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 reduce and offset the carbon emissions generated by Council's operations. 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 2021-22 (the latest year for which data is available) was 574,453 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2-e).

The three largest emissions sources - construction, fuel use and landfill - currently account for 63% of the total carbon footprint. The remaining 37% 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 2021-22, 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

In 2021-22, Council's footprint was estimated to have reduced by 7% over the five 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. All new and replacement lamps in street and other public lighting are to be LEDs, wherever possible. With nearly 4,900 streetlights upgraded in 2021-22 alone, 16% of streetlights are now LEDs.

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 more than 2500 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 three to five years, depending on the location.

As of June 2022, more than 3.2 megawatts of solar panels had been installed at Council sites.

By implementing this technology, Council is producing more than 5000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity annually which is equivalent to the energy required to power more than 900 Brisbane homes for a year.

Council’s solar power systems are estimated to reduce operational carbon emissions by nearly 5000 tCO2-e annually.

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 57,300 MWh of renewable electricity in 2021-22, reducing the carbon emissions associated with electricity usage by more than 44,600 tCO2-e.

Overall, Council has purchased more than 1,115,547 MWh of renewable energy since it first started purchasing GreenPower for City Hall in 2003.

Reducing the impact of public transport

Council has continually focussed on reducing its greenhouse gas emissions through the incorporation of innovative technology in its public transport fleet. Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions across our compressed natural gas and diesel fleets have been achieved through several long-term initiatives including:

  • adopting international emission standards for bus engines which exceed Australian requirements - 94% of Councils fleet is either Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicle (EEV), Euro VI, Hybrid or Electric;
  • modified engine software management to reduce idle time and high revs to improve fuel efficiency; and  
  • introduced telematics and driver training to promote efficient driving.

In addition to reducing emissions, Council is now starting the transition to zero emission public transport through the following initiatives:

  • the introduction of the turn up and go, fully electric Brisbane Metro.
  • the successful completion of City Loop electric bus trial.
  • working with TransLink to undertake a 2-year electric bus trial on the Spring Hill Loop service, starting in 2023; and
  • working with the Queensland Government to introduce their Zero Emission Vehicle Strategy where new buses added to the fleet will be zero emission from 2025.  

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.

At the end of the 2023 financial year, in our fleet of nearly 1400 cars and trucks, we had 32 electric vehicles (31 cars and one truck, 2% of our fleet) and 89 hybrid electric vehicles (84 cars and 5 trucks, 6% of our fleet). 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 393,000 tCO2-e emissions were avoided through landfill gas capture and combustion in 2021-22.

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 253,000 tonnes of garden waste, while the community composting hubs diverted around 750 tonnes of food waste from landfill in 2021-22.

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 zero emissions carbon footprint, bringing total emissions offset to more than 4.5 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
  • revegetation projects in south-west Queensland
  • a project to reduce emissions intensity of beef cattle production in the Northern Territory
  • biomass, wind and solar energy projects close to Council’s sister cities in India and China. 
Last updated: 26 July 2023

Brisbane City Council acknowledges this Country and its Traditional Custodians. We pay our respects to the Elders, those who have passed into the dreaming; those here today; those of tomorrow.