Climate Change Action

In 2019 Council declared a state of Climate Emergency. In response Council prepared and recently adopted Ballina Shire Council's Climate Change Policy.

The policy sets organisational emissions reduction targets, and provides a framework for progressing climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience strategies for Council and the community.

The targets are more ambitious than the NSW and Australian Governments and aim to achieve rapid emissions reduction by:

  • reducing our operational greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero emissions by 2030
  • using 100% renewable electricity for our operations by 2030.

As part of the development of the Climate Change policy, Council engaged with the community through a survey to seek feedback on whether a community-wide emissions reduction target is needed. The survey results indicate that there is a high level of concern about climate change among the survey participants, and that the Shire should have a community-wide emissions target with Council as the key driver.

The survey results are a positive indicator climate change activities and Climate Change Policy objectives align with the survey group’s views on how Council can support the community.

Council’s next step is to prepare a comprehensive Action Plan which will set out the pathway of action to achieve the targets by 2030. 

What has been achieved so far?

In 2004 Ballina Shire Council joined the Cities for Climate Protection program and commenced its journey of climate change action.

Council actions include climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience strategies for its own operations as well as the broader community.


Council has implemented quite a range of energy efficiency initiatives over the years that have significantly reduced operational emissions.

Key projects such as the LED streetlighting retrofits, wastewater treatment plant upgrades and efficiencies, and solar installations have protected Council from the full impact of major facility upgrades such as pools, new sub-divisions, and general population growth. Without this action Council's emissions and costs would have been significantly higher.

As a direct result of Council’s actions emissions had only increased by 5% in 2019-20 compared to the 2012-13 base year. This is a great achievement considering that the organisation and Shire continues to grow.

Council’s Operational Emissions by Source

Electricity consumption is the primary source of Council’s annual emissions at around 81%, followed by fuel from Council’s fleet at 17%, and waste emissions at around 2%.

Council’s Operational Electricity Emissions by Sections

The highest user of electricity from Council’s operations is the Water and Wastewater section, followed by Buildings and Facilities such as pools and community centres 26%, and fleet at 17%.

Council’s On-site Solar Generation 2020/21

Council’s electricity demand in 2020/21 was made up of 91% electricity from the grid (10.6 MWh) and 9% from solar on-site generation (1.1MWh). Council plans to install more solar in 2022 for the airport and a number of other sites. This will increase our solar generation to around 19%.


Ballina Shire’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 were 625,000 tonnes of C02e (tCO2e). Just like council operations, fuel and electricity usage are the major sources of community emissions.

Source: Snapshot Climate Tool

Council’s Community Emissions Reduction Activities

Council supports our community in emissions reduction through a range of activities. This includes:

  • Promotion of government solar and energy efficiency initiatives and programs
  • Transport initiatives including Bike Week, National Ride2School Week, National Walk Safely to School Day and Northern Rivers Carpool initiative
  • Active transport infrastructure (shared pathway network)
  • Open space and healthy living strategies
  • Community education (transport, water, waste, energy)
  • Organic waste education and diversion
  • Urban forest and greening strategies
  • Forward planning for electric vehicle infrastructure
  • Smart water metering service
  • Advocating State and Federal Governments for legislative changes and support.

A growing number of council's and communities are setting ambitious community-wide greenhouse gas emissions targets to respond to climate change with varying levels of local council involvement. Council and community goals across Australia are presented in the report: Ambitious climate action commitments by states, local governments and communities – Sep 2020.

Council recently conducted a community survey to find out if the community thinks this is something Ballina Shire should do. View the results here.

