Tag Archives: carbon footprint

What you need to know about the new Climate Active electricity carbon accounting rules

Are your electricity-based emissions zero because your business is based in the Australian Capital Territory, which buys 100% renewable electricity? Can you deduct the export from your 150 kW system from your electricity emissions? Can you claim the renewable energy proportion of your grid supply? Is the electricity that is being generated from your 99 kW solar system emissions-free, even though you availed yourself of the STC discount? Are your emissions from electricity zero because you just entered into a 100% renewable energy Power Purchase Agreement? Can you deduct GreenPower® purchases from your electricity emissions?

While there are no clear frameworks (other than the GHG Protocol) on how to properly account for electricity-based emissions and their reductions in some countries, we are in a much better position in Australia.

Here, we have the mandatory Renewable Energy Target, which provides the framework for Renewable Energy Certificate creation, and we have a mandatory (NGER) and voluntary (Climate Active) reporting system for emissions.

Climate Active has recently released guidance on how to account for electricity-based emissions and reduction measures, allowing you to get recognition for your renewable energy projects.

The Clean Energy Regulator, which administers the NGER system, is also consulting on the design of a new Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency report (CERT). If you are a large emitter reporting under NGER, you will be able to show how you are meeting your emissions reduction goals.

Let’s have a look at the new Climate Active rules for accounting for electricity emissions and reduction measures.

New Climate Active rules for carbon accounting for electricity

The Climate Active team recently released a set of rules which are based on best-practice principles in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Scope 2 Guidance and stakeholder consultation. The new framework applies to annual Climate Active reports from calendar year 2021 and financial year 2020/21 onwards.

One of the most significant changes is that you now need to report both your location and market-based electricity emissions, which is called ‘dual reporting’. If you are reporting under CDP, you will be familiar with this concept.

You must use dual reporting for Climate Active organisation, simple service, building, precinct and event certifications, while you can choose to use a dual reporting method for  product and complex service certifications. You can select either the location- or market-based approach as the primary electricity accounting method, which will determine the number of offsets required to go carbon neutral under Climate Active.

Location- and market-based approach to accounting for electricity emissions

In carbon accounting, one of the most important and largest sources of emissions is the consumption of electricity, which is accounted for under scope 2.

According to the Scope 2 Guidance of the GHG Protocol, there are two distinct methods for scope 2 accounting, which are both useful for different purposes. The methods used to calculate and report scope 2 emissions impact how a company assesses its performance and what mitigation actions are incentivised. When used together, they can provide a fuller documentation and assessment of risks, opportunities and changes to emissions from electricity consumption over time.

The location-based method

This method reflects the average emissions intensity of the grid, based on your company’s location. This method allows you to calculate emissions that you are physically emitting to the atmosphere. So, if your business is located in the ACT, which is 100% renewable, you will still have to apply the NSW grid’s emissions factor, as you are getting your electricity from NSW power plants. The location-based method does not allow for any claims of renewable electricity from grid-imported electricity use.

The only way you can reduce electricity emissions using the location-based method is to site your business in an area where the electricity from the grid has lower emissions (e.g. Tasmania, or New Zealand), to reduce your electricity consumption, or to install behind-the-meter renewable energy systems. Buying renewables will not be recognised under the location-based method.

The market-based method

The market-based method reflects the emissions that you are responsible for from the electricity you purchase, which may be different from the electricity that is generated locally. This method derives emission factors from contractual instruments, such as the purchase of GreenPower®, RECs/LGCs, or bundled renewable energy power purchase agreements. It uses a ‘residual mix factor’ (RMF) to allow for unique claims on the zero-emissions attribute of renewables without double-counting.

Under the market-based approach, you can reduce your electricity-based emissions by being more energy-efficient, by installing onsite renewables and shifting your electricity supply to renewables.

You can choose which method total – market-based, location-based or both—to use for performance tracking and must disclose this in your inventory.

The following sections go through the details of how to treat onsite generation, the export of renewables, the treatment of renewable energy certificates, the purchase of renewables and carbon-neutral electricity.

Treatment of Renewable Energy Certificates

Renewable Energy Certificates consist of Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs), from solar PV systems greater than 100 kW, and Small Technology Certificates (STCs), from small-scale solar PV systems of less than 100 kW.

