Victoria's first carbon neutral Council

Yarra City Council was the first Victorian Council to be a certified as carbon neutral under Climate Active (formerly the National Carbon Offset Standard) in late November 2012.

Since then, we have maintained our Climate Active carbon neutral status. Established by the Australian Government in 2010, Climate Active sets transparent requirements for calculating, auditing and offsetting the carbon footprint of an organisation so it can achieve 'carbon neutrality'.

We were the second Council in Australia, after the City of Sydney, to receive Climate Active certification.

What does becoming carbon neutral mean?

Becoming carbon neutral required us to measure our greenhouse gas emissions and balance them by investing in accredited projects (known as offsets) that are recognised for reducing emissions by the same amount.

The Climate Active program includes both national and international schemes and provides strict eligibility requirements. This ensures confidence in the voluntary carbon offset market from both a consumer and provider perspective.

Our Climate Active accredited offset purchases have included investment in two wind farms in China and a wastewater treatment and biogas utilisation project in Thailand, and a waste biomass to energy system in India.

Our journey to become carbon neutral

The goal of becoming a carbon neutral organisation was first outlined by Council in our 2008 Yarra Environment Strategy. This has been superseded by our Organisational Zero Emissions Roadmap which charts our ambition to reach zero gross emissions (without offsets) by 2030. Over more than ten years we have prioritised actions to reduce our greenhouse emissions in the following order:

  • Measure all emissions and evaluate the effectiveness of previous reduction measures
  • Avoid using energy when possible and eliminate waste
  • Reduce energy use through efficient technology and behaviour change
  • Buy 100% renewable energy by switching to low emission sources and getting off gas
  • Sequester and offset all residual emissions that can't be eliminated through avoiding, reducing or changing energy sources

Measuring our emissions

Our annual greenhouse gas emissions are determined by applying nationally recognised calculation methods and using data from a variety of sources including utility bills, direct fuel purchases and contractor fuel use, waste, use of public transport, taxis, flights, hire cars and buses, paper use, water use and emissions from refrigerant gases found in air conditioning equipment.

In 2021/22, Yarra's emissions were 5,837 tCO2 from:

Emissions source  Tonnes CO2 
Electricity (100% renewable)
Electricity – street lighting (100% renewable) 
Natural gas
Transport fuels
Transport fuels – contractors
Fugitive emissions (refrigerants)
Business travel of employees
Cement 300
 Working from home 262
 Total emissions 5,836

For a full description of how Council determines our emissions boundary, see the Climate Active Public Disclosure Summary - 2021-22 (518KB, PDF). 

Verifying our numbers

To meet the Climate Active assessment requirements, Council employs an auditor from the Register of Consultants for Technical Assessments to check our methodology for calculating the annual carbon emissions. This independent audit is required every second year.

You can download our 2020-21 Carbon Neutral Independent Audit Report statement (151KB, PDF).

Next steps

As part of Climate Active certification, we must present audits of our energy use for review and approval annually. 

Our journey towards long-term sustainability doesn't end with the Climate Active certification. Becoming carbon neutral through the purchase of offsets is just one way we are reducing our carbon footprint. 

We continue to reduce our emissions in our operations, through implementing the actions in our Organisational Zero Emissions Roadmap.

These include investing in projects such as transitioning our buildings away from using gas to be solely powered by 100% renewable electricity and upgrading our fleet to electric vehicles.