By Paul Hemsley
The City of Melbourne has hailed itself as ‘carbon neutral’ after being certified by the Australian Government’s independent carbon offsetting authority Low Carbon Australia through the council’s effort to become one of the world’s most liveable and sustainable cities.
Victoria’s capital city has joined the City of Sydney as well as two other Victorian councils, the City of Yarra and Moreland City Council, that have obtained carbon neutral status by meeting the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS).
Administered by Low Carbon Australia, the NCOS informs organisations about how to offset carbon emissions and was introduced in July 2010.
Under the NCOS cities are required to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by cutting pollution and acquiring and retiring carbon offsets to match the remaining carbon emissions.
In order to achieve its goal of Zero Net Emissions by 2020, the City of Melbourne mounted a long-term campaign to change the way it uses energy by creating multiple environmental clean-up initiatives.
These have included the creation of new waste management solutions, pushing residents to ride bikes and use public transport, upgrading several council buildings by installing efficient heating, cooling and water systems and improvements to Melbourne Town Hall in an effort to make significant savings in lighting costs.
The council has pushed private occupants of commercial buildings and high-rise apartments to reduce water and energy use and better manage waste and recycling. It has also installed stormwater tanks for parks and improved irrigation.
City of Melbourne environment portfolio chair councillor Arron Wood said Melbourne is already one of the world’s most liveable cities, with the challenge now being to ensure it is one of the world’s most sustainable cities.
Low Carbon Australia’s CEO Meg McDonald described the City of Melbourne’s carbon neutrality as a “remarkable milestone in its journey towards sustainability”.
“Quantifying the carbon footprint of such an organisation and reducing carbon emissions is a mammoth task, but one that can have substantial benefits for the environment, the city and for ratepayers,” Ms McDonald said.
She said the City of Melbourne is also working to ensure it operates more efficiently, reducing wastage and encouraging more sustainable business practices.
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