One renewable energy certificate equates 1 MWh of renewable energy generation. You can find more information about these certificates in this blog post.

You can use LGCs to reduce reported electricity emissions under the market-based method, but not STCs.

Market-based method

  • You can use LGCs as a unique claim on the zero-emissions attribute of renewable generation within a Climate Active carbon account (meaning you can deduct retired LGCs from your electricity emissions).
  • You can only use LGCs to account for electricity-based emissions, e.g. direct grid-based electricity (scope 2) or indirect emissions sources (scope 3) consisting entirely of electricity, such as third-party operated data centres, or streetlighting.
  • You must retire LGCs on the Renewable Energy Certificate Registry, with evidence of their retirement, including serial numbers, provided to Climate Active.
  • You should directly retire LGCs in the name of the claimant, for example, ‘Retired on behalf of Company X for 2020 Climate Active carbon-neutral claim’.
  • You may retire LGCs indirectly on behalf of the claimant, for example, by GreenPower®. You should provide serial numbers to Climate Active.
  • In instances where you cannot provide discrete LGC serial numbers, Climate Active may consider accepting other evidence that LGCs have been retired, for example, certificates provided by an electricity generator or electricity bills listing accredited GreenPower® usage.
  • LGCs must have an issuance date of less than 36 months from the end of the reporting year; for example, a calendar year 2020 report (ending 31 December 2020) could use LGCs with an issuance date of no earlier than 1 January 2018.
  • You cannot use STCs to make renewable energy emission reduction claims for grid imported electricity consumption.

Location-based method

  • Neither LGCs nor STCs can be used to make renewable energy emission reduction claims for grid-imported electricity consumption.

Renewable Energy Target

The Renewable Energy Target (RET) is a legislated scheme designed to reduce emissions from the electricity sector and incentivise additional electricity generation from sustainable and renewable sources. The RET consists of two different schemes: the large-scale renewable energy target (LRET) and the small-scale renewable energy scheme (SRES). Your can account for your investments in the LRET under the market-based method.

Market-based method

  • The percentage of electricity consumption attributable to the LRET, as reflected by the Renewable Power Percentage, for a given reporting year, is assigned an emission factor of zero in the carbon account. For example, a business using a total of 1,000 MWh of electricity in 2019, lists 186 MWh as zero emissions (1,000*18.6% (RPP for 2019)).
  • This deduction is not available to you if you are exempt from the LRET (i.e. Emissions Intensive Trade Exposed Industries).

Location-based method

  • There is no separate accounting treatment for the LRET as it is already included in the state emissions factors.

GreenPower®

GreenPower® is an easy way to switch your electricity supply to renewables that are additional to the Renewable Energy Target. If you need more information on how GreenPower® works, please read the GreenPower Guide for Businesses we developed for the GreenPower® program.

You can also obtain accredited GreenPower® under your renewable energy PPA. For more information, please read our GreenPower® PPA blog post.

You can account for your GreenPower® purchases using the market-based method.

Market-based method

  • Accredited GreenPower® usage is assigned an emission factor of zero in your carbon account, regardless of the state in which you are using GreenPower®.
  • GreenPower® use in excess of what is required to account for your direct electricity usage may be used to reduce your other indirect entirely electricity-based emissions (e.g., data centre usage, streetlighting).
  • GreenPower® use in excess to what is required to account for your entire electricity usage cannot be used to offset other non-electricity emission sources in your carbon account (such as, for instance, emissions from your fleet).

Location-based method

  • You cannot use GreenPower® purchases to make zero-emission electricity claims under the location-based method.

Renewable energy Power Purchase Agreements

Renewable energy Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) are a great way to cost-effectively increase the renewables proportion of your electricity supply. They also allow you to switch your entire electricity to 100% renewables, thus bringing your electricity-based emissions to zero. However, just like with LGCs described above, you need to retire LGCs associated with your PPA to be able to claim the emissions reduction and renewable energy generation.

Market-based method

  • You need to retire LGCs above any mandatory LRET obligations to claim zero emissions for your electricity consumption.
  • Where you cannot be listed on the REC Registry, you need to supply other evidence to the Climate Active team from the retiring body, such as certificates from the electricity provider.
  • You cannot use supplier-specific emissions factors.

