Greenhouse Action Plan progress

Article image - Greenhouse Action Plan progress

Council’s Greenhouse Action Plan (GAP) set a target of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by 30 per cent, from a base year of 2000 by 2010. The target applies not just to Council’s own activities, but across the whole community.

“When the target was set in late 2006, this was an ambitious goal, which involved developing a blueprint virtually from scratch as there were no directly applicable models to follow in this emerging field,” said Mount Alexander CEO, Phil Rowland. “It took some time to establish baseline data and to identify the areas in which measurable progress could be expected.”

By mid 2009, Council had made good progress on reducing its own emissions, achieving a reduction of 12 per cent through a combination of measures, including retrofits to buildings, more efficient vehicles and the purchase of a biodiesel blend for plant vehicles. Since then, further actions have been implemented, including purchasing accredited 100 per cent Green Power for street lighting. This has taken Council’s overall emissions reduction to 43 per cent since 2000.

“This is a significant achievement and shows a willingness by Council to ‘walk the talk’ on climate change and establish an example for others to follow,” Phil Rowland said.

“However, it needs to be acknowledged that Council’s own emissions are only about one per cent of the total for the local community.”

On the broader community front, the story is more complex. It has proven considerably more difficult to establish baseline data to set clearly measurable actions and to implement those actions in areas where Council has no control. For example, neither the gas and electricity distributors, nor the retail companies can provide accurate figures on energy consumption usage specifically within the Shire boundaries.

Despite these barriers, considerable progress has been made where households, business groups and businesses have taken up the challenge either on their own initiative or in partnership with Council.

The Maine’s Power project, initiated by the Mount Alexander Sustainability Group and supported by Council, the Victorian Government, the CSIRO and others, has set a path for the Shire’s three largest industrial energy users and Castlemaine Health to achieve very substantial reductions. Collectively, these organisations account for 45 per cent of the Shire’s emissions.

To date, international smallgoods manufacturing company, Don KRC, has committed to cogeneration of power at its facility expansion in Castlemaine, which will reduce its emissions per tonne of product by 50 per cent.

Many households and smaller businesses have also been very proactive in taking efficiency measures, installing solar hot water and photovoltaic electricity systems and buying more efficient appliances and vehicles.

The local C500 project showed that progress was made in many of the 375 participating households, but again, precise tracking of changes was difficult due to factors such as switching energy suppliers.

“With six months to go until the target of the end of 2010, the challenge remains immense and communities like ours are dependent to an extent on external factors like Federal and State policies and the availability of renewable energy,” Mayor Philip Schier.

“The evidence does show, however, that reductions of 30 per cent or more can be achieved by every household and business with some fairly simple and inexpensive measures.

“We plan to keep helping our community to take the necessary steps for the future.”

For further information contact Phil Rowland CEO Mount Alexander on (03) 5471 1705.