Author's Name: Garry Fowler
Date: Sun 12 Jun 2022

Towards Net Zero

By Garry Fowler, Chair Environmental Sustainability Committee

Our Club can be one of the first Rotary Clubs in the world to achieve net zero emissions from meetings and events.

This is an outcome of our Sustainable Club project undertaken by the Environmental Sustainability Committee in this first year of focus by Rotary International on Supporting the Environment.

Developing an Emissions Calculator

Rotary Melbourne, in conjunction with Wellington, Norwich and Los Altos (in California) developed, through Toitu Envirocare, an Emissions Calculator which can be used by any Club in those regions to calculate their emissions. The Calculator has been trialed, and has now been extended to be piloted by at least 4 clubs in each of those regions and Alberta in Canada.

Calculating our Emissions

The Club’s emissions from meetings and events for the year ended 30 June 2020 were calculated using the methodology applied by the calculator. Where actual data were not available, estimated amounts were used, in consultation with Reg Smith and Jo Mavros.

It was recognised that the club only had in person meetings for the period to March 2020, and that no emissions were generated from zoom meetings during March to June. Whilst, arguably, this was not a normal year, the calculations have not been grossed up for a full year, as we have no understanding as to what a “normal” year will look like going forward.

Our emissions for 2019/20

Our emissions for 2020 from meetings, and events were calculated. This included all lunch and evening meetings, committee meetings and special events such as the Angus Mitchell Oration. Emissions were not calculated for projects, as the environmental and social benefits were considered to outweigh any environmental impact.

The total emissions for the year worked out to be 19.7tonnes of CO2e.

This is made up of:

Car travel                      3.4

Public transport            1.4

Meals                          11.7

Drinks                             .6

Electricity and waste    2.6

Centenary lunch emissions

Our Centenary lunch was attended by 216 members and guests. Our emissions for this event alone were 3.225 tonnes ,or 14.9kgCO2e per member, made up as follows:

Travel                         374

Meals                      2734

Drinks                         63

Electricity                   54

If fish or poultry had been on the menu, as opposed to the delicious slow cooked beef, the emissions would have been .92 tonnes or 4.3kgCO2e per member!

What did we learn

Our emissions from travel are extremely low, compared to most other clubs, as most of our members use public transport, at least for part of their trip.

Our emissions attributed to meals are extremely high, mainly as a result of our having approximately one beef based meal a month. Sofitel were able to accurately estimate our actual emissions from meals, and the excess of our meal emissions over the default used in the calculator was 7.3 tonnes! This is well illustrated by the Centenary lunch where the impact of serving a beef based meal was an additional 10.6kgCO2e per member

Offsetting our emissions

The cost of purchasing credits to offset our emissions, at $20 per tonne would amount to about $400. Alternatively, it is estimated if we planted 300 trees, this would be considered as an appropriate offset for 20tonnes of CO2 emissions.

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