Sydney Opera House commits to UN Sustainable Development Goals

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Sydney Opera House commits to become ‘climate positive’ as iconic building reaffirms commitments to renewables and energy efficiency.

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The Sydney Opera House has announced its commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals as part of a push to reduce the environmental footprint of one of Australia’s most iconic buildings, including a goal to become ‘climate positive’.

The Sydney Opera House has launched an update to its Environmental Action Plan, that will see the building target a 6-star Green Star performance rating, up from its current 5-star rating, to eliminate the use of single-use plastic packaging from all venues, and source its power from renewable sources.

The venue currently maintains a carbon-neutral certification and sources 85 per cent of its power from wind and solar projects, through a power purchase agreement negotiated with retailer Flow Power.

The opera house with further aim to reduce its energy consumption by 20% over the next three years, in an effort to ensure the building has a net positive contribution to addressing climate change.

The opera house also currently offsets approximately 15,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions through an arrangement with EnergyAustralia.

“The Opera House is committed to the ideals and values encapsulated in the Global Goals, which can only be achieved through global action. The ambitious community plans released today outline how we will continue to support inclusion, diversity and equality, and help safeguard our natural environment,” Sydney Opera House COE Louise Herron said.

“Tonight, we will light the eastern Bennelong sail – the canvas for our nightly First Nations artwork Badu Gili – to show support for the Global Goals and help raise awareness of this important social and environmental call to action.”

With the Sydney Opera House situated on the banks of Sydney Harbour, and potentially vulnerable to climate change impacts such as sea-level rise and surges, the building’s management will undertake the preparation of a Climate Change Adaptation Plan by 2021, to identify the potential climate related risks to the building.

The UN Sustainable Development goals cover 17 different areas, ranging from addressing poverty and hunger, equality and justice, through to environmental sustainability and climate action.

The UN General Assembly has encouraged national governments and business organisations alike to commit to achieving the sustainable development goals by 2030.

The announcement of an updated environmental action plan was accompanied by additional releases of updated accessibility and reconciliation action plans by the opera house.

The commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals was welcomed by NSW arts minister, and former energy minister, Don Harwin.

“As the symbol of modern Australia, the Opera House has an important role to play in inspiring the community. It is wonderful that our most famous landmark is putting its support behind this global initiative to help achieve a more sustainable and fulfilling future for all,” Harwin said.

The Opera House will also aim to achieve formal Sustainable Event Management Certification, consistent with the international ISO 20121 standard.

To celebrate the commitment, the Sydney Opera House will project graphics representing the Sustainable Development Goals to the building’s iconic sails.

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