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Decarbonisation of the Great Barrier Reef Islands

The Queensland Government’s Decarbonisation of the Great Barrier Reef Islands program, which started in 2018, supports businesses and communities to transition to a low carbon future and build resilience.

Resort islands

The first phase of the program involved working with 25 resorts across 20 islands to reduce their carbon emissions and increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change.

The participating islands were Bedarra, Camp, Daydream, Fitzroy, Great Keppel, Green, Haggerstone, Hamilton, Hayman, Heron, Hinchinbrook, Hook, Lady Elliott, Lindeman, Long, Orpheus, Pelorus, Pumpkin, South Molle and Wilson.

For each resort, opportunities were identified and business cases developed for projects with the potential to reduce emissions and build resilience. The projects included:

  • solar and battery combinations
  • biodiesel and biogas
  • solar hot water
  • electric vehicles
  • hybrid ferries
  • wind and tidal turbines
  • efficiency improvements for pumps, air conditioning, hot water and refrigeration
  • improved building management controls around water recycling, onsite food waste processing and glass crushing.

The program found that if the resorts implemented these projects, they would collectively achieve annual energy savings of approximately $3.5 million and carbon savings of approximately 18,500 tonnes per year. These benefits are particularly important due to the impact of COVID-19 on tourism.

The business cases have been used to help secure funding through the ‘greening’ element of the Great Barrier Reef Island Resorts Rejuvenation Program.

Find out more:

  1. Decarbonising the resorts of the Great Barrier Reef islands – Summary Report (PDF, 12.6 MB)
  2. Great Barrier Reef Resort Islands – Case Studies and Best Practice Examples Guide (PDF, 6.8 MB)

Whole-of-island community pilot projects

The second phase of the program involved a pilot to test the approach with four whole-of-island communities of Great Keppel Island, Magnetic Island, Palm Island and Masig Island in the Torres Strait. In total, 70 projects were developed across all four island communities to decrease emissions and increase resilience to the effects of climate change. The projects included:

  • green waste composting systems
  • investigating energy microgrids and hydrogen powered electric ferries
  • solar powered electric bikes and electric shuttle buses
  • upgrading waste recycling and management practices
  • installing rooftop solar systems with battery storage
  • undertaking building energy efficiency improvements and installing rainwater tanks.

The potential for carbon emission reductions, cost savings and job creation that could be achieved if each island community was to successfully implement these projects was found to be:

  1. Great Keppel Island Final Report (PDF, 7.7 MB) : 17 project options would reduce annual carbon emissions by 48-82% and generate $173,000-$634,000 in savings annually.
  2. Magnetic Island Final Report (PDF, 16.6MB): 18 project options would create 11.5 jobs, reduce annual carbon emissions by 22,130 tonnes and generate $2.9 million in savings annually.
  3. Masig Island Final Report (PDF, 14.6MB): 18 project options would create 16 jobs, reduce annual carbon emissions by 1,698 tonnes and generate $0.2 million in savings annually.
  4. Palm Island Final Report (PDF, 14.4MB): 17 project options would create 25 jobs, reduce annual carbon emissions by 7,260 tonnes and generate $3.7 million in savings annually.

The Queensland Government is providing funding of $500,000 through the Queensland Climate Resilient Councils program to support the rollout of priority projects on each of the four islands (up to $125,000 for each council).

For more information on the program and its outcomes, email climatechange@des.qld.gov.au