavement surfacing. One recent example is the use of TonerPave asphalt by certain Melbourne Councils manufactured from recycled toner cartridges and asphalt.(Bailey 2014 June 20 – Leader Newspapers)
There is also a need for pavement surfaces to utilize ‘cool pavements’ materials and technology, as one of a suite of tools for reducing the urban heat island effect.
A reading of the current City of Moreland Road Management Plan (2013) contains no reference to favouring materials with lower embedded carbon. This appears to be a missed opportunity. Portland cement and asphalt are highly carbon intensive but can be replaced with less carbon intensive products or mixed with waste byproduct and recycled materials to reduce their carbon content, as well as the potential to increase reflectance and/or permeability.
The Climate Action Moreland feedback submission to Moreland’s Draft Community Climate Action Plan earlier this year specifically detailed the importance of cool pavements as part of a strategy for mitigating the urban heat island effect, along with incorporating other tools including water sensitive urban design, increase of tree canopy to provide shade to buildings and pavements, widespread changing of surface albedo of roof surfaces of buildings (cool roofs):
“We believe that this strategy needs to include the contribution of surfaces (roads, footpaths and other paved surfaces and roofs) to the urban heat island effect. We suggest that Moreland adopt best practice “cool” paving technologies (such as the use of permeable materials and white roofs) in all work it undertakes, and advocates these technologies to residents and businesses.” (Climate Action Moreland feedback submission 27 May 2014)
Modelling summer temperatures in Melbourne has shown that the urban heat island effect can add several degrees of warming to local suburban temperatures depending upon the surface albedo of the built environment, amount of vegetation canopy and open water and wetlands. Increased housing density also resulted in increased intensity of night time UHI (Coutts, Beringer and Tapper 2008).
It is not a simple addition of a heatwave increase in temperature added to the urban heat island temperature: heatwaves exacerbate and amplify the Urban Heat Island Effect so that the impact is magnified. This poses major risks for heat related illness and mortality. (Li and Bou-Zeid 2013)
Mapping of demographic, environmental and health data by Loughnan et al (2013) shows that much of Moreland has a high social vulnerability to the urban heat island effect during extreme hotspells and heatwaves.
Professor Nigel Tapper at a recent seminar (25 June 2014) at Moreland Civic Centre organised by Northern Alliance for Greenhouse Action (NAGA) stated that moderating the temperatures of the built environment on extreme heat days by even a small amount may result in health crisis threshold levels being avoided with a substantial reduction in heat stress related ambulance call-outs and heat related deaths. Reducing the urban heat island effect even partially would be a major environmental and health benefit for the citizens of Moreland. (Tapper 2014 – Slideshow presentation PDF)
We note a cool pavements trial project in Chippendale, done by the City of Sydney Council, found that streets covered 24 per cent of the land surface area of the suburb. Temperature measurement of two streets, one partially shaded by buildings and a tree canopy and one exposed to full sunlight found there was a 2 degree difference in temperature, both day and night.(Samuels et al 2010) The City of Sydney is currently trialling pale coloured road surfaces. (Australian Government 2013, City of Sydney 2014). Sustainability campaigner Michael Mobbs said in an interview for ABC Lateline in 2014, “It reduces the temperatures by two to four degrees on a hot day. During heatwaves, you’re going to find that there’ll be maybe six to eight degrees difference. At the moment, it’s about 10 to 15 per cent more expensive, but as it becomes more common, the price will drop down.” (Alberici 2014) Watch the Lateline segment below:
In October 2012 California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill mandating the California Department of Transportation to develop a standard specification for cool pavements.(Chen 2012) The California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) is currently developing a specification for “cool pavements” to reduce the urban heat island effect. (Caltrans 2013 PDF)
Further case studies from the United States are contained in the US Environmental Protection Agency (2012) chapter on Cool Pavements from ‘EPA’s Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies’ which provides a comparison of methods and materials to use in different pavement use scenarios for increasing pavement permeability and/or albedo.
