General

How does partnering with Carbon Neutral have a positive impact on the environment?

Purchasing in the carbon market or assisting with reforestation has numerous benefits for the environment, some examples are:

  • The purchase and surrender of carbon offsets has a distinct impact - the reduction of carbon in the atmosphere.
  • The Plant-a-Tree program helps restore Australian biodiverse habitat, and contributes to expanding a natural carbon sink.
  • Additionally the positive impact can be further magnified by implementing energy reduction strategies, which we can help with.
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.

Which countries does Carbon Neutral work in?

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

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

Is my purchase tax deductible?

Carbon Neutral Pty Ltd is a ‘profit for purpose’ company. The purchase of trees or carbon credits by business clients may be a tax deductible business expense but organisations will need to seek their own independent tax advice. For example, 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. For others it may be to meet environmental supply chain / procurement pressures along the value chain.

Carbon Credits / Offsets

What is a carbon credit?

Carbon offsetting is a market-based mechanism and is typically transacted in metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e). Purchasing one tonne of carbon offset means there will be one less tonne of carbon dioxide (or an equivalent greenhouse gas) in the atmosphere than there otherwise would have been.

Additionally, high quality carbon credits are issued in compliance with a number of schemes and standards to meet crucial criteria such as:

  • The offsets are real (tangible) and are measurable!
  • Additional – The emission reduction would not have occurred in the absence of the project.
  • Permanent - The project actually delivers the claimed emissions reductions.
  • No Leakage - The emissions reduction achieved with the project does not lead to an increase in emissions elsewhere.
  • Retired permanently - Following the sale of the carbon credit, it is permanently removed from the market mechanism, ensuring that the offsets have a clrealy registered ownership and that they can never be sold again (ie. no double counting or double selling).
  • Verified - Occurs periodically throughout the life of the project to ensure it meets its intended goals of carbon storage.
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 third 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.

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.

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.

The Compliance (or Regulatory) Market is where relevant legislation requires companies to measure and report their organisational carbon emissions.

What examples of certification standards are there?

There are a number of Standards across the globe, including

CER (CDM) – Certified Emission Reduction

Gold Standard VER – Voluntary Emission Reductions

VCU (VCS) – Verified Carbon Units

CCBA – Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance

ACCU (Australia) – Australian Carbon Credit Units

CFI (CCX) – Carbon Financial Instrument

REC – Renewable Energy Certificates

What certification standard does Carbon Neutral use?

Carbon Neutral reforestation projects have been certified under the Gold Standard Foundation Land Use and Forestry certification.  Carbon Neutral credits are Gold Standard VERs.

Carbon Neutral also sells reforestation projects that are unaccredited through their Biodiverse Reforestation Carbon Offsets (BRCOs)

Additionally, other typical international standards that Carbon Neutral source for clients are VCS, REDDs and CDM CERs. Carbon Neutral is also licensed to sell ACCUs.

What about Carbon Neutral's unaccredited offsets?

For our Plant-a-Tree program, we monitor tree survival rates annually for the first 3 years. Periodically, the trees are audited independently and these monitoring reports can be found on the website.  We also maintain an internal database and assign each tree a unique identifier to ensure no double-selling or double counting.

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. The major benefit in supporting Australian projects with Carbon Neutral is you are helping to restore Australian biodiversity, which means the native, endemic flora and fauna can return.

Once I have offset my emissions, is my organisation 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.

Trees

Why trees?

Trees remove/capture carbon from the atmosphere, today and every day.

Carbon capture and storage projects, which are essential for reducing emissions in the concrete and waste disposal industries, have also ground to a halt. The latest report by the IPCC warned that deforestation for agriculture was turning a natural carbon sink into a source of emissions.

Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen while cleaning the air we breathe, they filter the water we drink and provide habitat to over 80% of the word’s biodiversity. Additionally forests provide jobs to over 1.6 billion people, and are key ingredients in one quarter of all medicines. They capture and slow down water in places that are at risk of floods. A single tree can be home to hundreds of species of insect, fungi, moss, mammals, and plants. All the benefits of planting trees and reforesting are too numerous to list!

Trees: what species, where and when are they planted?

Species planted are predominantly drought-tolerant Eucalypts and woody-stemmed Acacias that are endemic to the area. We plant over 60 species of trees and shrubs to encourage biodiversity.  We do not plant a monoculture.

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 up to 97% of the land has been cleared.

Trees are planted after the first rains of winter – generally between June and August. This ensures adequate water availability to give the trees and shrubs a great start.

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 approved by the international Gold Standard Foundation. 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”.

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. For larger eucalyptus species that may be when it achieves mature growth at year 25-35.  Within a 100 year project, 80% of sequestration would happen in the first 30 years.

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

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, we currently adopt 15 trees per tonne as a conservative estimate, though this may vary from 10 to 15 depending on the site, terrain and rainfall. It is important to remember this is an estimate from our Planting Contractor and Developer; it can deviate from this number due to several factors.

What is stopping the trees from 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.

What happens if the trees die or there’s a fire?

Unlike monocultures, biodiverse plantings are more resilient to fire. Carbon Neutral employs a number of fire protection strategies such as geographic separation, firebreaks and control measures. Fire insurance is annually renewed and held for 3 years after which eucalyptus woodland’s natural adaptations survive though bushfire. Using local multispecies that have evolved with fire means that they will regenerate through a ‘lignotuber’ as in the case of Eucalypts and seeds spread around by shrubs and other trees that will germinate with the next rains

For Gold Standard projects, if the area cannot be re-forested, the project developer will need to compensate the loss of carbon through the purchase of other Gold Standard certificates. If a project is fully bankrupt, the Gold Standard buffer comes into play. This buffer consists of certificates from all forest projects and functions similar to an insurance pool  and replaces credits from projects that have failed. For the current planting, 20% of the net CO2 fixation (251,400 tonnes) is being held as a buffer under Gold Standard compliance.

Will I know where my trees are planted? Can I provide a link for this on my business website?

Currently all trees are planted in the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor. You can see them virtually through some of the great videos we have on our YouTube channel and can link the videos to your business or organisation.

For logistical reasons, Carbon Neutral cannot provide information as to where specific trees are planted. This is because Carbon Neutral does broad acre (large scale) plantings each winter so that the trees and shrubs are given the best chance at survival.

Can I go and 'visit' my trees in person?

Yes, 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. The trees can be seen growing from numerous public roads but we discourage members of the public walking in for biosecurity and H&S reasons.