Climate change

Adult passing the planet to a young person

What is Council doing?

We do not dispute the realities of climate change. We are currently experiencing a climate that is around 1.1oC warmer and the rainfall is lower, and we expect to experience more extreme weather events. In 2012 Council endorsed our Adapting to a Changing Climate and Energy Future Plan and our Environment Strategy in 2015.

Council recently reaffirmed its commitment to taking action on climate change by supporting, at 10 September 2019 Council meeting, a report and motion recognising we face a global climate emergency, requiring urgent action by all levels of government.

The Council report highlighted the significant action we've already taken to reduce our carbon footprint to meet our 2020 goal, of reducing our emissions by 30 per cent on our 2000 levels. It also forecast a further 20% reduction due to the signing of a renewable power purchase agreement.

We have been working hard to reduce our own corporate emissions and as of September 2019, this has included:

  • Installed roof top solar on 36 Council buildings with over 4000 solar panels supplying around 1.1MW of power.
  • Implemented energy efficient lighting upgrades in 31 buildings.
  • Implemented major energy efficient heating and cooling system upgrades at four locations.
  • Introduced two new all electric cars into the Council fleet and a range of electric power tools to replace petrol driven tools.
  • Upgraded over 6000 residential streetlighting with energy efficient LEDs.
  • Planted more than 800,000 trees through our Ribbons of Green program.

Not only has this work resulted in a significant drop in our carbon emissions as an organisation, but our electricity bills are currently about $1 million lower a year than if we hadn't made the switch to upgrading our equipment and generating our own renewable energy.

As part of the Local Government sector, Yarra Ranges Council has an opportunity to lead by example and influence other levels of government and members of the community. If we can save some money while reducing emissions dramatically, others can too.

We also have a number of works and plans underway, which include:

  • New Climate Change Plan under development and is open for public comment and submissions until 19th July 2020.
  • Continued upgrades of Council and Community buildings with roof top solar, including the new civic centre in Lilydale.
  • Upgrading over 900 street lights along major roads with energy efficient LEDs (due for completion in November 2019).
  • Commenced a feasibility study to create solar farms on closed landfill sites.
  • Transition plan from natural gas and LPG to renewable electricity as the energy source for Council operations.
  • Being part of a local government collective to purchase renewable energy to power Council’s streetlights.

Find out more

Read the Adapting to a changing climate and energy future strategy

Read the Environment Strategy 2015-2025

Community programs and events

Community Programs

Helping our community prepare for Climate Change is also important to Council. Council has actively supported a number of community groups and projects. 

This has included:

  • Warburton Community Mini Hydro Project - in-kind support.
  • Yarra Valley ECOSS, Rooftop Solar Project - in-kind support.
  • Yarra Glenergy Community Group – in-kind support and funding.
  • Healesville Community Renewable Energy Group - in-kind support and funding.
  • Dandenong Ranges Renewable Energy Association – in-kind support and funding.

Council also provides support to other community groups through the community grants program.

Visit our Grants page

Council also runs the successful Ribbons of Green program, where we have helped private landholders plant almost 800,000 plants over a 12 year period. Schools are also supported through this program and to date 69 schools have participated in the program.  Ribbons of Green link

Find out more about Ribbons of Green

Community Events

Council has started to host a series of climate related events with expert guest speakers to inform and inspire our communities. 

In May 2019, Council hosted Farming Solutions for a Changing Climate at The Memo Healesville. At this event over 250 people from the area, many from the agribusinesses community, were informed and inspired by 4 topic leaders:

  • Corey Watts –a local environmental consultant representing Farmers for Climate Action. Corey provided an overview of the current state of the environment
  • Dr Cassandra Schefe – a climate specialist soil scientist supported by Monash University. Dr Schefe talked of soil chemistry and how improving carbon in soil can help adapt to warmer and drier climate.
  • Jenny O’Sullivan – an experienced sheep and cattle farmer from South Gippsland also represented Sustainable Beef Australia. Jenny chatted about her experiences and promotion of sustainable farming.
  • David Holmgren – the co-originator of permaculture and a leading environmental thinker. David spoke of creating local sustainable spaces and working together to create change.

In August 2019 the next climate event had a focus on what communities can do to achieve climate action and ensure resilience in the face of a changing climate. This event; Community Solutions in a Changing Climate was held at Burrinja Arts Centre in Upwey and featured a range of speakers with:

Dr Susie Burke – an environmental psychologist from Castlemaine, who discussed strategies to stay engaged and act on Climate Change.

Associate Professor Lauren Rickards – from Melbourne University. Lauren spoke about building community resilience. 

A young local leader on climate action spoke to the room and offered a message of hope from the next generation.

We also had Uncle Dave Wandin provide insight into climate change from an Indigenous perspective, which was the highlight of the evening for many.

View the presentations and learn more about the event

As a result of this event we are now planning other forums to more deeply engage with our community.

Households and Businesses

At Council we partner with organisations that can provide value to households and businesses.

Yarra Ranges Council together with 7 other Councils have partnered with Solar Savers to deliver on quality and affordable household solar systems.  We will start promoting this solar offering to Yarra Ranges residents in December 2019. 

Solar Savers will also help in applying for state government assistance, and if you are a pensioner you may be eligible for a special low interest bank loan from Bank Australia.

Council also provide assistance to local businesses and commercial property owners through our Environmental Upgrade Finance program. This is achieved through a partnership with the Sustainable Australia Fund. Businesses participating in this program include:

  • 4 Pillars Gin Distillery in Healesville – 70kW solar system, this has off set their day time energy use and has provided some roof shading keeping their production area a little cooler in summer.
  • Aurrum Aged Care in Healesville – 96kW solar system, this is expected to provide 85% of their day time electricity use during summer.  The installation has been such a success Aurrum are now considering upgrading other aged care facilities using Environmental Upgrade Finance and even expanding their current system in Healesville
  • Oscars on the Yarra in Warburton – 30kW solar system and energy efficient lighting upgrade, has enable Oscars to reduce their power bills

Find out more 

Visit our Sustainable business page 

Visit the Sustainable Australia Fund website