Reducing council emissions

City of Adelaide is serious about its sustainability goals and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The City of Adelaide has been measuring and reducing carbon dioxide for a number of years and has now achieved carbon neutrality for its own operations.

Neutrality is achieved by accurately measuring greenhouse gas emissions, reducing direct emissions, and purchasing accredited offsets that contribute to global efforts to address climate change. Council has been improving efficiencies and utilising smart technology for many years, as part of our on-going journey towards the carbon neutral goal.

Achieving carbon neutrality does not represent the end of our emissions reduction journey. CoA is committed to continue to reduce energy use and emissions from buildings, transport, materials, waste and the supply chains of our purchases.

Climate active logo

Our achievements so far

Sustainability achievements diagram

10 projects for a carbon neutral Council

The City of Adelaide has 10 key projects that are reducing emissions across the organisation.

  • Tracking and Managing Energy and Water. Managing our utilities to save big on bills and cut carbon emissions.
  • Improving Buildings. Improving on past saving to make our buildings perform better, save money on bills and contribute to staff comfort and wellbeing.
  • LED Streetlights. Completing LED replacements for all of Council’s 5,000 streetlight assets across the city.
  • Sustainable Procurement. Choosing products based on their social and environmental credentials reduces Council’s emissions and is also a powerful way to make positive change in the marketplace.
  • Sustainable Events. We’ve eliminated single use plastic straws from all council-run events, and developed Sustainable Events guidelines and resources for all events organisers.
  • Waste and Recycling at Work. We are diverting more waste away from landfill for productive uses.
  • Solar Power on Buildings. New solar panels have been installed on Adelaide Town Hall, Adelaide Aquatic Centre, UPark Topham Mall and UPark Pirie Flinders, in addition to those on the Central Market, Adelaide Central Bus Station, London Road Depot and UPark Rundle.
  • 100% Renewable Electricity. Switching to a 100% renewable energy contract reduces our overall emissions by more than half.
  • Zero Emissions Transport. Council will continue to invest in electric fleet vehicles, charged on renewable energy.
  • Carbon Neutral Certification. The City of Adelaide has achieved certification for carbon neutrality via the Australian Government’s Climate Active program.

Tracking Council carbon emissions

Between 2011 and 2019, energy saving initiatives in the City of Adelaide’s top 10 electricity consuming buildings have reduced our total energy use in these buildings by over 19%, reducing costs by around $609,000 in the 2018/19 financial year.

City of Adelaide corporate emissions inventory

For several years now, the City of Adelaide has prepared corporate greenhouse gas emissions inventories. The 2018/19 and 2019/20 inventories have been calculated in accordance with the Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard.

The breakdown of Council’s current greenhouse gas (carbon) emissions by source in 2018/19 and 2019/20 are detailed in the dashboard below. You can explore and learn more by clicking on the tabs and charts themselves, to see where carbon emissions are generated in the City of Adelaide.

The greenhouse gas emissions for the City of Adelaide operations were 27,657 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) in 2018/19 and 24,609 tCO2e in 19/20, a decrease of 11%.

The main reasons for this decrease were:

  • Commissioning of several large solar power systems, now generating clean energy on our facilities.
  • Temporary closure of some facilities, including the Adelaide Aquatic Centre, and reduced waste generation during Covid-19 restrictions between April and June 2020.

In 20/21, further significant decrease is expected, due to the Council’s contract for 100% renewable electricity.

For Climate Active certification, 2018/19 is considered the base year, however we have been making reductions to our carbon footprint for several years previously through energy efficiency upgrades.

By comparison, other Australian cities pursuing carbon neutrality have the following footprints:

CityAreaGreenhouse accounts
City of Adelaide16 km224,609 t CO2e (2019-20)
City of Melbourne37.7 km212,346 t CO2e (2019-20)
City of Sydney26.15 km239,354 t CO2e (2018-19)
Brisbane City Council1,342 km2589,615 t CO2e (2018-19)

Offsets to achieve neutrality

The City of Adelaide’s 2019/20 offset projects are listed below. Receiving certification through Climate Active assures that the projects use verified methodologies and provide genuine carbon mitigation or sequestration. See the Climate Active public disclosure statement.

This project restores native vegetation cover across an area of 27,000 hectares south of Humeburn in Queensland. By excluding stock and managing pests, trees and shrubs are able to grow, improving habitat for native species and restoring local ecosystem services. They also sequester carbon, creating an alternative revenue stream for rural landholders.

This project protects a mosaic of habitats in Cambodia, using the internationally accredited method called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). The project covers parts of the Southern Cardamom National Park and Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary and protects a critical part of the Cardamom Mountains Rainforest Ecoregion - one of the most important locations for biodiversity conservation on the planet. This unique project is home to at least 52 threatened species of mammals, birds and reptiles: Siamese crocodiles, sun bears, clouded leopards and one of Cambodia’s two populations of Asian elephants. The landscapes being protected range from dense evergreen and pine forests to wetlands, flooded grasslands, lakes and coastal mangroves.

This wind energy project in the Indian states of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana tackles climate change by providing a renewable source of electricity to the Indian Grid. The project also benefits surrounding villages – providing employment, boosting access to education and to clean water. The offset purchase also reflects City of Adelaide’s commitment to supporting electricity generation locally.