Category Archives: 2020

What is the meaning of carbon-neutral, net-zero and climate-neutral?

There are several terms that describe ambitious climate action targets such as ‘carbon-neutral’, ‘net-zero’ and ‘climate-neutral’, and we are sometimes asked whether these terms can be used interchangeably.

Are the terms ‘carbon-neutral’, ‘net-zero’ and ‘climate-neutral’ the same or are they different?

Whether you are using ‘carbon-neutral’, ‘net-zero’, or ‘climate neutral’ in your goal, they all reflect the same intent to reduce or eliminate your organisation’s impact on the climate system.

In most cases, these terms are and can be used interchangeably, but there are differences in how they are defined and what they are taken to mean in terms of how goals are to be achieved. Let’s have a look at the definitions of the terms first.

How do you define carbon-neutral, net-zero emissions and climate-neutral?

According to the IPCC Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5°C, the definitions are as follows:

Definition of carbon neutrality

Carbon neutrality, or net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, is achieved when your organisation’s CO2 emissions are balanced globally by CO2 removal, typically over one year.

Definition of net-zero emissions

Net-zero emissions are achieved when your organisation’s emissions of all greenhouse gases (CO2-e) are balanced by greenhouse gas removals, typically over one year.

Definition of climate neutrality

Climate neutrality is achieved when organisational activities result in no net effect on the climate system. In climate-neutral claims, regional or local bio-geophysical effects have to be accounted for as well, such as radiative forcing (e.g. from aircraft condensation trails).

In summary, a carbon-neutral target relates to carbon dioxide only, whereas a ‘net-zero’ goal includes all greenhouse gases, and a ‘climate-neutral’ goals extends to other effects such as radiative forcing as well. For an explanation of the different greenhouse gases and radiative forcing, please read the appendix.

For most companies, carbon-neutral, net-zero and climate-neutral mean the same.

If an organisation releases mainly carbon dioxide, there is not much difference between using the term carbon-neutral, net-zero or climate-neutral.

Also, for most sectors, net-zero emissions and climate neutrality are the same due to the most important climate impact being the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. However, some sectors, such as aviation, should consider other climate impacts from non-CO2 radiative forcing as well.

Examples of carbon-neutral, net-zero and climate-neutral claims

You can see examples of how these targets can be turned into claims in the graphic below. The horizontal axis shows the potential scope of an organisation’s emissions, from CO2-only to climate neutral. The vertical axis shows the scope of activities that are covered, from site level through to the full value chain of an organisation.

WRI definitions net zero carbon neutral climate neutral

Figure 1: Scopes of carbon neutrality, net-zero and climate neutrality. Source: CDP and SBTi.

For examples of how organisations are phrasing their commitments, have a look at the following:

Apple, which is already carbon neutral for corporate emissions worldwide, committed to be 100% carbon neutral for its supply chain and products by 2030. They plan on ‘bringing their entire footprint to net zero 20 years sooner than IPCC targets’.

H&M, have committed to the following:

  • Climate positive by 2040 throughout H&M Group’s entire value chain.
  • Climate-neutral supply chain for our manufacturing and processing factories owned or subcontracted by our suppliers as well as our suppliers’ own suppliers (i.e. fabric mills, fibre processors, spinners or tanneries) by 2030.
  • Reduce scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 40% before 2030 (baseline 2017).
  • Reduce scope 3 GHG emissions from purchased raw materials, fabric production and garments by 59% per product before 2030 (baseline 2017).
  • Increase annual sourcing of renewable electricity from 95% in 2017 to 100% by 2030.

In Australia, Atlassian committed to:

  • running their operations on 100% renewable energy by 2025
  • setting science-based targets to limit warming to 1.5°C
  • achieve net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.

Reaching carbon neutrality/net-zero emissions/climate neutrality

In addition to what climate forces are included in targets, there are also different interpretations of how a particular target will be reached.

For example, most people understand a net-zero or a climate-neutral target to mean that a business puts significant emphasis on reducing or mitigating emissions in their own organisation, and will buy offsets to address residual emissions. For many, a carbon-neutral goal is seen as a strategy that mainly relies on the purchase of carbon offsets. In that sense, a carbon-neutral goal can be seen as an interim goal on the journey to net-zero emissions.

Please read the appendix for further information on offsets.

Carbon neutral under Climate Active

Climate Active is a Commonwealth Government program that allows Australian organisations to achieve certified carbon neutral status for their whole organisation, products/services, events and buildings/precincts. Climate Active is a rigorous program which ensures that your climate claim is credible. For more information on this program, please read our three-part blog series- Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

When going carbon neutral under Climate Active, all greenhouse gas emissions must be considered, including your organisation’s emissions, emissions in your value chain, and radiative forcing for flights. In addition, you need to develop a strategy on how to reduce emissions in your organisation, not just offset them.

When committing to be carbon neutral under Climate Active, you can safely assume that your carbon-neutral goal is synonymous with a climate-neutral or net-zero goal in terms of emissions coverage, as shown in the following graphic:

Climate Active definition of carbon neutrality

Figure 2: Climate Active carbon-neutral can be interpreted to be the same as net-zero and climate-neutral

Five factors you should consider when setting your climate target

To ensure that you are setting a credible target and to avoid reputational damage, you should be mindful of the following considerations when defining your carbon-neutral/net-zero/climate-neutral target:

  1. Define what greenhouse gases you include in your claim. Only CO2, or all relevant greenhouse gases?
  2. Define what entity is addressed in your claim. Only operational emissions, or also your supply chain? Will you make an event carbon neutral or one of your buildings or products/services?
  3. Define what emission sources form part of your claim. Will you include all carbon scopes or just a select few? Will you perform a materiality assessment across your emission sources to find out which you should include?’
  4. Define the strategy on how you intend to reach your target. Will you use carbon offsets? How much focus will you place on reducing emissions that fall under your operational control? How much focus will you put on reducing emissions in your value chain?
  5. Define the timeframe. Be mindful of setting the year you want to reach your goal at least in line with science. Consider setting yourself an interim carbon reduction target in line with science.

What comes after net-zero?

Reaching net-zero is an important achievement for any organisation, but it is only one step towards stabilising our climate. Beyond net-zero, we need to remove more greenhouse gases than we are adding to the atmosphere.

Ambitious climate change leaders are starting to turn their attention to balancing out their historical emissions, as well as their current and future emissions. They are also beginning to think about becoming ‘carbon-negative’ or ‘climate-positive’, which means that you are removing more GHG from the atmosphere than you are adding to it.

Appendix

What greenhouse gases are there?

