User Guide

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Snapshot was launched in Beta testing mode in 2019 with over 100 profiles from Victoria and New South Wales. Over the last year the Snapshot team have engaged with councils, LGAs, community groups and state departments to collect feedback, improve and expand the portal. There are now profiles for over 500 municipalities across all states and territories which are available for interaction and review. More municipalities and interactive features will come online in future releases.

To avoid dangerous climate change, the world must transition from emitting high amounts of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to zero emissions. The transition has already begun but needs to expand and speed up considerably if the world is to meet its global emission targets. Key to doing this is grassroots and bottom up action and advocacy. Communities and councils are already leading the charge across Australia and Snapshot is a tool to enable more empowered and informed action to occur.

Once complete, this will be the first national tool with data for every municipality in Australia. What makes it unique is that it uses a common framework. This means the total of all local profiles match the national emissions total and no emissions go unaccounted for. To achieve this, the tool uses state level data portioned to your municipality.

  • design and development (2018 - 2019)
  • beta testing (2019)
  • enhancement and expansion (2020)

We welcome all contributions to the development of this project, it is a work in progress and a ‘living’ tool. Please get in touch.


Snapshot is designed to help you identify where your municipality’s highest impact areas are. This can provide focus and drive investigation into actions your municipality can take to reduce and raise awareness about CO2e emissions.

The free Snapshot provides you with your municipality’s emissions profile for the inventory year and gives a breakdown of emissions by sector. Alongside the data, the report provides charts and a high level written summary. To select an inventory year simply toggle the drop down list at the top of the page. Snapshot currently provides profiles for the calendar and financial years 2015/16to 2018/19.

Snapshot is generated from ‘top down’ or state level data on the volume of greenhouse gases emitted within a set boundary – in this case your municipality - and the different sources of these emissions. Snapshot can be used alongside local data sets where more detail is needed.

The data is represented as the total emissions in CO2e by emissions source and sector. CO2e stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. This is the universal unit of measurement to indicate the global warming potential (GWP) of each greenhouse gas (GHG), expressed in terms of the GWP of one unit of carbon dioxide. It is used to evaluate the climate impact of releasing (or avoiding releasing) different GHGs on a common basis. Due to the approximate nature of the profile, the emission values are represented as rounded numbers.

To see what each sector of emissions accounts for please see the FAQ What does each sector include?

How to use this data

Communities and council’s have a strong and proud history of leading climate action and many are working towards 100% renewable energy goals and zero emissions targets. With an understanding of the largest emissions sectors in your local area, you can target your activities to high impact areas.

Snapshot can help you identify key starting points for activities in your community:

  1. Building awareness: Share your Snapshot with your community and council. Start a conversation and join a climate action program. Join us in building this tool by providing feedback while it is in Beta Phase. If you have the paid version, use the cohort comparison as a tool for communicating.

  2. Advocating for next steps: Use Snapshot to advocate with your council and community. This could include setting a community target or obtaining council support or endorsement. You can use this report to secure funding to employ a staff member to lead this work, or to develop local climate action plans

  3. Targeted project: Select a project based on the sectors that are likely to generate the highest emissions in your community. For example, if agriculture is estimated to make up around 40% of emissions it might present a good target area to propose a distinct project, whereas if natural gas is estimated at only 3% of emissions you know the impacts of your project, no matter how successful, will be very limited.

  4. Developing to tool: Join us in building this tool by providing feedback and suggestions on how the tool add further value and support climate change action.

Any project selection should also be based on local community capacity, interest and value for effort. The following infographic illustrates the proportion of councils in 2018 taking simple community wide actions to reduce CO2 in their area. Please read the Resources page for further ideas and information.

Measures implemented by councils to reduce community emissions (Australian Local Government Climate Review 2018)

Cohort Comparison Report

In addition to the information provided in the free report, the paid Cohort Comparison Report includes your data download in CSV format and a cohort comparison. This section compares your municipality’s emissions to the average for its cohort and the state average, and provides emissions intensity metrics and benchmarking. This comparison includes the following data and metrics for total emissions (all sectors) and standalone residential energy emissions:

  1. Comparison of emissions against cohort and state averages to give an indication of relative scale and provide context.
  2. Metrics for emissions in emissions per household and emissions per capita, this provides an indication of emissions intensity.
  3. Benchmarking of the emissions intensity metrics against the cohort average and state average.
  4. Data download in CSV format.

For detailed information on how the data in the Snapshot is prepared and calculated, please view the methodology document coming soon.

Cohort Comparison Metrics

The cohort comparison metrics provide your municipality with a sense of its character; whether this is as a high emitter or a low emitter, or something in between. Wherever your municipality sits, it is important to place yourself within the bigger picture.

These metrics provide an understanding not just of emissions sources and scale, but also of emissions intensity. A densely populated municipality may have a relatively high emissions total but a low per capita emissions profile, or conversely a small but highly industrial area may have a relatively low emissions total but a very high per capita emissions profile. Again this is useful in defining the character of the municipality, and shaping the information base upon which strategies and actions can be developed. Critically the cohort comparison also opens up opportunities for learning and collaboration between other municipalities which share similar characteristics.

It is important to highlight that variations do not indicate that one municipality is good and another bad. These may be due to structural variations across communities or other variables. These structural variations may end up presenting as opportunities for community groups to take action – but this is the next step in the process!

The following provides a summary of metrics provided and how they might feed into strategy and planning:

Absolute Emissions comparison - this gives you an idea of the scale of your municipality’s emissions relative to similar municipalities, and the state average. The relative size of the municipality in terms of emissions can be a factor in considering what actions might be viable; for example, a small municipality might decide that collective action with neighbouring cohort municipalities will achieve better results. A large municipality might look to other large cities, nationally and internationally for established action planning frameworks.

Relative Emissions comparison - these metrics can tell you if your municipality has a high emissions intensity for the population overall, and also for the residential energy sector in isolation. If the emissions per capita for the residential sector are high, it may be worthwhile investigating why this is as a starting point. Alternatively, if emissions per capita or per household for the residential sector are already low relative to cohort and state averages then investigating industry or transport sectors may be a more targeted approach.

CSV data

Having the data in CSV format will allow you to explore, manipulate, and present the data yourself. However, it does not provide you with a framework to analyse or interpret.

Explore - understand how your profile has been calculated and the different data sources that have been used.

Manipulate - use the data to conduct your own analysis and develop your own metrics but please ensure that you only represent it publicly as a profile acknowledging the data limitations (See FAQs).

Present - CSV data allows you to develop your own charts and graphics so you can select specific data and format it to meet your needs and style requirements.

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