Australian councils and communities have been taking action on climate change for decades. We know because we’ve worked with 260 of them on over a thousand projects in every state and territory. We take an evidence-based approach to climate action. We are only interested in developing council projects that will lead to real action and deliver measurable results. We appreciate that a climate program must have a simple and logical framework that any council – big or small; rural, regional or metropolitan; starting the journey or well advanced – can buy into. We don’t have a program ourselves, there are enough of these out there already. Instead, our climate framework for local government is aligned with leading international and local council programs. Our team of 25 local government and sustainability experts are ready to give you the best advice through every step of the climate action journey.
Corporate Emissions Inventory
Almost 72% of Australian councils have a corporate greenhouse gas inventory, either developed internally or with expert assistance. Many councils are now taking the extra step to get their inventory accredited as Climate Active for carbon neutral status. Over the last few decades we have developed hundreds of corporate emissions inventories for local government. Our team includes Climate Active certified consultants, including staff who have worked in local government or are currently embedded in local government. This makes us very well placed to understand councils’ requirements and deliver the approach best suited to your council.
Community Emissions Profile
A community emissions profile that is compliant with the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC) is an important tool for climate planning. It allows councils to understand the scale of the impact of their municipality and the breakdown of sources and sectors responsible for the emissions. This supports decision-making, collaborative action planning, stakeholder engagement and funding applications. It also provides the necessary foundation for the establishment of science-derived emission reduction targets and development of evidence-based action plans and strategies.
Snapshot Climate Tool
IIronbark has partnered with Beyond Zero Emissions to develop an online portal called “Snapshot”. This web portal is free to the public and provides modelled community emissions profiles that are compliant with the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC). The Snapshot portal is designed to make community emissions data easily accessible for councils and communities, and encourage collaboration between councils and community groups so they can drive real action. This has been built on the development of over 100 GPC-compliant profiles over the last few years including regional approaches such as the City of Melbourne and C40-led Greater Melbourne Emissions Profile, the Sustainability Victoria Local Government Energy Savers (LGES) program and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE). If you would like more information on Snapshot we’re more than happy to talk through the Snapshot approach and its value to council.
A Brief History of Targets
Typically, the approach of all levels of government in establishing climate change targets has been aspirational. That is, they establish leadership and demonstrate commitment to action and are based on factors such as available budget, political will or community expectations. However, they are rarely grounded in what is necessary or possible to achieve.
A science-derived target is a target that is aligned with the Paris Agreement, to which Australia is signatory and which stipulates that we must maintain global warming to within 2°C on pre-industrial levels. The carbon budget for maintaining this level of warming has been calculated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and scaled to Australia by the Climate Change Authority (CCA). This approach can take the political sting out of setting targets because it is essentially set by externally recognised science. In the age of the climate emergency, working to a science-derived target is the only way that that a council can prove that they are taking the required action.
Corporate and Community Scale Targets
Science-derived targets are an essential tool in providing councils with an understanding of the scale of the challenge and providing a frame for further strategy development. This applies at both the corporate and community scale, which is why Ironbark provide targets at both levels. In calculating community scale science-derived targets, Ironbark take into account projected population growth and socio-economic status to provide Council with a target that represents a fair contribution to Australia meeting its commitments to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Science Derived Targets Local Government Working Group
Through our work with the Science Derived Targets Local Government Working Group, we’ve brought leading councils, alliances and ROCs together to determine how a “fair share” of the national carbon budget is distributed to Australian councils. For more information on our approach or the Local Government Working Group please get in touch.
Evidence Based Action Planning
Climate action planning should always be based on data that demonstrates the available opportunity, future projections and the reductions possible; this is evidence-based action planning. Ironbark has conducted extensive research on the actions and interventions that are available to councils for community climate action planning. Through combining this knowledge base, with data specific to your municipality, we are able to model a range of carbon reduction pathways tailored to your council. The evidence-based action planning framework can provide a detailed understanding of the most relevant, and effective approaches available to your council, and the relative costs and carbon abatement potential of these interventions. This enables councils to make informed decisions and drive significant and measurable carbon reductions within their community.
Modelling the Business as Usual Trajectory
When planning for action on climate change, councils must consider pathways to emissions reductions that will be effective and efficient. Councils should also be considering how they can increase emissions reductions beyond business-as-usual, either by making them happen earlier or to a greater extent. In order to do this, it’s important to understand the emissions reductions that are already happening in the community and try to understand how that will change or continue. For example, by understanding the trajectory of the uptake of electric vehicles (EV), councils can consider interventions that help their community to take EVs up earlier or increase the overall number of people that can access EVs.
Cost Effective Interventions
Ironbark has developed the Community Action Planning Tool (CAPT) which has been built on years of experience developing and supporting council emission reduction programmes. CAPT works by modelling a business as usual trajectory for Council emissions, and mapping this against the costs and carbon abatement trajectories for the different intervention opportunities available to Council. CAPT provides councils with a range of pathways costed in terms of $/CO2, giving council an indication of where the biggest opportunities lie, and the budget required to implement the interventions at different scales. The objective of an Ironbark strategy is to enable Council to make informed decisions on the most effective and efficint pathway based on actual evidence. This is evidence-based action planning.
Once an action plan or strategy has been developed, the fun begins. Action!
The strategies and interventions developed can be very different from council to council. Ironbark can support councils to implement these plans in a number of ways. These include but are not limited to:
Ironbark can work with council in facilitating collaborative planning processes with industry sectors, other levels of government, urban and energy planners and other key groups.
We have managed the delivery from feasibility studies, through procurement, and implementation of renewable energy, and energy efficiency projects across the country (check out our Street Lighting page for more information on this action area).
Policy and regulation development
Ironbark can support the development or adjustment of policies and regulations that result in emissions reductions. This includes through road specifications, planning regulation, climate policies or others.
Ironbark can co-ordinate advocacy programs or develop materials to ensure councils are able to leverage their influence at the state and national level to achieve their targets.
If you would like to discuss how our team could support you in executing your strategy please get in touch.
Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL)
When implementing strategies and action plans, councils are at the forefront of climate action at the municipal scale. It is essential that councils monitor results and share their learnings so that they can understand the effectiveness of their interventions and so that the evidence base in this field can continue to grow. For this reason, monitoring and evaluation is included as a core element of the evidence-based action planning framework at Ironbark.
The Problem with MERL
Australian local governments have traditionally evaluated projects almost exclusively for reporting purposes – if at all. Most monitoring and evaluation is high-level and light-touch. It is rare the monitoring and evaluation occurs throughout a project, and even rarer that project delivery is modified mid-project based on learnings. We think it’s time to acknowledge that the local government sector has a lot of improvement to be made here. While reporting on internal or corporate projects is more common place, we are missing out on independent and robust MERL throughout projects. How do we really know whether the intervention that a council undertakes is leading to the required and stated action? Are we too often throwing money and resources at ineffective projects? MERL will help ensure that we are indeed taking an evidence-based approach to climate action.
KPIs, Trigger Points, and Capacity Building
As a core element of any evidence-based action plan, Ironbark will provide a robust MERL programme. This programme is tailored to the specific pathways in Council’s action plan and provides Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), suggested monitoring frequency, and Trigger Points which help Council evaluate if a project is going to plan. Ironbark can also help facilitate the sharing of learnings generated with other councils through networks such as the Global Covenant of Mayors. This is an opportunity for Council to make a valuable contribution to building capacity within the local government climate action sector. Let us know if you want to be a part of it.