Climate change is already here.
How we respond is crucial to our future safety and prosperity. The full impact from today’s greenhouse gas emissions won’t be felt for a decade or more, so we need to act now to prevent a worst case scenario future.
The one and only tool we have available to prevent further global warming is emissions reductions. We need to understand our current emissions, our possible pathways to reduce emissions and the most effective actions we can collectively take.
Our planet is running a fever. Victoria’s average temperature has already increased by over 1º, which might not sound like much, but the consequences are already impacting our health, our way of life and our budgets. Rainfall has decreased. Bushfires are more frequent and intense. Sea levels are rising. Victoria’s Climate Science report 2019 outlines the observed and projected impacts of climate change.
Moonee Valley is particularly susceptible to climate impacts such as:
Urban Heat Island
Mapping and analysis of vegetation, heat and land use shows how much hotter an urban area compared to a non-urban area, known as the Urban Heat Island (UHI). Moonee Valley is the 4th worst affected area in Melbourne, being nearly 10 degrees hotter in summer.
4000 (~8%) homes in Moonee Valley are at risk of overland flooding from increasingly intense storms. Areas in Airport West, Essendon, Strathmore, Moonee Ponds & Avondale Heights are at high risk, as outlined in the SES Moonee Valley Flood Emergency Plan
Sea Level Rise
Sea levels are predicted to rise significantly this century, with the possibility of up to 2m by 2100, which will inundate parts of the Ascot Chase Enclave in Ascot Vale at high tide, creating major issues for residents.
We are now very fortunate to have great data. Snapshot Climate provides freely available, nationally consistent greenhouse gas emissions profiles for every local government area in Australia. Moonee Valley’s municipal profile for July 2018 – June 2019 (latest) is shown below.
Our total municipal wide emissions come from Council’s own operations, eg. street lights, libraries, pools etc which make up ~1% of the total. The other 99% come from the community eg. household, business and industry energy use and transport.
Source: Snapshot Climate
On a per capita basis, Victorian’s emit approximately 15.8 tonnes CO2-e each year. (DELWP, 2018). To put that in context, the global average per capita emissions are about 5 tonnes CO2-e (Our World In Data), so Victorian’s are emitting over three times more than the global average.
Nearly 1/2 of our greenhouse gas emissions come from commercial (267,500 t CO2e), residential (213,100 t CO2e), and industrial (110,000 t CO2e) electricity use.
About 1/5th of emissions are from burning gas, which is a fossil fuel. Homes with gas ducted heating, hot water and cooktops are a big contributor.
Private car and truck trips make up nearly 1/3rd of emissions. Almost all of our current vehicle fleet are internal combustion engines that burn petrol, a fossil fuel.
Emissions Reduction Pathways
Reducing municipal wide (Council and community) emissions is how we can play our part in global climate action. The science tells us we need to reach zero net emissions in the next few decades to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.
But how do we get there? Do we keep emitting now and reduce later? Do we reduce by the same amount each year? Or do we start making much deeper cuts today?
The safest path is to reduce emissions quickly now to give us the best chance of fewer catastrophic climate impacts into the future. It’s that simple!
Moonee Valley’s pathway is currently (as of September 2020) governed by community wide interim emissions reduction targets, contained within Council’s Green Action Plan as follows:
- 44% below 2017 levels by 2025 (ie we need to emit less than 776,104 t CO2e by 2025)
- 67 – 70% below 2017 levels by 2030 (ie we need to emit less than 457,347 t CO2e by 2030)
- Zero net emissions by 2040 (ie we need to emit less than the amount that captured by trees or other drawdown by 2040)
So we now know what needs to be done, but how do we actually reduce our emissions?
The most effective actions to reduce municipal wide emissions are the ones with the biggest impact for lowest cost. It’s also important that they make a difference over and above a ‘business as usual’ scenario.
We don’t currently have a rigorous emissions reduction roadmap for Moonee Valley unfortunately, however effective interventions that Council can make are typically the following:
- Rooftop solar on rental properties
- Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations
- Zero net emissions requirements for new buildings
- Switching industry over to clean energy
- Energy efficiency upgrades for all building types
- Reducing food waste to landfill
- Sustainable transport options such EV’s, bikes, walking & PT
Beyond Zero Emissions are an independent climate think tank producing freely available research to help with the transition to a zero carbon society and have also initiated the Zero Carbon Communities network.