Our sustainability story

 Richmond Town Hall Solar

Yarra's first Climate Emergency Plan

Yarra City Council was one of the first local governments in the world to declare a climate emergency, acknowledging both the scale and urgency of action needed to avoid the catastrophic impacts of global heating.
 
On 2 June 2020, Yarra Council endorsed its first Climate Emergency Plan that sets out our priorities and proposed actions for the next four years. 
 
We’re accelerating our own carbon emission reductions, supporting our community to act on the climate emergency, as well as to live with worsening climate impacts. We are also investing in created a climate adapted city — across our green spaces, streets, and hard assets and infrastructure. Highlights from our plan include:
  • 'Get off gas’ by transitioning all of Council’s buildings to electric, powered by 100% renewable energy, by 2030
  • Transition all Council’s fleet to electric vehicles powered by renewable energy by 2025
  • Speed up the roll out of cycling infrastructure by trialling temporary bike lanes to inform permanent upgrades
  • Create climate adapted green spaces by harvesting more stormwater to irrigate our parks
  • Introduce zero carbon standards for new commercial and residential developments, working with other government partners to amend the planning scheme
  • Enable our community to cut their carbon emissions and collectively push for the urgent climate action we need
  • Help residents and businesses take up renewable energy and facilitate solar installations
  • Advocate for urgent climate action by other levels of government, including strong renewable energy and carbon emissions reduction targets, along with policy and economic measures that both enable recovery from the pandemic and drive emissions reductions.

 

Powered by 100% renewable energy

Since January 2019, all of our organisational electricity needs have been met by 100% renewable electricity, through rooftop solar generation across 38 council sites, and the remainder from wind power supplied by the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project (MREP).
 
In an Australian first, MREP project brought together the purchasing power of 14 partners, including universities, cultural institutions, corporations and councils to drive the construction of a new wind farm near Ararat.
 
Council entered into a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) sourcing all of its electricity needs – for public lights, buildings, and electric charging — from renewable energy.

 

Our track record in cutting carbon emissions

Since 2008/09, the total emissions from Yarra Council as an organisation have reduced by more than 70% from 16,194 tCO2e in 2008/09 to approximately 4,500 tCO2e for the 2019 calendar year (figure below).
 
Major reductions were achieved via street lighting, building upgrades through Energy Performance Contracts and sourcing 100% renewable electricity.
 
The main opportunities to reduce our organisation’s emissions are transitioning away from natural gas (making up around 45 percent of emissions) and reducing emissions from transport (currently around 42 percent).

 

Yarra Council’s organisational carbon emissions trend from 2008/09 to 2018/19

A certified carbon neutral organisation

Since 2012 Yarra Council has been operating as a certified carbon neutral organisation (under the National Carbon Offsetting Standard), meaning certified carbon offsets have been purchased to cover the residual emissions, bringing overall emissions to net zero.
 
Yarra Council was just the second local government in Australia to achieve this accreditation. 

 

Recognition of our sustainability leadership

Our sustainability profile and programs for the community have been recognised in a number of awards:

 

Our partners and alliances

We have strategic partnerships that assist with accelerating climate action. These include:
 
  • The Yarra Energy Foundation (YEF) is an independent, Council-funded organisation working towards a zero-carbon future in the City of Yarra.  Established by Yarra Council in 2010, YEF delivers energy efficiency and renewable energy programs to support households, schools, community groups and businesses to move towards a zero-carbon city.
  • Northern Alliance for Greenhouse Action (NAGA): a partnership between nine local governments in Melbourne’s north that delivers carbon reduction programs and advocacy across municipal borders.
  • Cities Power Partnership (CPP): Australia’s largest local government climate network, with participants sharing information and building connections in order to accelerate local action.
  • Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy: the world’s largest global alliance for city climate leadership, with over 10,000 participants promoting and supporting voluntary action to combat the climate emergency and move to a low emissions, resilient society.