Some would say that we will not achieve net zero in the cafes, dinner parties and wine bars of our inner cities.

As a new community group located in Brisbane’s inner-city suburb of West End, Zero-Net Kurilpa is looking to change that perception and respond to the challenge of decarbonising our cities.

We are a group of volunteers who have come together to progress greater climate change action across Brisbane, seeking a safe climate future through community-led action, partnerships and advocacy.

We have a big vision and a big plan. Zero-Net Kurilpa is part of the Zero Emissions Brisbane network, the aim is to work in partnership with the community to achieve 100% renewable energy and Zero-net emissions within 5 to 10 years. What we trial and pilot in West End, we can then share with other local Ward-based groups across the City of Brisbane.

Glasgow Shame Job

The message from November’s CoP26 in Glasgow was that all countries must double their efforts to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Australia has rightly been criticised in Glasgow. Australia has renewable energy natural resources that make us the envy of the world and with the right policy settings, we could become a renewable energy superpower and global leader.

As part of the Zero Emissions Brisbane network, we are advocating for the Climate Council’s recommended science-based target of 75% reduction of current level of emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2035.

Brisbane’s Carbon Emissions Profile

The greenhouse emissions from across the City of Brisbane are still increasing and with no indication of peaking.

In 2019, with a population of 1,253,982 the City of Brisbane emitted 24.4 Mega Tonnes of greenhouse emissions.

Where the City of Brisbane is the local government area, covering 26 wards and managed by the Brisbane City Council the largest and most resourced council in Australia.

As a comparison, Brisbane’s carbon emissions profile represented approximately:

  • 16% of Qld emissions with 24% of Qld population.
  • 5% of Australia’s emissions with 5% of Australia’s population.

As electricity and transport are Brisbane’s highest sources of emissions, with 60% from electricity use, 28% from transport and 6% from use of gas.

Communities Doing it for Themselves

When I talk to people in our community, we are highly skilled and educated and we are agreed – we need to be the leaders we are waiting for.

In the absence of government leadership there is plenty we can do as a community and help one another in decarbonising our suburb and our City.

We won’t be alone here, we are taking inspiration from communities such as Zero Emissions Noosa, Zero Emissions Sydney North, Zero-Net Hepburn and over 100 other communities across Australia that are doing it for themselves.

Zero Emissions Noosa is working with the Noosa Shire Council to achieve the endorsed target of net-zero by 2026. As a result of Zero Emissions Noosa’s efforts the shire is tracking on high levels of renewable energy uptake and wants to have the first community owned battery in Queensland. A community battery will allow householders and businesses to store their excess daytime solar generation and to take it back at nighttime.

Zero Emissions Sydney North (ZESN) emerged out of Zali Steggall’s 2019 Federal election campaign. ZESN’s approach is to focus on practical barriers to decarbonisation. They have developed a Sustainable Living Guide which identifies the top five things you can do at no or little expense such as how to switch to Greenpower, divest your superannuation from fossil fuel, how to decarbonise your house and your travel.

Hepburn Z-Net and the other Zero Net Energy Towns have developed their decarbonisation plans by following the same “blueprint” which is designed to help achieve 100% renewable energy over a period of 5-10 years.

Why Zero Emissions Brisbane and Zero-Net Kurilpa

In forming, both Zero Emissions Brisbane and Zero-Net Kurilpa, we have taken inspiration from all these groups. However, what works in regional Victoria or North Shore Sydney is not guaranteed to work in West End or the other 25 Wards across Brisbane.

The Zero Emissions Brisbane’s committee has been meeting since February 2021 and we have been meeting with Brisbane City Councillors to understand their current policies and programs. These meetings confirm that there is a role for politically non-partisan community groups such as Zero Emissions Brisbane and Zero-Net Kurilpa to call for stronger action on climate change.

In developing a community transition plan, Zero-net Kurilpa will be following the Zero-net Energy Town “blueprint”.

The first opportunity is to look at what 100% renewable energy and zero-net mobility might look like.

Practical barriers to decarbonising

For this to work, we need to work as a community and help each other. There are practical barriers to decarbonising a household, like upfront capital costs to swap out gas appliances or to install a solar panel.

Maybe you are renting, and you want help negotiating a conversation with your landlord or the body corporate. Or maybe you just don’t know where to start. Part of our focus will be about addressing the practical barriers to decarbonising. Left unaddressed, it is these barriers that will result in carbon lock-in and climate injustice.

Carbon lock-in results from not being able to afford the upfront capital costs to swap away from fossil fuelled technologies.

Policy Advocacy

As Zero Emissions Brisbane we are talking with the Brisbane City Council. We want to elevate the conversation beyond the “climate wars” and talk about the opportunities for decarbonising. What decarbonising means for Brisbane, what the new industries and job opportunities there are, and what this means at the local Ward level.

Foremost, we are advocating for a scientifically based target of 75% reduction by 2030 and Net zero emissions in Brisbane by 2035.

The first question for BCC – Australia’s largest and well resourced council – when are the carbon emissions from the City of Brisbane going to peak?

Secondly, who will step up and take responsibility for steering the decarbonisation transformation across the City of Brisbane?

Want to Get involved?

Through Zero Emissions Brisbane, we will be documenting our progress and actively seeking to collaborate with other community groups, businesses, academics and individuals to leverage our efforts. If you are keen to get involved, please get in contact.

Are you a student interested in applying your studies to real world sustainability projects? We may have opportunities for you.

Are you an Artist or Creative with ideas around communications and community engagement, please get in touch – your talents would be appreciated.

Please get in touch with us via our website and Facebook page.

In the meantime, see you around in the cafes and bars.

For more information

  2. City of Brisbane carbon emissions from snapshot data prepared by Ironbark Sustainability for Beyond Zero Emissions and the Zero Carbon Community.
  3. Zero Emissions Noosa
  5. Zero Net Energy Towns Blueprint (
  6. Zero-net Kurilpa | Facebook

Cover image by Jan Bowman