Council joined over 30 councils in Victoria and almost 100 councils across Australia in passing a motion at its Scheduled Council Meeting on 24 March 2021 to declare a Climate Emergency. The declaration recognises the urgent need to address the causes and impacts of climate change across all aspects of Council’s operations, and in its work with the community. It provides a core principle and policy basis for Council’s corporate planning and decision making, and also sends a message to the wider the community that climate change is the key priority to address in all sectors of society.
A petition of 405 signatures, submitted by the Macedon Ranges Climate Emergency Declaration Coalition was accepted at the same council meeting, indicating good community support for Council taking steps to address climate change.
What is the climate emergency?
Climate change presents an immediate and significant risk to all life on earth, and requires urgent action to avoid the risk and its associated impacts. With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identifying that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is required to mitigate against the worst effects of climate change (Climate Report 2018 and Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees), while also noting that based on current trajectories, this 1.5 degree threshold could be reached as soon as 2030, there is a clear and urgent need to address climate change.
The term “climate emergency” reflects our global situation, where urgent action is required to reduce climate change and avoid the potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from climate change.
Similar to other emergency situations, there are two corresponding components to the Climate Emergency:
- The situation: the rapidly increasing occurrences of changing weather patterns and global warming caused by human activity.
- The response: the need to mobilise action on climate change at a large scale and at a rapid speed.
A campaign to highlight the need for urgent action on climate change at all levels of government through Declarations of Climate Emergency was initiated at a forum of local Climate Action Networks held in Melbourne in September 2016. There are now over 2,000 jurisdictions globally who have made a declaration. Over 100 are in Australia (including the government of the Australian Capital Territory), representing over 9 million people.
Since 2016, Council has installed a total of approximately 380kW of roof top solar arrays over 17 of its buildings, reducing emissions by over 500 tonnes CO2-e / year. Council also aims to reduce energy consumption through improving the environmental performance of its buildings as circumstances allow, through installing LEDs, upgrading heating and cooling systems, sourcing energy efficient appliances when renewing assets, and conducting audits to identify key opportunities for future works.
From 2017 to 2019, Council converted 2,548 streetlights in residential areas to energy efficient LEDs. This investment reduced emissions from streetlights by approximately 755 tonnes CO2-e / year. It also provides ongoing savings to council, in both consumption and operational and maintenance costs.
In 2021, streetlights on major roads (where costs are shared with VicRoads), will also be replaced with LEDs, as part of a regional project coordinated by the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance (CVGA) aimed at further reducing emissions from public lighting and providing ongoing operational savings to councils. More information about this regional project can be found at CVGA Lighting the Region Major Roads.
Council aims to replace passenger fleet vehicles with hybrid vehicles wherever possible, and to source fuel efficient fit-for-purpose vehicles and machinery. The trial and introduction of electric vehicles into Council’s fleet will occur as circumstances allow.
As a partner in a regional project coordinated by the CVGA, Council is also working to support the community in transitioning to electric vehicles, through the installation of charging stations. Two fast-charging stations were installed in mid 2021, in Kyneton and Woodend. More information about the regional project can be found CVGA Charging the Regions, from where you can view a short video explaining the benefits of the project.
Council will work to install charging stations in other towns across the shire as resources allows.
Victorian Energy Collaboration
Council is a partner in the Victorian Energy Collaboration (VECO), a statewide power purchase agreement sourcing renewable energy for 46 local councils across the state. VECO involves the contracted provider purchasing the total amount of electricity required by participating councils as renewable energy, enabling them to claim emissions reductions. For Macedon Ranges Shire Council, VECO reduces emissions associated with electricity consumption at buildings and streetlights by approximately 3,385 tonnes CO2-e / year, the equivalent of powering 620 houses with renewable energy. More information about the venture can be found at VECO.
Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance
Council is a member of the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance (CVGA), a network of 13 local government councils in central and northwest Victoria, working together to address climate change. Led by an executive officer, the CVGA develops projects to reduce emissions, then sources funds and shares costs to implement projects, such as the Transport and Streetlights projects The CVGA also advocates for climate and energy policy, and facilitates knowledge sharing. More information can be found at CVGA.
Council also provides targeted information to guide residents in living more sustainably.
Practical Regenerative Agricultural Communities
The Practical Regenerative Agricultural Communities program promotes regenerative farming practices, through providing information resources, hosting field days and webinars, and facilitating peer support. The holistic approach to regenerative farming enables improvement in soil health, biodiversity and productivity, and helps reduce emissions through storing carbon in soil.
The project is being delivered as a partnership between Macedon Ranges Shire Council, Hepburn Shire Council, the City of Greater Bendigo, A Healthy Coliban Catchment project (North Central Catchment Management Authority and Coliban Water), Melbourne Water and the Upper Campaspe Landcare Network.
In 2019 Council engaged a Sustainable Design Officer to develop information resources and host workshops about sustainable building design. Our Sustainable Design page has more information and fact sheets explaining the principles of climate responsive design.