Reducing Council's Emissions

Emissions reduction target

At the end of 2019/20, Council had reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 47% on 2007/08 levels. We expect to meet our 50% emissions reduction target in the 2020/21 financial year. Our progress so far includes:

  • 30% reduction from landfill gas management
  • 15% reduction from wastewater treatment (reduced fugitive gas emissions)
  • 5% reduction from energy efficiency and solar power

We are now are working on new emissions targets as a part of our updated Climate Change Strategy 2030.

Renewable energy

Council has installed nearly 3 megawatts of solar power across its facilities. These systems generate over 4.5 gigawatt hours of renewable energy each year, saving over $700,000 and 3,600 tonnes of CO2e (greenhouse gas emissions) annually.

FacilitySystem
size
FacilitySystem
size
Northern WWTP*600Esplanade Lagoon30
Southern WWTP*600Stratford Plumbers Depot30
Marlin Coast WWTP*300Gordonvale Depot30
Edmonton WWTP*250Botanic Gardens Visitors Centre20
Edmonton Leisure Centre100Muddy's Cafe and Playground15
Martyn Street Depot100Pump TB110
Tobruk Memorial Pool100Edmonton WWTP*10
Cairns City Library80School of the Arts8
Portsmith MRF**60Esplanade BBQ shelters5
Gordonvale WWTP*60Gordonvale Community Hall4
Freshwater Creek Water Plant39Babinda Library4
Woree Disaster Centre39Hambledon House4
Sewage Depot30Gordonvale Library2

* Waste Water Treatment Plant

** Materials Recovery Facility

Energy management

Council tracks its energy use, costs and greenhouse gas emissions for electricity and vehicle use with monitoring software. This is important to identify areas for improvement and to track cost-savings from energy efficiency works and solar power generation.

Landfill gas management and fugitive emissions

‘Fugitive emissions’ are losses and leaks of greenhouse gases, typically methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxides. Sources of these emissions include landfill, wastewater treatment plants and refrigerant gases used in HVAC systems.

Methane, which is generated through wastewater treatment, is more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. In landfills, methane is generated by the breakdown of organic matter such as food scraps and garden waste. Methane from Cairns’ de-commissioned Portsmith Landfill has been captured and flared since 2012, delivering a 30% reduction in Council’s annual emissions.

Each year, an average of 5500 carbon credits are created for Council from landfill gas management at the Portsmith Landfill and other organic materials is commercially composted.

We are constantly looking for new ways to reduce the impact of Council operations on the environment, whether that be through increasing and promoting recycling options for the city, installing renewable energy sources to power infrastructure and managing the emissions generated by our community's waste and wastewater treatment. A sample of these activities is listed below but you can find a more comprehensive picture in our State of Environment reports.

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Last updated: 28 October 2020