Climate Change

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1. Overview

Climate change is a key focus for Indigo Shire Council.

We’re working on a range of initiatives to reduce our carbon emissions and minimise the impacts of climate change. 

Climate Emergency Declaration

In July 2019, Indigo Shire became one of the first local government organisations in Victoria to declare a climate emergency.

As part of our response, we worked with key stakeholders to develop a climate emergency strategic action plan, which outlines six priority areas for action.

Adopted by Council in September 2020, the key actions are:

1. Embed climate emergency in the Council Plan
2. Reduce Council's carbon footprint
3. Cultivate a climate change culture
4. Promote environmentally sustainable development (ESD)
5. Mobilise and enable the community to act on climate change 
6. Collaborate and advocate

What Council is doing to address the impacts of climate change

Completed Projects

Solar installations

  • 18 Council and community buildings, totaling ~135kW capacity
  • Grid connect battery installed via grant at Beechworth Memorial Hall complex. 
  • Beechworth Transfer Station – standalone power system with battery.

Solar installations scoped: Rutherglen Council/library office, Beechworth Senior Citizens building, Beechworth Indigo Shire Council Pines building and Chiltern Athenaeum.

Energy efficient lighting upgrades

  • Council (Category P) 80W Mercury Vapour Street Lights (Major Project)
  • Beechworth Council Office - The Pines
  • Yackandandah Senior Citizens 
  • Yackandandah Public Hall – Community driven project
  • Beechworth Council Depot
  • Yackandandah Council Depot
  • Rutherglen Council Depot

Hot Water Upgrades

  • Tangambalanga Swimming Pool
  • Beechworth Child Care
  • Beechworth Kinder
  • Yackandandah Kinder

Environmental Upgrade Agreement/Finance

Passed a resolution to allow Indigo Shire businesses to access low interest loans collected via rates for environmental improvement projects. One business has applied for finance so far.

Victorian senate inquiry into tackling climate change in Victorian communities

Submission lodged in 2019. Mayor, Cr O’Connor and Deputy Mayor Cr Price represented Indigo Shire and its communities at the Inquiry roadshow - Local Government Round Table on 13 February 2020. 

Plasticwise Policy

Council passed a Plasticwise policy in 2018. Council provided seed funding for the Dish Pig project developed by Plasticwise Yackandandah. A ‘better practice at events’ information tool has been developed to assist event organisers in reducing plastic and other wastes at events. A series of bin signage has also been developed. Currently investigating the use of the signage at Shire swimming pools to reduce contamination.

Emissions reduction target

Net zero by 2035 is the target set in the Environment Strategy 2019. 

Climate Change Policy 

Adopted 2016 and reviewed 2019. All reports to Council by staff must consider the policy.

Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 

2016 project to work with staff to identify service risks as a result of climate change and plan adaptation actions. Requires review. 

Solar Savers  

Indigo Shire joined a collaborative local government project to offer professional, unbiased evaluations of home-owners’ patterns of electricity use, to better understand if solar panels were a good fit. Where applicable, a value for money solar solution via low interest loans was offered. All procurement was managed via the project for the customer.  

Projects - In Progress/Ongoing

Electric vehicles

  • Regional LG procurement feasibility study and business case. Collaborative ‘Charging the Regions’ project - focusing on EV infrastructure in the north east.  
  • Recommendation to Council to purchase one electric vehicle 
  • Council has an electric bike for staff use to cut down on vehicle trips. 

Support to community energy groups

  • Partnering with TRY to gain a $150,000 New Energy Jobs Fund grant for a project officer to generate a business case for a community energy retailer. This resulted in Indigo Power. In-kind support and community event hosting for the formation of Totally Renewable Yackandandah, Totally Renewable Beechworth and Totally Renewable Indigo North 
  • In-kind and grant application support to all community energy groups
  • 2040 movie screening partnership 
  • Educational event co-hosting 

Local Government renewables power purchase agreement

Partnering with about 40 local governments across Victoria to procure large scale renewable power from which to purchase our electricity. This is an alternative to having solar panels on all Council owned buildings and overcomes constraints re: heritage and shading. Due to commence 2021. 

