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Adelaide City Council's carbon offset bill revealed

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The Adelaide City Council spent more than $25,000 in recent years conserving trees in Tasmania to offset its carbon emissions, InDaily can reveal.

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The council spent $25,809 removing almost 4000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through old-growth Tasmanian forest protection in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

It also spent $264 offsetting the carbon dioxide emitted when Lord Mayor Martin Haese travelled to the United Nations Climate Summit in Paris late last year.

The council aims to make its own operations carbon neutral by 2020 and to make the entire city carbon neutral by 2025.

Haese told InDaily that because council operations would never emit zero carbon dioxide, emissions had to be reduced to a “credible” level, and then offsets purchased for the remaining annual emissions, in order for the council to be considered “carbon neutral”. The same process was underway for Adelaide’s CBD, he said.

“These offsets are good for the Australian economy and for the environment,” Haese said, adding that the council purchased Australian carbon offsets rather than international offsets – though the latter is cheaper.

“I can’t see any downside – I can only see upside[s] to this program.”

A spokesperson said that while the council had spent money on carbon offsets, it had also saved ratepayers about $800,000 each year by the improving their energy efficiency of council-owned buildings between 2009-10 and 2014-15.

Those efficiencies reduced carbon emissions from the council’s business operations by 31 per cent – from 23,932 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year to 16,601 tonnes – over that period.

Haese said the council was actively reducing its emissions.

“We’re looking at our own energy consumption – we’re looking at installing battery storage technology into some of our buildings [and] additional solar panels on our buildings,” he said.

“There’s a direct benefit to ratepayers of council leading by example because it saves costs.”

Haese said accredited carbon offsets were not available in South Australia, but he hoped a carbon offset industry would grow, across Australia, in the coming years.

The State Government and the council are yet to release their detailed plan to make Adelaide the world’s first carbon neutral city.

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