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Council’s Response to Climate Change

In August 2019 Mosman Council became a member of the Cities Power Partnership to boost ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and to have better outcomes for the environment generally. The Climate Council provides many resources related to climate disruption and news on the latest developments. For further information visit their website.

Council in the past over many years has been proactive in building resilience of its natural areas including bushland, seawalls and tree canopy cover. Further sustainable actions such as limiting bin sizes and heavy investment in stormwater harvesting and filtration schemes have provided environmental benefits only now being seen. A summary of works completed and/or ongoing is provided below.

Current program actions and their impacts are listed below

  • Street Tree Planting – Annual planting of mature street trees, reducing heat impacts, CO2 absorption
  • Bushland Restoration 10 year contracts – Building resilience of bushland areas, CO2 absorption
  • Urban Forest Policy – Protection of private tree canopy, CO2 absorption
  • Bush Fire Management – Fire committee, bush fire risk management plan, hazard reduction activities, reduces risk of uncontrolled bush fires
  • SQID Program – Filtration of stormwater system, reduces pollution in Sydney Harbour
  • Stormwater Harvesting – Using harvested stormwater to irrigate sport ovals, reduces reliance on town water
  • Seawall Restoration – Rebuilding seawalls for protection and for increased habitat for intertidal marine creatures
  • Waste Less Recycle More – Waste education, reduces waste being generated and going into wrong waste stream
  • Single Use Plastic – Bye Bye Plastic campaign, Single Use Coffee Cup education
  • Living Mosman – 65 environmental programs held over the last year, sustainability education
  • Active Transport – Pedestrian and bicycle improvement work, less reliance on car ownership
  • Domestic Waste – Recycling 36.5% of domestic waste is recycled and with >90% processed locally and turned into new products
  • Council Operations – Reusing mulch from tree work on garden areas, old footpath material as base for new footpaths, circular economy
  • Energy and water – Monitoring Quarterly assessment of Council energy and water use and annual audit of community’s energy use

The decision of Council to declare a Climate Emergency in November 2019 and provide resources for action in December including the addition of a staff member is broadly supported by the Mosman community. In order to act in a manageable, efficient and transparent way, it is considered the best approach would be to develop a Climate Change Action Plan. The plan would outline possible actions for Council to consider with options assessed against economic, environmental and social outcomes.

It is also important to provide consistency with Council’s existing environmental framework and the Action Plan is therefore drafted under several key themes. A brief outline can be viewed here and themes are listed below with possible actions and strategy directions. These of course would be refined and subject to further consultation.

Energy Use

Implement and advocate for energy efficiency and conservation measures to reduce energy consumption and apply mitigation adaption and resilience strategies to address climate change.

Actions could include acceleration of all public lighting to LED, expanding Council’s solar program on its buildings and purchasing green energy.

Biodiversity and Trees

Protect and enhance the biodiversity and urban tree canopy to build resilience and preserve Mosman’s environmental character.

Actions could include continued support and funding of Councils Tree Planting Program and the Bushcare Volunteer program.

Water Cycle

Implement and advocate for water efficient programs to reduce dependency on potable water.

Actions could include further investigation of rainwater re-use schemes and promotion on water efficient activities.


Encourage diversion from landfill and continue to implement and advocate for increased recycling.

Actions could include further investigation of Council’s Waste Strategy and continue advocacy at the State and Federal levels of Government.


Encourage use of public transport, bicycle and pedestrian improvements and facilitate car share, electric and hydrogen vehicles.

Actions could include preparation of a new Active Transport Plan and continued support to the car share industry.

Built Environment

Undertake sustainable development of Council facilities and engaging and educate the community in the benefits of a sustainably built environment.

Actions could include continued asset renewal taking into account sustainable practices and climate change adaption.

Engage and Educate the Community

Involve the community in the significance of the environment and Climate Change through education and engagement.

It is acknowledged the success of this Plan and Mosman overall reduction in CO2 emissions will be reliant on the community’s willingness to participate. Whilst Council can control the actions in regard to Council operations, the engagement and involvement of the community is critical. To put this into perspective:

  • A motor car that has travelled 150,000 km will emit 37.5 tonnes of CO2
  • A return plane trip to Europe will generate 4.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions
  • A reverse cycle air conditioning unit operated for eight hours a day will emit 6.64 tonnes of CO2 per year.


Rethink Rubbish Pop-up Beach Series

The Rethink Rubbish Pop-up Beach Series was developed to raise awareness of recycling practices within Mosman and how items which would normally go to landfill can be reused, while encouraging visitors to Balmoral Beach to leave the scenic location clean and free from rubbish.

Over 480 people took part in the four activities running during the holiday series:
Reverse Garbage: making marine creatures from recycled materials, educating small children on the importance of not littering
Two Hands Project: making a re-usable bag out of an old t-shirt
Seaside Scavenge: earn trash tokens while cleaning up the beach
Circus Solarus Recycling Relay: a fun game for the whole family to remind people of items that can be recycled

A number of local community groups came to support and take part in the events including Boomerang Bags Lower North Shore, Tees to Totes and Responsible Runners, as well as conservation staff from Taronga Zoo.

The Seaside Scavenge resulted in over 100 participating in a clean-up. Participants ranged from 5to 61 years old, with 90% never having attended a clean-up event. 32% of participants were residents of Mosman and surrounds. Participants collected 65.1kg of litter from the beach and surrounding reserves (44kf of waste,21.1kg of recycling). A detailed litter audit was conducted, with the two most common items found being cigarette butts (2,886) and soft plastics packaging (1,215).

