It’s 2030, imagine if…

A unique collaboration between a regional university, industry and community groups has resulted in the first Carbon Net Zero region in Australia - Northern Rivers Net Zero (NRNZ). The industry-led and science-backed blueprint has paid off, with the NSW region decarbonising 3 years ahead of state government targets. The blueprint was designed by Southern Cross University to establish bioregional baselines and design an emissions reduction strategy that worked for the region and plugged into existing local Net Zero action plans. The industry buy-in assisted the growth of the Northern Rivers NSW: Connect with Nature brand, eliminating Carbon Border Taxes on local produce and increasing regenerative agricultural employment. Socially, NRNZ offered an empowering plan to flood-affected communities to build a thriving low carbon society.

Summary of solution

This is an industry-led collaborative project that will establish a clear pathway to carbon neutrality for the Northern Rivers by understanding the current carbon balance and removing barriers to carbon reduction. The project will kick off with measuring each industry’s ‘footprint’ starting with cooperatives in the agricultural sector.

The cooperatives will support their thousands of members to implement regenerative practices and nature-based solutions to help reduce emissions and sequester carbon at scale and measure changes over time. In the face of unprecedented natural disasters, a carbon-neutral Northern Rivers would be more resilient, more sustainable, and more connected. It’s a proactive community that leads by example to create not only Australia’s first carbon-neutral region, but also a region of assured economic stability for businesses and communities reaping the rewards of carbon neutrality.

Why is this solution innovative

This ambitious project is led by the agricultural industries in the region who are keen to see robust carbon verification systems developed and implemented within each industry within agriculture and then across other sectors in the community such as energy. While many of the partners involved have worked together successfully before, this project is innovative not just because of its aim, but because is the first time that a number of different cooperatives and business in the region have come together committed to driving a regional project and brand.

This project could be incredibly successful if it's done well, the stakeholders are already invested, collaboration is underway, the industry understands the merits and benefits, and finally, this project is key to breaking barriers to entry.