When thinking of greenhouse gases, most people would list carbon dioxide as the main culprit. CO2 is indeed the most prevalent greenhouse gas, but according to the GHG Protocol, there are seven greenhouse gases (GHG) that organisations should report on:

  1. Carbon dioxide (CO2), which is mostly emitted by burning fossil fuels
  2. Methane (CH4), which is mostly emitted by growing ruminant animals such as sheep and cows, and from landfills
  3. Nitrous oxide (N2O), which is mostly emitted by growing crops and decomposing waste
  4. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which is mostly emitted by refrigeration equipment
  5. Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), which are mostly emitted by the aluminium industry
  6. Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), mostly emitted by switchgear
  7. Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), mostly emitted in computer manufacturing

Carbon dioxide is the most important greenhouse gas due to the vast quantities that are being emitted and due to its long life – hundreds of years – in the atmosphere. Another such ‘long-lived’ GHG is nitrous oxide, at more than 100 years.

Methane, for instance, exists in the atmosphere for a much shorter period, but has a much higher global warming potential than CO2, meaning that this gas causes more global warming per tonne than CO2.

Most fluorinated gases (PFCs, SF6, HFCs) have very high global warming potentials, so small atmospheric concentrations can have disproportionately large effects on global temperatures. They can also last in the atmosphere for thousands of years. And whereas carbon dioxide can be absorbed by growing plants, no living organism needs HFCs in any of their processes.

Most organisations are emitting carbon dioxide as their most significant greenhouse gas.

What is non-CO2 radiative forcing?

A recent study called ‘The contribution of global aviation to anthropogenic climate forcing for 2000 to 2018’ shows that global aviation warms Earth’s surface through both CO2 and net non-CO2 contributions.

Aviation contributions involve a range of atmospheric physical processes, including plume dynamics, chemical transformations, microphysics, radiation, and transport, which you can see in the image below. Interestingly, the study reveals that two-thirds of the climate impact from aviation is caused by emissions other than CO2.

Climate forcings from global aviation

Figure 3: How aviation affects the climate system

How can you reach carbon neutrality/net-zero/climate neutrality?

To reach the goal of the Paris Agreement, emissions must be reduced as close to zero as possible, as quickly as possible. By 2030, we need to have halved emissions.

Both CO2 and non-CO2 emissions can be reduced by decarbonising grid energy, building more sustainably, producing our goods and services more sustainably and transporting our goods more sustainably.

In addition, targeted non-CO2 mitigation measures can reduce nitrous oxide and methane emissions from agriculture, as well as methane emissions from the waste sector. HFCs in refrigeration equipment can also be replaced with less harmful substances.

Offsetting

Offsets are a useful way to reach a carbon-neutral target right away. One offset equals one tonne of greenhouse gas emissions that is avoided or reduced elsewhere. However, you need to make sure that you purchase highly credible carbon offsets that meet rigorous selection criteria.

Carbon offsets can be generated from projects that remove carbon from the atmosphere, such as planting trees, which need CO2 to grow.

Offsets can also be generated from activities that avoid emissions (compared to a hypothetical business-as-usual scenario), such as wind farm projects, or energy efficiency projects.

Which is more popular? Carbon neutral, net-zero or climate-neutral?

Analysing past submissions to CDP shows that most companies use the term ‘carbon-neutral’ over terms such as ‘climate-neutral’ or ‘net-zero’. However, the term ‘net-zero’ is becoming increasingly popular.

A search on Google trends over the past three years reveals that in Australia, the term ‘carbon-neutral’ is a more popular search term compared to ‘net-zero’, which in turn is more popular than the term ‘climate-neutral’.

Popularity of search terms on Google

Figure 4: Google search trends for ‘carbon-neutral’, ‘net-zero’ and ‘climate-neutral’[1]

[1] Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means there was not enough data for this term.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their climate action strategies and plans, and supporting the implementation and achievement of ambitious targets. If you need help to develop your Climate Action Strategy, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

Act now – Funding for high energy using businesses for energy-saving opportunities

Save money on energy by accessing grant money from the Commonwealth Government

A few months ago, we started working with NSW Dept of Planning Industry and Environment (DPIE) on their energy management coaching program for business. The program was well received, and we were able to help several of our clients with this opportunity.

Another great opportunity has opened. The Commonwealth Government is assisting businesses and community organisations to improve energy efficiency practices and technologies and better manage energy consumption to reduce their power bills through the Energy Efficient Communities Program – High Energy Using Business Grants.

This grant opportunity is for high energy using businesses with an annual net energy consumption of more than 0.05 PJ per year with up to $25,000 in grant money being made available.

How can you save money on energy?

Energy is wasted by utilising old technology and controls, leaving plant and equipment on when not in use, having sub-optimal temperature or process settings, or having reactive rather than preventative maintenance procedures. Often, energy waste occurs because there is insufficient time or resources to devote to manage energy effectively and plan for improvements.

How much money is the Government making available?

The grant amount will be up to 50% of eligible project costs. The minimum grant amount is $10,000, and the maximum grant amount is $25,000. You are responsible for the remaining eligible project expenditure plus any ineligible expenditure.

Are you eligible for this program?

Your business must have an ABN and have a net energy consumption of more than 0.05 PJ per year across all activities conducted by your business, and across all fuel types.

Your project must be supported at senior management level, and you need to be able to complete the project and meet the costs of the project not covered by grant funding. If you have ceased operating as a result of bushfires or COVID-19, you need to certify that you intend to resume operating as a business in the future.

Eligible projects include:

  • Replacing existing equipment with higher efficiency equipment
  • Installing or replacing a component to help an existing system run more efficiently
  • Energy audits
  • Investment feasibility studies for energy efficiency upgrades
  • Monitoring of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions

How does it work, and what will you need to do?

Once you have determined whether you are eligible for this support, you will need to email us. For the businesses we can support, we will help you complete an application form and liaise with the Commonwealth Government to secure your participation in the program.

We can help you across the full breadth of eligible projects, ranging from performing an energy audit, developing a feasibility study for an energy efficiency upgrade, helping you go to market for more energy-efficient equipment, or assisting you with monitoring your energy consumption and GHG emissions.

How to apply:

If you are a medium to a large manufacturer, this opportunity is for you. Please send an email to patrick@100percentrenewables.com.au or call Patrick at 0408 413 597. Please include the following details:

  1. Name and address of your business
  2. Describe your main business activity
  3. Your contact details
  4. How much you spend on energy in a year
  5. Two recent bills for electricity and gas, if applicable

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their climate change strategies and action plans, and supporting the implementation and achievement of ambitious targets. If you need help to develop your Climate Change Strategy, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

FAQs for becoming certified under Climate Active – Part 3

This article follows on from part 1 and part 2 of this series, in which we discussed general questions about carbon neutrality, scopes, the Climate Active Program and typical emissions sources in a Climate Active carbon footprint. In this blog post, we’ll address how to get certified carbon neutral under Climate Active and how much it costs to get certified under the Climate Active program.

How do I become certified under Climate Active?

To become certified carbon neutral under Climate Active, there are four basic steps.

  1. Determine your carbon footprint boundary
  2. Calculate your carbon footprint
  3. Get your carbon footprint verified
  4. Purchase carbon offsets and submit all documentation to the Commonwealth Government

What responsibilities do you have under Climate Active?

The following list shows your responsibilities under the Climate Active program. Please note that a registered consultant can help you with engaging a verifier, collecting all necessary data, completing your report and guiding you through the offset purchase process.