Solar farms

Constrained by grid infrastructure. Some preliminary work with Indigo Power and Council to consider leasing the former Chiltern landfill site for a community owned solar farm. No other Indigo Shire owned land parcels suitable.

Carbon Crunching Councils

Shared services agreement for an emissions data management platform. Next step is to collate data, to generate our baseline emissions profile. This will occur in 2020. 

Emissions reduction plan

$20,000 allocated to work with a consultant to generate an emissions reduction plan later in 2020. 

Community Facilities Energy Upgrade Grant

$20,00 per year grant pool for energy efficiency upgrades (including solar) on community buildings. Commenced in 2019.

National Tree Planting Day

Approximately 4,000 trees are ordered annually for National Tree Planting Day. Landcare groups and schools across the shire will participate in the event in July.

Projects - Planned/funded to commence in future

Emissions reduction plan

The Request for Quotation for appointing a consultant to develop an emissions profile for ISC (corporate emissions) and supporting action plan has been completed and will be distributed in 2020.

Tree planting on unused Council land for carbon offsets 

This has not been specifically investigated yet, but for a similar project an analysis of all Council owned blocks of land for biodiversity offsets has been completed. 

Projects - Not yet investigated

Selling Buller Gas

Council owns the Buller Gas operation – it could be sold to fund the Environment Strategy Action Plan or Climate emergency action plan (to be developed). No detailed work on this option has been undertaken since the declaration. Buller Gas is a very profitable asset for ISC, generating a profit of $500,000 per year. Council has a lease for a further 36 years.

A rate-cap variation to fund environmental initiatives

Applying for such a variation involves several steps, including consultation with the community about whether they will accept paying more rates to fund these actions.




Climate Change Policy

Indigo Shire was one of the first local governments in Victoria to adopt a Climate Change Policy in 2016.

The Policy was updated and strengthened in 2019.



 

2. Towards certified NET ZERO

Central to Council’s climate emergency response is to demonstrate strong leadership within our communities by reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from Council’s activities and services.

Accordingly, Indigo Shire Council has set a target to achieve net zero GHG emissions by 2035, or earlier.

View or download Council's Towards Certified NET ZERO PDF brochure(PDF, 539KB)

What are Indigo Shire Council’s current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions?

In 2020, Council engaged Ndevr Environmental to help develop our Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP). This involved identifying how much GHG emissions council produces, where in the organisation they are produced (emissions profile) and identifying opportunities to reduce them (emissions reduction action plan). Using 2019/20 as the baseline year, Indigo Shire Council’s total GHG emissions were 6,366 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2-e). That’s equal to 48 tCO2-e for every full-time council employee.

How is Indigo Shire Council going to achieve net zero?

Indigo Shire Council calculated its total GHG emissions in 2019/20 for the first time, and this is our baseline from which we will measure the impact of a broad range of strategic actions. These include sustainable procurement of goods and services, lighting upgrades, purchasing renewable energy and electric vehicles, and driving behaviour change. Council will continue to measure and report on our GHG emissions, and emissions that we can’t eliminate will be offset in order to achieve certified net zero.

Info graphics steps to net zero

How does Indigo Shire Council produce GHG emissions?

Council produces GHG emissions right across the organisation – from electricity used in Council buildings, fuel used in council fleet and trucks, and emissions produced by Council’s contractors.

Council’s GHG emissions profile has been defined in consultation with Ndevr Environmental, in line with the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol and Australian Government Climate Active Organisational Standard. Our emissions profile includes Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

emissions profile infographic

Indigo Shire Council’s Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions add up to 6,366 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year, with Scope 3 emissions making up the largest proportion (75%) of our emissions profile.

emissions snapshot infographic

Looking more closely at Scope 3 emissions, we see the largest proportion coming from purchased goods and services, particularly the contractors that Council engages for a broad ranges of services. Other large components of our Scope 3 emissions include Council buildings leased to community groups, fuel extraction associated with Buller Gas, and street lighting.

emissions breakdown infographic

 

What has Indigo Shire Council done so far to reduce its GHG emissions?

