City of Darebin
Darebin City Council is a local government authority in the inner northern region of Melbourne, covering 54 square kilometres and is bounded by the Merri Creek to the west and Darebin Creek to the east. Darebin is home to a diverse and vibrant population of around 165,000 people.
Darebin City Council is known worldwide for being the first jurisdiction to declare a climate emergency in 2016. Since this declaration, Darebin has taken urgent action to reduce corporate and community emissions.
“The City of Darebin Council chose to go carbon neutral to demonstrate leadership in climate action, to the community and the local government sector.”
Type of certification
How long have you been certified carbon neutral?
Since August 2021.
Why did you choose to go carbon neutral?
Council chose to go carbon neutral to demonstrate leadership in climate action, to the community and the local government sector. Council’s Climate Emergency Plan 2017-2022 set a target of carbon neutrality for corporate emissions by 2020.
What are the anticipated benefits of your carbon neutral certification?
There are numerous expected benefits of carbon neutral certification including:
- inspiring more ambitious climate action in the community, throughout the local government sector and Council’s supply chain;
- increased motivation to implement emissions reduction initiatives, driving down operational costs (e.g. energy and maintenance costs);
- improved staff engagement throughout the organisation, towards a common goal; and
- reducing Council’s climate risk exposure over the medium to long term.
What offset projects do you support?
A wind bundle project in India, a biodiversity project in Western Australia and a peatland restoration and conservation project in Borneo.
Why did you choose these projects?
Council selected these projects after a comprehensive evaluation process to ensure value for money, and substantial co-benefits.
The Maharashtra wind power project displaces fossil fuel energy generation with renewable energy in India. Distributed across 9 villages, the project has added jobs to an otherwise agricultural area, which has also seen wider socio-economic benefits associated with electrification of the local area.
Council also purchased Biodiverse Reforestation Carbon Offsets (BRCOs) from the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity project in Western Australia. Each offset unit was stapled to an offset from the above wind power project. The co-benefits of the Yarra Yarra project include restoring the native vegetation of the area, lowering water salinity and creating local employment opportunities (including over 50 indigenous roles).
The Katingan Peatland Restoration and Conservation Project protects vital peatland habitats for five critically endangered, eight endangered and 31 Vulnerable species. The protected area is home to around 5 - 10% of the global population of the Bornean Orangutan. This project contributes to 9 of the Sustainable Development Goals, delivering extensive environmental, social and economic benefits.
How can the community support you?
We’d like the community to join us in restoring Darebin to a safe climate by taking similar actions. Everyone has a role to play in responding to the challenges of climate change. This could include taking steps to reducing your own emissions, supporting companies or organisations taking ambitious action on climate change or advocating for policy reform to reflect climate-based science.
Darebin also offers a number of ways that residents and businesses can participate including the Darebin Solar Saver Program, discovering ways to reduce their environmental impacts through the Sustainable Darebin Map or the Light$mart business program.
What else are you doing to reduce emissions?
Council is progressing several initiatives to reduce its gross emissions including:
- Leading a group of 46 councils to establish VECO - the Victorian Energy Collaboration, to power Council’s buildings and streetlights with renewable energy from 11 July 2021. This is the largest local government led emissions reduction project in Australia and will reduce Darebin’s emissions by up to 55%.
- Installing rooftop solar photovoltaic on new and existing buildings. This includes an additional 324kW over the last 2 years.
- Transitioning Council’s fleet to electric vehicles. Council is currently installing two additional electric vehicle chargers for its fleet vehicles, bringing the total to eight. While the number of electric vehicles in the fleet is expanding annually.
- Avoiding natural gas in new facilities, for example, the redevelopment of the Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre, which will be one of the first all-electric aquatic centres in Victoria.
- Implementing retrofit energy efficiency measures including lighting and HVAC upgrades.
What has been the impact of your action?
In the process of becoming certified carbon neutral, Council made significant changes to its emissions boundary in line with carbon accounting principles, to ensure our carbon account was robust and comprehensive. Therefore, Council now has a new emissions baseline for future comparisons.
What advice would you give to a business considering certification?
Certification presents a fantastic opportunity to address your organisation’s emissions profile, through a transparent, robust process. Organisations considering certification do not need to feel daunted by the proposition, rather, excited for the opportunity to improve their environmental credentials.