Wollongong's industrial sector must take drastic action if the city is to avoid using up its allocated carbon budget years ahead of schedule.
That is the message from a new Wollongong council report, which says the city's carbon budget needs to last until 2050 and must be adhered to to "avoid the impact of catastrophic climate change".
The council's emissions reduction target report, to be considered by councillors next week, also lays out a plan for the city to be carbon neutral by 2050.
"If the Wollongong community continues to emit carbon at the current [level] our carbon budget will be exhausted in just over 18 years," council staff said.
If the Wollongong community continues to emit carbon at the current [level] our carbon budget will be exhausted in just over 18 years.Wollongong City Council
The bulk of the responsibility to reduce emissions will fall onto the industrial sector, which was found to create 72 per cent of Wollongong's emissions.
This is much higher than the NSW and national averages for industry, the report said.
The residential sector creates 20 per cent of Wollongong's emissions, and council operations - including Whytes Gully tip - equate to less than five per cent.
According to the report, the council will take a two pronged approach to reining in carbon emissions.
It will first aim to reduce emissions by 2.7 per cent or 74,251 tonnes - each year to stretch the carbon budget out until 2050. Then, it would have a net-zero emissions target post-2050.
This would mean all carbon dioxide emissions would be eliminated, removed or balanced in some way.
Once the target is adopted by councillors, the council will develop an "emissions reduction action plan" laying out exactly how the target can be met.
"Council will need to work in partnership with major industry, business and the community," the report said.
"In this regard council is likely to be responsible for actions associated with advocacy, stewardship, education and engagement for emissions reduction for these sectors."
The council is required to set an emissions target after it became a signatory to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy in 2017.
The city's budget is based on global and national budgets set under the Paris Accord, which determined the amount of emissions that can be produced to keep global temperature from rising less than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
Early this month, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian indicated in budget estimates that her government would set a state target of net-zero emissions by 2050.
There are 26 other councils that are signatories to the covenant of mayors, a number of which have already adopted net-zero targets.