Darwin tops sustainable cities index

Darwin and Brisbane have beaten other capitals in the sustainability stakes.

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Darwin and Brisbane have beaten other capitals, but no Australian city has done well in the Australian Conservation Foundation’s first sustainable cities ranking.

ACF’s Sustainable Cities Index tracks the progress of Australia’s 20 largest cities across 15 indicators: air quality, ecological footprint, green buildings, water, biodiversity, health, density, wellbeing, transport, employment, climate change readiness, education, food production, public participation and household debt.

Darwin scored well with clean air, strong biodiversity and low levels of unemployment and household debt, but lost marks on health and preparedness for climate change.

Perth came last on the list because of a very high ecological footprint per person and the amount of water supplied to houses relative to annual rainfall. While Perth’s public transport system is better than many cities’, it still scored poorly on transport with 641 private vehicles for every thousand people.

Melbourne came seventh; Sydney was twelfth.

Most cities were clustered around the middle of the scoring range.

“Australia’s major cities consistently rate among the most liveable, but liveability is not the same as sustainability,” said ACF executive director Don Henry.

“Australians use more water and energy and own more cars per person than the citizens of almost any other developed country.

“Many decades of being wasteful with resources, combined with booming population growth, poor planning and a lack of infrastructure investment has come at a real cost to our economy, society and environment.

“Our cities could be transformed into clean, efficient places with great public transport and happier, healthier residents.

“In this federal election year it’s up to our political leaders to prove they have the plans to deliver world class public transport systems, clean up Australia’s vehicle fleet and make our cities truly sustainable.”