Indigo Shire Council has been undertaking energy efficiency and GHG emissions reduction measures for many years, including:

  • Solar power installations on at least 18 Council and community buildings, with a combined 135kW capacity
  • Energy efficient lighting upgrades of Council streetlights, buildings and facilities
  • Purchase of two electric vehicles
  • Upgrading climate control systems in Council buildings to energy efficient models that use less harmful refrigerant gases
  • Insulating and draught-proofing Council buildings
  • Undertaking sustainability training for Council staff.

How is Indigo Shire Council going to achieve net zero?

Indigo Shire Council will achieve net zero through undertaking a range of actions across the organisation, as identified in our Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP), including:

  • Purchasing of 100% renewable energy for Council buildings through the Victorian Electricity Collaboration (VECO) via Red Energy. This started 1st July 2021, and applies to around 20% of Council’s total GHG emissions
  • Sustainable procurement - strengthening environmental sustainability measures in Council’s procurement policy and procedures. Contracted goods and services account for over half of Council’s emissions
  • Capturing, tracking and reporting on our GHG emissions using the Trellis carbon accounting platform, and using this knowledge to scope, implement and evaluate emissions reduction actions
  • Reviewing our ERP annually to evaluate progress and ensure new technologies and opportunities are being considered.

projected path infographic

What happens if Indigo Shire Council doesn’t achieve net zero by 2035?

  • Carbon offsets will be purchased for the GHG emissions that Council, despite its best efforts, can’t eliminate. Net zero is achieved through balancing a measured amount of GHG emissions released, with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset. Offsets must be purchased every year and represent a continuing investment
  • If no further action is taken by Council to reduce emissions (this precludes VECO), carbon offsets could cost approximately $146,000-$255,000 per annum (based on AUD2020 prices). The variance is explained by either local/national offsets (more expensive) vs international offsets (cheaper)
  • Council also recognises the cumulative effect of higher GHG emissions, year after year. One alternative to steadily reducing emissions is simply to purchase carbon offsets immediately. International and national carbon credits are expected to increase in price in future years, presenting a financial risk to council in the achievement of its target without a strong focus on emissions reduction.

Will Indigo Shire Council be certified carbon neutral?

  • YES. Indigo Shire Council’s emissions profile has been established in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol and Australian Government Climate Active Organisational Standard. Emissions categories (and associated emissions sources) follow the GHG Protocol framework.
  • Indigo Shire Council can also take its net zero target further and seek carbon neutral certification through the Australian Government’s Climate Active Program by applying to the Department of Industry, Science, Energy, and Resources (DISER). This incurs annual certification fees and additional periodic auditing requirements. Certified organisations can use the Climate Active Certification Trademark, providing a credible stamp of approval for environmental stewardship. 

3. Greenhouse alliance

Indigo Shire Council is also an active  participant  and  member  of  the Goulburn Murray Climate Alliance (GMCA) and has signed up to TAKE2. The GMCA is a collaboration of local governments and state government agencies, working on projects to collectively act on climate change.

Visit the GMCA website for more information.

4. Renewable energy, solar power and batteries

We encourage and support our residents to explore opportunities to use the power of the sun to generate renewable energy. Producing  your  own  renewable  energy  by  installing  solar  photovoltaic  (PV)  panels  is  a  great  way  to  reduce  your  electricity  bills  and  carbon  footprint. 

In a typical home with solar panels, part or all of your energy usage may be met by solar generation while the sun is shining. Any excess solar energy is exported to the grid. Shortfalls, most often experienced in the evening and overnight, are met by importing electricity from the grid. 

Don’t know where to start with solar panels, batteries or solar hot water? Check out the State Government’s buyers guides, as well as information about available rebates at https://www.solar.vic.gov.au/.

You can take it one step further by adding a battery. When you add a battery to a rooftop solar system or install a battery and rooftop solar panels together in a new system, the excess solar energy not used at home during the day is used to charge the battery.  There are various battery storage products available that have a wide range of functionality and performance.

5. Community action on renewables

Indigo Shire is home to active community renewable energy groups, including Totally Renewable Yackandandah, Totally Renewable Beechworth and Totally Renewable Indigo North. Contact these groups for more information if you are interested in getting involved.