Conversio is a Brisbane-based carbon accounting and reporting consultancy and will guide you through the process of becoming carbon neutral.
An analyst for Low Carbon Australia Limited (now the Clean Energy Finance Corporation), Alex played a key role delivering the Australian Government’s National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) Carbon Neutral Program, working closely with businesses pursuing carbon neutral certification. We know the world of emissions and offsets like the back of our hand. We clarify the process so you can be confident about reducing and offsetting your carbon footprint.
What does ‘carbon neutral’ mean?
The term “carbon neutral” refers to the activity of measuring greenhouse gas emissions relating to your organisation’s business activities and/or a specific product’s manufacture, transport, use and disposal, and offsetting the impact of those emissions with carbon offsets. These carbon offsets are created from projects that reduce carbon emissions relative to normal business-as-usual activities. Offsetting emissions through the purchase and retirement of a corresponding number of carbon offsets will result in zero net emissions being released to the atmosphere.
What are carbon offsets?
A carbon offset is a tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent that is reduced or avoided to compensate for emissions occurring elsewhere. The essential characteristic of a carbon offset is the achievement of verifiable reductions in emissions, and that the project generating the carbon offset project is a response to the incentives provided by a carbon offset market. You can use carbon offsets as an alternative to direct reductions for meeting commitments to reduce your emissions.
Achieving carbon neutral certification
To become carbon neutral and achieve NCOS carbon neutral certification, best practice requires your business to:
- Measure its carbon footprint, or part thereof, or product;
- Reduce in-house and supply chain emissions by implementing cost-effective energy efficiency measures;
- Offset any residual emissions through purchasing and retiring sufficient eligible carbon offset units for the remaining emissions associated with your business or product; and
- Publicly report on your carbon neutral activities.
Developing a robust carbon offsetting strategy
Focus on addressing direct and indirect emissions in your business and along your supply chain. Investing in low carbon and energy efficient equipment and processes can be more cost effective than buying many offsets year on year. Installing solar panels or revising operating procedures can result in improved operational efficiencies. Reducing your own emissions first also means that you need to purchase fewer offsets. What’s more, the money for buying offsets can come from achieved cost savings. Once you have exhausted all cost-effective measures to reduce your carbon footprint, it is time to consider your offsetting strategy. Items to consider include:
- Establishing and understanding the reason for buying offsets;
- Identifying the types of offset units you want to buy;
- Buying good quality offsets; and
- Identifying offset unit providers.
Benefits of carbon neutrality
There are many benefits to achieving carbon neutrality, including:
- Internalising the cost of carbon and anticipate future legislation;
- Validity of carbon neutral claims and use of the government-approved NCOS logo on products or marketing materials;
- An opportunity to show leadership in environmental governance and expand greenhouse gas accountability, transparency, and management to your supply chain; and
- A means for organisations to inspire and recognise their employees for efforts taken in measuring and reducing carbon emissions within a business.