  • Sign Licence Agreement
  • Pay annual fee
  • Engage auditor/verifier
  • Complete report or provide all data to a Registered Consultant (please note that 100% Renewables is a Registered Consultant)
  • Purchase offsets
  • Sign the Public Disclosure Statement and submit the report
  • Submit web profile
  • Use the Climate Active trademark correctly

How much does it cost to become certified under Climate Active?

There are four fee components for getting certified under Climate Active

  • Engage a registered consultant to help you with the carbon inventory boundary and carbon footprint calculation
  • Engage a third-party validation provider to verify the work done by the registered consultant
  • Buy carbon offsets to achieve carbon neutrality
  • Pay Climate Active membership fees

NOTE:
Please contact us for an estimate of how much you will likely need to pay for these four fee components. We can provide you with a 1-page report.

Let’s have a look at these fees in detail.

How much do I have to pay a registered consultant?

We are a registered consultant under the Climate Active program. Our fees depend on the size and complexity of your organisation, on how much of the work you would like to do yourself, as well as on the emission sources that are included. It’s best to contact us for a quote. We will give you a fixed fee quote once we understand your circumstances a bit better.

How much do I have to pay a verifier?

Just like with registered consultant fees, verification costs also increase with the complexity and size of your organisation. It is likely that verification providers will charge a higher fee if you choose not to engage a registered consultant.

What is the difference between a registered consultant and a verifier?

A ‘registered consultant’ can be engaged to develop your carbon inventory boundary, carbon footprint and emission reduction strategy. They would liaise with you, your verifier and the Commonwealth. It is not mandatory, and you could do this step yourself, but it is highly recommended that you do engage a registered consultant as they have the skilled resources who have done the training and are experienced in this work.

A verifier is an independent third party who must be engaged to validate the carbon boundary and footprint. Your registered consultant cannot be the same person or business as the verifier so that there is no conflict of interest.

Could we do any of this work ourselves?

You can develop your own carbon footprint in accordance with the Climate Active rules if you have the in-house resources. In any case, you will need to engage a verifier. You might find that a verifier’s fees are then a little higher, as they may have to do more detailed checking than they would otherwise have to do.

How much do I have to pay for carbon offsets?

There is a wide range of costs, depending on the actual offset project, its location, accreditation standard and co-benefits, as well as the volume you are purchasing. The range can be from $1.50 to $28 per carbon offset.

It is usually helpful to run a workshop with your key stakeholders to work out your preferences and what is feasible given your emissions and budget.

How much are Climate Active membership fees?

Climate Active licence fees depend entirely on the size of your current footprint. There are four brackets which range from under 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions to over 80,000 tonnes. You will pay between $820 to $2,627 inc GST for the lowest bracket, a fee which will be charged annually. If your footprint is greater than 80,000 tonnes, you will need to pay $18,911 inc GST annually. These fees increase by 2.5% every year.

Do I have to pay all these fees every year?

No. You will have to pay yearly Climate Active membership and carbon offset fees to continue to be a carbon-neutral company. And you do need to calculate your carbon footprint annually as well, but this would be much less than the first time, and you should make sure that all the data collection and calculation processes are documented so that you can do the work in-house, or mainly in-house.

You will only need to pay the validation provider once every three years.

Does the size of my company matter?

Yes, absolutely. Because of the rigour and multi-step process that is involved with getting certified under Climate Active, there is a certain amount of cost involved with becoming carbon neutral under Climate Active.

To give you an example, the smallest bracket under Climate Active is between 0 and 2,000 tonnes of yearly emissions for organisations. 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions roughly equal the electricity consumption of 300 homes or the fuel consumption of 600 cars.

Say your organisation emitted 100 tonnes of carbon emissions yearly. Climate Active fees would be $820 inc GST, while registered consultant and verification costs can vary between $500 and $10,000 each, depending on who you engage. Carbon offset costs will range from $1,200 to $2,800, depending on the exact carbon credits you would like to purchase.

Do I have to calculate my carbon footprint every year?

Yes, you will have to calculate your carbon footprint every year. Your organisation might have changed, or your carbon footprint boundary, or the way you collect your data. Your business activity may also have changed, resulting in a higher or lower carbon footprint. You may have outsourced activities that were previously insourced. The carbon intensity of the grid may also have changed, resulting in potentially lower emissions.

It is essential to calculate your carbon footprint every year so you can see the effect of those changes. It will allow you to celebrate any success you’ve had with emissions reductions or getting closer to your goal. Alternatively, it will be a good opportunity to put a particular focus on emissions that might have increased over time or that you want to target with your next emission reductions projects.

We recommend using a consultant such as 100% Renewables to help with the yearly calculation, but if you have the skills set and availability inhouse, you can undertake this activity yourself.

If you are going through Climate Active certification for the first time, the whole process can seem a bit confusing. Engaging a registered consultant such as 100% Renewables will ensure a smooth and easy process. Please download our Climate Active brochure to find out more about how we can help you with your Climate Active certification.

100% Renewables’ staff are registered consultants with Climate Active. If you would like to achieve certification, or prepare for certification, please contact Barbara.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

 

FAQs for becoming certified under Climate Active – Part 2

One of our service offers is helping our clients determine their Climate Active carbon footprint and obtain Climate Active certification from the Commonwealth Government. Over the last few months, we’ve received many calls of organisations wanting to find out more about Climate Active accreditation, which resulted in the publication of  Part 1 of this series.

In Part 2 of this series, we will discuss more details about scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and what emission sources typically form part of a Climate Active carbon footprint. In the final blog post of this series, we will go into more details about how to get certified under Climate Active.

What are scope 1, scope 2 and scope 3 emissions?

Scope 1 emissions are emissions directly generated at your operations, such as burning natural gas or driving company cars, or refrigerant gases in your air conditioning equipment.

Scope 2 emissions are caused indirectly by consuming electricity. These emissions are generated outside your organisation (think coal-fired power station), but you are indirectly responsible for them.

Scope 3 emissions are also indirect emissions and happen upstream and downstream of your business. Examples are waste, air travel, the consumption of goods and services, contractor emissions, or leased assets.

Overview of GHG Protocol scopes and emissions across the value chain

Figure 1: Emission sources and scopes – graphic adjusted from the Corporate Value Chain Accounting and Reporting Standard

Supply chain emissions/Scope 3 categories

According to the GHG Protocol, specifically the Corporate Value Chain Accounting and Reporting Standard, there are 15 categories of supply chain/scope 3 emissions

Upstream supply chain emissions

  1. Purchased goods and services
  2. Capital goods
  3. Fuel- and energy-related activities (not included in scope 1 or scope 2)
  4. Upstream transportation and distribution
  5. Waste generated in your operations
  6. Business travel
  7. Employee commuting
  8. Upstream leased assets

Downstream supply chain emissions

  1. Downstream transportation and distribution
  2. Processing of sold products
  3. Use of sold products
  4. End-of-life treatment of sold products
  5. Downstream leased assets
  6. Franchises
  7. Investments

While this list looks a bit overwhelming, not all emission sources will be relevant. It’s important to prioritise your data collection efforts and focus on your most significant and relevant emission sources. You can ask questions such as whether you expect the emission source to be large relative to your scope 1 and scope 2 sources, or whether you have influence over the activity, or whether your stakeholders deem the emission source relevant.

