A.     General

1.      Is my purchase of offsets or trees tax deductible?

Carbon Neutral Pty Ltd is a 'profit for purpose' company. The purchase of trees or offsets by Business Clients may be a tax deductible business expense but businesses will need to seek their own independent tax advice. For some, it's a marketing or branding expense to create a point of difference, or to demonstrate to customers they are doing something to help the environment. Or it may be to meet environmental supply chain / procurement pressures along the value chain.

2.      Does Carbon Neutral work in countries other than Australia?

YES, we work with companies from around the globe to offset their emissions – as climate does not heed country boundaries.  We also source international offsets types from a variety of countries – both advanced and developing nations.

An Internet Online Banking Overseas Payment Fee (normally AU$20 per transaction) charged by our financial institution will be added to your invoice.

3.      What accreditation does Carbon Neutral have?

Carbon Neutral is a registered offset provider under the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI). Carbon Neutral has obtained an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) as required by ASIC to sell Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs). Carbon Neutral is a member of the Carbon Trade Exchange (CTX) and is able to supply internationally accredited offsets from a variety of standards.

4.      Can I save money by becoming a carbon neutral organisation?

In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, financial savings can be achieved by improving your operational efficiency, especially from reducing your electricity and water use and minimising waste generation. Developing a carbon management plan that sets targets and measures is recommended as the next step once you have identified your carbon footprint as this generally improves your efficiency and reduces your costs as well delivering environmental benefits.

Investing in infrastructure such as telecommuting technology (to reduce transport emissions) or renewable energy like Solar PV Systems although initial costs are high can deliver significant medium to long term benefits in terms of reducing ongoing operational costs as well as reducing carbon emissions.

5.      Why should I do something when the Federal Government is launching Direct Action?

All leading economists and international bodies addressing climate change saw the move to abolish the carbon tax and introduce “direct action” in Australia as being expensive and unlikely to achieve the 5% reduction target in GHG emissions on 2000 levels by 2020. Climate change scientists and economists prefer a market based mechanism.

In order for catastrophic climate change to be avoided, it is generally agreed the best chance for staying below the 2°C average rise in global temperature requires global emissions to begin declining now.  Even with a major focus on energy efficiency, a switch to renewable energy (solar and wind) and electric cars, with population growth, a reduction in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will require sequestration of carbon through activities such as tree planting.

B.     Offsets

1.      What is an international carbon credit?

Most carbon credits are issued in compliance with the Kyoto Protocol Mechanism. The vast majority of carbon offset projects are located in Asia, Africa and the Americas. For a carbon offset to be accredited within the Protocol, it has to meet crucial criteria, including:

Additionality – The emission reduction would not have occurred in the absence of the project

Permanence – The project actually delivers the claimed emissions reductions

Leakage – The emissions reduction achieved with the project does not lead to an increase in emissions elsewhere

Retirement – Following the sale of the carbon credit, it is permanently removed from the market mechanism, ensuring that the offsets have a clearly registered ownership and that they can never be sold again (ie. no double counting)

2.      Why are Australian offsets relatively expensive?

A large number of international carbon offsets are based on low-cost projects such as wind, hydro electricity or large-scale methane reduction projects in developing countries that have a very low cost base. Many of these projects result in very large numbers of credits created each year.

Planting trees is a labour- and capital-intensive activity, and the overall cost base in Australia is disproportionally higher than in countries of the developing world. Before trees can be planted, a substantial amount of upfront work must be done: From the selection and purchase of land to site preparation, survey of endemic plant species and planting. Ongoing control, management and care of a planting site must be ensured (pest, weed and fire control). The planting sites are monitored by independent third parties. The planting site is legally protected for 100 years.

3.      What is the Voluntary market, and what is the Compliance market?

In the Voluntary Market, organisations volunteer to offset their carbon emissions by purchasing carbon credits that reduce the amount of CO2-e in the atmosphere. They do not have any legal or other obligation to offset their organisational carbon emissions. Companies may choose to offset because the activity aligns well with their Corporate Social Responsibility policies, supply chain or procurement pressure, staff engagement or marketing strategy or is simply something they want to do.

The Compliance (or Regulatory) Market is where relevant legislation requires companies to measure and report their organisational carbon emissions. In the compliance market, organisations buy carbon offsets in order to act in accordance with regulations.

