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Resolution/Ordinance: Marrickville, NSW adopts Oil Depletion Protocol
Published 20 February 2007 by Marrickville City Council (original article)

In February 2007, Marrickville (a suburb of Sydney, New South Wales) adopted the Oil Depletion Protocol, committing to an annual 3% reduction in the use of oil by the total operations of Marrickville Council.

Published 20 February 2007 by Marrickville City Council, http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/edrawer/Files/1063419646/TRIM_TR_REC_868472.PDF

Following the report of the Development and Environmental Services Committee on peak oil, the Merrickville city amended then adopted the recommendations of the committee. The version that was passed reads as follows:

That council:

1. receive and note the report;
2. pass a resolution calling for Peak Oil to be considered a serious issue;
3. adapt, where necessary, existing programs that are directly related to the Peak Oil issue to ensure that consumption and any reductions in Peak Oil are tracked and recorded; and
4. request a further report be provided to Council on the Peak Oil issue following action by the LGSA and the emergence of other information regarding local government approach to the Peak Oil issue.
5.(a) Commits to the Oil Depletion Protocol;
   (b) Commits to the total operations of Marrickville Council reducing the use of oil by 3% per year as of the next financial year; and
6. Officers to report annually on the progress of this initiative.

The report of the Committee was as follows (from Business Paper of Development and Environmental Services Committee meeting, 6 February 2007):

Director, Development & Environmental Services reports:

Synopsis
This paper is in response to a Notice of Motion (Item NM 19, Meeting No. 10/06 [see p. 155]) which requested a report be developed on the Peak Oil issue in relation to the Oil Depletion Protocol (The Protocol), and implications for Council to commit to The Protocol. The Protocol is an international agreement that will enable nations of the world to cooperatively reduce their dependence on oil. The Protocol is asking nations, cities, and individuals to commit to reducing their oil dependency by a certain
percentage each year. Council will be affected by Peak Oil and mitigation measures are required.

However at this stage the impacts of Peak Oil on Council activities are unknown. Council is already contributing to the reduction in oil consumption though a range of existing policies and programs.

The Local Government and Shires Association’s are acting on a Motion from the 2006 Annual Conference to recommend to the State and Federal Governments that The Protocol be adopted. It is recommended that this report be received and noted; Council, prior to endorsing The Protocol, pass a resolution calling for Peak Oil to be considered a serious issue; adapt, where necessary, existing programs that are directly related to the Peak Oil issue to ensure that consumption and any reductions in Peak Oil are tracked and recorded; and provide a further report to Council on the Peak Oil issue following action by the LGSA.

Background
Council considered a Notice of Motion (Item NM 19, Meeting No. 10/06) at its November 2006 Meeting, which requested a report be developed on the Peak Oil issue in relation to the Oil Depletion Protocol (The Protocol) and implications for Council to commit to The Protocol. Council resolved that Council officers report on the Peak Oil issue in relation to the Oil Depletion Protocol and implications for Council to commit to The Protocol.

Peak Oil
Peak Oil is the term given to the point in time when the global crude oil production rate starts its final decline. Crude oil is a non renewable resource upon which society relies heavily. Crude oil is a mixture of chemicals and compounds (primarily hydrocarbons) which must be broken down into various components by distillation before the chemicals and compounds can be used as fuels or converted to other products. Some of these by-products include:
• tyres;
• plastics;
• nylon;
• asphalt;
• detergents;
• fertilizers;
• packaging; and
• PVC pipes.

It is forecast that the global crude oil supply is reaching peak levels of production. It is not known when Peak Oil will occur however many forecast that it will occur between 2010 – 2015. The concept of Peak Oil was first proposed in the 1950’s by M. King Hubbert, an oil exploration geologist. He showed that oil production follows a bell curve and therefore oil fields peak and then decline over time. It is estimated that 33 of the 48 significant oil-producing nations worldwide are experiencing declining production.

The Oil Depletion Protocol – The Protocol
The Protocol is an initiative undertaken by The Post Carbon Institute (The Institute), a think, action and education tank based in the United States, in association with Richard Heinberg, in response to the Peak Oil issue. The Institute is a non-profit organisation that has established a board of directors, featuring some of the most prominent experts in the field of Peak Oil. It provides resources and information to implement strategies to reduce the world’s dependency on oil. Richard Heinberg is one of the world's foremost Peak Oil (oil depletion) educators. The Protocol is an international agreement that is believed will enable the world to cooperatively reduce their dependence on oil. The Protocol requests individuals, organisations, businesses, cities and government to commit to reducing oil dependency by a certain percentage each year.

