Carbon Neutral Council

Brisbane City Council is committed to a clean, green and sustainable Brisbane.

Council maintains its carbon neutral status in line with the Australian Government’s Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard for Organisations and is certified carbon neutral under the Climate Active program.

This certification is recognition of Council’s efforts to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve and maintain this Council:

  • measures our greenhouse gas emissions from all sources including the Rochedale landfill, electricity use in buildings and street lights and fuel use in Council buses and ferries
  • takes steps to reduce our carbon footprint where possible, such as through landfill gas capture and combustion, energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives
  • purchases and cancels eligible carbon offsets to cancel out all remaining emissions
  • publishes an annual Carbon Neutral Public Disclosure Statement.

Download our Public Disclosure Statements:

Our carbon footprint

Council’s carbon footprint for 2020-21 (the latest year for which data is available) was 520,075 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2-e).

The three largest emissions sources - fuel use, landfill and construction - currently account for 62% of the total carbon footprint. The remaining 38% is made up of emissions from indirect supply chain sources, such as paper use, business travel and energy use by Council contractors and lessees. Council buildings and facilities and controlled streetlights were 100% powered by renewable energy in 2020-21, reducing electricity-related emissions to zero.

Council is the only carbon-neutral certified organisation in Australia with an operating landfill and large public transport service.

Emission reduction actions

This graph shows Council’s carbon emissions from 2016-17 to 2021-22. In 2016-17, it is 644,039 tCO2-e; in 2017-18, it is 635,352 tCO2-e; in 2018-19, it is 589,615 tCO2-e; in 2019-20, it is 596,882 tCO2-e; in 2020-21, it is 520,075 tCO2-e.

In 2020-21, Council's operational carbon footprint reduced significantly, mainly due to the introduction of nationally consistent accounting methodologies under the Climate Active Carbon Neutral Program.

In 2019-20, Council's footprint was estimated to have reduced by 7% over the four years since achieving carbon neutral status in 2016-17. This reduction is largely due to increased gas capture at the city's landfill at Rochedale and increased use of renewable energy.

Council is continually taking action to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as part of its carbon neutral commitment.

The following actions are some of the ways Council is working to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy-efficient lighting

To reduce electricity consumption, Council is upgrading and replacing lighting in its buildings and facilities, the city’s streets and other public places with more energy efficient lamps.

More than 25,000 streetlights have been upgraded to date and all new and replacement lamps in street and other public lighting are to be LEDs, wherever possible.

The city’s traffic signals have also gradually been replaced with LEDs and facilities including the Story Bridge, Brisbane Riverstage and a number of workshops and depots have been upgraded.

Lighting upgrades and replacements implemented since achieving carbon neutral status in 2016-17 are estimated to reduce Council’s carbon footprint by around 2255 tCO2-e per annum.

Solar power installations

On-site solar power systems allow Council to make use of available roof space to generate renewable energy that typically meets 20-30% of the site’s electricity needs and generally pay for themselves in four to 10 years, depending on the location.

As of June 2021, more than 2.3 megawatts of solar panels had been installed at Council sites.

By implementing this technology, Council is producing around 3600 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity annually which is equivalent to the energy required to power 660 Brisbane homes for a year.

Council’s solar power systems are estimated to reduce operational carbon emissions by around 1.3 tCO2-e annually for every kilowatt installed.

Purchasing renewable energy

Council is using its purchasing power to support the Australian renewable energy industry and further negate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with our electricity use.

Council purchased around 50,200 MWh of renewable electricity in 2020-21, reducing the carbon emissions associated with electricity usage by more than 53,700 tCO2-e.

Overall, Council has purchased more than 1,070,000 MWh of renewable energy since it first started purchasing GreenPower for City Hall in 2003.

Reducing the impact of public transport

Council has continued to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions through the incorporation of innovative technology in its public transport fleet. 

Over the last 15 years, the bus fleet emissions performance has evolved, with our first purchase of enhanced environmentally-friendly vehicle (EEV) compressed natural gas buses in 2005, through to the most recent Euro VI diesel engine buses purchased in 2021. Additionally, a Volvo B5 diesel-electric hybrid bus has provided services for Brisbane since 2015. As a result, over 94% of the Council bus fleet currently exceeds Australian minimum emission standards.

Council has also modified on-board software settings of over 500 buses to reduce emissions. The modifications include: 

  • adapted gear selection profiles which better meet terrain conditions
  • automated five-minute idle shutdown
  • reconfigured transmission kick-down function. 

A program has also been piloted to integrate eco-driving techniques and technologies to alert drivers of uneconomical and inefficient driving practices.

As part of Council's commitment to a clean, green and sustainable city, four battery electric buses are now being trialled on the City Loop, for 12 months through to June 2022. It is expected the successful completion of this trial will support strategies for future procurement of zero tailpipe emission buses. 

Additionally, while public transport services are a large source of emissions for Council, each full bus equates to taking 40 cars off the road. This substantially reduces city-wide emissions and congestion, while providing mobility options to all members of the community.

Council’s low emissions fleet

Council aims to improve air quality with every vehicle purchase by seeking lower emission vehicles, vehicles with alternate fuel sources and exploring innovative solutions to the vehicles we use to provide services to the community.

Council has had electric vehicles in the fleet since 2002. Our focus is on assessing all truck and car purchases for potential to reduce carbon emissions and achieve value for money.

In our fleet of over 1300 vehicles, we currently have 21 battery electric vehicles (20 cars and one truck) and 41 hybrid electric vehicles (36 cars and 5 trucks). In 2021-22, Council plans to increase battery and hybrid electric vehicle numbers to 30 and 55 respectively. Annual assessments help guide the overall transition of the fleet.

Actively managing emissions from waste disposal

Council has a long-term commitment to reducing emissions from landfill.

Every year, more than half of the gas produced at Council’s operating landfill at Rochedale, as well as five closed landfills is captured and either used to generate electricity or flared to destroy the methane component. More than 450,000 tCO2-e emissions were avoided through landfill gas capture and combustion in 2020-21.

Emissions at the Rochedale landfill are also reduced through Council’s green waste recycling service and community composting hubs which divert garden and food waste for alternative treatment and use as compost. Since 2010, the green waste service has diverted more than 214,000 tonnes of garden waste, while the community composting hubs diverted around 1500 tonnes of food waste from landfill in 2020-21.

Carbon offsetting by Council

Carbon offsetting is a way for organisations to cancel out carbon emissions they are not able to completely eliminate by investing in projects that reduce or remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. It is an internationally recognised way for organisations to manage the carbon emissions that cannot be eliminated entirely and become carbon neutral.

Council purchases independently verified carbon offsets to negate the residual emissions from its operations, after emissions reduction initiatives have been taken into account.

Between July 2007 and June 2016 Council offset almost one million tonnes of carbon emissions from its fuel use and business travel. From 2016-17, Council has offset all of its carbon emissions to ensure it maintains a net zero carbon footprint, bringing total emissions offset to more than 3.9 million tCO2-e.

All offsets purchased by Council must be eligible under the Australian Government’s Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard for Organisations.

Council purchases a mix of Australian and international offsets. Some examples of offset projects Council has purchased from include:

  • early season savanna burning projects in north Queensland and the Northern Territory
  • biomass, wind and solar energy projects close to Council’s sister cities in India and China. 
Last updated: 4 April 2022

Brisbane City Council acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land and their unique relationship with their ancestral country. We pay respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of Brisbane, and recognise their strength and wisdom.