Location-based method

  • You cannot use retired LGCs, including under PPAs, to make zero-emissions claims under the location-based method.

Local renewable energy generation

One of the best ways to reduce electricity consumption other than reducing your consumption is to install solar panels or other renewable energy generation systems where your circumstances allow it. If you directly consume electricity from a renewable energy system, it is called a ‘behind the meter’ system.

You can account for behind-the-meter use of renewable generation systems under both the location- and the market-based method. However, you can only account for exported electricity under the market-based method.

Market-based method

  • Behind-the-meter use of electricity from large scale systems may be reported and assigned an emissions factor of zero in your carbon account, only if you retire any LGCs associated with that generation or not create any. An example of when you don’t create any LGCs is when you install a large-scale system, and you choose not to generate any LGCs.
  • If you are creating and selling LGCs, you must treat behind-the-meter usage from large-scale systems the same as electricity consumption from the grid (that is, treated as residual electricity).
  • You may report and assign behind-the-meter use of electricity from small-scale systems an emissions factor of zero in your carbon account, regardless of whether you have created, transferred or sold any STCs associated with this generation.
  • You need to convert exported electricity from renewable systems into an emissions reduction equivalent and net from gross emissions. You can achieve this by multiplying exported electricity by the national scope 2 electricity factor only (to account for transmission losses) for the year of the generation. You must retire any LGCs or not create any. You don’t need to retire any STCs associated with this generation.

Location-based method

  • You may report behind-the-meter use of electricity from large scale systems as zero emissions in your carbon account, provided you retired any LGCs associated with that generation or did not create any.
  • If you create and sell LGCs, you must treat behind-the-meter use from large scale systems the same as electricity consumption from the grid.
  • You may report behind-the-meter use of electricity from small-scale systems as zero emissions in your carbon account, regardless of whether you have created, transferred or sold any STCs associated with this generation.
  • Under the location-based method, you can’t use exported electricity as a reduction in electricity emissions.

Jurisdictional renewable energy targets

Market-based method

  • If you are operating in a jurisdiction where the government retires LGCs (such as, for instance, in the ACT), you can claim the corresponding percentage of emissions impact on your electricity consumption as zero, provided that the LGCs are retired on behalf of the jurisdictions’ citizens and the claim is auditable for the given reporting year.

Location-based method

  • There is no separate accounting treatment, as the emissions benefit is already included in the state factors used to convert electricity consumption into its emissions equivalent.

Climate Active certified carbon-neutral electricity

Market-based method

  • You can convert Climate Active certified carbon neutral electricity into its emissions equivalent and deduct it from the gross carbon account offset liability.
  • You can convert by applying the relevant emission factor for the particular brand of carbon-neutral power.

Location-based method

  • Same rules

Grid-imported (residual) electricity

Market-based method

  • You need to convert electricity usage not matched by zero-emissions electricity attribute claims (residual electricity) into t CO2-e using the RMF according to the below formula: RMF = National EF / (1 – RPP) RMF (residual mix factor), EF (emission factor), RPP (renewable power percentage), e.g. in 2019, the RMF equals: = 0.88 (national scope 2 and 3 EF)/ 0.814 (18.6% RPP) = 1.08 Financial year reports will use the average of the RMF across the relevant calendar years, reflecting the RPP of each 6-month period. While this sounds complicated, Climate Active have electricity calculators that help with calculating the associated emissions.

Location-based method

  • You need to convert electricity use in each state of your operations into t CO2-e using the relevant state NGA factor (either scope 2 and scope 3; or the full fuel cycle factor).
  • The emissions factor used should correspond to the reporting year where possible, i.e. a 2018 reporting year should use the 2018 NGA factors.

If you are interested in the development of a Climate Active carbon inventory for your organisation that takes into account scope 3 emissions and properly accounts for electricity-based emissions/reductions, please consider contacting us. Two of our staff are registered consultants with Climate Active, and we can guide you through the process of achieving certification or developing a Climate Active-ready carbon inventory. If you would like more information, please download our Climate Active brochure, or 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.

NSW as a renewables superpower and what must be done to reach net-zero emissions [with video]

Last week, I presented on ‘NSW as a Renewables Superpower and What Must Be Done To Achieve Zero Carbon Emissions’ at the 13th Energy Storage World Forum Virtual Conference.

