City off track on ‘ambitious’ 2020 carbon target

The City of Greater Bendigo is unlikely to reach its target of reducing emissions to half of 2011 levels by 2020 based on its progress so far.

The city’s latest environmental activities report, released yesterday, reveals carbon dioxide emissions from “activities directly under city control” fell from 9051 tonnes in 2014-15 to 8451 tonnes last financial year.

But the report forecasts emissions will remain as high as 8000 tonnes by 2020, a figure well above the city’s target of 4942 tonnes.

City of Greater Bendigo sustainable environment manager Robyn Major acknowledged the target was “fairly ambitious” but said the city was still optimistic about reaching it, saying it had taken time to build momentum for change.

“I look at it a little bit like slowing the ship and now we’ve finally got the nose around and we’re on the downward trajectory,” she said.

“We’re not giving up on it, we’re going to continue to try and work towards that target.”

Ms Major said the goal would require “some reasonably big interventions” with a total cost of between $2.5 million and $3 million but some of that would come from partnering with community groups to avoid slugging ratepayers with the entire bill.

“Emissions savings usually end up being dollar savings,” she said.

Meanwhile emissions from the Eaglehawk landfill have risen steadily since 2011, reaching 30,690 tonnes in 2015-16 and pushing the city’s total emissions to 47,801 tonnes – a seven per cent increase on 2014-15.

But the report states this figure is not included in the 2020 target “due to limited control the city has in managing these activities”.

Ms Major said reducing emissions the council had more control over still made sense, even if they comprised only a small percentage of the total, saying “every little bit contributes”.

“When the federal government in particular says Australia is such a small proportion of the emissions – if everybody had that attitude we’d never get anywhere,” she said.

The rise in landfill emissions represents a 26 per cent increase on 2014-15 levels, which the report states can be partly explained by a change to the way methane’s carbon equivalency is calculated.

Emissions generated by streetlights fell from 6373 in 2014-15 to 4631 in 2015-16 as a result of a changeover to LED globes.