The NSW Government's Net Zero Plan Stage 1: 2020-2030 is the foundation for the State's action on climate change and to our goal to reach net zero emissions by 2050. It outlines the NSW Government’s plan to take action and protect our future in collaboration with industry, communities and households. Delivery of the Plan will grow the economy, create jobs and reduce emissions and ensure NSW is well placed to prosper in a low carbon world.
The Plan aims to deliver a 35% cut in emissions by 2030 compared to 2005 levels as the first stage to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
By reducing emissions, local councils can help to increase the resilience of their communities and act as a catalyst for NSW to meet its net zero emissions goals.
NSW councils play a key role in the shift to net zero emissions as leaders, place makers and through their connection to local communities. Local councils can support the transition through reducing their own emissions across their operations and through the provision of essential services such as waste management, transport, planning and infrastructure for their residents and businesses.
What does net zero emissions mean?
Net zero emissions refers to a state where emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (including carbon) are counterbalanced by the removal of greenhouse gases.This means reducing emissions as far as possible, then offsetting the remainder.
Actions local councils can take
The actions local councils can take to achieve net zero emissions for their operations and community can include, but are not limited to:
- switching to renewable energy through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) or on-site solar
- improving the energy efficiency of buildings and infrastructure (e.g. upgrading streetlights)
- implementing low carbon transport such as electric vehicles and active transport options
- diverting organics to reduce emissions from landfill
- adopting a circular economy model where goods and services and any associated waste or by-products are re-used elsewhere in the community or recycled
- encouraging farmers to incorporate activities such as minimising fertiliser usage, maintaining ground cover, implementing crop rotations and participating in carbon farming activities
- increasing the canopy cover in towns and cities to minimise urban heating, increase habitat and sequester carbon
- using low emissions building materials in new constructions to minimise the usage of traditional materials that produce high levels of emissions during manufacturing
- offsetting any residual emission sources which can’t be reduced (e.g. diesel-powered generators).
Benefits of reducing emissions
There are many financial, environmental and social benefits for councils and their communities by reducing emissions and transitioning towards net zero. These benefits can include but are not limited to:
$ financial benefits
- Installing or purchasing renewable energy can help local councils manage energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Many renewable energy projects generate cost savings over time in addition to reducing emissions.
- In some circumstances, excess solar energy can be fed back into the grid which can generate additional income for communities and shorten pay-back periods.
- Prepare your community to be more resilient to climate risks such as bush fires, storms, floods and sea level rise.
- Better protect your natural environment’s threatened flora and fauna species, landscapes and waterways.
- Combat urban heating by increasing green cover in your area.
- Play your part to help limit global warming.
- Provide cleaner air, green spaces and healthier environments for your community.
- Demonstrate that your council is responding to community expectations to act on emissions.
- Reduce transitional and liability risks within your Local Government Area (LGA).
- Join a growing network of climate leaders from across NSW and the world.
NSW councils taking action on emissions
We recently visited 4 councils across NSW to hear about the benefits that reducing emissions and committing to net zero for operations and community can bring.