You can watch a 15-min-video of my presentation here, which includes information about the newly released New South Wales Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap:

What is Australia’s emissions trend?

At the moment, Australia is emitting roughly 530 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually. Please see below Figure 1, which shows Australia’s historical emissions. To put this into perspective, it means that every year, each Australian resident is responsible for about 21 tonnes of emissions. This is roughly four times higher than the global average of about 5 tonnes.

Australia's historical emissions (Source: Quarterly Update of Australia's National Greenhouse Gas Inventory | National inventory total, year to June 2000 to year to March 2020)
Figure 1: Australia’s historical emissions (Source: Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory | National inventory total, year to June 2000 to year to March 2020)

What is interesting to see in this graph is that our emissions in 2020 are about on the same level as they were in 2000. Is this good enough? Let us have a look at global emissions.

Where are we now and where do we need to be?

Despite the increased focus on climate change in the last few years and the milestone Paris Agreement, global greenhouse gas emissions have not reduced, and the emissions gap between where we should be and where we are is larger than ever. The main driver of long-term warming is the total cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases over time. In the past decades, greenhouse gas emissions have been increasing.

Due to all historical and current carbon emissions, global temperatures have already risen by about 1°C from pre-industrial levels. Continuing with business as usual could result in a temperature increase of over 4°C.

If all countries achieved their Paris Agreement targets, it could limit warming to roughly 3°C. However, to limit warming to 1.5°C, current Paris pledges made by countries are not enough.

Carbon emissions need to decline at a much steeper rate in the near future and reach net-zero by mid-century to have a chance of keeping warming to below 1.5°C. Please see Figure 2 below.

Global warming projections
Figure 2: Global warming projections

Australia has committed to a 26-28% GHG emission reduction by 2030 from 2005 levels. This is not ambitious enough for a 1.5-degree pathway. Also, as a country, we have not committed to net-zero emissions by mid-century, which is where we need to be. However, all states and territories have committed to this target, which effectively means that Australia has a net-zero target.

With most of Australia’s major trading partners having now committed to a net-zero emissions target by around mid-century, and with a new US President-elect who seems likely to increase America’s climate ambitions, perhaps the Australian Government will eventually follow suit. We’ve heard in recent days that the Government may abandon plans to use Kyoto carryover credits to meet its targets, which is a good start if true.

Australia's commitments, 100% Renewables
Figure 3: Australia’s commitments, 100% Renewables

We will see what happens with our national emissions targets in time.

Let’s have a look at Australia’s emissions projection. Under 2019 projections, we will end up with 500m tonnes of carbon emissions in 2030, some 30m lower than our current levels. Under our Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement, we need to reach a 26-28% reduction by 2030. This is not anywhere near where we need to be to keep temperature increase to safe levels.

Australia's emissions projection (Source: Australia's emissions projections 2019, Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources)
Figure 4: Australia’s emissions projection (Source: Australia’s emissions projections 2019, Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources)

However, the good news is that even without policies and targets, the renewables share of electricity will grow, because we have reached the point where renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels.

For many years, we have not done enough. Now, we need to catch up on the years in which we have procrastinated. And rapidly.

NSW as the new renewables superpower

In March this year, the NSW Government released the Net Zero Plan Stage 1 and the Electricity Strategy. NSW officially committed to a 35% reduction in emissions by 2030 and to reaching net-zero by 2050. The focus of the plan is on emissions reduction across key sectors, such as energy, transport, waste, agriculture, mining and carbon finance. The net-zero plan and the electricity strategy will create thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars in new generation and transmission investment in NSW, mostly in regional areas.

A few days ago, the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap was released, which will establish NSW as a renewable superpower through a coordinated approach to transmission, generation and storage of renewable energy in the State in the coming decades.

NSW's plan to achieve net-zero by 2050
Figure 5: NSW’s plan to achieve net-zero by 2050

Over the next 15 years, four of the five NSW coal power stations are expected to close. These four power stations account for three-quarters of NSW’s electricity supply! As you can see in Figure 6, the closed power plants will leave a gap in electricity generation.

