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Uniting Communities commits to net zero emissions by 2035

16 August 2021

Uniting Communities has ramped up its commitment to the environment by announcing its intention to become a net zero organisation by 2035. The organisation is leading the way on climate change action and challenges other local companies to follow.

The announcement was made at a celebration of the Uniting Communities’ 10-year journey to a sustainable future. They were the first South Australian organisation, and the first registered charity in Australia to be certified carbon neutral in 2015, opened the 6 Star Green Star rated U City development in 2019 and are an ambassador for Carbon Neutral Adelaide.

Since 2010, Uniting Communities has reduced their emissions by over 30%, resulting in savings of over $1.5 million, and their sights are set on even greater levels of sustainability.

Uniting Communities recognised this significant milestone and announced their net zero goal at their first certified carbon neutral event – ‘Driving a Sustainable Future’ held at U City. The event brought together leaders from government, industry, and the private sector to share their commitment to sustainable practices and advocate for action onclimate change.

Uniting Communities’ Chief Executive, Simon Schrapel says the event was a chance to highlight the organisation’s achievements since becoming carbon neutral in 2015, but more importantly to commit to further action by announcing this historic first for a South Australian company.

“We are committed to addressing the effects of climate change particularly in support of the vulnerable and disadvantaged people and communities we serve, who are least likely to have the resources to respond to its adverse effects,” he says.

“We are proud to be pushing the boundaries when it comes to reducing carbon emissions and our actions have demonstrated what can be achieved locally to address global challenges.

“We urge other organisations to make a pledge to achieve their own carbon reduction targets for the future of our community, our State and our planet. In light of the UN Panel on Climate Change report released earlier this week, the urgency for us all to act and play our part is becoming increasingly acute. Charities and social service agencies like Uniting Communities have a vital part to play too in not only advocating for climate change action – but taking responsibility through our own actions and behaviours. Our sector is a significant contributor to the Australian economy, and it is upon all of us big, small, private or NGO, to take action and to start now.”

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L-R Ken Long, (Adelaide Sustainable Building Network), Genevieve Smith (Uniting Communities), Malcom Leask (Hither & Yon Wines), Richard Turner (Premiers Climate Change Council), Lee Sauerwald (Uniting Communities), Suzanne Ridding (Sustainable Business Consultants), Sue King, Brian Phillips, Simon Schrapel (Uniting Communities), Tim Jarvis, Lucy Manuel (Uniting Communities).

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Right Hon Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor addresses the gathering about Driving a Sustainable Future for the City of Adelaide.

Minister for Environment and Water, the Hon David Speirs MP, has congratulated Uniting Communities for their work towards driving a more sustainable future.

“Work like this supports the State Government’s historic Climate Change Action Plan which is an ambitious practical approach to dealing with a changing climate, building a strong green economy and further reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Minister Speirs says.

“This includes a range of actions to progress towards our state's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.” City of Adelaide Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor adds her praise of Uniting Communities’ environmental leadership. “As the Inaugural Ambassador for Carbon Neutral Adelaide (a partnership between the City of Adelaide and the State Government), Uniting Communities is championing our city’s vision for climate action.”

The celebration event and announcement included key addresses by Minister for Energy and Mining, the Hon. Dan van Holst Pellekaan MP and Tim Jarvis AM, Environmental Scientist, Author and Adventurer who gave a sobering account of the changes to Antarctica in just the last 20 years.

A discussion pane was chaired by Professor Richard Turner of the Premier’s Climate Change Council, and featured prominent Carbon Neutral Adelaide Partners driving change and making an impact in South Australia, including Elaine Chia, Executive Director of the Adelaide Festival; Malcolm Leask, Director, Hither & Yon Winery, Peter Fuller, Managing Director, Fuller Brand Communication and Lee Sauerwald, Executive Manager, Corporate Services, Uniting Communities.

The event was proudly supported by City of Adelaide, Toyota Motor Corporation, CMI Toyota, Hither & Yon, Colliers, Marsh, ASBN, Blanco Horner Hospitality Management, ANZ and Sustainable Business Consultants.