Melbourne leading the way in reducing emissions

By Spencer Fowler-Steen

The City of Melbourne has released the next iteration of its Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) signalling an ongoing commitment to achieving zero emissions by 2040.

It comes off the back of the council’s successful 2016-2020 ERP which achieved emissions reductions of 76 per cent since 2011 through actions such as solar installations, street light upgrades and 100 per cent renewable energy procurement.

Speaking at the October 19 Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) meeting, Cr Rohan Leppert said people would struggle to find a council policy or plan that was more effective than the EMP.

“It’s an example of a plan that I just couldn’t be prouder of and the work of our team,” he said.

“Our carbon offset plans are contributing to reforesting Australia, and the globe in fact, and the accounting and transparency that goes into these processes is really leading in government and leading across Australia too.”

“In line with the science and the carbon emissions targets, we need to stay ahead to be a good leader and in line with what we know works and is cost efficient to do, and this next iteration of our emissions reduction plan is very exciting, and we know it’ll continue to reduce the carbon emissions aggressively, but sensibly and efficiently.”

The 2021-2026 EMP details 72 actions under eight priorities including zero carbon for council buildings, carbon neutral events, zero carbon corporate transport, zero waste for council operations and low emissions council subsidiaries.

Costing a total of $3.63 million, the 2021-26 ERP will electrify council buildings saving 6500 tonnes of carbon emissions to 2040. 

It will also neutralise 5800 tonnes of carbon emissions each year through running carbon neutral events – where the same amount of carbon produced is removed through absorbing it back from the atmosphere.

Cr Leppert said achieving carbon neutral events was still the greatest challenge facing the council.

“But there’s also quite a lot of work there to do on zero carbon corporate transport and working with subsidiaries to reduce their emissions.”

“And continuing to work through our entire supply chain, not only are we leading the way, but showing the corporate world, residents and everyone how this can be done efficiently, cheaply, for the benefit of society as a whole.”

According to the ERP, the council’s focus has shifted towards its fuel and gas consumption which accounts for 12 per cent of council emissions, as well as the supply chain which contributes 38 per cent.

The switch in focus comes after the energy used by council buildings significantly decreased since the council began powering them with 100 per cent renewable energy. The rest of the emissions are accounted for by a mix of waste services and the council’s subsidiaries; the Queen Victoria Market and Citywide, together making up a third of its emissions •

Speaking at the FMC meeting, Elizabeth Doidge said one way the council was encouraging environmental initiatives across the municipality was “practicing what we preach”.

“When I think of that, actually I also think this is 10 years later, and with the improvement in technology and opportunities, imagine what else we can be doing and that’s why I’m really proud of this strategy.”

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