The federal government has great plans to turn Australian cities greener in the next 18 months. Environment Minister Greg Hunt said on Tuesday that the government will be working with the cities during the whole of 2016 and 2017, setting out goals for each decade to establish “urban canopies.”
Hunt said that the urban canopies would improve the standards of health and living in the cities.
“Our task is to establish those goals and increase them progressively over each of the decades,” the Guardian quoted him as saying. “That allows us to make progress to 2020, which we’re already doing through the 20 Million Trees program, the Green Army program and the National Land Care program.”
Hunt assumed the role of acting cities minister in December after Jamie Briggs resigned. He is expected to emphasize the exposure to extreme heat of people living in large cities in his speech at the Sydney Business Chamber on Tuesday. The urban development goals would eventually lead to treeless streets which would worsen the “heat island” effect on warmer days.
The Australian Conservation Foundation has extended its support towards the government’s plan to establish tree cover, saying that trees are the “natural air conditioner” of the cities.
“Despite Australians’ romanticization of the outback, we are among the most urbanized populations on a planet where more people now live in cities than anywhere else,” the Guardian quoted Paul Sinclair, the ACF campaign director, as saying in a statement.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Hunt will forewarn the gathering about the unfeasibility of using public funds to build the necessary infrastructure. He will also speak about the flexible financial measures to be taken by the government to deal with the condition.
“One of the fairest ways to fund new infrastructure investment is for the beneficiaries of that infrastructure to contribute to the cost,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted from Hunt’s speech notes.
The government is also seeking to bring up the number of jobs in residential areas to minimize the time spent on commuting.