By Romy Stephens
The Yarra Ranges Council is on track to meet its carbon emissions reduction target by next year, according to a council report.
The Climate Action Initiative Interim Report was supported by Councillors at their 10 September meeting.
It highlighted that the council is set to meet its target of reducing carbon emissions from Council activities by 30 per cent ﹘ on the year 2000 levels ﹘ by next year.
The report also outlined projects that have taken place since the council adopted it’s Adapting to a Changing Climate and Energy Future plan seven years ago.
Such projects included the installation of 6000 new LED street lights and over 4000 rooftop solar panels.
The influx of these projects has seen renewable energy power a quarter of electricity use in the Yarra Ranges and over $1 million dollars saved every year since the climate plan was first introduced.
Yarra Ranges Mayor Tony Stevenson said he hoped the council’s actions would inspire others to take climate action.
“I am proud of the work Yarra Ranges Council has already been doing and our commitment to the Adapting to a Changing Climate and Energy Future Plan,” he said.
“As part of the Local Government sector, Yarra Ranges Council has an opportunity to lead by example and influence other levels of government and members of the community.
“If we can save money while reducing emissions dramatically, others can too.”
The report also showed current and upcoming projects that are expected to make further financial savings and help the council reach zero net emissions by 2050.
Projects included replacing major road street lights with LEDs ﹘ starting this month ﹘ and the commitment to a regional power partnership with several other local councils.
It’s expected the partnership will allow renewable energy to be sourced at a cheaper bulk price and help meet electricity needs at all times.
The prospect of local job creation and community-owned solar was also on the table with the report revealing that investigations were underway to convert closed landfill sites into solar farms.
Andrew McKernan opposed the motion to support the report. He said the report needed to focus on more than just the energy aspect of climate change.
“This document encapsulates the good things Council has done on energy consumption, but it leaves environment out of it, it leaves water out,” he said.
“It needs to be a whole business approach.”
Meanwhile, the owner of Warburton Holiday Park and Vice President of Warburton Advancement League, David Crout, supported the report findings.
He said his holiday park had reduced carbon emissions, by installing solar panels and an electric vehicle charging point, thanks to the leadership of the council.
“It’s refreshing to see council saying it’s going to make a change but also getting on with the job,” he said.
“I’d say all these climate action plans that we’ve made at our park come as a result of the leadership provided by this council.”
The report also mentioned that the council is working to develop an updated climate plan for next year and beyond.