It recommends “that local government, prior to endorsing The Protocol:
1. pass a resolution calling for Peak Oil to be considered a serious issue; and
2.undertake a city-wide oil assessment funded by the mayor.”

Discussion
Australia relies heavily on oil and according to Bruce Robinson from the Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, Australia uses 45,000 megalitres of oil each year with 80% used in transport. Peak Oil will have significant economic, social and geopolitical impacts on Australia and will affect all sectors of society, therefore mitigation measures must be adopted. As the price of oil rises, the price of fuel and transport will increase, increasing the cost of food and petrochemical products such as bitumen, PVC, plastics and fertilizers. This will place pressure on household incomes, businesses and all levels of government.

Implications for Council
Council’s oil dependency and any reductions in oil consumption are unknown. However, it is apparent that many of Councils services and operations rely on oil and its by-products. In 2006 alone, Council used 651,132 litres of fuel costing $659,647.

It is unknown what resources are required to undertake an oil assessment as suggested under The Protocol. Given the range of products that are derived from crude oil, assessing all the products and services upon which Council relies is an enormous task.

Regional Response
The Local Government and Shires Associations, in response to a motion submitted by Willoughby Council at the 2006 Annual Conference, have reviewed The Protocol and will be recommending its adoption by the State and Federal Government (Motion L14 – Willoughby Council).

Existing Council Programs
Council has a number of existing programs that directly or indirectly reduce the reliance on oil and its by-products in the areas of transport, fleet, purchasing and greenhouse gas emissions. These are
outlined in more detail in table one below.

TABLE ONE: COUNCIL INITIATIVES THAT DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY IMPACT ON THE CONSUMPTION OF OIL
Community-wide Initiatives
Council’s draft Urban Strategy and Integrated Transport Plan include a number of strategies which will directly reduce the community’s dependency on oil by:
• focusing new residential development in existing centres with good public transport and services;
• improving local public transport, walking and cycling connections to centres; and
• promoting and supporting alternative forms of transport.

Council has also provided funding under its 2006 Citizens for Sustainability program for the Ksavers Community Workshops. This involves a team of volunteer educators developing and delivering workshops that will identify and reduce traffic impacts upon their community. The workshops will provide information on active and public transport and produce a “12-step plan” to reduce each person’s dependence on private vehicles for journeys within the Local Government
Area (LGA).

Corporate Initiatives
Environmental Management Policy provides the foundation for Council’s Environmental Management system and the procedures and strategies under that system. It commits Council to efficient use of energy, water and other resources.

SAFE is Council’s internal Occupational Health and Safety, Injury, and Environmental Management System which minimises risk of injury and harm to the environment. SAFE has been the catalyst for implementing initiatives such as futurefleet@marrickville.

futurefleet@marrickville program aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage staff to adopt more sustainable travel patterns both during and out of work hours. Under the futurefleet program Council is trialling alternative fuels for its commercial fleet, developing policy to encourage leaseback holders to choose more fuel efficient vehicles, offering alternative benefits to reduce the number of vehicles in Council’s fleet and developing an internal car pooling program.

Local Action 21 - Greenhouse Action Plan commits Council to achieving a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2010. With transport being one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions the plan includes actions that directly reduce the use of the combustion engine and therefore reduces the need for fuel.

Cities for Climate Protection Plus - Greenhouse Purchasing Program focuses on the purchase or procurement of products and services that will reduce Council’s greenhouse gas emissions. However it also encourages Council to assess products and services based on their environmental merits which will see Council, where possible, move away from petrochemical based products.

In September 2006, Queensland Transport prepared a discussion paper “Future Energy and Peak Oil” for Brisbane City Council which has proven useful in understanding the degree of impact this issue has. Queensland Transport is also currently undertaking an Oil Vulnerability Assessment
(OVA) for the Cairns LGA. The OVA is a pilot project in the initial stages with the outcomes of the assessment unknown. However, a report should be available in April 2007.

RECOMMENDATION:
THAT Council:
1. receive and note the report;
2. pass a resolution calling for Peak Oil to be considered a serious issue;
3. adapt, where necessary, existing programs that are directly related to the Peak Oil issue to ensure that consumption and any reductions in Peak Oil are tracked and recorded; and
4. request a further report be provided to Council on the Peak Oil issue following action by the LGSA and the emergence of other information regarding local government approach to the Peak Oil issue.

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Post Carbon Cities: Helping local governments understand and respond to the challenges of peak oil and global warming.
Post Carbon Cities is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization incorporated in the United States.
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