Welcome to Hunter Net Zero
Learn all about how the Hunter JO is working to decarbonise local government and accelerate net zero in the Hunter region and beyond.
How did we get here?
The solution to the climate crisis is clear: together we must rapidly reduce emissions and embrace our renewable energy future. Recognising the urgency of the climate crisis, the Australian Government, NSW Government, and a rapidly growing number of councils and businesses across the country are making commitments to reach net zero emissions. ‘Net zero’ means reducing emissions as close to zero as possible and offsetting any remaining emissions by removing carbon from the atmosphere.
The Hunter JO has a strategic objective to support our region to be on the path to net zero emissions. We are striving to take leadership and drive regional best practice in climate action.
The Joint Organisation Net Zero Acceleration program
The Hunter JO is part of the NSW Government’s Joint Organisation Net Zero Acceleration (JONZA) program, delivered by the Sustainable Councils team within the Department of Climate Change Energy, the Environment and Water.
The $1.4 million pilot program funded the embodiment of Net Zero Coordinators into nine Joint Organisations for 12 months. The objective: the accelerate net zero outcomes for regional councils in line with the NSW Government’s legislated net zero targets. Through JONZA, we are supporting the 11 councils across the Hunter, Central Coast, and MidCoast to reduce their operational emissions. Read on to learn how we are achieving this!
Hunter JO’s Net Zero projects
We are currently working on several projects to accelerate action towards net zero councils.
Council Net Zero Accelerator 2024
The Hunter JO has partnered with the NSW Government and Accelerate Zero to design and deliver the state’s first net zero course designed for local government.
The four-month capacity building program will provide councils with expert, best practice knowledge on how to achieve net zero operational emissions. Councils will learn about carbon accounting, setting net zero targets, identifying, prioritising, and implementing emissions reduction opportunities, modelling net zero pathways, developing net zero strategies, how to effectively engage stakeholders, and more.
Over 80 employees from councils across NSW will participate in the program, which is subsidised by the NSW Government.
Hunter Net Zero Roadmap 2030
This project will develop a strategic roadmap to decarbonise local government in the Hunter in line with the NSW Government’s legislated targets.
The roadmap focuses on harnessing the combined power of regional collaboration to achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Through joint projects and shared resources, Member Councils can unlock economies of scale, increase efficiencies, and accelerate progress towards climate targets.
Powering Tomorrow: Regional Councils NSW Power Purchasing Agreement
The Hunter JO and Mid North Coast JO are facilitating a Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) buyers’ group to support regional NSW councils to procure renewable energy in 2024. A PPA is long term agreement between a renewable energy power generator and a consumer/s for the purchase of clean electricity at a stable and predictable price. The long-term nature of the agreement protects organisations against the risk of price fluctuations in the electricity market, providing budget certainty and resilience.
It is also a simple and affordable way for councils to significantly reduce their emissions. Hundreds of councils across Australia are participating in renewable energy PPAs, and this number is increasing every year. A PPA buyer’s group shares resources, workload, and up-front consultant fees that can otherwise be a barrier for individual councils. Groups also bring increased scale, leveraging collective buying power for a better deal.
Revolving Energy Fund Action Group
The Revolving Energy Fund (REF) Action Group is a joint initiative from Hunter JO, Central NSW JO, and Mid North Coast JO. The Action Group supports Member Councils to design and implement REFs to provide long term financing of emissions reduction and energy saving projects.
The Action Group consists of 13 councils who meet monthly to discuss challenges, share knowledge, and capitalise on the resources developed by councils successfully operating these funds.
A REF is a self-sustaining funding mechanism that is commonly used by councils to finance energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other emissions reduction projects. A REF typically works by investing seed funding in projects that generate energy and cost savings. The savings from these projects are then reinvested back into the fund, which allows for new projects to be funded. This process is repeated, creating a continuous cycle of investment and energy savings for council.
The Hunter JO, Central NSW JO, and Mid North Coast JO developed a ‘Design a REF Kit’ and ‘How to Guide for Finance Teams’ to support councils to develop and implement a REF at their council. The Kit is currently being piloted by Member Councils ahead of a final version being published in the first half of 2024.
Net Zero Pools
The NSW Government is funding feasibility assessments for eligible Hunter councils to transition their aquatic centres from gas to net zero. The assessments will provide councils with shovel ready projects for grant funding opportunities.
Landfill Greenhouse Gas Emissions
In partnership with the NSW EPA, we’re working to help councils improve landfill greenhouse gas emissions measurement and plan emissions reduction strategies.
The Landfill Emissions Data Management Project brings together measurement, reporting, capacity building, and communications.
Tackling landfill emissions is important because it is the largest source of emissions for regional councils, representing between 45-75% of a council’s operational emissions.
Completed Net Zero projects
Here is a summary of the work we have completed so far:
Hunter Net Zero Network
We established the Hunter Net Zero Network to bring councils together to communicate, collaborate, and share knowledge on net zero.
The Hunter JO is now 100% renewable
From September 2023, the Hunter JO, Regional Procurement, and Local Government Legal now purchase 100% GreenPower renewable energy for its offices. We are proud to be purchasing independently accredited renewable energy from entirely renewable sources.
Plugging into the Future: Electrifying Council Fleets
More than 60 council representatives from across the Hunter and surrounding regions attended Hunter JO’s ‘Plugging into the Future: Electrifying Council Fleets’ event on 30 November 2023. Councils heard from expert speakers about how best to navigate the essential aspects of transitioning to electric vehicle fleets, including total cost of ownership, charging, and planning.
The attendees test drove a range of EVs and browsed the electric trucks and outdoor equipment on display, such as electric ride on mowers and BBQs. The event was delivered in partnership with Cities Power Partnership.
Expanding EV charging networks in the Hunter
With funding support from the NSW Government, we assessed the feasibility of implementing electric vehicle charging infrastructure across our region. The feasibility assessments will assist councils in applying for grant funding to expand the existing charging network in the Hunter.
Keen to get involved?
As we work towards our net zero goals, we value collaboration, communication, and knowledge sharing. We encourage you to sign up for Hunter JO’s net zero newsletter ‘Zeroing In’ to stay updated on our progress.
You can also speak with our Net Zero Coordinator, Lexi Crouch, to learn more about our initiatives and how you can get involved.
We invite Hunter council employees to join the Hunter Net Zero Network. The Hunter Net Zero Network meets every two months to connect and stay up to date on what is happening across the region in net zero. The main purpose of the network is collaboration between the 11 councils in the Hunter and Central Coast regions. It also provides an opportunity for consultation and advice on the net zero work being delivered by the Hunter JO.
The Joint Organisation Net Zero Acceleration program is funded by the NSW Government.