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Cr Aaron Hawkins was commenting on the latest Dunedin Energy Study, released last week, which found total energy use was up 5% in 2017-18.
Reliance on renewables had dropped 2%, to 32% of the mix.
Cr Hawkins, speaking at yesterday's economic development committee meeting, said the report ''obviously isn't great news'', but neither was it ''particularly surprising''.
The city's population was growing and in transport, the sector consuming the most energy across the city, alternatives to fossil fuel-burning vehicles were still ''less than attractive'', he said.
The city needed to continue to invest in improving walking and cycling options and to provide efficient and affordable public transport, he said.
It was a view echoed by the study itself.
It suggested more work to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles, ride-sharing, public transport and ''active'' transport - such as cycling - to reduce emissions.
Cr Hawkins said the Otago Regional Council also needed to do its part, by using its procurement process to drive up the standard of buses plying city streets, he believed.
The Christchurch City Council had recently moved to encourage the introduction of electric buses there, and the ORC needed to be more ''ambitious'' and do the same here, he said.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said housing was another area with ''enormous'' potential for energy savings.
Simply insulating homes across the city to a standard expected as a minimum in other countries would save ''millions'' in energy costs, he said.
Cr Lee Vandervis took a different view, arguing the report's findings were ''completely predictable''.
They would do nothing to help the city adapt to climate change, and neither would the millions of dollars invested in cycleways, he said.
However, Cr Christine Garey and Cr Hawkins disagreed, arguing the uptake of cycling would only improve as the city's partially-finished network was completed and sections joined up.
''I don't think it's helpful to use an incomplete network as an argument for not completing it,'' Cr Hawkins said.