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Conference paper

Carbon Footprint of an Australian Coastal Town: An Assessment of Three Planning Scenarios at Neighbourhood Level

11 Dec 2015

The highly populated coastal cities and towns in Australia are also most vulnerable places to climate change induced by increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emission through anthropogenic activities. It is estimated that urban areas account for 60-80% of the global energy use and emit more than 70% of global greenhouse gases. Since most future population growth is expected to be in urban areas, one main question regarding urban planning is how new urban communities should be developed in order to minimise resource consumption and carbon emissions. This study develops a spatially explicit model to simulate the carbon footprint of a coastal town called Point Cook in Victoria under three development scenarios: 1) the horizontal (the business as usual (BAU)), 2) the vertical (Le Corbusier’s ‘Radiant City’), and 3) the mixed. By using selected neighbourhoods in Melbourne as case study areas, this research will develop a spatially explicit model that integrates geographical characteristics, urban form, street-network structure, housing type, population density, energy supply, etc. to evaluate the carbon footprint associated with different development scenarios. Data for model calibration are collected from VicLand (for land use information including transport, vegetation, hydrology, planning, and elevation) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (for attributes about population and social development)). The findings will provide timely information relevant to the debate about suburban sprawl and low impact development and to decision-making in the design and development of low carbon communities. It is hoped that this research will improve the capacity to achieve national goals in carbon emission reduction in Australia.

Keywords: Carbon footprint, Planning scenarios, Urban sustainability, Melbourne

The papers presented at the 2015 State of Australian Cities National Conference (SOAC 7) were organised into seven broad themes but all shared, to varying degrees, a common focus on the ways in which high quality academic research can be used in the development and implementation of policy. The relationship between empirical evidence and theoretical developments that are presented as part of our scholarly endeavours and policy processes is rarely clear and straightforward. Sometimes, perhaps because of the fortuitous alignment of various factors, our research has a direct and positive impact on policy. Sometimes it takes longer to be noticed and have influence and, sometimes, there is no little or no evidence of impact beyond or even with the academy. And while there are things we can do to promote the existence of our work and to present it in more accessible formats to people we believe to be influential, ultimately the appreciation and application of our work lies in the hands of others.

This paper is one of 164 papers that have each been reviewed and refereed by our peers and revised accordingly. While they each will have been presented briefly at the SOAC conference, they can now be read or re-read at your leisure. We hope they will stimulate further debate and discussion and form a platform for further research.

Adapted from the SOAC 7 conference proceedings introduction by Paul Burton and Heather Shearer

The State of Australian Cities (SOAC) national conferences have been held biennially since 2003 to support interdisciplinary policy-related urban research.

SOAC 7 was held in the City of Gold Coast from 9-11 December 2015. The conference featured leading national and local politicians and policy makers who shared their views on some of the current challenges facing cities and how these might be overcome in the future.

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