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Council has renewed its commitment to being carbon neutral by 2020 through a program of actions to avoid and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
To achieve its goal, Council will undertake a coordinated approach to avoid greenhouse gas emissions by making its infrastructure more sustainable and efficient, then switching to renewable energy sources, and finally offsetting any remaining, residual emissions.
The estimated costs for achieving carbon neutrality are around $2.4 million, with the majority of these funds being directed towards energy efficient upgrades and installation of solar panels on Council buildings.
Feedback on Draft Carbon Neutrality Action Plan
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Greenhouse gas emissions are created through Council activities, for example from gas and electricity use in buildings, fuel for fleet vehicles and the use of paper, air travel and Council’s waste to landfill.
Achieving carbon neutrality means that Council will have reduced its contribution to climate change, and helped to achieve the global ambition to keep global temperature rise to below 2°C. Avoiding temperature rise above this will help to avoid severe and irreversible impacts. It will leads to ongoing efficiencies and cost savings. Council will also work with its service providers and through procurement practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a result of Council’s services.
Council will achieve its vision for carbon neutrality through the following activities:
- Measuring greenhouse gas emissions and setting objectives – measuring emissions, monitoring, reporting and verification of Council’s carbon inventory
- Avoid emissions – working with Council staff, suppliers and contractors to achieve the carbon neutrality goal
- Implement energy efficiency works – building upgrades, e.g. installing more energy efficient lighting
- Where feasible, install renewables – solar panels on council buildings
- Switch to lower impact fuels – choose electric vehicles, use electricity from solar rather than fossil fuels
- Assess, Sequester and Offset – where possible reduce emissions through activities that absorb carbon from the atmosphere. This can be done by tree planting, for example.
Even with the proposed investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy and working with building users, contractors and suppliers, there will be some greenhouse gas emissions that Council cannot reduce. It is estimated that, after the implementation of all actions, remaining greenhouse gas emissions will be about 8,000tCO2-e (this is influenced by contractors as well as Council emissions).
To achieve carbon neutrality these remaining emissions will need to be offsetPurchasing one tonne of ‘carbon offset’ means that there will be one less tonne of carbon dioxide (or an equivalent greenhouse gas) in the atmosphere than there otherwise would have been. These offsets will need to be purchased annually to maintain carbon neutral status.
There are many different offset products available. The cost of offsets will be influenced by where and how the offset is created and the standards applied. For example, an offset can be created from planting trees in Australia, or it can be generated via electricity generated at a wind farm located internationally.
There are three price points for offsets:
|Low (e.g. $1.50)||Purchased from a reputable supplier and/or project and no negative consequences||Overseas||Overseas wind energy, overseas hydropower||Greenhouse gas emissions reductions|
|Mid-range(e.g. $8.00)||Purchased from a reputable provider and aligned with other positive outcomes for the environment and communities||Overseas||Overseas forestry projects, energy efficiency, waste diversion projects, agricultural improvement||Social, health outcomes, economic improvements through process improvements and job creation|
|Most expensive (e.g. $15.00)||Gold Standard – this certification guarantees the application of certain standards||Victoria||Tree planting, landfill gas||Environment – biodiversity improvement, clean waterEconomic – projects in regional communitiesSocial -|