What is climate change?

    Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, such as through variations in the solar cycle. But since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas (Source: United Nations).

    What do all the words means?

    We know there can be a lot of technical and complicated language used when discussing climate change. We've put together a list of Abbreviations and Definitions to explain some of these terms.




    Measures that organisations take to prevent, reduce or eliminate sources of greenhouse gas emissions within their value chain. Examples include reducing energy use, switching to renewable energy, switching from gas and transport fuels to electricity, and working with low carbon suppliers.

    Activity data

    Data from an emission generating activity, such as fuel usage and electricity consumption, is used to determine greenhouse gas emissions through multiplication by an Emissions Factor.


    Your organisation’s energy footprint or greenhouse gas emissions, usually in the most recent year or covering recent years.


    Greenhouse gas emissions accounting boundaries can have several dimensions, i.e. organisational, operational, geographic, business unit. The boundary determines which emissions are accounted for and used for setting targets and tracking progress.

    Carbon footprint

    A measure of the carbon dioxide equivalent emissions attributable to an activity. A carbon footprint can relate to the emissions of an individual, household, organisation, product, service, event, building or precinct. This can also be referred to as a carbon account or emissions inventory.

    Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e)

    A standard measure that takes account of the global warming potential of different greenhouse gases and expresses the effect in a common unit.

    Carbon neutral

    When the net emissions associated with an activity are equal to zero because emissions have been reduced and offset units cancelled to fully account for all emissions.

    Carbon offsets

    Offsets are a useful way to reach a carbon neutral target right away. One offset equals one tonne of greenhouse gas emissions that is avoided or reduced elsewhere. Carbon offsets can be generated from projects that remove carbon from the atmosphere, such as planting trees, which need CO2 to grow.

    Offsets can also be generated from activities that avoid emissions, such as wind energy generation and energy efficiency projects.

    Climate positive

    You reach ‘climate positive’ when you are removing more greenhouse gases than you are emitting. Climate positive is often used interchangeably with the terms carbon negative, or carbon positive.

    Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard

    A standard for making carbon neutral claims which sets rules for measuring, reducing, validating, and reporting emissions. The standard is available for organisations, products and services, buildings, precincts, and events. It is administered by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.



    The processes by which greenhouse gas emissions associated with stationary energy, industry, transport, waste, agriculture and other sources are reduced or eliminated.

    Direct GHG emissions

    Emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by the reporting company.

    Emission factor (EF)

    Emissions Factors refer to numeric values that specify the kilograms of CO2-e emissions per unit of activity.


    The release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

    Emission reduction roadmap or pathway

    An emissions reduction roadmap or pathway defines the magnitude and timing of emissions reductions, typically to reach a target, such as zero emissions by a certain year.

    Greenhouse gases (GHG)

    Greenhouse gases trap heat and cause the greenhouse effect. Annex A to the Kyoto Protocol includes seven greenhouse gases that are the subject of global efforts to decarbonise, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and several synthetic fluorinated gases. Water vapour and ozone are also greenhouse gases.


    A voluntary government-accredited program that enables an electricity provider to purchase renewable energy on a buyer’s behalf. GreenPower® guarantees that the renewable electricity from energy suppliers meets stringent environmental standards and is additional to Australia’s Renewable Energy Target.

    Grid decarbonisation

    Grid decarbonisation is referred to as ‘greening of the grid’ and means that fossil fuel-powered plants are replaced with renewable power plants, which reduces emissions from electricity. 

    Indirect GHG emissions

    Emissions that are a consequence of the operations of the reporting company but occur at sources owned or controlled by another company. 


    A quantified list of an organisation’s GHG emissions and sources.

    National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting System (NGER)

    Introduced in 2007 to require large emitting organisations to report their scope 1 and scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption and production. More info here

    Net zero emissions

    Net zero emissions are achieved when you reduce your operational GHG emissions as much as possible and balance the rest by greenhouse gas removals.


    The activity of cancelling offset units.

    Offset unit

    Represents reductions of GHG or removals of GHG from the atmosphere by sinks, relative to a business as usual baseline. Offset units are tradeable and can be used to negate (or offset) all or part of another entity’s emissions.


    A generic term used to denote any kind of business, irrespective of its organisational, governance, or legal structures. An operation can be a facility, subsidiary, affiliated company or other form of joint venture.

    Operational emissions

    Greenhouse gas emissions that are released when using a product or a service. For example, when using a natural gas boiler to heat water, burning the gas causes the release of greenhouse gas emissions. 


    The contracting-out of activities to other businesses.


