Green Growth vs Commons-Based Ecological Transitions in Australian Cities

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* Report: Visions and Pathways 2040. Visions, Scenarios and Pathways for Low-Carbon Resilient Futures in Australian Cities. By Seona Candy, Kirsten Larsen and Jennifer Sheridan. Victorian Eco-innovation Lab. University of Melbourne, 2017.

URL = final report

"research project which looks at how we can rapidly reduce Australian cities’ emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change as we approach the end of what’s being called the ‘critical decade’." [1]


By Dr Seona Candy, Kirsten Larsen and Jennifer Sheridan:

"The report finds that exactly how we achieve emissions reductions will have a profound impact on what life in Australia is like in the future. Many of the technologies required to get us to a greener future already exist - but what’s important is how we apply them and who drives the change.

Over the last four years, through research, workshops and engagement activities, the project has drawn on input from over 250 experts across industry, government, academia and civil society to determine how Australian cities could reach this goal. But also to design what these future cities might look like.

This group of experts came together because they can see Australia is not on track to achieve even its stated emissions reductions targets. These targets have been put in place by successive governments who have repeatedly weakened the numbers and the criteria – and still we cannot meet them. Since the removal of the carbon price, Australia’s emissions have started to increase again. We are going the wrong way.

The Australian political context means the multitude of technical pathways are clear, but the cultural, political and economic pathways are not. The Action Pathways in our report consider the forces of change that might be required to achieve the drastic greenhouse gas emissions reductions we seek.

But how do we trigger political changes of this magnitude, and what is our own potential power in progressing these?" (

The Two Scenarios: Green Growth vs Commons Transition

By Dr Seona Candy, Kirsten Larsen and Jennifer Sheridan:

"The team designed two scenarios to demonstrate these positive outcomes - ‘Green Growth’ and a ‘Commons Transition’.

The first Green Growth scenario points to the role city governments, driven by community and stakeholder action, can play in discouraging organisations and businesses that are not explicitly and proactively decarbonising. This social and political mobilisation could help drive out the complicit acceptance and corruption preventing rapid reduction in fossil fuel use and development.

The Commons Transition scenario paints a new picture that re-empowers the citizen movement already evident in sweeping social changes in cities around the world. It draws on leading innovations in sharing and shareable cities; peer-to-peer, Open Design Distributed Manufacturing, cooperatives and platform cooperative movements, as well as some new, more radical cultural, political and economic initiatives." (

From the conclusions

  • "To significantly reduce city emissions, our report shows the accelerated replacement of fossil fuel power stations with 100 per cent clean generation technologies must be a priority. There’s also an urgent need to reduce heavy industry and agricultural production through recycling, lowering consumption of red meat and reducing exports, which account for the majority of indirect emissions in these sectors."
  • "To achieve overall emissions reductions of 80 per cent by 2040 and in the critical short term, we also need to switch from forest clearing to forest preservation and regeneration, and rapidly increase other land uses that can sequester carbon (capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide) like agricultural production systems and urban forestry."

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