The graphic below shows a graphical representation of a typical Climate Active boundary for emission sources.

Typical Climate Active boundary for emission sources

Figure 2: Typical Climate Active boundary for emission sources

What are the benefits of calculating supply chain/scope 3 emissions?

Just looking at your scope 1 and scope 2 emissions can give you a distorted picture of your environmental impact. Going through the list of upstream and downstream scope 3 emission sources is a great exercise to identify the carbon intensity of your value and supply chain. It encourages the quantification and reporting of emissions from various suppliers, which can help you drive greater emission reductions. It will also have a snowball effect by not only you focusing on reducing your direct emission sources, but also encouraging your suppliers to reduce theirs.

For many organisations scope 3 emissions can represent a much larger emission source than scope 1 and scope 2 emissions, and it is often eye-opening to calculate your carbon footprint across all three scopes. Also, the more scope 3 emission sources you include in your carbon inventory, the more credibility your statement of carbon neutrality will have.

Understanding scope 3 emissions will help you plan for potential future carbon regulations and can guide corporate procurement decisions and product design.

What emission sources are in a typical Climate Active footprint?

A Climate Active carbon footprint encompasses many emission sources across the three carbon accounting scopes. One of the first steps in getting certified under the Climate Active program is to determine your carbon footprint boundary.

You need to include all emissions that you have direct control or ownership of, such as natural gas, transport fuel usage by your vehicles, and electricity consumption in your operations. You also need to identify all emissions that are a consequence of your activities but are outside of your direct ownership or control, such as waste and contractors’ transport.

You must also include emissions from third party electricity use under your organisation’s control even if they are offsite, such as outsourced data centres, if these emissions are large relative to other emission sources.

You don’t need to include every single emission source, but you must assess all other direct and indirect emissions to determine whether they are ‘relevant’.

The relevancy test

Under Climate Active, particular emissions sources are relevant when any two of the following conditions are met:

  • The emissions are likely to be large relative to your electricity, stationary energy and fuel emissions
  • The emissions contribute to your GHG risk exposure, and including and addressing them will help you to avoid future costs related to energy and emissions
  • The emissions are deemed relevant by your key stakeholders (such as major customers, suppliers, investors or the wider community)
  • You have the potential to influence an emissions reduction
  • The emissions are from outsourced activities that were previously undertaken in-house, or from outsourced activities that are typically undertaken within the boundary for comparable organisations. Data centres and transport are typical examples of this.

If an emission source is relevant, you must include it in your carbon footprint boundary. You can exclude emissions that are not relevant, but you should disclose these in your public reporting documents.

You may find that many emission sources will be relevant, but you don’t have to collect data for all of them. For instance, if the associated emissions constitute less than 1% of the total carbon footprint, you can include the source in your boundary, but you don’t have to calculate its associated emissions.

There are many more questions to be answered, so stay tuned for Part 3 of this blog post series. If you are going through Climate Active certification for the first time, the whole process can seem a bit confusing. Engaging a registered consultant such as 100% Renewables will ensure a smooth and easy process. Please download our Climate Active brochure to find out more about how we can help you with your Climate Active certification.

100% Renewables’ staff are registered consultants with Climate Active. If you would like to achieve certification, or prepare for certification, please contact Barbara.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

 

FAQs for becoming certified under Climate Active – Part 1

One of our service offers is helping our clients determine their Climate Active carbon footprint and obtain Climate Active certification from the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

Over the last few months, we’ve received many calls of organisations wanting to find out more about Climate Active accreditation, so we thought it would be a good idea to publish a Frequently Asked Questions about Climate Active. In this article, we will discuss questions about the program in general. In the next blog post, we will go into more details about how to get certified under Climate Active.

What is carbon neutrality?

Carbon neutrality (or zero net emissions) is reached when all emissions in your defined carbon footprint boundary are zero. Ideally, your carbon inventory boundary will encompass as many emission sources as possible so that your claim for carbon neutrality is credible.

You can reach carbon neutrality by:

  • Reducing your emissions onsite through energy efficiency or by installing solar PV
  • Buying renewable energy
  • Buying carbon neutral products and services
  • Netting off the rest of your emissions through the purchase of carbon offsets

What is Climate Active?

Carbon neutrality can be self-declared, by calculating your carbon footprint, and offsetting it. However, it does not come with the same credibility as getting certified under a Government-backed program. This is where Climate Active comes in.

Climate Active is a highly trusted certification program, which is administered by the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. It was first launched in 2010 and was originally known as the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS).

Initially, it was only possible to achieve carbon-neutral certification for organisations, products and services, but in 2017 the certification options were expanded to events, buildings and precincts.

Organisations that achieve certification under this program are allowed to display the Climate Active trademark and logo, which showcases this achievement.

What are the benefits of going carbon neutral under Climate Active?

Becoming certified under Climate Active shows that you are taking a stand in terms of climate change and that you want to be a leadership organisation. It signals to your staff, suppliers, and customers that you have a purpose beyond making money. Climate Active certification provides your business with the opportunity to:

  • Demonstrate that your organisation is a leader by taking a stand on climate action
  • Align with Sustainable Development Goals
  • Differentiate your brand and increase customer recognition
  • Meet growing stakeholder expectations and enhance reputation
  • Attract and retain talented employees and build internal capacity
  • Connect better with the community
  • Generate revenue, increase customer loyalty
  • Save energy and operating costs
  • Future-proof your organisation by managing carbon risk, including supply-chain risk

Can I go carbon neutral outside of Climate Active?

If you are looking to achieve carbon neutrality in Australia, the most credible way is to get certified under Climate Active. However, it is not mandatory to get certified under this Standard. You can use the Standard for guidance in calculating and offsetting your carbon footprint and self-declare carbon neutrality. Alternatively, you can use the Standard to understand what your Climate Active carbon footprint would look like, in preparation for future certification under the Standard.

Should we go carbon neutral under Climate Active now or wait till our net zero target date?

If you have a long-term goal to reach net zero emissions, you can fast track this achievement by going carbon neutral under Climate Active right away.

Then as you reduce your carbon emissions by installing solar, or by being more efficient with your energy use, you will be able to reduce your carbon offset purchases. Done this way, you have set yourself an internal carbon price (equal to the price of your carbon offsets), which you can use to get sustainability projects over the line more easily.

Going carbon neutral right away will also signal to the market that you are not working towards a goal that is far away, but that you are taking immediate steps to address climate change.

What is the difference between NGER and Climate Active?

