I was also reassured by the second point of mayor Danny Claridge’s motion at the end of the meeting, ‘That council recognises that climate change is one of the most significant issues that will impact the social, cultural, economic and environmental health and wellbeing of our community and will act accordingly with all policies and programs of the council’.
After approaching Peter Holmes about communicating with council about emissions accounting, I sent an email to all Councillors, the CEO and the Manager Economic Development and Environment mentioning protocols and tools for councils to do a community wide emissions inventory and highlighting work being done both locally and globally by other cities and local governments. Such as Cities Power Partnership (Benalla Council is a Member), ICLEI Internatioal Council of Local Governments for Sustainability, Global Covenant Of Mayors for Climate and Energy, and C40 Cities.
Our Renewable Energy Benalla action group is based on a transition strategy developed through John Lloyd's work with Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE). This strategy provided baseline stationary emissions for a 100% Renewables Benalla by 2028. These emissions are based on the GHG Protocol Standard for Cities, the GPC. Since producing the Transition Strategy BZE has, with local government specialists Ironbark Sustainability, developed a Snapshot Climate Tool to provide all Councils in Australia with an online emissions profile.
The GPC enables organisations to determine a citywide emissions inventory based on Tier 3 data which is local activity data and locally sourced conversion factors, or actual activity-specific local carbon emissions data. Such data can be time consuming and expensive to obtain.
The Snapshot Climate Tool however uses Tier 1 data which is largely modelled data, with little or no local activity data available (these methods take state, national, or international data, and scale them to the municipality using a relevant metric). The Tool provides a profile not an inventory however the data is sufficiently accurate to provide councils with an insight into community emissions. The GPC also provides guidance on a Council Operations emissions inventory.
My email to Councillors resulted in replies from Mayor Danny Claridge, and Councillors Gail O’Brien, Puna Gunaratne and Justin King each mentioning they were looking forward to working with BSFG. I took the opportunity to reply to all Councillors mentioning Ironbark’s website article on Science Derived Targets for Australian Councils and attached an emissions reduction target for Benalla I had requested from Ironbark.
One Councillor is looking forward to working towards achieving a net zero Benalla although the boundaries for this have not been established. Would it be for council operations emissions, or the city-wide emissions reported by the Snapshot Climate tool? I provided Councillors with a link to the 2021 Australian Local Government Climate Review which provides a comprehensive analysis of climate change actions, barriers and opportunities facing councils and communities.
Despite the unsatisfactory outcome of the Climate Emergency Petition to Council we may now have the opportunity to work with Council to support and work with the community towards achieving a Net Zero Benalla.
This article was originally published in BSFG Newsletter #31, November 2021