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Conference paper
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Abstract: Commuting to work is one of the most important and regular routines of urban transportation. From a geographic perspective, the length of people’s commute is influenced, to some degree, by the spatial separation of their home and workplace and the transport infrastructure. The rise of car ownership in Australia has been accompanied by a considerable decrease of public transport use. Increased personal mobility has fuelled the trend of decentralised housing development, mostly without a clear planning for local employment, or alternative means of transportation. As a result, the urban patterns of regional Australia is formed by a complex network of a multitude of small towns, scattered in relatively large areas, which are totally dependent and polarized by few medium and large cities. Such hierarchical and dispersed geographical structure implies significant carbon dioxide emissions from transportation. Transport sector accounts for 14% of Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions, and without further policy action, they are projected to continue to increase. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the importance of incorporating urban climate understanding and knowledge into urban planning processes in order to develop cities that are more sustainable. A GIS-based gravity model is employed to examine the travel patterns related to hierarchical and geographical urban region networks, and the derived total carbon emissions, using the Greater Geelong region as a case study. The new challenges presented by climate change bring with them opportunities. In order to fully reach the very challenging targets of carbon reduction in Australia an integrated and strategic vision for urban and regional planning is necessary.

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