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Prof Stephenson, who directs the University of Otago Centre for Sustainability, told about 50 people at a university energy symposium that the city’s recent energy trends had been mainly adverse.
She based her comments largely on the centre’s recently-released annual Dunedin Energy Study, which was funded by the DCC.
In her talk at the Otago Energy Research Centre’s latest symposium on campus, she said that in the financial year to June last year, fossil fuel use, particularly diesel fuel, had increased, and greenhouse gas release was also up.
"A lot of that has been driven by the rise in diesel," she said.
Some positive developments had included increased use of solar panels and electric vehicles, but these were outweighed by some more adverse outcomes.
She agreed with a later questioner that increased electric bike use was significant, and better health could result.
The latest centre annual energy report showed that the 2030 carbon-neutral goal would not be reached automatically, but would require specific policies to reach the target.
Ultimately a "huge amount of work" was required, including to develop policies aimed at achieving the target, as well as "city-wide collaboration".
The data for 2018-19 showed the city’s energy consumption continued to rise, at a rate higher than the city’s population growth and economic growth, she said.
Diesel made up 36% of all energy use within the city, followed by electricity (23%), petrol (20%), biomass (13%), coal (4%), lpg (3%) and sulphur (2%), the study said.
Energy centre co-director Associate Prof Michael Jack chaired the talk and later question and answer session.
The energy centre’s latest annual two-day conference ended yesterday.