In 2003 Melbourne City council positioned itself as a world leader when it set a target of zero net emissions in the municipality by 2020.
The council took action to cut emissions from its own operations, powering its buildings with 100 per cent renewable energy, planting 3000 trees a year and being certified carbon neutral since 2012.
But the council report said there were many activities in the municipality that the council did not have direct responsibility for such as transport, energy supply and energy use in privately owned buildings.
Cr Capp said the council’s own operations accounted for less than one per cent of emissions in the municipality.
“Did we reach necessarily the ambition of that 2003 strategy – not quite – but it has created the momentum for us to keep making ambitious targets,” she told The Age.
Last year the council declared a climate emergency.
Other proposals it will consider on Tuesday night include switching all council vehicles to electric and providing rates incentives for energy efficient buildings.
But Cr Capp said the 2040 target was not achievable without federal and state action.
“We know 60 per cent of emissions come from use of energy in commercial buildings in the CBD,” Cr Capp said.
“The levers the other governments have tend to be more persuasive than ours and so that advocacy to state and federal governments is really important.”
Cr Capp said the number one thing the council was seeking from the federal government was a national framework that set targets and identified ways in which the levels of government could work together.
It is also calling on the Victorian government to commit to a 65-75 per cent interim emissions reduction target by 2030 and purchase 100 percent renewable energy for its operations, including Metro Trains.
Cr Capp said the council would also work directly with the private sector to promote renewable energy.
Ninety-four per cent of emissions in the municipality are from fossil fuel sources.
Cr Capp said the proposed 2040 target would “probably not” be met if the municipality was still powered by brown coal.
“Again it’s about working with industry and other levels of government on how can we transition over time away from the fossil fuels into other sources of energy,” she said.
The former chair of the Australian Coal Association, Ian Dunlop, said he believed the targets were achievable if the weight of the community and the weight of policy were behind them.
“The fact is we haven’t had that in this country. What we need now is to get everyone on the same page including the coal industry,” Mr Dunlop said.
“The fact is we can’t keep any longer using coal and have a sustainable, liveable climate, so we have to change. We need to have transition plans to help the people who are going to be affected but the point is the coal industry itself … is not sustainable.”
Jewel Topsfield is Melbourne Editor of The Age.