The exciting news is that this gap will be filled by renewable energy generation. NSW will develop several Renewable Energy Zones, enabled by a Transmission Development Scheme, which will have a combination of solar, wind and pumped hydro generation. The infrastructure needed to replace power stations has long lead times, and the Central-West Orana is the first pilot REZ that is currently being developed. Central-West Orana, New England and the South West Renewable Energy Zones will contribute 12 Gigawatts of generating capacity and 3 Gigawatts of firm capacity by 2030, and even more over the long term.

Scheduled coal plant closures and Renewable Energy Zones (Source: AEMO, 2020 Integrated System Plan, July 2020)
Figure 6: Scheduled coal plant closures and Renewable Energy Zones (Source: AEMO, 2020 Integrated System Plan, July 2020)

These renewable energy zones will contribute greatly to grid decarbonisation, which means that over time, the electricity we consume will increasingly come from renewables rather than fossil fuels.

However, this transition will take time. And we can’t rely on governments doing all the work. Everyone needs to act, countries, companies and communities. So, what can you do in your organisation and as an individual to track towards zero emissions?

To answer this question, we first need to take a look at where our emissions are coming from.

Where do our emissions come from?

The biggest part of our emissions is electricity generation, which at the moment comes mostly from fossil fuel power plants. The next most significant contribution is stationary energy consumption, such as burning natural gas. The next highest contributor is transport, which is driving cars, moving goods in trucks, and flying, for example.

Emissions contribution by sector (Source: Quarterly Update of Australia's National Greenhouse Gas Inventory | Figures and Tables for the March Quarter 2020 )
Figure 7: Emissions contribution by sector (Source: Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory | Figures and Tables for the March Quarter 2020 )

Fugitive emissions are mostly methane emissions lost to the atmosphere during coal and gas mining activities and transporting gas. Industrial processes and product use emissions come from industrial activities which are not related to energy, such as cement & lime, metal and chemicals production, as well as from hydrofluorocarbons used as refrigerant gases and other synthetic gases.

Agriculture emissions come from fertiliser usage and growing animals such as sheep and cows. Bill Gates has said that if cattle were a country, they would sit behind China and the US in greenhouse gas emissions.

Waste emissions come mainly from the decomposition of waste in landfill, whereas LULUCF emissions are land-use and land-use change and forestry. In Australia, these emissions are negative, as they are a carbon sink.

What can we do to reduce our emissions to net-zero?

The emissions reduction task is a combination of a small number of significant measures that are happening to reduce the emissions of primary inputs to goods and services, and the actions that individual businesses and consumers can take to reduce their carbon footprint.

There is some heavy lifting that happens independent of consumers.

Heavy lifting that happens independent of consumers
Figure 8: Heavy lifting that happens independent of consumers

Grid decarbonisation

The most prominent example is grid decarbonisation or the ‘greening of the grid’. Coal-fired power plants are being replaced with renewable energy in all Australian states. Just this week, Victoria announced $540million in the budget to develop six renewable energy zones, and Tasmania wants to be 200% renewable by 2040.

Green hydrogen

There is also a big push for green hydrogen in nearly every State, which could potentially replace natural gas over time. The NSW Net Zero Plan is aiming for hydrogen to supply up to 10% of current natural gas demand by 2030.

Biomethane

Biomethane is gas being produced from renewable sources, rather than extracting natural gas.

Reforestation

Reforestation means planting more trees, which reduces carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Green steel

Green steel is made by using hydrogen, rather than coal, to strip the oxygen out of iron ore. The by-product is water rather than carbon dioxide. At this time, ThyssenKrupp plans to build a 1.2 million tonne per annum green steel plant in Germany by 2025.

Methane reduction

Cows produce a lot of methane, which can potentially be reduced by up to 80% by introducing seaweed into their feed, based on research being led by CSIRO.

Waste management

One of the ways we can deal with the waste problem is to treat the waste as a resource in waste-to-energy plants.

Sequestration of fugitive emissions

Sequestration of emissions resulting from the extraction and production of LNG is a significant challenge but one which will hopefully improve in coming years.

Most businesses and consumers will benefit from these upstream and downstream changes in terms of their carbon footprint. But rather than rely solely on these changes, some of which may take decades, business and individuals can act themselves to reduce their carbon footprint faster.

What emission sources can you influence?

Every day, you are consuming electricity, and most of you probably use natural gas as well, whether for industrial process heating, air conditioning or cooking. Everyone needs to get from point A to B. Sometimes, we use our cars, sometimes we fly. And we transport our goods using trucks, ships and trains. Everyone consumes goods and services daily, and our consumer choices influence emissions. And we all produce waste.

So how can we reduce our emissions to net-zero?

Achieving zero carbon emissions from a consumer’s perspective

  • Be more energy efficient – we can we more energy efficient, for instance by turning off equipment when it’s not needed, or by replacing old, inefficient equipment, with new, energy-efficient ones.
  • Install solar – where we can, we should install solar. It reduces our emissions immediately, and it is cost-effective. And in future, battery storage will be more cost-effective as well, which will allow us to scale up our solar ambition and take more control over our energy supply and risk.
  • Buy renewable energy – we can choose where the electricity we are buying comes from. We can consciously choose to purchase renewable energy. Bigger organisations can do that via Power Purchase Agreements; smaller consumers can elect to procure GreenPower®.
  • Sustainable transport – we can buy efficient, low- and zero-emissions vehicles and implement EV infrastructure such as charging points. Even bigger trucks can be electrified, which you can see in these pictures here. Using video conferencing also helps to reduce emissions.
  • Less waste – we can reduce our emissions from waste simply by consuming less, by recycling more and by fostering a circular economy, in which the waste of one organisation can be a resource for another business.
  • Sustainable procurement – we can make more sustainable buying decisions and purchase carbon-neutral products, or products that were made from renewable sources, that can be recycled, or composted.
  • Go carbon neutral – on our journey to net-zero, we can invest in carbon offsets to finance projects that support emissions reduction or sequestration.
  • Leadership and governance – and perhaps most importantly, we can show leadership. We can implement all the solutions I’ve talked about earlier and then share our stories with others so that they can learn from our experience. Don’t’ be a follower, be a leader or at least a fast follower.

A challenge for you

I’d like to challenge you today to rethink your carbon footprint. Both your own and the one of the organisation you work for.

Here is my challenge to you:

  1. Switch your electricity supply to 100% renewable energy if you can
  2. Walk and cycle more. It will be good for your health!
  3. Consider a more sustainable diet

 

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.

Net-zero goals – how to determine what’s in and what’s out? [with video]

Your business is considering a net-zero commitment or maybe you have just committed to net-zero emissions – so what’s next? An important part of making this commitment or of developing a net zero plan is to work out what this goal will encompass. To ensure that you are setting a credible target and to avoid reputational damage, you should be very clear in your communications what boundary your net-zero goal relates to.

A net-zero goal can relate to your operational emissions only, or it can extend to your supply chain. It could relate to your whole organisation, or only to part of it.

In this article, we will focus on whether you should include scope 3 emission sources.

You can also watch the video of my presentation on this topic here:

Should you include scope 3 emission sources?

If you are reporting under compliance-based schemes such as the NGER legislation in Australia, you will probably be aware of your scope 1 and scope 2 carbon footprint.

Please watch the video below for an explainer of scope 1, 2 and scope 3 emission sources.

However, there are many more emission sources that happen upstream and downstream in your supply chain. For many companies, more than 80% of their emissions occur outside of their own operations[1]. So, if you focus your net-zero efforts on your scope 1 and scope 2 carbon footprint only, you will neglect to address the many emission sources you have in your value chain.

Please watch the video below for an explainer of the 15 categories of scope 3 emissions.

Determining which scope 3 emission sources are relevant for you

Not all of the 15 categories of scope 3 emission sources will be relevant for you. The following is a good checklist, which we have adapted from the Greenhouse Gas Protocol:

  1. Is the emission source large relative to your scope 1 and scope 2 emissions?
  2. Does the emission source contribute to your greenhouse gas risk exposure?
  3. Do key stakeholders such as customers or investors deem the emission source critical?
  4. Could you reduce the associated emissions or at least influence emission reduction?

