ACCC action best approach to carbon offsets: Energetics

04 Feb 2008Archived News Energetics in the News

Published: WME Magazine - by Christine Ahern - Dr Mary Stewart, Principal Consultant; Sustainability, Energetics Pty Ltd talks about companies trying to differentiate themselves in the market by becoming carbon neutral and the importance of buying credits from only verified sources.

 

The ACCC last week released the issues paper The Trade Practices Act and carbon offset claims to provide guidance to consumers on claims being made about carbon offsets due to concerns about "misleading and deceptive conduct".

Energetics provides advice to businesses on managing the carbon neutral process and Dr Stewart says the major mistake many make is not calculating scope three - or indirect - emissions in their calculations.

The services sector in particular is responsible for a large amount of scope three emissions they may not be aware of, including activities such as flights, accommodation and transport.

If in doubt or if emissions data is not available, she advises companies to overestimate the embodied emissions of a product or service. For instance, if unsure of the embodied emissions of a chair, assume it is made of an energy-intensive material such as steel.

To ensure the quality of carbon offsets, Dr Stewart says it is important to only purchase credits from verifiable suppliers such as Greenhouse Friendly, a program run by the Australian Greenhouse Office. To give potential purchasers of offsets a better understanding of offset providers, RMIT University published a report called Carbon Offset Providers in Australia 2007.

The Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) was also developed last year by not-for-profit groups The Climate Group and The International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) and industry association The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) to provide quality assurance for companies undertaking carbon offset projects.

But RMIT University in its report calls for those involved in the Australian carbon offset market to go a step further. It suggests there is an opportunity for leadership by Australian service providers to work with interested stakeholders in the development of appropriate national standards, accreditation and verification processes.

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