The National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) scheme, established by the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007 (NGER Act), is a national framework for reporting your greenhouse gas emissions, energy production and consumption. Reporting under NGER is mandatory for large energy users and carbon emitters, and only applies to scope 1 and scope 2 greenhouse gases (see the graphic below).

Overview of GHG Protocol scopes and emissions across the value chain

Figure 1: Emission sources and scopes – graphic adjusted from the Corporate Value Chain Accounting and Reporting Standard

On the other hand, Climate Active is a voluntary program, and it requires that you report your upstream and downstream scope 3 emissions, as well as scope 1 and scope 2.

There are many more questions to be answered, so stay tuned for part 2 of this blog post series which discusses more details about scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and what emission sources typically form part of a Climate Active carbon footprint.

If you are going through Climate Active certification for the first time, the whole process can seem a bit confusing. Engaging a registered consultant such as 100% Renewables will ensure a smooth and easy process. Please download our Climate Active brochure to find out more about how we can help you with your Climate Active certification.

100% Renewables’ staff are registered consultants with Climate Active. If you would like to achieve certification, or prepare for certification, please contact Barbara.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

 

7 key learnings when engaging the community online

Running virtual community engagement sessions

Before Covid-19, we mostly ran community climate action engagement sessions face-to-face in town halls, community halls and the like. This approach ended abruptly in March this year, but the community’s desire to see action on climate has not.

To respond to this situation, our business, our local government clients, as well as their communities, have rapidly upskilled in the use of virtual conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams. In addition, polling and other interactive software can be used to increase engagement, collaborate and capture communities’ needs and ideas for a clean energy future. We even started to use Zoom to deliver energy audits via online delivery, without us needing to be at the site physically.

Many of the benefits of delivering interactive community engagement online are obvious for us and our local government clients. No posters have to be created and printed. There are no venue hire or use costs, and staff do not have to work after hours multiple times. Travel time and costs are reduced, and there are no catering costs. All of this leads to a lower carbon footprint to deliver services, and workshops can be repeated many more times in a shorter timeframe.

However, to make virtual community climate action engagement workshops truly valuable as an alternative to the face-to-face town hall approach (or, in future, a complementary approach), the quality of the engagement needs to be as good online as it is face-to-face.

We have worked closely with our clients to make this happen. The purpose of this blog post is to share our seven key learnings of running virtual community engagement sessions.

Seven key learnings when engaging the community in online workshops

  1. Keep it short
  2. Define objectives and messaging
  3. Preparation is key
  4. Keep it interesting and engaging
  5. Do test runs
  6. Measure your success
  7. Capture learnings

 

1 Keep it short

With many people working full-time online and often from home, concentrating on one thing for more than 45 minutes to an hour is difficult. We have found it is best to keep community engagement sessions as short as possible.

For recent business and community engagement sessions for the City of Newcastle, we kept both sessions to one hour each. People were able to stay fully engaged, participate during their working day, and schedule the session among their other commitments.

2 Clearly define objectives and messaging

As with any workshop planning, you need to start with these two questions

  • Who are you communicating to?
  • What do you want to achieve from the engagement session?

If your Council is planning to use online engagement for climate action planning, the number of participants, language and structure will be different when communicating to businesses, as opposed to the general public. Ensuring your communication plan notes your target audiences and your overall objectives, and tailors how and what you will communicate is key to setting up for a successful online session.

3 Preparation is key

The following questions might help you plan your engagement session:

  • How will you market the event?
  • Will you survey the community ahead of the engagement session, and what will you ask them?
  • How will you handle registrations?
  • What content do you need to organise before the event?
  • How will you measure success?
  • Will you record the session, and do you need permission for this?
  • How will you follow up with participants?
  • Will you ask for feedback via your ‘Have your Say’ page, thank you emails, etc.?
  • Do you need to line up other people to help with the event management?
  • What will be the run sheet?
  • What notes will you and your speakers need to have during the session?

4 Keep it interesting and engaging throughout

‘Death by PowerPoint’ is definitely to be avoided. It is important to mix things up, to have different speakers, to use multimedia and most importantly, to give the audience a voice.

To give everyone a voice, if you have more than five people, use polling software to solicit input as well as discussion. Ask questions regularly during the session, displayed to participants, and have the community respond using their phones or their web browsers. Asking questions at specific junctions helps to ensure that energy levels are kept high.

If you have large groups, it can help to use ‘break-out room’ functions to get small groups to discuss topics and bring their insights, ideas or feedback to the wider group or to interactive polling or pinboards.

It also makes sense for the facilitator to monitor the chat so that issues and questions can be addressed in real time. An assistant can also perform this role, and raise key questions or themes to the facilitator for a response.

For sessions where only a select number of participants are present, such as with business engagement sessions, it works well to get participants to share their stories.

5 Do test runs

Practice makes perfect. You should run through the whole session as a small team to test whether it all aligns, how the energy flows during the session components, that all links and audio works, that links to videos, interactive polling and pinboards works, that break-out room functionality works, what the holding slide looks like, whether the timing works, handing over between speakers, testing the technical functionality – make sure everyone is familiar with it.

6 Measure your success

Define your measures of success upfront in your communication plan. Good measures of success are:

Before the engagement session:

  • Number of registrations

During the engagement session:

  • Number of people who participated
  • How many people stayed throughout the duration of the workshop as opposed to drop-outs.
  • Level of engagement

After the engagement session:

  • Social media chatter
  • Email feedback

7 Capture learnings

Every community engagement session yields new insights which can be used to make the next community engagement better than the previous. There is always room for improvement and for achieving excellence. What is important is that there is a debrief, in which learnings are shared amongst your team. Example of questions you can ask yourself are:

  • What worked, what didn’t?
  • Did the timing work?
  • Have the objectives of the engagement session been met?
  • Has the engagement delivered the desired results?
  • What information is being shared on social media post the event?
  • Have participants sent through any feedback emails?
  • What could we do better next time?

Case study – Community engagement for the new Climate Action Plan of the City of Newcastle

The City of Newcastle is currently updating its strategic approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and their city-wide move to a low carbon economy. This involves the revision and renewal of the existing 2020 Carbon and Water Management Action Plan, which has completed its term. The revised document will be published as the ‘2025 Climate Action Plan’.

The new Action Plan will account for Council’s achievements over the last decade, set new targets and outline innovative and sustainable programs. It will outline specific goals and priorities for the next five years and will provide a roadmap to achieve positive impacts such as:

  • Clean energy
  • Resource efficiency
  • Reducing emissions in the supply chain
  • Sustainable transport
  • Emissions targets
  • Vision for a low carbon city

As part of engaging the community in the development of this plan, 100% Renewables was hired to design and run two community engagement sessions, one for businesses, the other for the wider population. The purpose of the workshops was to gain the community’s opinions and ideas during the strategy development before the draft Plan goes to Public Exhibition later this year.

Business roundtable

Given that many of the City’s emissions come from industry, a business roundtable was organised with about 20 participants. The session started with Barbara, our Co-CEO, providing context around the development of the plan and by showing examples of best practice of global cities.

