Our sustainability story
On this page:
We are proud of our work to make our operations more sustainable.
We are a leader in this area and are always looking to improve our services to create a better future for our planet, our city, our community and our children.
You can find out more by reading our Environmental Sustainability Highlights Report 2021-22(PDF 888KB).
Declaring a climate emergency
As a Council we declared a climate emergency in Merri-bek on 12 September 2018. We have committed to urgent action to respond to this emergency.
We support the demand for urgent action on this issue by all levels of government. We invite everyone to get involved and do their part.
It is Council’s adopted goal for Merri-bek to achieve 75% emissions reduction by 2030 (against 2011/12 baseline), net zero by 2035 and drawdown (‘negative emissions’) by 2040.
Why we need to take climate action
To avoid permanent climate collapse we have to reduce our global carbon emissions to net zero as soon as possible. We must do this soon, as science tells us we have a closing window in which we can act. NASA modelling shows us we are on track for an increase in temperature of 2.5 to 4.5°C, which you can read more about on NASA's Global Climate Change website.
Merri-bek has its part to play in stopping the increase in temperature and to limit the temperature increase to less than 1.5°C. If we do this we can limit the damaging impacts on our health, food security and way of life.
You can find out more about how climate change is effecting our area on our Climate change in Merri-bek page.
Merri-bek is certified as carbon neutral
In 2012 we were certified as a ‘carbon neutral’ council. We are the second council in Victoria, and the third in Australia, to receive this certification. You can find out more about this on the Climate Active website.
Our actions to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions are delivering great results. Our 2020 goal was to achieve 30% less emissions than 2011, with a stretch goal of 40%. We have beaten this goal and have reduced our emissions by 69% by 2020.
Reaching zero carbon in Merri-bek
The Merri-bek Zero Carbon 2040 Framework (PDF 2143KB) shows how we aim to reach zero carbon in Merri-bek by 2040. 'Zero carbon' means that Merri-bek will not be responsible for any greenhouse gas emissions.
Along with the Merri-bek community we co-created a Zero Carbon Merri-bek website. We also support businesses, schools and community groups that want to reduce their emissions.
Our Zero Carbon Merri-bek goals are:
1. Energy transition to efficient and 100% renewably powered energy.
2. Sustainable transport that is active or has zero emissions.
3. A circular economy with zero waste.
Every five years we develop a Climate Emergency Action Plan (PDF 978KB) that outlines our plans to achieve this goal.
We need to build this goal into our services, our work and those we influence, and our decision-making.
Join us in creating a sustainable Merri-bek
You can join us in creating a sustainable Merri-bek by:
- Signing up for our Eco eNews to hear our latest environmental news on our Zero Carbon Merri-bek website
- Looking for the latest news about our services and initiatives on our Zero Carbon Merri-bek website
- Getting information on our recent actions as well as ways our community is addressing the climate emergency by following our Zero Carbon Merri-bek Facebook page
- Finding out more about what we are doing to respond to climate change on our Responding to the Climate Emergency page
Our actions on climate change
In 2012 we were certified as a ‘carbon neutral’ council. We are the second council in Victoria, and the third in Australia, to receive this certification. Climate Active certify organisations that measure, reduce and offset their emissions, and publicly report this data.
To get our certification we had to measure our emissions to find out what our carbon footprint was. Then we took steps to reduce emissions where possible. You can find details for how we did this in the 'reducing our emissions' section below. Finally, we had to remove any remaining emissions by buying carbon credits. A carbon credit is a project that reduces emissions. This might be something like reforestation or renewable energy. Having this carbon credit compensates for emissions we make that we can't reduce.
Our actions to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions are delivering great results. Our 2020 goal was to achieve 30% less emissions than 2011, with a stretch goal of 40%. In 2020/21 we have beaten our stretch goal, reducing our emissions by 69%.
Melbourne Renewable Energy Project: On 1 January 2019 we began buying our electricity from the Crowlands Wind Farm in Victoria. This has provided us with 100% renewable energy for Council operations.
Solar on Council Leased Buildings: We will pay the upfront costs to install and maintain solar panels on buildings that we lease to tenants. These tenants can repay the capital costs over 7 to 10 years. They can use the savings from their electricity bills to pay these capital costs.
Electric Vehicle Fleet: We now have 23 pure electric vehicles (EVs) in our light vehicle fleet. This is the largest council EV fleet in Victoria. We also have 16 EV charging stations. This includes five DC fast chargers with 100% renewable electricity from Crowlands Wind Farm.
Improving Council Buildings: Since 2011, we have installed 826 kW of solar on council buildings. This is equivalent to over 165 typical household solar installations. These solar panels have produced over 826kW of renewable energy.
We have also improved energy efficiency through:
- insulation upgrades
- LED lighting retrofits
- double-glazing retrofits
- highly-efficient heating and air-conditioning
We are applying sustainability principles throughout our services, activities and planning. This includes:
- addressing the urban heat island effect
- integrating environmentally sustainable design measures into our planning and building operations
- becoming a water sensitive city
- protecting our biodiversity and natural environment
The State and Federal Government control key policy levers. We need them to pull these levers, so that we can move toward zero carbon and slow the rising temperatures.
We recognise our role in advocating on behalf of the community. We also know that we need to provide leadership and examples of climate action.
We are part of several climate change networks that advocate and take action on the climate crisis. We are working to increase our partnerships and collaborations in this area. This will help build the social movement needed to urge the State and Federal Government to address the climate emergency.
Our networks include: