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Prof Ross Garnaut speaks at launch of first low carbon community ‘cluster’ – the ‘Livewell Yarra’ Project

Posted 5 March 2015 - 9:30pm

Today, climate change analyst Professor Ross Garnaut was keynote speaker at the ‘Livewell Yarra’ Project launch, the first in a series of ‘Livewell Clusters’ initiated by Curtin University.  The Project will engage members of the Yarra community in a collaborative trial focussed on reducing carbon emissions. 

Professor Garnaut discussed how Australians can contribute to avoiding dangerous climate change.

"Australia has richer renewable energy resources than other developed countries. Reductions in the costs of solar, wind and batteries mean that many Australians are now able to greatly reduce their emissions while reducing what they pay for energy,” he said. 

Funded by the CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL), the ‘Livewell Yarra’ project – which will initially run from March to September – was initiated by its leader Dr Robert Salter of Curtin University and is supported by Yarra City Council and the Yarra Energy Foundation.

According to Dr Salter, community members joining the program will decide on and collaboratively work towards carbon-reduction targets with support from the CRCLCL, university researchers, the Yarra Energy Foundation, Yarra Council and other local organisations.

“There are many ways to live a low carbon life, such as draft-proofing your house, switching to energy-efficient lights or starting a food garden.  You can walk, cycle or take public transport to work, install solar panels, switch to green power or share tools with your neighbour.  There are many options, and they won’t reduce your quality of life,” Dr Salter said.

The ‘clusters’ refer to different types of groups and activities.  For example in ‘Decarb Groups’ six to 12 people will work out what their carbon footprint is, get information on how to reduce it, set targets then help and support each other on the way.  ‘Project Groups’ will each focus on a project to make carbon reduction easier for everyone, such as organising working bees to do simple retrofitting jobs, bulk buying low carbon products or encouraging food gardening.   

Professor Deo Prasad, CRCLCL CEO said that the CRC “is very interested in how local communities can move towards low carbon living. A better understanding of what resonates at that level is important to support programs and interventions to lower carbon footprints.”

City of Yarra Mayor, Cr Phillip Vlahogiannis, who officially launched the project said “Council is delighted to have the CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) undertaking this important project in the City of Yarra”.

Yarra Energy Foundation CEO, Sarah Johnson, said her organisation, which is a not-for-profit, would provide information and promotion for the project.

“The success of this project relies on getting people involved so we will be helping with promotion and reaching people who have already shown an interest in reducing emissions and living low carbon lives.  We are delighted to be working with Livewell on this collaborative project,” she said.

Once the CRC phase is over it is intended that the Livewell Clusters will become a fully autonomous movement run by participants – independent, yet well connected with like-minded organisations and sources of expertise, and embedded in local communities.

To get involved contact Rob Salter at or his Project Researcher, Darren Sharp on

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