We know that funding choice priorities for Council are always difficult to balance. We reiterate that money for footpath maintenance should not be transferred from the the carbon management strategy budget, even if it does offset a previous decision to take money from footpaths to fund energy efficient public lighting.
Combating impacts of climate change, rising temperatures and the urban heat island effect needs to be managed holistically by the Council. While specific mitigation measures need to be adequately funded as per the Carbon Management Strategy, it is equally important that all of Council’s services are managed with a view to carbon neutrality and strategies for climate mitigation and adaptation.
Alberici, E. (Presenter), & O’Neill, M (Reporter). (2014, June 2) Cities need adapt to deadly heatwaves: Lateline, Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s4017438.htm
Australian Goverenment (2013) Australian State of the Cities 2013 report Chapter 4 on Sustainability http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure/pab/soac/
Bailey, M. (Reporter) (2014, June 20) Nillumbik and other councils use TonerPave asphalt, made by Downer EDI Limited, Close the Loop, to resurface roads. Diamond Valley Leader. Retrieved from http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/north/nillumbik-and-other-councils-use-tonerpave-asphalt-made-by-downer-edi-limited-close-the-loop-to-resurface-roads/story-fnglenug-1226960209546
California Department of Transportation (2013) Caltrans Activities to Address Climate Change – Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Adapting to Impacts. http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tpp/offices/orip/climate_change/documents/Caltrans_ClimateChangeRprt-Final_April_2013.pdf
Chen, A. (2012) Cool Pavements Bill Signed Into Law. Berkeley Lab Heat Island Group http://eetd.lbl.gov/news/article/24746/cool-pavements-bill-signed-into-law
City of Moreland (2013) Road Management Plan. http://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/parking-roads-and-transport/roads-and-footpaths/road-reconstruction.html
City of Moreland (undated – 1999?) Hitting the road running – Moreland road asset management strategy. http://www.moreland.vic.gov.au/mccwr/publications/policies-strategies-plans/moreland-road-asset-management-strategy.pdf
City of Sydney (2014). Urban Heat Island Effect. Measuring the effect in Sydney. Retrieved http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/vision/towards-2030/sustainability/carbon-reduction/urban-heat-island2
Coutts, A.M., Jason Beringer, Nigel J. Tapper, 2008: Investigating the climatic impact of urban planning strategies through the use of regional climate modelling: a case study for Melbourne, Australia. International Journal of Climatology. DOI: 10.1002/joc.1680
Levine, K. (2011) Cool Pavements Research and Technology, Institute of Transportation Studies Library at UC Berkeley
Li, D. and Elie Bou-Zeid (2013) Synergistic Interactions between Urban Heat Islands and Heat Waves: the Impact in Cities is Larger than the Sum of its Parts, Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 201, May 2013, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JAMC-D-13-02.1
Loughnan, M.E., Tapper, NJ, Phan, T, Lynch, K, McInnes, JA (2013), A spatial vulnerability analysis of urban populations during extreme heat events in Australian capital cities, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast, 128 pp. http://www.nccarf.edu.au/publications/spatial-vulnerability-urban-extreme-heat-events
Samuels, R., Tony McCormick and Brett Pollard (2010) Micro-Urban-Climatic Thermal Emissions: in a Medium-Density Residential Precinct, University of New South Wales. City Futures Research Centre, ISBN: 9781740440387 http://www.be.unsw.edu.au/sustainability-and-climate-change-adaptation/projects/thermal-impact-designed-environment-urban-heat
Tapper, N. (2014) Tackling Urban Heat. Professor Nigel Tapper’s presentation at the City of Moreland (25 June 2014) on urban heat island effects. NAGA website PDF http://www.naga.org.au/online-library/doc_download/349-tackling-urban-heat.html
United States Environment Protection Agency (2012) Cool Pavements Chapter from ‘EPA’s Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies‘ http://www.epa.gov/heatisland/mitigation/pavements.htm