Steps you could take to determine what’s in and out of your scope

The following is a list of suggestions for how you could determine what’s in and out of your net-zero goal:

  1. Have a meeting with key organisational stakeholders to workshop all your emission sources
  2. Discuss whether these emission sources are relevant for your organisation as per the above checklist
  3. If the emission source is relevant, you could consider including it in your net-zero goal

How you could workshop your emission sources

To ensure that no significant scope 3 emissions sources are lost, we recommend that you go through all 15 categories. Here is how we do it at 100% Renewables:

We usually start by showing emissions sources associated with your organisation’s activities. In most cases, this consists of scope 1 and scope 2 emission sources such as the burning of fossil fuel onsite, or the consumption of electricity. Where you operate air conditioning or refrigeration equipment, fugitive emissions from hydrofluorocarbons should also be taken into account.

Scope 1 and scope 2 emissions sources
Figure 1 – Scope 1 and scope 2 emissions sources

Then, we show you upstream and downstream emissions in your value chain, such as shown below.

Figure 2 – Full value chain emissions sources

Usually, category 1 ‘Purchased goods and services’ is a large emissions source – just ask your Finance department for a General Ledger extract of your expenses and you’ll see what we mean.

It is considered best practice to include upstream fuel and energy, and you should assess whether emissions from outsourced transportation and distribution, such as couriers are relevant to you. Every organisation is generating waste, so that should be included as well. Business travel encompasses activities such as air travel and accommodation. Staff commuting is also an important emissions source, particularly if people mostly use cars to get to your place of work.

Where your products generate emissions when they are being used (say you were selling vacuum cleaners), then you should consider the relevance of this emission source as well. If you have investments in joint ventures, subsidiaries or similar that are not accounted for under scope 1 and 2, you could consider also including them in your scope 3 carbon footprint.

[1] * State of Green Business 2013, GreenBiz

If you need help with your net-zero goal, defining the scope or planning to reach net-zero, 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.

Bridging the ambition gap [with video]

This blog post is following on from various previous articles. The first is ‘Science-based targets in a nutshell’, the second is ‘Ambitious commitments by universities’, and the third is ‘Ambitious commitments by state and local governments’ in Australia. While it is great to see so many ambitious commitments by climate change leaders, more businesses need to follow this lead and help bridge the emissions gap and act on climate change.

Despite the increased focus on climate change in the last few years and the milestone Paris Agreement, global greenhouse gas emissions have not reduced, and the emissions gap between where we should be and where we are is larger than ever.

As you can see figure 1 below, which is being updated regularly by Climate Action Tracker, without additional efforts, human-caused carbon emissions may increase to over 100 billion tonnes annually by 2100, which is double current global emissions.

2100 Warming Projections, Climate Action Tracker - Sep 2020 update
Figure 1: 2100 Warming Projections, Climate Action Tracker – Sep 2020 update

You can see a simpler version of this graphic in figure 2. The main driver of long-term warming is the total cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases over time. In the past decades, greenhouse gas emissions have been increasing.

Global warming projections, 100% Renewables
Figure 2: Global warming projections, 100% Renewables

Due to all historical and current carbon emissions, global temperatures have already risen by about 1°C from pre-industrial levels.

Continuing with business-as-usual could result in a temperature increase of over 4°C.

If all countries achieved their Paris Agreement targets, this could limit warming to roughly 3°C.

However, to limit warming to 1.5°C, current Paris pledges made by countries are not enough.

Carbon emissions need to start to decline rapidly in the near future and reach net-zero by mid-century if we are to have a chance of keeping warming to 1.5°C.

To bridge this ambition gap, not only do governments need to act, so do businesses and communities. To keep temperature increase within safe levels, you need to track along the 1.5-degree line, and to do that, you should set yourself carbon reduction goals in line with science. For every one year of failed action, the window to net-zero is reduced by two years.

It’s time to take a stand on a global stage and act on climate change. So what are three steps you can take?

  • Set a target in line with science
  • Develop a climate action plan
  • Reduce emissions in your business and your value chain

I recorded a 3-min video of a presentation on this topic I recently held for one of our clients, which you can watch here:

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.

What is the meaning of carbon-neutral, net-zero and climate-neutral? [with video]

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 (fertiliser usage) and livestock (manure)
  4. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are 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.

FAQs for becoming certified under Climate Active – Part 3 [with video]

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 [with video]

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 [with video]

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.

 

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.

How Randwick Council achieved >40% energy savings at Lionel Bowen Library

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 showcase measures implemented by Randwick City Council to significantly reduce the energy demand and carbon footprint of the Lionel Bowen Library in Maroubra, Sydney.

