Stepping in the Right Direction to Reduce Council's Carbon Footprint
An independent report has found that the Waimate District Council is making a positive contribution towards climate change, achieving negative net carbon emissions throughout its everyday activities.
For the first time in Council’s history, Council commissioned a Greenhouse Gas Inventory (GHGI) to be carried out, providing a comprehensive analysis of the organisation’s applicable greenhouse gas emissions and removals within a defined boundary, over a specified time period.
Although Council has no legal reporting obligations, the report was undertaken on a voluntary basis to better understand the Council’s current carbon footprint, stimulate planning for reducing and mitigating carbon emissions and provide a base year for data to be tracked and compared in future years.
Council’s boundary and area of responsibility includes the Waitaki River to the south, to the west Lake Benmore and to the north-east of the Pareora River, encompassing a population of 7,815.
The report undertook a full analysis of all Council services including building consents, local roads and footpaths, water and sewerage, rubbish, recycling and landfill, parks and sports fields, recreation centres, libraries and pool, social housing and civil defence.
In its overall findings, the report identified transport fuels, electricity and stationary combustion as the council’s highest emission-based activities, among others, totalling Council’s gross emissions at 904 tonnes.
However, directly countering these emissions are the Council’s 135 hectares of forest land, with emissions under the Land use Change and Forestry sector totalling -4,554 tonnes, meaning that forests act as the Council’s ‘net sink’.
Therefore, with the Council’s gross emissions of 904 tonnes and removals of -4,554 tonnes, Council’s net emissions for the 2018/19 tax year (1 July 2018 – 30 June 2019) are -3,650 tonnes, with the findings clearly stating that Council are making a positive contribution overall towards climate change.
Council Chief Executive Stuart Duncan acknowledged the report’s findings, pointing out the added benefits of knowing where Council stood with its everyday operational duties.
“Council is in a very strong position, and we’re pleased with the outcome. There are still some recommendations provided through the report, which we will look at and in some cases, take into account going in to the future,” Duncan said.
Waimate District Mayor Craig Rowley was equally pleased, adding;
“Overall, it provides an important part of the jigsaw for Council to know we’re operating responsibly in the face of climate change, and we’ll continue to maintain an environmental lens on everything we do as we look to formulate the next Long Term Plan for the district.”
Under government guidance, the different emission sources under the three scopes for a typical organisation included direct GHG emissions (sources that are owned or controlled by the organisation), indirect GHG emissions (consumption of electricity, steam or other sources of energy) and other indirect GHG emissions (a consequence of the operations of an organisation, but not directly owned or controlled). Examples include air travel, rental cars, taxis, accommodation, freight transport, water supply and waste.
The report also outlines Council’s commitment to working with the community, partner organisations and local iwi to lessen the environmental impacts, promote ecological use and care for the environment.