On 17 December 2019, Bayside City Council voted unanimously to declare a Climate Emergency. Declaration of a 'Climate Emergency' recognises the need for urgent, meaningful action on human-induced climate change at all levels of government, including local government.
Climate Emergency declaration
What is the 'climate emergency'?
The most recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC) - the global body of scientists who assess the science on climate change for the United Nations - report predicts a range of dire economic, social and environmental impacts should global temperatures continue to rise at current rates (UN IPCC 2018 report).
These predictions are echoed at the local scale, with 2019 Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) modelling indicating the following impacts for the greater Melbourne region:
- increased maximum and minimum temperatures,
- more intense rainfall events,
- rising sea level,
- more hot days and heat waves,
- less rainfall in winter and spring,
- harsher and longer fire seasons.
(Source: Greater Melbourne climate change predictions 2019, CSIRO & Victorian State Government)
Without concerted effort to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 (UN IPCC 2018 report). The UN IPCC report states that as a global community, we could have just 12 years left to limit a climate catastrophe.
Climate impacts are already causing serious loss of life and destroying vital ecosystems with global average temperature, atmospheric greenhouse gases, and ocean acidity reaching dangerous levels.
Councils that have declared a 'Climate Emergency' recognise that climate change is causing significant damage to our economy, society, and environment, and that urgent, emergency action is required to reverse current trends and secure our planet.
1,767 jurisdictions in 30 countries have declared a Climate Emergency, and this number continues to grow. In Australia, 96 Councils have done so. In Victoria, 32 Councils have formally declared, including Bayside City Council.
What happens now?
Following Council's resolution to declare a Climate Emergency, we have developed a Climate Emergency Action Plan. The plan was adopted by Council on 15 September 2020.
The plan includes actions Council will take to respond to the Climate Emergency, as well as support for the community to take action on climate change.
What is Bayside City Council already doing to tackle climate change?
We are taking a range of actions to directly address climate change mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions) and climate change adaptation (preparing for the impacts of climate change).
Carbon Neutral 2020
In 2008, we committed to be carbon neutral in our operations by 2020 and have now achieved this goal.
Carbon neutrality is achieved when the net greenhouse gas emissions produced by an organisation's activities, products, services, and events are equal to zero. Our approach to carbon neutrality is to AVOID, REDUCE, SWITCH, and OFFSET.
- AVOID greenhouse gas emission in our activities and processes;
- REDUCE greenhouse gas emissions through improved energy efficiency in our buildings and assets, and reduction in use of greenhouse gas intensive fuels;
- SWITCH from fossil fuel energy generation to renewable energy by installing solar on our buildings, and procuring electricity from renewable energy sources for public lighting, large and small sites (from July 2020);
- OFFSET residual greenhouse gas emissions using National Carbon Offset Standard certified carbon offsets.
Council will maintain carbon neutrality as an action of the Climate Emergency Action Plan.
For more information on carbon neutrality in Bayside, see the Carbon Neutrality Action Plan 2018-2020.
South East Councils Climate Change Alliance
We are a member of the South East Councils Climate Change Alliance (SECCCA), working collaboratively with other councils in South East Melbourne to deliver climate change projects, drive a regional zero-emissions economy, and build community resilience to climate change impacts.
We are also a signatory to the Victorian State Government TAKE2 program, aligning us to the Victorian Government commitment to zero net emissions by 2050.
Sea level rise, more frequent storm events, and changes to average temperature and rainfall are expected to increase the risk of coastal erosion, inundation, infrastructure damage, and drought conditions.
We have adopted a range of environmental sustainability policies applied to the foreshore including Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD), stormwater and coastal vegetation management, and ensuring that climate change impacts are taken into account in the design and construction of foreshore infrastructure.
For more information, see the Bayside Coastal Management Plan 2014.
Food and Green Waste Recycling
We have introduced a food and green waste service, which aims to reduce food waste to landfill and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Food waste recycled using the service is transformed into compost for Victorian farmers.
What you can do
Take action on climate change
There are many ways in which you can take action on climate change, prepare for the impacts of climate change, and reduce your environmental footprint.
Bayside's community greenhouse gas emissions profile is largely made up of electricity usage (46%), followed by transport (31%), gas (20%), and waste (3%).
Make your home or business more energy efficient (and save money)
By making an effort to reduce your energy use and improve energy efficiency, you can save money on energy bills, improve the comfort of your home, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The main sources of energy use in a typical Australian home are heating, cooling, hot water, refrigeration, and electrical appliances. The remainder of a household energy bill is generally standby power, lighting, and cooking.
The Victorian Energy Upgrades program gives homes and businesses discounts on energy-saving products. Households using the program save on average $150 or more per year on their energy bills, while businesses save up to $670 or more.
You can also have your home assessed by a local independent accredited assessor through the Victorian Residential Efficiency Scorecard program. A scorecard assessment will tell you where your home is using the most energy and how you can reduce your use while staying comfortable.
For more information on upgrades and accredited providers, visit the Victorian Energy Saver website.
Even if the building you live in is highly energy efficient, the way you live will have a significant impact on your energy use. Sustainability Victoria offer simple tips for reducing energy usage in your home.
When replacing or upgrading household appliances, consider the most energy efficient model you can afford. Find out more about energy rating labels.
Consider switching to renewable energy
Solar and solar hot water systems are an increasingly affordable way to reduce both your household energy bill and greenhouse gas emissions.
The Victorian State Government offer solar panel, battery, and solar hot water rebates through the Solar Homes Program. Find out how to apply for a rebate on the Solar Victoria website.
Choose your energy retailer wisely
You could also consider switching to a more environmentally-friendly energy retailer. Find out more about eco-friendly energy retails using The Green Electricity Guide.
Recycle food waste
Setting up a compost bin or worm farm - or if you are a Bayside resident, using our food and green waste service - is a great way to both divert food waste from landfill and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Prioritise walking, cycling, and public transport over driving.
Protect yourself from the impacts of climate change
Climate change impacts such as increased temperatures, intense rainfall events, rising sea levels, and longer fire seasons are projected for the greater Melbourne area. Protect yourself and your loved ones during extreme weather events by getting prepared:
- Keep important documents (such as passports, birth certificates, and property deeds) safe by copying them and storing them online. Store original copies in a bank safe deposit box, or at home in a fire-resistant and water-proof safe.
- Check your insurance policies are current and adequate.
- Subscribe for emergency alerts on the VicEmergency website, or download the VicEmergency app to receive updates on your mobile phone. You can also view heat health alerts on the health.vic website.
- Check on elderly loved ones and neighbours during a heatwave.
For more information, contact the Environmental Sustainability team via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phoning (03) 9599 4495.