Sustainability and climate action is a key focus area of the Council Plan 2021-2025 and is fundamental to protect the natural environment, the liveability and livelihoods of residents and businesses across the Shire.
To do this, we are focusing on the following areas:
Council unanimously declared a climate emergency in September 2019. The emergency acknowledges that temperature rise above 1.5°C will lead to major and irreversible damage to ecosystems. Up to one million species face extinction. Locally, climate change will increase fire hazard with an increase in hot days, impact rainfall patterns and increase the likelihood of extreme weather events.
See here to learn about climate projections for the Central Highlands, Victoria Central Highlands Climate Projections(PDF, 2MB).
Council has been working hard to reduce its own carbon footprint through our Towards Zero Emissions Roadmap(PDF, 587KB), and has recently finalised our new Sustainable Hepburn strategy(PDF, 15MB) which takes us in to the future and ‘beyond zero emissions’ as we increasingly partner with the community to drive down emissions right across the Shire.
The Roadmap was delivered between 2017 – 2021 with the goal of reaching net-zero emissions from our own operations by the end of the 2021/22 financial year. Council is in the process of finalising this work and is on track to reach net-zero over the coming months! We will need to buy carbon offsets for the emissions that we cannot yet eliminate such as heavy vehicle and fleet emissions, and emissions from gas use. However, we have reduced emissions significantly and are in the early stages of developing a plan for sequestering carbon relating to our remaining emissions year-on-year through local biodiversity and regenerative land restoration projects.
Here are some of the key actions that helped us get there:
Council has committed to the following external programs, with the intention of showing support for bold and collaborative action on Climate Change: