Tag Archives: carbon management

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.


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.


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

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.

Setting targets for community emissions – Part 5

This is part 5 of our blog post series on community emissions. The first four articles investigated the development of a community GHG inventory. This article analyses community targets for greenhouse gas emissions.

What is greenhouse gas emissions community target?

A target for a city or community relates to a desired future GHG emissions result for a local government administration boundary.


Humans and communities are at the centre of climate change. Reducing emissions is a shared responsibility of governments, businesses and of cities and communities. Moreover, in the absence of strong national leadership, local governments need to step in and act. Setting targets enables efforts to be directed towards achieving that target, rather than letting emissions grow unchecked.

However, setting an appropriate target can be confusing. What percentage reduction should you choose? What target year shall you select? Should the target revolve around renewables or carbon emissions, or should you instead focus on tangible measures like solar PV installations in your community?

What targets are in line with science? What target will get accepted by the community? What kind of targets are other cities and communities setting themselves? Should the local government drive the target setting or shall efforts be community-driven?

Before we try to answer these questions, let’s have a look at the underlying problem first.

Rising carbon emissions and the Paris Agreement

Due to all historical and current carbon emissions, global temperatures have already increased by ~1°C from pre-industrial levels, with even higher increases being experienced on land. Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have risen to above 400 ppm, which exceeds the ‘safe’ level of 350 ppm. Moreover, the IPCC predicts that without additional efforts, there will be further growth in emissions due to increased economic activity and population growth.

The main driver of long-term warming is the total cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases over time. As shown by Climate Action Tracker in Figure 1, without additional efforts, human-caused carbon emissions may increase to over 100 billion tonnes annually by 2100, which is double current global emissions. The resulting increase in global temperatures could be up to 4.8°C (as per the IPCC Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report).

However, with current climate policies around the world, global temperatures are projected to rise by about 3.2°C.

To prevent dangerous climate change by limiting global warming, close to 200 of the world’s governments signed the landmark Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement forms the basis of science-based targets to limit global temperature increase to well below 2°C by 2050. With current pledges, and if all countries achieved their Paris Agreement targets, it could limit warming to 2.9°C.

The Climate Action Tracker’s warming projections for 2100, various policy scenarios
Figure 1: The Climate Action Tracker’s warming projections for 2100, various policy scenarios

However, to limit warming to well below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C, current Paris pledges made by countries are not enough[1]. Carbon emissions need to decline at a much steeper rate in the near future and reach net-zero by mid-century to have a 50% chance of keeping warming below 1.5°C.

Achieving net-zero by 2038 improves this chance to two thirds, but global emissions would have to fall by up to 70% relative to 2017 levels by 2030. For every year of failed action, the window to net-zero is reduced by two years[2].

So how many greenhouse gases can still be emitted? This concept is encapsulated in the term ‘carbon budget’.

What is a carbon budget?

Just like a financial budget sets a ceiling on how much money can be spent, a carbon budget is a finite amount of carbon that can be emitted into the atmosphere before warming will exceed certain temperature thresholds.

The concept of a carbon budget emerged as a scientific concept from the IPCC’s 2014 Synthesis Report on Climate Change and relates to the cumulative amount of carbon emissions permitted over a period. Given that the carbon budget is not annual, but cumulative, it means that once it is spent, carbon emissions have to be held at net zero to avoid exceeding temperature targets.

Higher emissions in earlier years mean that there can only be lower emissions later on. You can compare this concept to your own budget. If your yearly budget was $120,000, and you spent $30,000 in each of January and February, you would only have $60,000 left to spend between March and December, or $6,000 per month. Conversely, if you are careful with what you buy and only spend $5,000 every month, then your budget will last twice as long (2 years).

The carbon budget for limiting warming to 1.5°C is smaller than the carbon budget for limiting warming to 2°C.

Please have a look at the following two carbon budgets we developed for a local government client. The ‘blue budget’ shows a 2°C pathway, whereas the ‘orange budget’ shows a 1.5°C scenario.

Example of 2°C carbon budget

Example of a 2°C carbon budget
Figure 2: Example of a 2°C carbon budget for a community greenhouse gas emissions target

Example of 1.5°C carbon budget

Example of a 1.5°C carbon budget
Figure 3: Example of a 1.5°C carbon budget for a community greenhouse gas emissions target

The area of the carbon budget is much smaller in the ‘orange’ graphic. And while both carbon budgets trend towards net zero in 2050, there are much steeper reductions earlier on in the 1.5°C scenario.

How can you set a target/carbon budget based on science?

Targets are considered science-based if they are in line with the level of decarbonisation required to keep global average temperature increase well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial temperatures, as described in the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC. All science-based target setting methods use an underlying carbon budget.

There is no universally accepted method of how to calculate carbon budgets at the city level and many cities have worked hard at developing a fair carbon budget. As per the C40 Deadline 2020 report, the three principles that dominate the debate on the allocation of carbon budgets are:

  1. Equality, based on an understanding that human beings should have equal rights
  2. Responsibility for contributing to climate change, linked to the ‘polluter pays’ principle
  3. Capacity to contribute to solving the problem (also described as capacity to pay).

Specific considerations include the current global carbon budget[3], adjusting it to an appropriate time frame, adjusting it from carbon dioxide to carbon dioxide equivalents, and then deriving a fair and equitable national budget. Once there is a national budget, it needs to be apportioned fairly to the city by using factors such as population and potentially adjusting it based on the sector representation in the community.

A simpler method to arrive at a carbon budget that is tracking towards net-zero is to follow a science-based target-setting method by adopting a target which is proportional to the overall world’s target using the contraction approach and to scale emissions down linearly. There are two science-based temperature scenarios you can align with, a 2°C and a 1.5°C scenario. The minimum annual linear reduction rates aligned with 1.5°C and 2°C scenarios are 4.2% and 2.5%, respectively.

Example method for calculating your science-based target

The following method, which you can use as an example, shows six steps on how to set a community emissions target based on science.

Step 1: Calculate your GHG inventory

Your carbon inventory should be aligned to GPC. Please read our article on calculating community carbon footprints if you are unsure about this step.

Step 2: Project emissions

Once you have a fully developed carbon inventory, project your emissions into the future to get an idea of where your emissions will be in the absence of any abatement measures

Step 3: Decide on carbon budget allocation method

Choose an approach that is suitable for your circumstances. The simplest method is to contract to net-zero by 2050.

Step 4: Choose a pathway

You need to choose whether you want your emissions trajectory to align with a 1.5°C or a 2°C scenario.

Step 5: Choose a target year

While you are aiming to track towards net zero by mid-century, it will help to establish interim targets, based on your chosen degree scenario.

Step 6: Validate your decisions

Consult your community to get feedback.

Six steps to set a science-based community emissions target
Figure 4: Six steps to set a science-based community emissions target

What kind of targets are there?

There are two main categories of targets, top-down and bottom-up ones.

Top-down targets

With top-down goals, you set the goal first, and then determine actions to get there. Top-down targets can be informed by science (‘science-based targets’) or by a community’s aspirations. Each of these approaches effectively gives the community a carbon budget to stay within for any chosen pathway.

Externally set top-down target – science-based:

An external top-down target is informed by science. Science-based targets are aligned with either a 2°C or 1.5°C pathway and lead to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Internally set top-down target – aspirational:

Aspirational targets express the vision of a community and where it would like to be in future. They often relate to a target year earlier than 2050.

Bottom-up targets

With bottom-up targets, you analyse the carbon footprint first and then develop abatement actions. Carbon reduction actions are modelled to investigate the amount of carbon reduction that can be achieved and the cost to facilitate and fund them. Based on the level of carbon reduction that is feasible, you set a corresponding target.

Top-down and bottom-up targets can work in tandem. For instance, you can decide to set a science-based target, and then translate this target into tangible, staged and evidence-based bottom-up targets. Examples of such tangible targets are the number of solar PV installations on houses, or the rate and amount of electric vehicle take-up in a community.

Who sets a community target?

Targets can come directly from the community, or they can be driven by the local government authority. If they are driven by the local government, it is a good idea to undertake community consultation, present the facts and then get feedback on the proposed target(s).

What does a net-zero target mean?

A net-zero target means that by (and from) the target date, there must be no greenhouse gas emissions on a net basis. Within the geographic boundaries of a city, a ‘net zero city’ is defined as:

  1. Net-zero GHG emissions from stationary energy consumption such as natural gas use (scope 1)
  2. Net-zero GHG emissions from transport activities (scope 1)
  3. Net-zero GHG emissions from electricity consumption (scope 2)
  4. Net-zero GHG emissions from the treatment of waste generated within the city boundary (scopes 1 and 3)
  5. Where a city accounts for additional sectoral emissions in their GHG accounting boundary (e.g. IPPU, AFOLU), net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from all additional sectors in the GHG accounting boundary

Table 1: Definition of a net-zero target for a city

Definition of a net-zero target for a city

Once you have achieved carbon neutrality, it needs to be maintained year after year. For further information, please refer to the C40 paper, ‘Defining Carbon Neutrality For Cities And Managing Residual Emissions’.

Using carbon offsets to reach net-zero

Even after you have reduced your emissions as much as possible, there may be a residual carbon footprint. It may not be technically or economically possible to achieve zero emissions for all inventory sources, in which case you can consider carbon offsets.

As per the C40 paper Defining Carbon Neutrality for Cities, possible approaches for carbon offsets you can consider include:

  1. Developing carbon offset projects outside of the city GHG accounting boundary (including local/regional projects that may or may not generate tradeable carbon credits) and taking responsibility for managing the project for the duration of its lifetime;
  2. Investing in carbon offset projects outside of the city GHG accounting boundary (e.g. provide funding to enable a project to get underway or commit to purchasing a set quantity of future vintages, thereby providing upfront funding for credit registration costs), and
  3. Purchasing carbon offsets from outside of the city GHG accounting boundary (local, national, or globally-sourced projects that generate tradeable carbon credits) from a registered/credible/established carbon credit provider.

As with any carbon offset purchase, your carbon credits should be credible and of high quality. Criteria that your carbon offset projects should achieve are that they are real, additional, permanent, measurable, independently audited and verified, unambiguously owned and transparent.

Using Carbon Dioxide Removal and Negative Emissions Technology to reach net-zero

Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) means that you are removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in addition to what would happen anyway via the natural carbon cycle. Because you are removing carbon emissions, this is also called ‘negative emissions’, or ‘negative emissions technology’ (NET).

You can draw out excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by enhancing natural carbon sinks (trees and soil) or using chemical processes, such as extracting carbon dioxide from the air and storing it somewhere suitable (e.g., underground).

Negative Emission Technology (NET) is at various stages of commercial development and differs in terms of maturity, scalability, costs, risks, and trade-offs. To date, none of these technologies has been adopted at large scale.

As a side note, in IPCC modelling, all pathways that limit global warming to 1.5°C include CDR measures. If we cannot reduce emissions fast enough, global temperatures will overshoot 1.5°C, which means that we need NET to bring global temperatures back down.

A city that plans on utilising NET is Oslo. The single biggest carbon reduction measure in Oslo’s Climate and Energy Strategy is the implementation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) at its Klemetsrud waste incineration facility.

Target setting under the Global Covenant of Mayors and C40

Target setting under the Global Covenant

The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM) is the world’s largest alliance of cities and local governments with a shared long-term vision of promoting and supporting voluntary action to combat climate change and move to a low emission, climate-resilient future. As of October 2019, 26 local governments in Australia have joined the GCoM.

Through the GCoM, cities and local governments are voluntarily committing to fight climate change, mirroring the commitments their national governments have set to ensure the goals of the Paris Agreement are met.

Local governments committed to GCoM pledge to implement policies and undertake measures to:

  • Reduce/limit greenhouse gas emissions
  • Prepare for the impacts of climate change
  • Increase access to sustainable energy
  • Track progress toward these objectives

When you join the Global Covenant of Mayors, you need to submit a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target(s) within two years upon joining. The target boundary needs to be consistent with all emissions sources included in your GHG emissions inventory. The target year needs to be the same (or later than) the target year adopted nationally under the Paris Agreement. The national target is called the ‘Nationally Determined Contribution’ (NDC).

If you set a target beyond 2030, you also need to set an interim target. The target needs to be at least as ambitious as the unconditional components of the NDC. You are only allowed to use carbon offsets if your target’s ambition exceeds the NDC.

Target setting under C40

C40 is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change. Cities that commit to being part of C40 need to have a plan to deliver their contribution towards the goal of constraining global temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C. In Australia, Sydney and Melbourne are members.

To remain within a 1.5°C temperature rise, average per capita emissions across C40 cities need to drop from over 5 t CO2-e per capita to around 2.9 t CO2-e per capita by 2030. Every city needs to diverge considerably from its current business-as-usual pathway and cities with a GDP over USD15,000 per capita must begin to reduce their per capita emissions immediately, which results in an immediate and steep decline of emissions.

C40 recommends that the trajectory for emission reduction follows the typology as introduced in Deadline 2020.

  • Steep Decline – Cities with a GDP per capita over $15,000 and emissions above the average for C40. Emissions need to be immediately and rapidly reduced and the city is sufficiently developed to do so.
  • Steady Decline – Cities with a GDP per capita over $15,000 but emissions lower than the average for C40. The city is sufficiently developed to immediately reduce emissions, but a less rapid rate of reduction is required than for the Steep Decline group.
  • Early Peak – Cities with GDP per capita below $15,000 and higher than average emissions per capita. An early emissions peak is required, although the city’s development status means that decline cannot be immediate.
  • Late Peak – Cities with a GDP per capita below $15,000 and lower than average emissions per capita. A slightly later emissions peak is possible.

The following table shows the current and reduced science-aligned and C40 per capita emissions for scopes 1, 2 and 3.

Table 2: Average per capita emissions figures for C40 cities in 1.5- and 2-degree trajectories

Average per capita emissions figures for C40 cities in 1.5- and 2-degree trajectories

Examples of city targets

The following list shows examples of ambitious targets for cities across five continents.

EThekwini Municipality, Africa

The eThekwini municipality includes the city of Durban, South Africa and surrounding towns. It is the first city in Africa to develop a 1.5°C climate action plan with the support of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. The target is to reach a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030 and 80% reduction by 2050.

Hong Kong, Asia

In May 2019, Hong Kong achieved CDP’s top ‘A’ score for its climate strategy, among 7% of cities reporting to the CDP. Hong Kong’s targets are as follows:

  • Reduce carbon intensity by 65% to 70% by 2030 compared with the 2005 level, which is equivalent to an absolute reduction of 26% to 36%
  • Resulting in per capita emission of 3.3 to 3.8 tonnes in 2030
  • Carbon emissions to peak before 2020

The 2030 Climate Plan includes objectives, such as phasing down coal for electricity generation and replacing it with natural gas by 2030, saving energy in the built environment, focusing on rail as a low-carbon public transport backbone and encouraging active transport modes, such as walking.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Australia

The ACT is a federal territory of Australia containing the Australian capital city of Canberra and some surrounding townships. The ACT’s first targets were introduced in 2010, revised in 2016 to increase ambition and again in 2018. The current targets are to reduce emissions (from 1990 levels) by:

  • 40% by 2020
  • 50-60% by 2025
  • 65-75% by 2030
  • 90-95% by 2040
  • 100% (net zero emissions) by 2045.

The ACT also set a target to peak emissions per capita by 2013. This was achieved in 2012-13 at 10.53 tonnes of CO2-e per person and has remained below this level ever since. In 2017-18, emissions were 8.09 t CO2-e per capita. The ACT’s targets were informed by considering the ACT’s share of the global carbon budget.

Oslo, Europe

Oslo has the objective to become a ‘virtually zero-emission city’. The current targets are as follows:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions should not exceed 766,000 tons of CO2-e by 2020 (applicable to all emission sectors except agriculture, aviation and shipping)
  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 95% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels)

The second goal depends on the successful removal of emissions from a major waste incineration plant.

In 2016, Oslo introduced a climate budget, which sets a ceiling on the volume of carbon dioxide that can be emitted in the city in a given year. The climate budget is fully integrated with the financial budget of the city. The climate budgets show measures implemented or planned for Oslo to reach its climate targets and become a low-carbon city.

San Francisco, North America

In its Focus 2030: A Pathway to Net Zero Emissions, San Francisco defines the following targets:

  • Supplying 100% renewable electricity from 2030
  • 68% reduction in emissions below 1990 levels by 2030
  • 90% reduction by 2050

San Francisco identified that emission reduction must come from three primary sectors, being buildings, transportation and waste. The city also defined sub-targets for these sectors.


  • Shift 80% of all trips taken to walking, biking and transit by 2030.
  • Electrify 25% of private cars and trucks by 2030 and 100% by 2040.


  • Electrify space and water heating with high-efficiency products such as heat pumps
  • Increase building energy efficiency
  • Power buildings with 100% renewable electricity


  • Reduce generation by 15% by 2030
  • Reduce disposal to landfill or incineration by 50% by 2030


Cities and communities should consider setting themselves targets in line with science. To avoid catastrophic climate change, emissions need to start falling now and reach net zero by 2050. Interim targets will help to stay under an allocated carbon budget.

Both vision and leadership are needed to enable steep cuts to our emissions, which translates into unprecedented, rapid change across the globe to limit global warming. The way electricity is generated needs to change to clean energy. The way we transport people and goods and the way we produce everything needs innovation. Land use planning plays a big part, and different economic models need to be adopted that will makes such a transformational shift possible. In the next part of this series, we will look at community carbon abatement measures in greater detail.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations, communities/LGAs and councils determine suitable targets, be they science-based, aspirational or bottom-up/action-based. Our community inventories align with the GPC and targets can be based on IPCC global carbon budgets. If you need help with your community inventory, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.


[1] For instance, Australia’s commitment under the Paris Agreement is 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030

[2] https://www.c40.org/researches/defining-carbon-neutrality-for-cities-managing-residual-emissions

[3] The Global Carbon Budget website provides annual updates of the global carbon budget and trends.

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An introduction to community carbon footprints – Part 1

Many local governments have had great success in monitoring, tracking and reducing emissions in their own operations. Now, more and more councils are starting to look outside their operations to help reduce emissions in their communities.

Local action across communities is needed to help reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, which calls on countries to keep global warming to under 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels (please refer to an earlier article on science-based targets).

In this blog post, we introduce the basics about community emissions carbon footprints, including emissions sources, examples and methods.

Why is it important to develop greenhouse gas inventories for communities?

Tracking emissions on a national level helps with tracking our performance against the Paris Agreement as a country. However this information tends not to be tangible to many people and communities. Developing greenhouse gas emission inventories at a local level has many benefits, and can help you:

  • Understand how many tonnes your community is emitting – to have a starting point from which you can plan what you can do as a community to reduce emissions
  • Project your community’s emissions into the future – if your population is growing then new housing and business may see your emissions grow as well
  • Compare your community’s emissions to other similar communities, so there is a basis for collaboration (and competition) to reduce emissions
  • Know where the biggest sources of emissions are and which sectors contribute the most, so that plans and support measures you develop with your community are relevant and have the best chance of success
  • Set targets – to know what you are working towards. These may be overall aspirational goals, or they may be more targeted
  • Track and communicate emissions levels and the success of reduction measures to your community

What is the Global Protocol for community emissions (GPC)?

To enable communities and cities to report under one globally acceptable standard, the Global Protocol for Community-scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC) was developed. It was launched in December 2014 by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability and is the most widely used framework to account for carbon emissions in a community.

The GPC outlines requirements and provides guidance to account for and report emissions, but it is up to you to choose a suitable methodology to calculate emissions for your community.

Developing a community carbon footprint aligned to GPC

Local governments are typically experienced in developing carbon footprints for their own operations, but may be new to developing footprints for their communities.

The GPC provides two approaches to developing community carbon inventories, a “territorial” approach and a “city-induced” approach. Within the city-induced approach two reporting levels are available, called “BASIC” and “BASIC+”. The differences between approaches and reporting levels, and the pros and cons of these will be the subject of a future blog post.

Whatever approach you use to develop a greenhouse gas emissions inventory for a community, it is important to set a geographic boundary first. In most cases, the geographical boundary of a Local Government Area (LGA) will be suitable, though in some cases developing estimates of emissions at a suburb level may be desirable – for example where the mix of land use, single houses, flats and business changes across a locality.

The next step is to pick a baseline year for which you want to develop an inventory. A recent calendar or financial year is typically selected, and provides a period of time against which you intend to monitor your community’s emissions going forward.

The main emission sources reported in your community GHG inventory will include:

  • Electricity consumption in the LGA (stationary energy)
  • Natural gas consumption in the LGA (stationary energy)
  • Private and public transportation
  • Waste
  • Wastewater

Other emissions that you can consider for a city-wide carbon footprint include:

  • Refrigerant losses
  • Fugitive emissions from industrial activities (production and use of mineral products and chemicals, production of metals)
  • Lubricants, paraffin waxes, bitumen, etc. used in non-energy products
  • Fluorinated compounds used in the electronics industry
  • Emissions from agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU)
  • Other Scope 3 emissions


Example of a community inventory – Adelaide

The City of Adelaide emitted 951,000 tonnes of CO2-e in 2015. The graph below is reproduced from https://www.carbonneutraladelaide.com.au/about/how and shows the breakup of the city’s carbon footprint by sector. The biggest emissions come from stationary energy consumption, followed by transport, followed by waste.

Figure 1: The City of Adelaide’s carbon footprint

Example of a community inventory – Melbourne

The City of Melbourne reported emissions of 4,678,194 tonnes of CO2-e in 2017. The graph below is reproduced from https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/sitecollectiondocuments/climate-change-mitigation-strategy-2050.pdf  and shows the breakup of the city’s carbon footprint by sector. Like the City of Adelaide, the biggest emissions come from stationary energy consumption, followed by transport, and then waste.

Figure 2: The City of Melbourne’s carbon footprint

Can an inventory ever be perfect?

It is unlikely that your inventory will be perfect. When you develop a carbon footprint, there will be trade-offs between accuracy and completeness. The more emission sources you include, the more complete your inventory will be. However, it is not always easy to have accurate data at a local level for some emission sources, particularly transport and waste.

It’s safe to say that there will probably be gaps in your data, and you may have to make assumptions or use appropriate analytic methods to fill these gaps, which we described in this blog post. Just make sure you document your assumptions and aim to improve your inventory quality over time.

Can you set targets for community-wide emissions?

Over the last decades, many local governments have set emission reduction targets for their own operations.

It is also possible to set emission reduction targets for community-wide emissions and having a robust GHG inventory at the community level can help you to do this.

Both top-down and bottom-up approaches to target setting can be effective. A top-down target can set out an overall goal to aim for and signals your community’s intent to act to mitigate climate change – for example “net zero emissions by 2030”.

However, bottom-up targets can complement this and provide your community with some tangible metrics that are aligned with achieving the overall goal. For example, “doubling solar PV in the community by 2022”, or “installing 50 electric vehicle charging points in public spaces by 2025”.

Part 5 of this blog post series examines targets that local councils can develop to help their communities reduce their carbon footprint.

Considerations for councils developing community GHG inventories

Based on our experience working with local councils, we have identified some key factors that councils should consider when looking to develop an emissions profile of their community. These include:

  • Repeatability and cost – are the data inputs to your community inventory readily accessible or able to be estimated using a repeatable method or data set, or will you have to pay to access some or all of your data?
  • Comparability – if you are comparing your inventory with that of other cities and communities, be sure that you understand the boundaries and approaches used by others, so you are comparing ‘apples with apples’. We find this to be particularly important when looking at emissions estimates for transport and waste.
  • Alignment & frequency – local councils report on sustainability issues and efforts in a variety of ways, such as annual sustainability reports and periodic State of the Environment reporting. When planning when and how often to measure and report on community emissions within other reports, you should try to ensure that you can develop an inventory in a timely manner aligned with the timing of these.
  • Effort v impact – the overarching purpose of a community inventory is to help the community reduce their GHG emissions, so some consideration should be given to the level of effort required to estimate emissions sources based on their significance, data accessibility and abatement potential.

Need help with developing the carbon footprint of your community?

It is challenging to develop carbon footprints that are in alignment with the GPC. Sometimes, it is easier to get the help of an expert who can guide you through the process. Here at 100% Renewables, we are certified City Climate Planners, proving our experience in community-level GHG emissions inventory accounting.

If you need help with developing community emissions inventories or pathways for emission reduction, 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 to fill gaps in your sustainability data

A standard part of our work is the calculation of energy and carbon footprints. For an energy or carbon footprint, you need to collect sustainability activity data like electricity, natural gas, fuel consumption or waste.

In a perfect world, all required historical and current data would be available in easily accessible form and would always be accurate. Unfortunately, as you may have experienced yourself, this is not always the case. In this blog post, we will show you 3 common ways how you can fill missing sustainability data gaps.

Problems with collecting sustainability data

Common problems with collecting sustainability data include the following:

  1. Incomplete time series: Data may only be available for a few months of the year, it may be available for one year but not another, or the most recent data is not yet available.
  2. Out-dated data: You may require a data set annually, but the data may only be available less frequently. An example for this is waste data based on audits, which are performed infrequently.
  3. Partial data: You may be able to get one data set easily, but not another, or you may only have data for part of your organisation, but not another.
  4. Unreliable data: Data may available, but with obvious inconsistencies.

Three common techniques to overcome sustainability data gaps

In this blog post, we will show you three ways to overcome sustainability data gaps:

  1. Interpolation
  2. Extrapolation
  3. Scaling

You need to carefully evaluate your specific circumstances and determine the best option for your particular case. You may also be able to use more than one method for a specific problem and then make a final decision as to what method gives you the best result.

Interpolation of sustainability data

You can estimate missing data in a timeseries by interpolating between those periods. The method for interpolation can be linear or more sophisticated. Linear interpolation means that you are drawing a straight between the edges of your data gap. More sophisticated methods will allow you to account for more subtle features in your trend.

Figure 1: Using interpolation for data gaps

Please note that if your data fluctuates significantly, using interpolation will not give you the best result. It is good practice to compare interpolated estimates with surrogate/proxy data (see ‘Scaling’ section) as a quality control check.

Extrapolation of sustainability data

You will need to extrapolate your sustainability data to produce estimates for years after your last available data point and before new data is available. Extrapolation is similar to interpolation, but less is known about the trend.

Extrapolation can be conducted either forward (to predict future emissions or energy consumption) or backward, to estimate a base year, for instance. Trend extrapolation assumes that the observed trend during the period for which data is available remains constant over the period of extrapolation. If the trend is changing, you should consider using proxy data (see next section).

Figure 2: Using extrapolation for data gaps

When you use the simple linear method, you extend the line from the end of your known data line. You can also use more sophisticated extrapolation methods to account for more subtle features in the data trend.

The longer the extrapolation projects into the future, the more uncertainty is introduced. However, it is better to have an estimate, than not to have one at all.

It is good practice to update projected graphs with real data as this becomes available and to subsequently update your projections.

Please note that extrapolation is not a good technique when the change in trend is not constant over time. In this case, you may consider using extrapolations based on surrogate data.


Scaling works by applying a ratio of known data to your data gap. The ratio is called a ‘scaling factor’. Known data is called surrogate, or proxy data. Surrogate data is strongly correlated to sustainability data that is being extrapolated and is more readily available than the data gap you are trying to fill.

For instance, emissions from transport are related to how many kilometres you travelled. Energy consumption in a building is related to how many people use the building. Emissions from wastewater are related to the population number.

Figure 3: Using scaling for data gaps

In some cases, you may need to use regression analysis to identify the most suitable surrogate data. Using surrogate data can improve the accuracy of estimates developed by interpolation and extrapolation.

Common scaling factors include:

  • number of employees, square metres, operating hours, or population (for community greenhouse gas inventories)
  • economic factors like production output, revenue, or GDP (for community greenhouse gas inventories)
  • weather-related factors like heating degree days or cooling degree days

Case example for extrapolation using scaling

One of our clients was evaluating the adoption of a science-based target. Given that a target is set some time in the future, they needed to find out how much carbon emissions would grow in the absence of abatement measures. Calculating this trend would show the size of the reduction task going forward.

We approached this task by following these steps:

  1. Extrapolation of the available historical greenhouse gas emissions into the future by applying an assumed year-on-year growth scaling factor.
  2. Refinement of the estimated trend by plotting known plant closures and other identified changes onto the timeseries.
  3. Application of estimated future emission factors. Since the grid is getting greener with new renewable energy projects feeding into it, the greenhouse gases associated with electricity consumption for the same underlying use reduce over time.
  4. Development of emission reduction scenarios. Once the baseline emissions growth was estimated, we developed emission reduction scenarios based on energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities.
  5. Development of a graph to communicate the findings to the management team.

As a result of this extrapolation, our client was able to make an informed decision as to the ambition level of their target, as well as a suitable timeframe.


Choosing the right method depends on an assessment of the volatility of the sustainability data trend, whether surrogate data is available and adequate, and the length of time activity data is missing. If you need help with filling in data gaps, you should consider getting expert advice.

100% Renewables are experts in dealing with data gaps and projecting trends. If you need help with managing your data, 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 ways of visualising emission reduction pathways

Many of our services involve the development of emission reduction pathways, which greatly enhance climate change action plans. In this blog post, we will show you 5 common ways to visually display such a pathway. Seeing these different illustrations can help you to shape how you would like to present your own organisation’s pathway towards a low carbon future.


What are emission reduction pathways?

Emission reduction pathways allow for the easy communication of

  • where your organisation is currently at in terms of greenhouse emissions (or energy consumption)
  • where you can be through the implementation of reduction measures that are feasible and cost-effective over time
  • where you would be in the absence of any measures to reduce emissions

Pathways usually start with your selected baseline year and end at some point in the future, typically at 2030, or when agreed or proposed targets are to be met.

What do emission reduction pathways cover?


Your emissions boundary will typically consider three things:

  • The level of an organisation or region you want to assess in terms of emissions reduction. This could be a single site, an asset class (e.g. community buildings), a Division in an organisation, a whole organisation, a town or community, and up to State and National levels.
  • The emissions and energy sources that you want to evaluate. For example, electricity, natural gas, petrol, diesel, refrigerants, waste, wastewater and so on.
  • The Scopes of emissions you want to include. Typically Scope 2 (electricity) is included, and material Scope 1 emissions (on-site combustion or direct emissions). Selected Scope 3 emissions may also be included, such as upstream emissions associated with energy usage and waste.

Units of measure:

The unit for reductions or savings to be modelled will typically be tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, or a unit of energy, such as kilowatt-hours or megajoules.

What greenhouse gas reduction measures are considered in abatement pathways?

For most organisations greenhouse gas reduction measures usually relate to six high-level carbon abatement areas as shown in Figure 1 below, being

  • Energy efficiency
  • Management of waste and other Scope 3 emissions sources
  • Sustainable transport
  • Local generation of renewable energy such as rooftop solar PV
  • Grid decarbonisation
  • Buying clean energy and/or carbon offsets

These high-level categories can be further broken down into as many subcategories as relevant within your selected organisation boundary.

Figure 1: 6 categories for carbon reduction opportunities

The need for a graphical representation of emissions pathways

For many people, it is hard to engage with complex data presented in a table or report. In our experience, it is most effective if abatement potential can be shown in a graph. The visual representation of a carbon abatement pathway allows people to better grasp the overall opportunity for abatement, where this will come from, and the timeframes involved.

It also helps organisations to better communicate their plans to their stakeholders, be they internal or external. Simple and well-presented graphics can also help when seeking decisions to budget for and implement cost-effective measures.

5 ways to graphically represent emission reduction pathways

There are many different ways you can display an emissions reduction pathway; some are more suited to specific circumstances than others. The five examples we are using in this blog post are:

  1. Line chart
  2. Waterfall chart
  3. Area chart
  4. Column chart
  5. Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (MACC)

Let’s look at these examples in detail.

Example #1 – line chart

A line chart is a simple but effective way to communicate a ‘Business-as-usual’ or BAU pathway compared with planned or target pathways at a total emissions level for your selected boundary. Such a boundary could be comparing your whole-business projected emissions with and without action to reduce greenhouse gases.

This type of graph is also useful to report on national emissions compared with required pathways to achieve Australia’s Paris commitments, for example.

Figure 2: Example of a line chart

Example #2 – waterfall chart

A waterfall chart focuses on abatement measures. It shows the size of the abatement for each initiative, progressing towards a specific target, such as 100% renewable electricity, for example. It is most useful to highlight the relative impact of different actions, but it does not show the timeline of implementation.

Figure 3: Example of a waterfall chart

Example #3 – area graph

Area graphs show the size of abatement over time and are a great way to visualise your organisation’s potential pathway towards ambitious emissions reduction targets.

They do not explicitly show the cost-effectiveness of measures. However, a useful approach is to include only measures that are cost-effective now and will be in the future, so that decision-makers are clear that they are looking at a viable investment plan over time to lower emissions.

Figure 4: Example of an area chart that shows reduction actions and diminishing emissions

Another option of displaying an area chart is shown in Figure 5. In this area chart, the existing emission sources that reduce over time are not a focus, and instead, the emphasis is on emission reduction actions. You may prefer this version if there is a large number of reduction measures, or if you include fuel switching actions.

Figure 5: Example of an area chart which emphasises emission reduction actions

Example #4 – column graph

A column graph is similar to the area graph but allows for a clearer comparison between specific years compared with the continuous profile of an area graph. In the example column graph below, we are looking at Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, as well as abatement in an organisation over a 25-year timeframe covering past and future plans.

In the historical part, for instance, we can see Scope 1 (yellow) and Scope 2 (blue) emissions in the baseline year. The impact of GreenPower® (green) on emissions can be seen in any subsequent year until 2018.

Going forward we can see in any projection year the mix of grid decarbonisation (red), new abatement measures (aqua) including fuel switching and renewables purchasing, as well as residual Scope 1 and 2 emissions.

Figure 6: Example of a column chart

Example #5 – Marginal Abatement Cost (MAC) Curve

MAC curves focus on the financial business case of abatement measures and the size of the abatement. MAC curves are typically expressed in $/t CO2-e (carbon), or in $/MWh (energy), derived from an assessment of the net present value of a series of investment over time to a fixed time in the future.

The two examples below show MAC curves for the same set of investments across an organisation. Figure 6 shows the outcome in 2030, whereas, in Figure 7, it is to 2040 when investments have yielded greater returns.

MAC curves are a good way to clearly see those investments that will yield the best returns and their contribution to your overall emissions reduction goal.

Figure 7: Example of a Marginal Abatement Cost curve with a short time horizon

Figure 8: Example of a Marginal Abatement Cost curve with a longer time horizon

Please note that no one example is superior over another. It depends on your preferences and what information you would like to convey to your stakeholders.

100% Renewables are experts in putting together emission reduction and renewable energy pathways. If you need help with determining your strategy, targets and cost-effective pathways, 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.