A collective vision for a carbon-neutral Armidale is set to become reality within the next decade, thanks to a recently-forged partnership between the University of New England, Armidale Regional Council, Business New England and the local community.
The University of New England (UNE), Armidale Regional Council (ARC) and Business New England are partners in Project Zero30. Together, they’re taking on the ambitious target of making the Armidale LGA carbon-neutral under the Climate Active Standard (CAS). CAS is a Commonwealth-backed initiative that aims to enable people and organisations at all levels of Australian society to do their bit to reduce emissions.Armidale and surrounding communities will be one of the first LGAs in Australia to tackle carbon-neutrality as a precinct.
The carbon account will estimate emissions from all sectors of the LGA including agriculture, land-use, energy, waste and transport and form the baseline to allow the region to plan for a carbon-neutral future. It is due to be completed in 2022.
By 2030, some of the significant goals of the project include having 25 percent of the Armidale LGA’s buildings carbon-certified, bringing winter air-quality levels below the Department of Health’s guidelines, and planting one million trees to offset carbon usage.
A strategy for emissions reduction
Dr Tighe said that the baseline estimate of emissions is a necessary first step in this process towards becoming carbon-neutral.
“The baseline figures will be used to inform and prioritise emissions reduction and offset strategies that will be developed in consultation with our community, ARC, UNE and local experts,” Dr Tighe said.
“As a part of my research I will be reviewing what other Australian LGAs and any overseas counterparts have done to inform adaptation strategies and reduce emissions to target levels.
“Part of my role will be to find and use the most appropriate and credible data available to measure the emissions produced over the 7,807 square kilometres of the LGA.
“I believe we all have a responsibility to protect and repair our environment. I am particularly interested in how families can move toward a low-carbon lifestyle within the budget, time, resource and social constraints we all manage day-to-day.”
Armidale Regional Council Mayor Ian Tiley welcomed the appointment of Dr Tighe and Professor Argent.
“Council looks forward to working with the UNE team on the vital first step of creating a solid carbon account,” the mayor said. “This has never been done before, and it will help us know exactly where we stand now and where we are going in this important and exciting journey toward making our LGA carbon-neutral.”
UNE Vice-Chancellor and CEO Professor Brigid Heywood said the university is proud to be playing a fundamental role in providing the science that will support Zero30’s objectives.
“It’s vital that this project is founded in strong science and I am proud that UNE’s researchers will play a pivotal role,” Professor Heywood said.
“As we all know, the Armidale region has faced very challenging conditions over the past three years with both the drought and bushfires and it’s particularly timely that we are joining this initiative to make an active contribution to reducing the impact of our city and region on the planet.
“Zero30 builds purposefully on UNE’s commitments to partnerships which make a difference to the communities that matter to us,” she said.
A greener Armidale LGA
Mayor Tiley said that ARC is keen to pursue environmentally sustainable options for local businesses and developers.
“Council’s top priority is to provide the Armidale region with the best possible services while ensuring our community is at the forefront of sustainable and environmentally friendly technology and practices,” he said.
“Through Project Zero30, Council will work with UNE and the whole community to put the Armidale region on the map for leading the way in addressing climate change.”
UNE Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Heiko Daniel applauded the Zero30 project team in collaborating with the Armidale community, and other key agencies, to take significant action to tackle climate change.
“We don’t require further reminders that urgent and decisive climate action is needed, with a warming and hotter earth now a tangible threat to our society and everyone’s wellbeing,” Professor Daniel said.
Project Zero30 will achieve its goal of bringing the Armidale Regional Council’s Local Government Area to zero emissions through a unique partnership between science and the local community.
Zero30 will achieve certification of the Armidale Local Government Area through the Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard for Precincts. The Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard will help us to manage our greenhouse emissions and achieve our goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.
Project Zero30 is guided by a Science Advisory Committee, a Community Advisory Committee and a Project Board, who will collaborate with communities and businesses in the LGA to deliver the project’s objectives.
For more information about the project, visit the Zero30 website.
The stories above, which have been amalgamated here, were first published on the University of New England website on 9 March 2021.