What does it mean to be carbon neutral? Reduce your footprint when you connect electricity and gas to your home.
Carbon neutrality can apply to any activity undertaken by an individual or organisation. Being carbon neutral means that the greenhouse gas emissions, also known as carbon emissions, of every aspect of the activity are reduced and/or offset to a sum total of zero.
A common misunderstanding is that being carbon neutral means producing no carbon emissions at all. This is not the case. It simply means that the emissions you do produce must be offset, or ‘neutralised’, so that the emissions you put into the atmosphere are cancelled out.
So how does this apply to your new property’s electricity and gas connections? If you are moving home electricity and gas, it’s a great time to compare electricity plans and find a provider that is doing its part to work towards a net-zero future.
How do energy companies become carbon neutral?
For energy retailers, becoming carbon neutral is no small feat. To claim carbon neutral status, the huge quantity of emissions created by producing electricity and gas in coal fired power stations, gas fields and even, to a lesser extent, renewable energy farms, must be offset to net zero, as well as the carbon footprint left by transporting and supplying power to your home or business.
There are several steps a retailer can take to work towards a carbon neutral status.
- Become more efficient – using more efficient processes can reduce the carbon emissions being produced.
- Change energy sources – coal fired power plants produce far more emissions than other renewable sources. Although it is not feasible for most retailers to switch to 100% renewables, adding renewables to their mix can help work towards net zero.
- Carbon offsetting – this is the most common way energy retailers achieve carbon neutrality. It involves buying carbon offsets, or “carbon credits” to support initiatives that prevent, reduce or remove greenhouse gases and cancel out the carbon emissions they produce. The total amount of carbon that is reduced or removed must be equal to the total amount produced to be “neutral”.
Source: Climate Active
There are different types of carbon credits, which are discussed below.
Types of carbon credits
Carbon offsets are a way for companies (or individuals) to fund a range of projects that reduce, avoid or remove carbon emissions. Projects include things like forest restoration, upgrading power plants using more efficient, cleaner technologies, and increasing the efficiency of buildings and transport.
In Australia, carbon credits can be bought from three main sources:
|Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs)||ACCUs are issued by the Clean Energy Regulator in Australia as part of the government’s Climate Active scheme.
The Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) generates the credits through a range of projects which are mostly agricultural, including forestry, vegetation, savanna burning and landfill gas.
To be eligible to be part of the scheme, the project must be Australian and meet stringent measurement criteria.
|Certified Emission Reductions (CERs)||CERs are issued by the Clean Development Mechanism, which apply to projects across the world.
The government’s Climate Active standard prevents companies from buying CERs from before 2012 or CERs that are long-term, temporary, involve the destruction of certain gases, nuclear projects or large-scale hydro projects inconsistent with the EU criteria.
|Verified Carbon Units (VCUs)||VCUs are issued by Verra, under their Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) program.
Credits must meet several quality assurance principles to make sure they represent a real, permanent reduction in emissions.
To do this they must be measurable, independently verified, conservatively estimated, uniquely numbered and transparently listed.
The Carbon Market Institute has a registry of all the Australian carbon offset projects that are currently underway.
Some notable projects include:
- CO2 Australia Human Induced Regeneration Project in NSW developed by CO2 Australia Limited.
This project involves the regeneration of native forest through landholders ceasing suppression activities. A number of private landholders are involved, who are each integrating carbon project activities into their farming techniques.
- Mt Mulgrave Savanna Burning Project in QLD developed by Natural Carbon.
This project undertakes the strategic and planned burning of savanna areas in zones with high and low rainfall at the beginning of the dry season to manage the risk of wildfires.
- Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor in WA developed by Carbon Neutral.
This is a multi-species native reforestation program in Southwest Australia. The Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor is one of 35 internationally recognised global biodiversity hotspots.
- MRL Landfill Gas Abatement Project in Victoria developed by Landfill Operations Pty Ltd.
This project uses flaring and internal combustion engines to capture and destroy landfill gas.
Is renewable energy carbon neutral?
The terms renewable and carbon neutral are often incorrectly used interchangeably under the “green” energy umbrella, but they are two different things.
As discussed above, carbon neutral energy comes from all different sources, including fossil fuels, and is made carbon-neutral after the fact through carbon offsets or other emission reduction measures.
Renewable energy, on the other hand, refers specifically to energy generated using renewable primary sources. In Australia, renewable energy includes solar and wind farms, hydropower, geothermal power and biomass.
In all cases, renewable energy produces a significantly smaller amount of carbon emissions than fossil fuels, but it does not make them carbon-neutral. The transportation and supply of renewable energy leaves a carbon footprint that needs to be offset to be truly carbon neutral.
How do I know if my provider is carbon neutral?
If a retailer offers carbon neutral energy, they will advertise it on their website, or list it in the details of their energy plans. Some retailers offer carbon neutral as standard, while others charge an additional fee to make your plan carbon neutral.
Retailers can apply to be certified by Climate Active, the government’s climate scheme. To be certified, they need to pass several checks and balances, so if you see the Climate Active logo on their website or on your bill, you can be sure they are the real deal.
You can take a look at all the brands that are Climate Active certified here. (TIP: you can filter by utility companies if you are specifically interested in finding a carbon neutral energy company.)
It is also possible to find retailers that are 100% carbon neutral but are not registered with Climate Active. You can ask the retailer for more information about their carbon offsets if you need more confidence in their claim.
Some of Australia’s leading carbon neutral energy retailers are listed below.
|EnergyAustralia||No extra cost||Climate Active|
|Simply Energy||No extra cost|
|ActewAGL||Gas – $1 per week|
|AGL||Electricity – $1 per week
Gas – $0.50 per week
|PowerDirect||Electricity – $1 per week|
|Origin||Electricity – $1.50 per week
Gas – $1 per week
|Energy Locals||No extra cost||n/a|
Some other companies, including Red Energy, Lumo Energy, CovaU, Tango and Momentum Energy, are not certified as carbon neutral but are committed to the GreenPower initiative, which allows customers to purchase electricity from renewable sources, therefore reducing their carbon footprint and contributing to a net-zero future.
If you are interested in moving your electricity connection to a carbon neutral or green supplier, give the team at Move-In Connect a call on 1300 786 045 and our experts can do all the work for you. Our moving utilities services are 100% free of charge and not only will we will find you the perfect plans, but we will also arrange your new electricity connection for you and save you money at the same time!