Zero Emissions Byron was initiated in March 2015, with a meeting between the CEO of Beyond Zero Emissions and the Byron Shire Mayor, Simon Richardson. ZEB was developed as a collaboration between the Byron Shire Community, the Byron Shire Council, Beyond Zero Emissions and the Centre for Social Change.
In the first two years, the focus has been on developing the internal structure and capacity; relationships with key stakeholders; the emissions inventory for the Byron Shire region; the regional strategy for emissions mitigation; and initial projects.
Key steps in the evolution of ZEB
- A community meeting was held in June 2015, where community members signed up to contribute to one of five working groups (Energy, Buildings, Transport, Land Use and Waste).
- In August 2015, the groups began working on the initial phase, which was to assess the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in their sector.
- In June 2016, the Baseline Emissions Report was completed, which quantified GHG emissions for the five sectors across the whole of the Byron Shire region (Scope 1 and 2).
- Key stakeholder forums for each sector followed in the second half of 2016, focusing on: developing emissions mitigation strategies; documenting existing activities, projects or businesses contributing to emissions abatement; and fostering regional relationships with and between key stakeholders.
- Zero Emissions Byron Limited, a not for profit company limited by guarantee, was formed in October 2016, with a revitalised governance framework.
- The company is a registered tax exempt charity and has authority to fundraise in NSW. An application for tax deductable status was accepted in April 2017 by the Register of Environmental Organisations but may take up to a year to be awarded.
- Collaborative strategic planning was conducted in early 2017 with the new Board, Byron Shire Council and community sector representatives.
- Initial abatement projects began in 2017, primarily focused on community education and action, including: Zero Emissions Schools Initiative; Individual Emissions Education; Repower Byron Shire.
- A key focus has been accessing the resources to develop the Emissions Reduction Plan as a blueprint for transitioning to zero net emissions within each sector.
- A report was commissioned and completed for the energy sector in 2017 which addressed technology and strategies to reach 100% renewable energy within the Shire.
- ZEB has continued to foster partnership relationships with key stakeholders, such as developing an MOU and regular meetings with ENOVA and COREM.
- Byron Shire Council formally endorsed the target of Zero Emissions in April 2017, and set up a working group to implement zero emissions for Council operations.
- ZEB has developed its national and international profile, including:
- Joining international and national programs (Compact of Mayors, Carbonn Registry, ICLEI, C4CE, Cities Power Partnership)
- Being profiled at events (United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21, in Paris; 2017 Community Energy Congress; 2017 World EcoCity Summit)
- ZEB has focused on interaction and engagement within the Byron Shire community, including media and communications, and running or supporting local events