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Carbon offsets and abatement
Some community groups and businesses participate in schemes that plant trees or carry out other energy-saving projects to offset (neutralise or counterbalance) greenhouse gas emissions.
Products and services that have offset the pollution created from making goods or delivering services are called 'carbon neutral'.
You can offset greenhouse gas emissions such as those generated by driving your car, air travel or household activities in several way including:
- choosing providers of carbon neutral services or products
- purchasing offsets directly through specialised carbon offset retailers; or
- offsetting certain activities such as air travel, through third parties such as airline companies.
Whether you choose to tick a box at the time of purchasing a ticket for air travel or offset your carbon on your own, you'll need to check the offsets you purchase are certified to ensure they'll result in a genuine reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Purchasing offsets can be a useful way to take responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions your household emits once you've taken advantage of other options for reducing your energy use.
Projects that prevent the generation of greenhouse gases or remove them from the atmosphere earn a carbon credit for every tonne of carbon dioxide (or equivalent greenhouse gas) saved. Carbon credits can be used by businesses and individuals to offset their own emissions.
Projects earning carbon credits generally involve using renewable energy sources—such as wind, solar, hydro or renewable biomass—to generate electricity. Capturing methane from household or agricultural waste to use it for energy, planting trees or preventing deforestation are other examples.
The price you pay for carbon credits helps fund the higher costs involved in producing renewable energy, making these projects cost-effective to run.
- Do your research. Find out about going carbon neutral. Choice has comprehensive information about carbon offsets.
- Ensure carbon offsets you buy are certified under Australian standards such as the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) or international standards such as the Gold Standard and Verified Carbon Standard (VCS).
- If you're looking for Australian carbon neutral products or services check out the list of accredited businesses under the NCOS Carbon Neutral Program. Organisations, products and events which have the NCOS trademark have achieved carbon neutrality in a way that achieves a genuine reduction in overall emissions.
- Switching to GreenPower accredited renewable energy supply is another way for households to become carbon neutral.
- While you may not be able to offset all the greenhouse gas emissions your household produces, every little bit helps. Your Energy Savings is filled with ideas and actions your household can take to reduce your energy use along with your costs.
Carbon offsets are only one aspect of managing your greenhouse gas emissions. An effective approach involves a number of important steps:
- Measure. Identify the sources of your household greenhouse gas emissions and then measure these. The Australian Greenhouse Calculator can help you estimate your emissions and understand which activities and behaviours will help reduce your energy use and energy bills.
- Set goals. Decide easy-to-adopt actions that you can start doing right away and set your medium and longer terms goals. Getting a home assessment can help with this.
- Take action. This step is about taking action to reduce your emissions as much as possible based on your household's circumstances. Your Energy Savings is full of great ideas to help you with this.
- Review. Look at the actions you've taken and their results. Decide what is working and what you could do more or less of to improve your energy efficiency and save money and energy.
- Offset. Consider the purchase of offsets for those emissions that cannot be reduced further—either by changes to your home's design and technology, or to you household's habits and behaviour.
The above steps can serve as a useful guide for making decisions and taking action to improve your energy efficiency at home and save you money. They are adapted from the carbon management principles developed by EPA Victoria.
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