Greenhouse Gas Emission Trends in Byron Shire

A Baseline emissions assessment was prepared by ZEB for Byron Shire in 2015/16 against which we can gauge our emission reduction progress over time. An update was prepared for 2017/18 and again for 2020/21[1]. The change in emissions across the key sectors over the past 5 years is shown in the following charts[2].

Overall emissions in Byron Shire have risen by 9% over the past 5 years, along with a population increase of 7%. This means that per capita emissions have increased from 8.2 to 8.4 t CO2e per head per year. The most significant changes have been an 11% increase in electricity use, although there has also been a significant uptake of rooftop solar, with installed capacity tripling from 11.5MW in 2015/16 to 34.4MW in 2019/20. It is not possible to assess how many residents and businesses opt to buy renewable energy-based electricity so the electricity emissions recorded for the overall Shire will be an over-estimate. There has also been an 18% increase in private transport emissions and a 27% increase in freight emissions and a significant increase in waste emissions. Agricultural emissions have fallen, largely due to reduced livestock numbers, as have landfill, waste water and public transport emissions.

Energy sector emission increases may be attributed to an increase in dwellings. For the transport sector, the average vehicle fuel efficiency in NSW has decreased and the associated emission increases have been proportionately applied to Byron Shire as local data is not available. The increase in emissions from the waste sector may be associated with a change in methodology for data collection, as well as the addition of green waste collection in Byron Shire over recent years.

Byron Shire would need to install the equivalent of 100MW of solar photovoltaics (PV) to reach net zero emissions. This could be achieved via increased rooftop PV, for instance if every suitable dwelling were to install an extra 3-4kW, or by the installation of several 5,10 and 20MW solar farms around the Shire. Energy efficiency and moves to lower emission options across all sectors would reduce these requirements and make the zero emissions goal easier to achieve.

Byron Shire Council is actively addressing its own emissions and these in turn are reducing the Shire’s emissions. Council emissions accounted for 8% of the overall Byron Shire emissions in 2015/16[3], including all the landfill and waste treatment emissions. Since then, it has reduced its emissions by 46%, including the offset of 100% of its electricity via a contract with a carbon neutral retailer, and is on target to meet its 100% net zero emissions target by 2025. Council emissions are also shown in the graphs below.

[1] Point Advisory, 2021, 2019/20 Community GHG inventory update for Zero Emissions Byron.

[2] Note that some adjustments have been made to the original datasets to incorporate new information, while the data sources in some sectors change over time. Also, Council now offsets 100% of its electricity via a carbon neutral retailer, which means its own emissions from electricity have reduced to zero, but the amount of electricity flowing through meters and included in the overall Shire emissions remains at the State average and does not incorporate individual Greenpower purchases.

[3] Calculated from Byron Shire Council, 2021, 2019/20 Annual inventory of Council’s emissions profile and progress update.

ZEB is focussing on the following strategies to reduce emissions:


  • Information and advice on improving energy efficiency in the housing stock, appliances and lighting
  • Promoting local renewable energy use – encouraging household and commercial solar uptake, and assisting the development of community solar and bioenergy facilities


  • Promotion of renewable energy-based electricity use to replace gas for cooking, water heating and space heating


  • Providing information and education on Electric Vehicles, promoting EV charge facilities
  • Promoting cycling and cycleways
  • Promoting car and bike hire and sharing facilities
  • Exploring options for increased public transport


  • Reducing waste entering landfill via composting and diversion to fodder or recycling streams
  • Improving recycling facilities
  • Using methane capture in landfill sites and developing bioenergy facilities

Land Use and Agriculture

  • Promoting the use of improved pasture management
  • Assisting with the regeneration of native vegetation and tree planting
  • Exploring options for bioenergy from local feedstock and waste, with by-products used for soil conditioning


Byron Shire Council’s Emissions Reduction Strategies


  • Energy efficiency in Council buildings and facilities
  • 100% renewable electricity
  • LED street lights
  • Investigation of a solar farm
  • Investigation of a bioenergy plant at the sewage treatment works


  • Provision of solar boosted water heating in caravan parks
  • Conversion of cooking facilities to electric as assets are replaced


  • Provide Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure
  • Increased use of hybrid and electric vehicles for the Council fleet
  • Use of shared vehicles
  • Emission offsets for waste collection vehicles
  • Emission offsets for all corporate air travel

Waste Water

  • Increased use of recycled water
  • Upgraded water treatment facilities
  • Use of biosolids


  • Reducing waste entering landfill via composting and diversion to fodder or recycling streams
  • Improving recycling facilities
  • Using methane capture in landfill sites and developing bioenergy facilities
  • Explore landfill capping to reduce gas release