Then, Jonathan Wood from the NSW Government talked about the NSW’s Net Zero Plan, after which, Adam Clarke, Program Coordinator in the City Innovation and Sustainability, talked about council’s actions and what they have achieved thus far. Newcastle is the first council in NSW to achieve the status of being 100% renewable. Adam also showed an example of how the community can track towards net zero based on a model that we developed.

We also invited Hunter Water, MolyCop and the Uni of Newcastle to share their sustainability journey, which was received very well. After the formal presentations, we hosted a roundtable discussion to identify opportunities for how council and businesses can collaborate to achieve a net-zero emissions outcome.

Throughout the session, participants engaged by using the chat function, and by answering our polling questions.

Community information session

Ahead of the community information session, we asked the community to submit their top three topics and questions that they would like to see covered in the information session. More than 50 contributions were received which helped to shape the workshop.

On the day, around 80 people participated in the information session. Just like with the business roundtable, we had Jonathan talk about the NSW Net Zero Plan and Adam shared what council has achieved thus far. Regularly throughout the sessions, we polled the community to provide feedback and to get input on how council and the community can share the burden to achieve a net-zero emissions outcome.

At the end of the workshop, participants provided feedback via the chat function. Here are a couple of examples that was received:

  • “Thank you Barbara, Jonathan and Adam, really appreciate your time and City of Newcastle – excellent info session, looking forward to the next step in addressing the climate emergency – local govt plays a critical role in this, so it’s heartening to see CN taking a leadership role. “
  • “Thanks all, great presentation!”
  • “Thank you, a very interesting & new way of having a meeting!”

 

100% Renewables are experts in helping local governments develop their operational as well as their community climate change strategies and action plans. If you need help with community engagement, modelling emission reduction scenarios or establishing the carbon footprint of your community,  please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

Act now – Government-funded support for energy-saving opportunities

Save money on energy by accessing free Government support

2020 is not an easy year for businesses. Many have been affected by drought, bushfires or flooding, and with the current Covid-19 pandemic, businesses are suffering further.

One of the highest costs after wages can be your energy consumption. This is where the Government-funded energy coaching program comes in. The NSW Government is providing funding for experts to visit your sites, provide expert energy support and to develop recommendations for how you can save money.

We have been working with NSW Dept of Planning Industry and Environment (DPIE) on their energy management coaching program for business for a few months and would like to inform our followers of this great opportunity.

Depending on the size of your energy consumption, you may be eligible for up to $35,000 in support.

How can you save money on energy?

Energy is wasted by utilising old technology and controls, leaving plant and equipment on when not in use, having sub-optimal temperature or process settings, or having reactive rather than preventative maintenance procedures. Often, energy waste occurs because there is insufficient time or resources to devote to manage energy effectively and plan for improvements.

We can help you identify where you are unnecessarily spending money and may even be able to help you apply for more funding to upgrade or replace equipment.

How much money is the Government making available?

Support for medium energy users

If your business spends at least $30,000 on electricity and gas in a year, then you may be eligible for 20 hours of one-on-one coaching.

Support for high energy users

There may be even more support if your business spends more than $500,000 annually. In this case, we will benchmark the energy performance of your business and help define a project that can improve your energy management.

Please note that even if you are spending more than $500,000 per year, you can access also the 20 hours of one-on-one coaching.

Are you eligible for this program?

Your business must be in NSW, have an ABN and be registered for GST. For medium energy users, you need to prove that you spend more than $30,000 per year on energy.

For high energy users, you need to show that you spend more than $500,000 per year on energy. Your organisation must also be in the mining, agriculture, or selected manufacturing sub-sectors, or have an annual energy usage above 3,000 MWh in any manufacturing sub-sector.

How does it work, and what will you need to do?

The NSW Government has appointed 100% Renewables Pty Ltd to a panel to help with delivering this program. Once you have determined whether you are eligible for this support, you will need to email us. For the businesses we can support, we will help you complete an application form and liaise with the Department to secure your participation in the program. Once you have been approved, we will arrange for a suitable time to visit your site, identify savings opportunities and develop business cases to support implementation.

Is there any cost involved?

There is no cost involved for your business for the 20 hours of one-on-one coaching. Originally, businesses had to co-fund energy coaching. However, in the current Covid-19 environment, this fee has been removed.

For high energy users, DPIE will provide up to $35,000 for us to help you implement the project, with your business funding 20% of total costs.

How to apply:

If you think your business could benefit from free energy-saving advice, please send an email to patrick@100percentrenewables.com.au or call Patrick at 0408 413 597. Please include the following details:

  1. Name and address of your business
  2. Describe your main business activity
  3. Your contact details
  4. How much you spend on energy in a year
  5. Two recent bills for electricity and gas, if applicable

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their climate change strategies and action plans, and supporting the implementation and achievement of ambitious targets. If you need help to develop your Climate Change Strategy, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

 

Case Study – Nambucca Valley Council REAP

100% Renewables has helped many organisations to set ambitious renewable energy and carbon reduction goals and developed the strategies and action plans that will help them get there. While this is one key metric for our business, a greater measure of success is when we see clients implement projects that will take them towards their targets. In this blog post, we provide an update on how Nambucca Valley Council is progressing with implementing its Renewable Energy Action Plan (REAP).

Nambucca Valley Council

Located on the mid-north coast of NSW, Nambucca Valley Council is an excellent example of how resource-constrained councils can achieve ambitious renewable energy and emission reduction goals. The Nambucca Valley region has been demonstrating its commitment to sustainability, with more than 30% of residents and businesses having implemented solar PV and solar hot water on their buildings. In total there is around 10 MW of solar PV capacity installed across Nambucca Valley as of May 2020, according to the Australian Photovoltaic Institute (APVI).

Council had previously invested in several energy efficiency improvements, such as compact fluorescents for streetlights, smart controls for water & sewer system motors, and building lighting retrofits. For several years Council has been part of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s (DPIE) Sustainability Advantage (SA) Program.

Council’s pathway to develop a renewable energy plan

In 2017, Council’s 2027 Community Strategic Plan (CSP) was developed and adopted, which recommended that Council “provide community leadership in sustainable energy use”. In response to achieving the objectives of the CSP, Council established a Clean Energy Committee in August 2017. The committee recommended that Council formulate a Renewable Energy Action Plan, including a renewable energy target and an emissions reduction target, a recommendation which Council adopted in August 2018.

Alongside this, Council also joined the Cities Power Partnership (CPP) – a national program that brings together Australian towns and cities making the switch to clean energy. The key commitment highlighted here is that Council will take on a leadership position to help the community move towards a zero net carbon emissions future within the 2030 to 2050 timeframe.

In 2018, Nambucca Valley Council engaged 100% Renewables to prepare a Renewable Energy Action Plan (REAP) to set out how Council can transition to renewable stationary energy. The REAP was presented to Council and was adopted on the 24th of April 2019.

What did the REAP recommend?

