From: Matthew Warren, The Australian
Published September 19, 2008 12:32 PM

Life in suburbs drives emissions higher

WORKING families living on the edges of Australia's urban sprawl are generating up to 10 times more greenhouse emissions in their cars than those from the inner city, according to new research.

The study by Parsons Brinkerhoff and Curtin University shows the same outer suburbs that put Kevin Rudd into power are increasingly expensive to build and service, driving worseningeconomic, environmental and social costs.

With transport accounting for around half of an average Australian household's greenhouse footprint, inner city residents could be generating just half the emissions of those living out in the mortgage belt.

The Rudd Government has already flagged it will forgo $1 billion a year in revenue by cutting the fuel excise to compensate motorists for the higher prices resulting from its proposed emissions trading scheme from 2010.

Writing in the Australian Financial Review yesterday, former Labor leader Mark Latham criticised the design of Labor's proposed ETS for failing to include urban policy reform.

Report co-author Peter Newman from Curtin University said the impacts of poor urban planning and transport infrastructure in Australian cities were overwhelming any marginal gains made from households switching to low-energy lightbulbs or driving more fuel-efficient cars.

"It's extraordinary that we have this sense that somehow or other all we have to do is make slightly more efficient cars and everything will be fine on the transport front," Professor Newman told The Australian.

"The location is going to be far and away more important."

The Parsons Brinkerhoff report estimates the net cost of new housing developments in the inner city is less than half what it would cost to continue expansion of the outer suburbs. These calculations include the net cost of greenhouse emissions, infrastructure, transport, commuting times and even health costs attributed to increased levels of obesity reported in outer suburbs.

Professor Newman said the standard of planning and development in major cities had been deteriorating for 20 years with the construction of bigger and less energy-efficient houses located further from the city centres.

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