Randwick City Council’s climate change targets and plan

Randwick City Council has set a number of ambitious environmental sustainability targets for its operations, including targets for reduced greenhouse gas emissions. In March 2018, Council adopted the following targets:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions from Council’s operations – net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, including but not limited to the following measures:
    • Council’s total energy consumption – 100% replacement by renewable sources (generated on site or off-site for Council’s purposes) by 2030.
    • Council’s vehicle fleet – net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Energy eficiency is a key strategy for achieving these goals, as set out in the 100% Renewable Energy Roadmap completed in early 2020.

Lionel Bowen Library energy use and solar

The Lionel Bowen Library is one of Council’s largest energy-using facilties, consuming 7.8% of Council’s total electricity demand in 2017/18. This was after the implementation of a 30 kW solar panel array on the roof of the library in 2013, as well as efficiency measures including VSD control of the cooling tower fan and voltage optimisation of the main incoming supply. The solar array generates 40,000 kWh of renewable energy each year, which is fully consumed within the library.

Lionel Bowen Library solar installation, Randwick City Council (photo by Patrick Denvir)
Lionel Bowen Library solar installation, Randwick City Council (photo by Patrick Denvir)

New energy efficiency projects at Lionel Bowen Library

Concurrent with the development of Council’s 100% Renewable Energy Roadmap, Randwick initiated a project to roll out LED lighting at selected sites, including the library. A multi-faceted process included the

  • development of the business case to secure internal support and approval,
  • selection of a preferred supplier,
  • implementation of a trial ‘LED space’ and measurement of light and energy savings as well as visitor perceptions of the upgraded space,
  • influencing key internal stakeholders to support the whole-facility rollout,
  • implementation including claiming the Energy Saving Certificates (ESCs) for the project, and
  • measurement of the energy savings.

During the development of the 100% Renewable Energy Roadmap it was observed that after-hours control of several of the library’s air conditioning systems was not working effectively. In addition, a storeroom fan system in the basement of the building was observed to be running continuously.

Consultation with facilities management staff indicated that faulty BMS controllers meant that time schedules as well as after-hours controls were not correct, and quotes would be sought for new timers to rectify this. Quotes for a new timer for the storeroom fan system were also sought.

In late 2019, the new time control measures were implemented, with significant immediate energy savings identified in load data for the library. The combined impact of the LED lighting and air conditioning system control changes has been to reduce the library’s electricity consumption by nearly 40% when comparing similar periods of 2017/18 with energy consumption in early 2020. This saving is illustrated below in two charts.

  • The first chart shows monthly electricity consumption from June 2018 through to February 2020, with the steep downward trend in monthly electricity use evident.
Monthly electricity consumption - June 2018 to February 2020, Bowen Library
Monthly electricity consumption – June 2018 to February 2020, Lionel Bowen Library
  • The second chart shows daily load profile data and clearly illustrates the impact of the air conditioning timer upgrade on night energy demand between November and December 2019.
Load profile - Nov vs Dec 2019, Bowen Library
Load profile – Nov vs Dec 2019, Lionel Bowen Library

Future savings initiatives at Lionel Bowen Library

There are plans to implement additional measures at the library that will see even more energy savings achieved and more renewable energy. These new measures are set out in Council’s 100% Renewable Energy roadmap and include:

  • Installation of a further 30-45 kW of solar PV on the roof of the library which will be absorbed on site.
  • Progressively upgrade the main and split air conditioning systems in the library (which have reached the end of their economic life) with energy efficient systems. This will have the added benefit of removing R22 refrigerant from the library and seeing a switch to a lower-GWP refrigerant. Opportunities to implement VSD control of fans and pumps, and to optimise supply to unused or infrequently used spaces will also be assessed.
  • Implement new BMS controls for new air conditioning plant as this is upgraded.

The combined impact of these changes over time could be a reduction in grid electricity supply to Lionel Bowen Library of 60% compared with 2017/18 electricity consumption.

Progressing towards its emissions reduction target

The energy saving measures implemented at Lionel Bowen Library are just a few among nearly a hundred actions that, when implemented over the next several years will see Randwick City Council realise its goal to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

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Randwick City 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 100% Renewable Energy Roadmap. We look forward to council’s continued success in reaching their renewable energy targets in coming years.

 

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.