The REAP drew on extensive analysis of Council’s emissions profile, stakeholder engagement and assessment and prioritisation of savings opportunities across Council’s facilities. Short, medium and long term action plans were developed. Based on energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities that were identified the following goals were recommended:

  • Reduce Council’s annual corporate emissions from 2017/18 levels by 60% by 2025
  • Reach 60% renewable energy by 2030

These goals are underpinned by a range of energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities including:

  • A total of 263 kW of solar PV opportunities across buildings, water and sewer sites
  • Street lighting LED upgrades of local and main roads which are expected to generate energy savings of 560 MWh (or 19% of Council’s electricity use)
  • Building LED lighting upgrades which are expected to generate energy savings of 48 MWh
  • Where equipment is being replaced, or new equipment is being installed, Council should ensure that sustainable purchasing processes are used, aligned to local government guidelines
  • Renewable energy power purchase agreement of 25% in the medium term, increasing in the long term

In addition, the REAP set out eleven financing options available to Council to fund energy efficiency and solar projects.

Exploration of funding sources for REAP

Alongside adoption of the REAP, Council engaged with  DPIE’s Sustainable Councils and Communities program (SCC) to ascertain the best way of financing the recommended actions of the Renewable Energy Action Plan.

We carried out an analysis of the eleven funding options against a range of Council’s criteria, and a Revolving Energy Fund (REF) was chosen to enable the REAP’s work program (outside water & sewer sites) to be implemented.

We developed a REF model showing how all projects could be implemented, with initial seed funding, to achieve a net positive cashflow every year. As part of another project funded via the SCC Program, we visited nearly 30 community facilities across the Nambucca Valley and developed business cases for solar PV and battery energy storage. These opportunities were also integrated into the REF.

How is Council progressing with the implementation of the REAP?

Council has already implemented some major initiatives since adopting the REAP. One of these opportunities is the upgrade of its local road streetlights to LED technology. This will help reduce Council’s electricity consumption by 12% per year.

With further support from the SCC Program, we were able to develop technical specifications and evaluate quotations for the implementation of a 50 kW rooftop solar PV system on its Macksville Administration Office, and Council will shortly implement solar PV at four additional sites. All sites are drawn from the short-term action plan in the REAP. It is anticipated that savings from these will help to continue to fund the REAP in coming years.

50 kW solar installation at Macksville Administration Office
Figure 1: 50 kW solar installation at Macksville Administration Office

Council was also successful in securing a grant that will enable it to install energy-efficient heat pumps and thermal blankets at the Macksville Memorial Aquatic Centre, and as part of this work, Council is assessing the scope for solar panels to be installed that would offset the additional energy that will be consumed by the heat pumps.

Council’s progression to regional leader

As a regional Council in NSW, resources are often constrained, especially for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and carbon reduction projects. However, Council is well on its way to achieve the recommendations of its adopted REAP, and to assist the community to become more energy and carbon efficient through the

  • leadership shown by Council itself,
  • underpinned by the community’s voice calling for more sustainable energy,
  • assisted by DPIE’s Sustainability Advantage and Sustainable Councils and Communities programs, and
  • supported by regional counterparts and the Cities Power Partnership community.

Nambucca Valley Council is one among many leading councils showing that achieving ambitious renewable energy and carbon reduction goals is both feasible and cost-effective. 100% Renewables is proud to have played a role in helping this leader through the development of their Renewable Energy Action Plan, Revolving Energy Fund and project implementation. We look forward to Nambucca Valley Council’s continued success in reaching its carbon and renewable energy targets in coming years.

pdf-iconCase study “Nambucca Valley Council Renewable Energy Action Plan
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100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their climate change strategies and action plans, and supporting the implementation and achievement of ambitious targets. If you need help to develop your Climate Change Strategy, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

5 key considerations for Climate Emergency Plans [includes video]

This blog post follows on from the one last week. I recently presented to the Maribyrnong community in Melbourne on emissions trends and barriers to the uptake of renewables, as well as considerations for the development of climate emergency plans. Today’s article discusses five key considerations.

You can also watch me talk about these five key considerations in this 5-min video:

About the Climate Emergency

The problem of rising GHG emissions

Global temperatures are rising and will continue to grow. Without globally significant efforts, greenhouse gas emissions may increase to over 100 billion tonnes annually by 2100, which is double current emissions. Even if all countries met their current pledges under the Paris Agreement, we are on track to exceed 1.5°C of warming (above pre-industrial temperatures), and to then increase by 3-5°C by 2100 — with additional warming beyond.

Projected temperature increase according to Climate Action Tracker

Figure 1: Projected temperature increase according to Climate Action Tracker

Rising global temperature causes catastrophic impacts, such as bushfires, droughts, floods, severe weather events, heat waves, rising sea levels and disruptions to our food supply.

By how much do we need to decrease emissions to have a ‘safe climate’?

According to climate science, a safe climate is one where global temperature increase stays less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures. We need to decrease our emissions by 45% from 2010 to 2030 and then to net-zero by mid-century to give us a 50/50 chance of meeting this target. This means that we need to almost halve our emissions by 2030.

Emitting greenhouse gases under a ‘current policies’ scenario means that climate risk will be catastrophic. Incremental change is not enough to get climate risk to an acceptable level. The only way this risk can be adequately managed is by rapid action.

Declaring a climate emergency

Declaring a climate emergency recognises that aiming for net-zero by 2050 may be too late. It means that your climate efforts need to

  • start now,
  • increase in scale rapidly and
  • continue for decades.

In 2016, Darebin City Council in Victoria was the first government in the world to declare a climate emergency. Now, as of the 1st of May, 95 Australian local governments have made the same declaration.

Following the declaration of a climate emergency, you need to develop a Climate Emergency Plan that sets out how you will help address the climate emergency.

5 key considerations for developing Climate Emergency Plans

Consideration #1: Net-zero ASAP

If your council declares a climate emergency, you should aim to achieve net-zero emissions for your LGA as soon as possible, for instance by 2030. You may even need to target negative emissions by mid-century by incorporating drawdown measures.

Drawdown is the projected point in time when the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stops increasing and begins to reduce. Drawdown can only be achieved by removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as through agriculture and forestry.

Consideration #2: Include adaptation and resilience in your plan

Climate change is not some distant impact in the future. It’s here, and it’s affecting us already. Your climate emergency plan needs to include actions on how your council and community can adapt to climate change, in addition to reducing your carbon emissions.

Adaptation for council operations means that built assets, such as roads, stormwater drains and buildings, may not be able to withstand flooding, fire and intense storms. It means that your zoning and planning decisions will probably need to change and that there may be an increased demand for council services, such as water supply or community support for the elderly. Your area may also experience food supply issues. You will need to have emergency response plans for severe weather events, heat waves, flooding and bushfires and need to risk-assess the impacts on your community and corporate services.

Council also needs to help the community be resilient in the face of climate change. Resilience is the ability to withstand and recover from climate change impacts. As an example, you could help the community grow their own food and to develop resilience plans that assist your residents and businesses in bouncing back after a disaster.