4.      What are Accredited / Unaccredited offsets?

Accredited carbon offset projects are assessed, verified and certified under strictly regulated and controlled global standards that comply with the Kyoto Protocol Mechanism. Projects must comply with strict standards, they have to undergo independent verification through 3rd parties and they are subject to regular and ongoing review and auditing mechanisms. Accredited offsets can be used in both, the Compliance as well as the Voluntary Markets. Certifications standards include:

  • Gold Standard: selling Voluntary Emission Reductions (VERs)
  • Carbon Farming Initiative: selling Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs)
  • Voluntary Carbon Standard: selling Verified Carbon Units (VCUs)

Unaccredited offsets do not have to comply with any standards; the project developer can apply its own guidelines or protocols, and projects do not have to undergo the same rigorous mechanisms as accredited offsets. Unaccredited offsets can only be used in the Voluntary market, they are not acceptable in the Compliance Market.

5. Once I have offset my emissions, is my organisation then carbon neutral forever?

No, because a business as an ongoing concern will continue to emit emissions as long as it operates. Offsets must be purchased at least once every twelve months so that an organisation can maintain its ‘carbon neutral’ status on a continuous basis.

C.     Trees

1. What trees do you plant?

Species planted are predominantly drought-tolerant Eucalypts and woody-stemmed Acacias that are endemic to the area. We plant 20-40 species of trees and shrubs.

2. Where do you plant trees?

Carbon Neutral has planted trees across more than 140 sites in WA and SA.  Our focus in now on the Mid West of WA Wheatbelt in the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor, an area where more than 90% of the land has been cleared.

3. Will you plant in the eastern states?

Our focus is on the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor because of its unique attributes in being a heavily cleared landscape, with a high level of degraded farmland, within a globally recognised biodiversity ‘hotspot’ and with the opportunity to create habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna species.

4. When do you plant trees?

Trees are planted in the winter (May-July).

5. How do you measure carbon stored in tree plantings?

Trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and store the carbon in their leaves, branches, stems, bark and roots. Approximately half the dry weight of a tree’s biomass is carbon. One tonne of C = 3.67 tonnes of ‘carbon dioxide equivalent’ (CO2-e).

We measure woody biomass (stems, leaves and roots). On-ground measurement of carbon is based on detailed growth models using specie specific allometric equations to reflect the amount of carbon stored in the forest. These measurements and sampling techniques are part of our methodology development under the Australian Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative. Carbon Neutral is also a contributor under CSIRO’s project “CFI Methodology and Tool Development – Estimation of change in biomass carbon in complex woody systems”.

6. How long does it take to capture the carbon?

Carbon is captured as the tree grows and stores the carbon in their leaves, branches, stems, bark and roots. Within a 100 year project, 80% of sequestration would happen in the first 30 years.

7. How much CO2 does one tree absorb, or how many trees sequester 1 tonne of CO2-e?

Carbon sequestration is measured on a per hectare basis. That may vary from 100 to 300 tonnes CO2-e per ha at year 30 depending on site and rainfall. Tree density also varies from 500 to 2000 stems per hectare. Measuring trees per tonne CO2 is therefore highly variable. As a rule of thumb, however, we currently adopt 7 trees per tonne as a conservative estimate, though this may vary from 4 to 15 depending on the site, terrain and rainfall.

8. What is your verification process?

We monitor tree survival rates annually for the first 3 years and maintain an internal database or register of all sites and all allocations. This is audited periodically.

9. What's stopping trees being cut down?

Our planting sites are legally protected by a 100 year Carbon Right and Carbon Covenant which is registered on the land title. This means the current landowner (and subsequent landowners if sites are sold) must not damage or remove trees for 100 years.  This also complies with the Kyoto Protocol.

10. What happens if trees die or there's a fire?

Where there is an area of planting that has failed, in-fill occurs where practical.  Fire insurance is annually renewed.  Unlike monocultures, biodiverse plantings are more resilient to fire.

11. Will I know where my trees are planted? Can I provide a link for this on my business web site?

For logistical reasons, Carbon Neutral is moving to a pool or portfolio approach. Some clients may contractually choose to be associated with a specific site or area. A selection of annual monitoring or progress reports is maintained on our website and you can link through to these documents.

12. Can I go and visit ‘my trees’?

The Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor is 400km north of Perth (in a relatively remote region), however July and August are always a wonderful time of the year to visit the locale of the trees as it is wildflower season and the area bursts into bloom.  Our tree plantings are able to be viewed from a number of public roads.

† as defined by leading scientists and conservation groups, including Conservation International and WWF