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Carbon Neutral Programmes for Regional Australia
The following key actions must be undertaken for an organisation or a product to be certified carbon neutral under the NCOS Carbon Neutral Program:
- measure the carbon footprint of the organization;
- monitor and reduce emissions as much as possible; and
- purchase and cancel sufficient eligible carbon offset units to offset the remaining emissions associated with the organisation or product.
Step 1: We calculate your carbon footprint
There are two main approaches for calculating a carbon footprint:
- the greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory approach (suited to an organisation’s carbon footprint) or
- the life cycle assessment (LCA) approach (suited to a product or service carbon footprint).
Determining which carbon footprint approach to use will depend on what kind of carbon neutral claim you wish to make and where your boundaries are likely to be drawn.
Your company has a choice between the both the Inventory and the Life Cycle approach. The latter would require that the company’s operations are interpreted as ‘delivery services’ or ‘transport services’.
The choice of the Life Cycle approach would extend the footprint to all vehicles used by the organization while the Inventory approach would allow the separation of the fleet into company owned and sub-contractor vehicles. This opportunity could offer the company greater flexibility to achieve Carbon Neutrality by stages.
A Carbon Footprint is measured at three levels:
- Scope 1 emissions: The release of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as a direct result of activities at an operation. (Eg., fuel used by your trucks).
- Scope 2 emissions: The release of greenhouse gas as a result of electricity generation, heating, cooling or steam that is consumed by the operation. (Eg. power used by your depot.)
- Scope 3 emissions: The release of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere that is generated in the wider economy as a consequence of a operation’s activities but that are physically produced by another company’s operation. (Eg. the production of fuel used by your fleet.)
In order to calculate the carbon footprint of your organisation, we will be required to prepare a greenhouse gas (GHG) Inventory in accordance with the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) and current domestic and international standards.
The inventory should take account of:
- the organisational boundary;
- greenhouse gas emissions sources associated with the organisational boundary;
- greenhouse gas emissions factors and calculation methodology;
- activity and emissions data collected;
- assumptions used;
- all exclusions and their justification; and
- final calculated greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the organisation boundary.
- defining the organisational boundary is critical to any organisation’s carbon neutral claim. Criteria for selecting boundaries can include:
- operational control,
- equity share, or
- financial control. We are required to include all scope 1 and 2 emissions associated with the organisation as well as indirect Scope 3 emissions. As a minimum, Scope 3 emissions are to include business related travel, disposal of waste to landfill and use of paper.
Step 2 - Emissions Management Plan
We must prepare an Emissions Management Plan (EMP) to demonstrate that appropriate systems are in place to monitor and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, and to purchase and retire carbon offsets.
The EMP must identify:
- the greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the activities of your organisation;
- an emissions reduction strategy including emissions reduction measures to be undertaken;
- your strategy for purchasing and cancelling eligible carbon offset units for each reporting period;
- the records required, and the process for establishing and maintaining those records, to ensure that the greenhouse gas emissions attributable to your organisation are recorded in a timely manner;
- data quality control practices; and
- key stakeholders (internal and external) to be engaged in managing and delivering various aspects of your EMP, including the processes for selecting and appointing an independent verifier to verify your Application Package or Annual Reports.
Step 3 - Prepare a Public Disclosure Summary
To satisfy the transparency of information requirements, we are required to prepare a Public Disclosure Summary.
If the company successfully achieves certification, the Public Disclosure Summary is required to appear on the Low Carbon Australia website.
Outside of the Public Disclosure Summary, information that we provide to Low Carbon Australia that is confidential will be protected at all times and will not be publicly disclosed or included in public reports without your permission, unless required by law.
Step 4 - Independent Verification
To meet the requirements of the National Carbon Offset Standard, we are required to engage and pay for independent verification of your carbon footprint, Emissions Management Plan (EMP) and Public Disclosure Summary (collectively referred to as your ‘Application Package’).
Verifiers should be appropriately qualified to verify these documents according to the requirements of the Audit section of the Standard. Suitably qualified verifiers or auditors include individuals or bodies that:
- are registered under the greenhouse and energy audit framework established by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency for the NGER Act; or
- have demonstrated knowledge and expertise in the relevant Australian and international standards, specifically the AS ISO 14064 and ISO 14040 series; or
- are accredited to the international standard ISO 14065:2007 or recognised international standards based on ISO 14040.
We must ensure that the verifiers selected can satisfy at least one of these requirements and that steps have been taken to manage any Conflict of Interest issues.
Step 5 - Submit your Application Package
To have your organisation or product certified carbon neutral under the Carbon Neutral Program and be eligible to use the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) Carbon Neutral Trade Mark we need to submit a verified Application Package to Low Carbon Australia.
The Application Package comprises:
- organisation greenhouse gas (GHG) Inventory;
- Emissions Management Plan (EMP);
- Public Disclosure Summary; and
- Independent Verification Report.
Before submitting your Application Package, an annual certification fee must be paid to Low Carbon Australia. As well your company needs to enter into a National Carbon Offset Standard Carbon Neutral Administration and Trade Mark Sublicence which allows you to use the NCOS Carbon Neutral Certified Trade Mark for marketing and promotion.
Step 6 - Certification
Low Carbon Australia will review your Application Package and make a certification decision. Carbon Neutral certification is valid for a period of five years.
Step 7 - Maintain Certification
In order to maintain certification and the right to use the NCOS Carbon Neutral Certified Trade Mark over the five year period of the Sublicence, particpants must:
- Monitor and reduce emissions;
- Purchase and cancel eligible carbon offset units;
- Report annually;
- Obtain independent verification biennially; and
- Submit your documentation to Low Carbon Australia.
- Cost estimation
Carbon Farmers of Australia will explain each stage of the process and identify costs for each stage for maximum transparency. It identifies cost points in the process that will need to be quantified before the total investment can be estimated.
Cost points include the following:
- Method of emissions measurement chosen to establish carbon footprint;
- Level/scope of sources of emissions chosen for inclusion;
- Independent verification of Carbon Footprint, Emissions Management Plan, Public Disclosure Summary (as parts of the Application for Certification);
- Annual Certification Fee;
- Independent verification of Annual Reports; and
- NCOS Carbon Neutral Administration and Trade Mark Sublicence
(The costs arising from emissions reductions and purchase of offsets will emerge as the process unfolds.)
The first stage will involve a Scoping exercise to produce a Project Fixed Cost Report so that the company will know what to expect.
The process appears to be more complicated that it actually is. Once the system is installed, Carbon Neutrality will become a core element of the operational routine, corporate identity and organisational culture, demonstrating the company’s leadership and vision.