Positive feedback from both locals and visitors was received for each of the pop-up events:
“We all enjoyed the event immensely but it did a really good job of reaching my eldest son. He’s been sharing it and talking to people about it non-stop since the weekend.” – Karen M.
“I’m really behind this. It’s the best thing you’ve done down here and the whole beach is talking about it.” – Carly (local resident)
“This is a great initiative. It’s so good to have these activities for the kids during the holidays” –Susanne

This pop-up series was supported and partially funded by the NSW EPA Better Waste fund.

Pedal Power Cinema – Finding Nemo

Pedal Power

As part of the Festival of Mosman a pedal power cinema was hosted to screen ‘I will be a hummingbird’ and Finding Nemo.

As the crowds gathered a ‘Seahorse’ and ‘Pirate’ spoke to children about the importance of not polluting our waterways. The catch phrase ‘all drains lead to the ocean’ taken from the movie Finding Nemo was incorporated into the discussions and featured in posters.

Three students from Queenwood distributed a brochure to the audience about the impacts of disposable cups, and spoke on stage about the importance of using reusable cups when purchasing take away hot drinks.

‘I will be a hummingbird’ narrated by Wangari Maathai was the first film to be screened. The short environmental story was about a group of African animals besieged by fire. All felt helpless except for the little humming bird who tried to put the fire out one small drop at a time. The moral being that it is better to do something no matter how small than to stand and do nothing.

Finding Nemo was then screened with up to 10 people peddling hard at one time to keep the film running. Riding the bikes was popular with the young audience and volunteer staff were kept very busy ensuring everyone had a turn.

The project required the joint cooperation of a number of departments within Council. Approximately 400 people attended with the public feedback being so positive that another pedal power cinema is in the planning phase for the next Festival of Mosman.

Street Art

Rudy Kistler in partnership with Mosman Council created a series of 3D chalk drawings along Balmoral Esplanade, highlighting to passersby the need for greater action to reduce marine debris from entering our waterways.

The drawings were constructed in January 2014 in the summer school holidays. At this time of year local residents and visitors alike flocked to the area to enjoy the beautiful surrounds. Rudy was photographed and spoke to people as they walked by about his 3D artwork.

Particular emphasis was placed on cigarette butts, plastic waste and fishing line, and the harmful impact these litter items may have on wildlife. To spread the message to visitors and the community, tag lines such as ‘Butt it and Bin it’, and ‘Reel it in and put it in the bin’ accompanied each chalk drawings.

Council Projects

This video outlines some of the environmental initiatives undertaken by council and shows how preserving and improving our environment is one of our key objectives at Mosman Council.

Mosman Apartment & Strata Savings Program

What is the Apartments & Strata Savings Program?

The aim of the program is to improve sustainability while reducing the cost of living & GHG pollution.

Annual strata fee reduction is a major focus, because the savings potential with energy upgrades is typically a good investment. So analysis will be on the numerous opportunities in common areas.

Often owners don’t realise how much energy and money is being wasted in the hidden areas and equipment of buildings, so a report by specialists will clearly quantify that, and make recommendations for the owners corporation to follow up on.

Approving upgrades is easier than many people realise. If no more than 25% of the votes cast at the meeting (in person or by proxy) are against the motion (note this is different from the common myth that 75% of all owners need to agree) then it is passed.

When the options are clearly illustrated with a good report, the thinking becomes… why wouldn’t we upgrade, given the financial benefits!

2019-2020 Program Rollout – round 1

Free Apartment Assessment – Expressions of Interest are now closed

Expressions of interest closed on 16 December 2019. There was a total of six successful applicants selected for the program.

The program offers – at no cost:
  • Energy assessments performed by industry specialists.
  • Detailed reports which will clearly illustrate the financial case for upgrades.
  • Phone support at strata meetings if requested to help communicate benefits of building upgrades.
  • General support.

Eligible Buildings

The scheme offers sustainability assessments and reports to larger strata schemes and aged care facilities.

Did you know?

  • Most apartment buildings will benefit with efficiency upgrades in common areas.
  • Around 51.7% of local residents live in apartments in Mosman.
  • Renewable heat and electricity can both replace imported grid gas and electricity.
  • Renewable heat is perfect in shady areas, at night, or if cloudy, unlike solar electricity, and can provide space heating and domestic water heating.

Energy Cost savings

  • LED Lighting
  • Solar electricity – solar panels for rooftops and walls.
  • Renewable heat from the sun – for space heating and water heating.
  • Energy efficiency – why waste energy?
  • Often upgrades offer investment opportunities with an internal rate of return (IRR) between 15-50% 1, which will likely be one of the best investment returns you’ll ever make.
  • Simple payback periods are commonly as short as 2 years.

1 Based on recent upgrades.

Lighting Retrofit

infographic on lighting retrofit
In May 2013 Mosman Council retrofitted the old fluorescent lights in the Mosman Library. The project was funded under the Waste and Sustainability Improvement Payment (WaSIP) program and saw 463 lights replaced with energy efficient LED lights in order to save money and reduce energy consumption and our corporate greenhouse gas emissions.

Prior to the upgrade the combined consumption of electricity for the Civic Centre and Library buildings was 74MWh per month. After the lighting retrofit, the monthly electricity usage for both buildings was 66.5MWh per month. This saving of 8.5MWh per month equates to 102 MWh annually, saving Council in the last financial year $41,888.00.

This retrofit was the last stage of the Civic Centre and Library building retrofit program, with the Civic Centre building retrofitted in 2011.

Works are currently underway to retrofit the Mosman Council Depot building, replacing fluorescent lights with energy efficient LED lighting.