Councils lead nation on climate action: review

The Australian Local Government Climate Review 2018 has been released, providing an assessment of climate actions undertaken by councils and the barriers and opportunities facing councils and their communities.

The Review, published by Beyond Zero Emissions, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI Oceania) and Ironbark Sustainability, was based on what it claims is “the most comprehensive local government and climate change survey in Australian history”.

Key findings include:

National overview

• Australia’s councils and communities are leading action on climate change

• Nationally, 50% of Australian councils provide public information on climate change

• 88% of the responding councils were unsatisfied with the Federal Government’s approach to meet global targets.

Corporate emissions

• Nationally, 19% of Australian councils provide public corporate emissions targets.

• 81% of the responding councils had or intended to have a corporate emissions target .

• 72% of the responding councils had a corporate emissions baseline inventory.

• A majority of the responding councils are confident in meeting corporate emissions targets.

Community emissions

• Nationally, 7% of Australian councils provide public targets to reduce community emissions.

• 37% of the responding councils had or intended to have a community emissions target.

• The most common barrier in setting community emissions targets was appropriate data and methods.

• 25% of the responding councils had a community emissions inventory.

• 50% of the responding councils were somewhat confident in meeting community emissions targets, while 25% were not at all confident.

• Half of the responding councils used the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GPC) tool to develop their community emissions inventory.

• Community emissions reduction targets and actions are not well resourced or monitored.

• Strong community support can be harnessed to reduce council and community emissions.


• Almost all of the responding councils had corporate emissions reduction strategies and/ or policies.

• Common measures to reduce corporate emissions included energy audits of large facilities, installing solar PV and upgrading lighting in council facilities.

• The most common and cost effective action was uptake of solar PV.

• Community actions were focused on education, events or renewable energy access.


• A lack of funding and resourcing are the most significant barriers to reducing emissions in both corporate and community efforts.

• A large number of councils have no budget officially allocated to reduce emissions.

• The scale of investment, related costs and emissions outcomes are not well understood.

• Councils and communities need state and federal support to deliver effective strategies to reduce community emissions.

• Emissions reduction budgets are correlated to overall population, the gross regional product, and the Socioeconomic Index for Areas.


• Reducing emissions creates mutual benefits across the community and council.

• Positive outcomes include cost savings, environmental benefits and increased profile.

• Local action contributes to meeting the Paris Climate Agreement and prepares communities for a changing climate.

The Australian Local Government Climate Review 2018 is available here

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