Consideration #3: Include the community

Emissions for the operations of a local government are much smaller than overall community emissions. It is not uncommon for council’s emissions to only constitute 1% of overall emissions in the LGA. It’s not enough to focus on how council itself can mitigate against and adapt to climate change; the plan also needs to incorporate the community.

Climate emergency plan for the community should be developed with the community, by involving them through surveys and workshops, and by forming environmental advisory committees.

Emissions for council operations are small in comparison to community emissions

Figure 2: Emissions for council operations are small in comparison to community emissions

Consideration #4: Everyone must act

While the Federal and State governments have the greatest levers to reduce carbon emissions, local governments are closest to their communities. They play an important role in both mitigation and adaptation.

However, a council cannot alone bear the weight of emissions reduction and adapting to climate change in a community. Householders, business and all levels of government must collaborate to achieve the goals.

Local governments are in a great position to work directly with the community and to help them with addressing climate change rapidly. Council should also lobby other local governments, the state and federal governments to be more ambitious in their climate change action.

Consideration #5: Solutions already exist – they just need to be implemented

It’s easy to defer action by claiming that in future, better solutions will exist. The fact is though, that we already have all the solutions we need to mitigate against climate change. They only need to be implemented and fast.

It’s crucial to extend the scope of a climate emergency plan to a wide area of impact categories. Key solution areas of climate emergency plans are energy efficiency, solar PV, grid decarbonisation, transport, waste, buying clean energy, consumption of goods and services, emerging technologies, governance and leadership, forestry and agriculture, climate risk, clean energy generation, stationary fuel switching, education, and planning & development.

Key solution areas of climate emergency plans

Figure 3: Key solution areas of climate emergency plans

Within those solution areas, the biggest levers to achieve emission reduction in the community are solar panels on as many roofs as possible, energy efficiency in homes and businesses, electrification of space and water heating, electric vehicles, and waste diversion from landfill.

100% Renewables are experts in developing climate action strategies, both for council operations, as well as for the community. If you need help to develop your Climate Change Strategy, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

Emissions, renewables and barriers to uptake [includes video]

I was recently asked to give a speech to the Maribyrnong community in Melbourne to help them with the development of a climate emergency plan. The session started with me presenting on energy-related emission trends and developing climate emergency plans, followed by a Q&A session.

In this blog post, I’ll write about energy-related emission trends, and I also recorded myself in a video. In the next article, I will go deeper into the development of climate emergency plans.

Global energy-related emission trends

In the last thirty years, energy-related carbon emissions have risen from a little over 20 Gt CO2-e to about 33 Gt CO2-e, which was mainly due to an increase in energy consumption by developing nations, as can be seen in Figure 1.

Energy-related CO2 emissions, 1990-2019

Figure 1: Energy-related CO2 emissions, 1990-2019[1]

Energy-related emissions by advanced economies is at nearly the same level today as in 1990. This is illustrated clearly when we look at emissions from electricity generation in advanced economies below in Figure 2. We can see here that while demand for electricity grew by approximately 300% over roughly 50 years, related carbon emissions have grown at a much slower rate. If fact, since the Global Financial Crisis, corresponding GHG emissions have rapidly decoupled.

Electricity generation and power sector CO2 emissions in advanced economies, 1971-2019

Figure 2: Electricity generation and power sector CO2 emissions in advanced economies, 1971-2019[2]

The decoupling of electricity and emissions in advanced economies is due in large part to the growth in renewables. In 2019, almost 70% of new global generation was from renewables compared to only 25% in 2001, as shown in Figure 3. In 2017, 20% of global power capacity was renewables, in 2019 it was one third!

 

Renewable share of annual power capacity expansion

Figure 3: Renewable share of annual power capacity expansion[3]

Emission trends in Australia

These global trends are repeated in Australia, though at a somewhat slower rate than in other leading economies. By 2040, of the 16 coal-fired plants in the National Electricity Market (NEM), nine are expected to be closed, with the remaining seven expected to close by around 2050.

Even without new policies and targets, the renewables share of electricity will grow, which means that together with increased energy efficiency, emissions from electricity generation should decrease by 2030 to almost 1990 levels, as shown in Figure 4.

Electricity emissions trend in Australia

Figure 4: Electricity emissions trend in Australia[4]

This trend is the right direction, but the rate is not fast enough to align with climate change science. So why are renewables not replacing coal sooner?

Barriers for the uptake of renewables in Australia

There are a range of barriers at the grid level as well as at consumer levels that influence the uptake of renewables.

Major barriers for renewables at a grid-level

Investment uncertainty

Due to the lack of clear federal policy and direction, there is great investment uncertainty for renewable energy project developers. If the business case for projects is uncertain, new projects stall. Some of this inaction is made up for by the positive actions by States & Territories, such as Victoria and the ACT, who have legislated higher renewables. NSW is also implementing new renewable energy zones to boost the growth of renewables and jobs in regional areas.

Connection and transmission issues

Many renewable energy projects are finding it hard to connect to the transmission or distribution network due to congestion issues. Marginal Loss Factors (MLF) also tend to negatively affect the business case of renewable energy projects, which are located further from the grid than ‘traditional’ coal-fired generators. So, for the same generation, coal-fired operators will receive more than renewable generators that are located further from the grid.

Lack of transmission infrastructure

Renewable generation areas are not the same as centralised coal-fired locations, so new transmission infrastructure is needed, which has to be financed and built.

Major barriers for renewables at a community level

Australia is the most successful country globally in terms of the proportion of households with solar, with more than 20% of homes generating their own clean energy. This is more than double the next highest penetration. However, despite this barriers remain to more widespread and rapid uptake of solar.

Information

Some people and businesses simply may not know that installing solar panels helps them to save money and so don’t evaluate the opportunity. They may also not have a trusted installer and don’t know how to go about finding a suitable supplier.

Capital cost

For many people, the capital outlay of solar panels is a significant barrier to reaping the financial benefits of free generation once the initial money has been spent.

Pricing signals

Energy pricing and metering do not yet adequately facilitate demand response at a household and small business level.

Priorities

People may know that installing solar panels is a good idea, but they may have other priorities that they attend to first.

Renters versus owners

It’s relatively simple for people and businesses that own their premises to install solar on their roofs. It is much harder for people and businesses who rent. We have developed fact sheets for North Sydney Council that help overcome this problem.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article, which is going to progress in to the development of Climate Emergency Plans that councils and communities can develop to accelerate their switch to renewables.

100% Renewables are experts in developing climate emergency plans, and supporting the implementation and achievement of ambitious targets. If you need help to develop your Climate Emergency Strategy, please contact Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

[1] IEA, Global CO2 emissions in 2019 – https://www.iea.org/articles/global-co2-emissions-in-2019

[2] IEA, Electricity generation and power sector CO2 emissions in advanced economies, 1971-2019, IEA, Paris

[3] IRENA – Renewable capacity highlights 2020

[4] The Commonwealth Government – Department of Industry – Australia’s emissions projections 2019