Ballina Shire Council’s Climate Change Policy proposes two ambitious Council operational emissions reduction and renewable energy targets:

  • Net zero emissions from our operations by 2030
  • Reaching 100% renewable electricity for our operations by 2030

The next step is to develop a detailed Council Plan for how these targets will be achieved in the short, medium, and long term. Key actions that are likely to form part of a plan to net zero emissions include:

  • Short term solar installations at a number of sites including a further 130 KW of solar PV installed at Council’s Works Depot and Waste Management Centre in 2021
  • Solar panels installed at the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport on shade structures over the carpark in 2022
  • Development of a solar strategy for all sewage treatment plants
  • Energy audits of all facilities to improve lighting, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
  • Investigate use of emerging renewable energy technologies and practices including batteries, hydrogen, and power purchase agreements
  • Increase electric and low emissions vehicles and charging stations
  • Improve sustainable waste management practices at council sites
  • Maintain sustainable financial investment commitments
  • Sustainable procurement
  • Regional waste solutions.

Council continues to work with the community to support Shire-wide emissions reduction.

Council’s Pathway to 100% Renewable Electricity

Our preliminary analysis below illustrates what our pathway to 100% renewables could look like.

First step is reduce consumption with energy efficiency, produce renewable energy ie solar and batteries, and source the remaining electricity from a renewable energy source ideally a local producer and/or a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

As well as working to reduce emissions, Council supports climate change adaptation and resilience strategies both operationally and at community level. Council’s existing strategic plans list a range of strategies relevant to climate change mitigation and adaption. For example, ensuring plans are in place for natural disasters and environmental changes, increasing resilience of our economy, ensuring planning considers changes to the environment, wise use of resources, and risk management.

The Climate Change Policy provides the framework for Council to identify and integrate Climate Change risk assessment, adaptation, and resilience planning into all Council’s strategic plans.

The framework enables planning for adaptation and resilience of Council’s assets and service delivery, and improving the community’s preparedness for a changing climate.

  • Biodiversity and environmental management
  • Flood and coastal management
  • Watercycle management
  • Emergency management
  • Infrastructure and asset management
  • Risk assessment and management
  • Embedding climate change considerations in the Community Strategic Plan
  • Developing land use planning policy frameworks and controls for climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.
  • Education programs including the schools waste program
  • Parks and streets tree planting
  • Healthy waterways program
  • Regional collaboration on climate change action

The Paris Agreement, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals have been established to urge collaborative global action on climate change.

Please refer to Council’s Climate Change Policy  (pdf)for a summary or find more information through the following links:


National and State

Peer support networks:

As part of the development of the Climate Change policy, Council engaged with the community through a survey to seek feedback on whether a community-wide emissions reduction target is needed, and if so what that should be, how it could be funded, and what level of involvement Council should have. 

The survey results indicate that there is a high level of concern about climate change impacts among the survey participants, with most concern for loss of biodiversity, and that the Shire should have a community-wide emissions target with Council as the key driver from a combination of grant funding and Council revenue. 

Respondents believe Council can best support the community to take action through land use planning and controls, demonstrating leadership, and provision of community infrastructure such as cycleways, footpaths, and urban parks and tree planting. 

‘Leading by example’ was a highly rated Council action which suggests that the community values Council’s efforts in managing its own contributions to climate change. 

The survey results are a positive indicator that Council’s current range of climate change activities and Climate Change Policy objectives align with the survey group’s views on how Council can support the community. 

For example, land use planning controls relating to environment and biodiversity, mosquito, floodplain and sea level rise, coastal zone and emergency risk management already exist within land use planning documents to ensure climate change impacts are considered. 

For more about Council’s community actions click Community Emissions and Adaptation and Resilience Strategies for Council and the Community

View the Community Climate Change Survey Report (pdf).


Net Zero Emissions

Achieving a balance between emissions produced, and emissions taken out of the atmosphere by sequestration like tree planting, soil management, and sustainable agriculture. Producing emissions tips the scales, to balance them there must be no new emissions in any given year, and more sequestration.


Taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming and changes to the climate.


The process of adjustments and practical actions to manage the risks and impacts of climate change that cannot be avoided.


The capacity for a socio-ecological system to recover and maintain function.

Greenhouse gas emissions

A gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect by trapping heat in the atmosphere. The four main gases are Carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), fluorinated gases.


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The General Manager
Ballina Shire Council
PO Box 450
Ballina NSW 2478

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40 Cherry Street
Ballina NSW 2478


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