    A Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is an agreement between a buyer and a generator to buy renewable energy at an agreed price for an agreed period of time.

    Residual emissions

    Emissions sources that remain unabated in a specific year of a mitigation scenario.


    Measures that organisations take to remove carbon from the atmosphere and permanently store it within or beyond the value chain.


    Presenting data to internal management and external users such as regulators, shareholders, the general public or specific stakeholder groups.


    The categorising of emissions sources into direct and indirect sources. See individual definitions for scope 1, scope 2, and scope 3 emissions.

    Scope 1 emissions

    Scope 1 emissions are emissions directly generated through your operations, such as burning natural gas, fuel used by vehicles, landfill gas emissions, or refrigerant gases in your air conditioning equipment. 

    Scope 2 emissions

    Scope 2 emissions are caused indirectly by consuming electricity. These emissions are generated outside your organisation at fossil fuel power plants, but you are indirectly responsible for them.

    Scope 3 emissions

    Scope 3 emissions are indirect emissions and happen upstream and downstream of your business. Examples are waste contractor vehicle emissions, employee commute, air travel, the consumption of goods and services and leased assets.

    Science based targets (SBT)

    Science-based targets (SBT) are emissions reduction targets that are consistent with the level of decarbonisation that is required to keep global temperature increase within 1.5 to 2°C compared to preindustrial temperature levels.

    Value chain emissions

    An organisation’s scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions as defined by the GHG Protocol accounting standard.

    Zero emissions

    Zero emissions, or absolute zero, refers to zero greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast with net zero emissions, absolute zero is achieved without the use of offsetting to balance emissions.

    What is climate change mitigation?

    Climate change mitigation means reducing the release of greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for warming our planet. Strategies include improving energy efficiency in buildings, adopting renewable energy sources like solar or wind energy, electrifying transport and planting trees, amongst other measures.

    Why is climate change mitigation important?

    Rising emissions of greenhouse gases lead to long-term impacts such as rising sea levels and increased temperatures, as well as more frequent catastrophic events such as bushfires, droughts, floods, and heat waves. Unless we take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a changing climate can result in loss of life and property, disruption of our food supply, and loss of biodiversity. We need to urgently reduce emissions to ensure a safe climate, which means working to keep global temperature increase to less than 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels.

    What does ‘net zero’ emissions mean?

    ‘Net zero’ means that greenhouse gas emissions produced by organisations and communities are balanced by greenhouse gas mitigation.

    What are the sources of emissions in Wollongong?

    Wollongong has a relatively unique emissions profile compared to many LGAs, this is due to our proud history of industrial activity. Understanding our profile helps us understand where to focus our attention and where resources are best directed to reduce emissions and achieve our targets. 

       Total Municipal emissions 8,670,000 t CO2e  

    What can we do to reduce emissions in the community?

    Emissions in the Wollongong Local Government Area are spread across industrial processes, electricity and gas use, transport and waste. To reduce emissions from these sources, the community should consider actions such as:

    • Purchase electricity from renewable sources
    • Install solar panels and battery storage
    • Change from gas to electricity, such as switching to induction cooktops and heat pumps
    • Implement energy efficiency such as LED lights, efficient appliances, insulation and building management systems
    • Improve waste management practices and reduce waste to landfill
    • Buy an electric or ‘green’ hydrogen car and use public transport
    • More active transport, such as walking and cycling
    • Work from home, where possible
    • Invest in climate projects, such as planting trees
    • Buy products and services that are carbon neutral
    • Reduce water consumption
    • More sustainable business practices

    How can the community participate?

    You can provide input by completing the community survey. Additionally, Council is planning several community engagement activities to develop the new Climate Change Mitigation Plan. These activities include industry events, business roundtables, online community events, pop-up stalls, focus groups, 1-on-1 stakeholder engagements with industry and government agencies, as well as collaborating with other councils in the area. The community is encouraged to actively participate in these events to help shape the new CCMP and contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Wollongong. 

    Once the details are finalised, information will be posted in the 'News Feed' on the main project page. In the meantime, you can subscribe for updates via the 'Stay Informed' function on main project page and we will let you know the details as soon as they're announced.

    What is Council’s role in taking climate action?

    While climate change impacts us on a global scale and must be a collective effort, local governments, like Wollongong, are on the front line in dealing with climate change impacts.

    Due to our local knowledge and close connection to our community, Councils are often best placed to support people reduce their emissions. However whilst we’ve set the Net Zero target for the community, Council has limited influence on many of the sources within the community, a coordinated effort from all levels of government as well as businesses and individuals is critical to achieving our Net zero targets.