If you’ve changed some of your habits and have embraced a sustainable lifestyle, but you want to go one step further by offsetting your carbon emissions this podcast episode is for you.
I’m joined by Louise Tarrier, CEO of Carbon Positive Australia. Louise will share how individuals and organisations can easily offset their carbon emissions to become carbon neutral and create a better future for us all.
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how does carbon offsetting work and why is it so important?
That’s a really good question because carbon isn’t a bad thing. But because we have been burning fossil fuels, and putting that carbon into the atmosphere, that’s now having a real effect around warming our planet. And I think most people now have probably got to the stage where they say that the science around this is correct. We are heating our planet. Certainly here in Australia we’re starting to see the real impacts of that happening.
Carbon offsetting is important because we’re emitting it into places that we shouldn’t, but also, we are carbon too. If we can plant more trees and plants, then they will take the carbon, they also do something called sequestering and that carbon gets locked back into that vegetation. Then its back where it needs to be rather than in the atmosphere, eating everything up.
So it really evens out the carbon cycle. It’s not like we are tipping it into one extreme, we’re pulling it back into forms of where we want to carbon to be.
Exactly. As an organisation, what we do is we help individuals understanding what their actual carbon footprint it. They can come onto our website, they can look at our calculator and start to enter their information. And we do that historically, so we are looking at the carbon footprint over, say the last year by taking your electricity bills etc and entering it into the calculator to work out how much carbon you have been emitting as an individual or as a family.
For example, your car has an impact as well as flights (before Covid had an impact). You can put that information into the calculator and it will tell you exactly how much carbon you are emitting so you can work on ways to reduce your footprint such as taking the bus instead of getting in your car, not taking as many flights or looking at other ways to generate electricity. After reducing what you can, you will be probably be left with a little that you can’t reduce. And what we would like you to do is then think about how you can offset that and how you can basically help us with out projects to plant trees and vegetation, which will sequester that carbon out of the atmosphere over time.
what are the benefits for individuals in offsetting their carbon emissions?
On a personal level, we can feel like we are making an environmental impact, which is always a good thing. When you are locking up carbon back into vegetation it takes time. It’s not going to happen overnight. You don’t just plant a tree and from day one expect it to sequester that carbon.
I think it’s really important for individuals to know about the carbon offsets when planting trees, but also the habitat that is being created.
For example, here in Western Australia, we have huge impacts with salinity in the land. So planting trees can help combat salinity.
In terms of trees, we’re a part of nature. Having trees in our environment is very important to us as individuals. I think there is a certain love of the country life as well, and our love for our environment can make us want to plant trees. Our carbon offset programs are planting trees in Australia, so we are helping your local community and your local wildlife species.
It’s really about regenerating our local and regional environments where we live.
what are the benefits for organisation in offsetting their carbon emissions?
We’ve actually just done a survey on this very subject!
One of the really interesting things that came out of the survey was that the most important thing for most of the organisations was how management felt about it, and how the employees felt about it.
Organisations are made up of individuals, and those individuals have a real influence on what the organisation does. So I would say to anyone that’s reading this post, that you have real people power within your organisation to make them want to journey towards becoming carbon neutral. Quite often, what we find is that it can be done through things like employee giving. So an employee will say, ‘Hey, I want to do something to give back to the environment,’ and they will have those conversations. This causes a shift in the whole organisation and how they actually think about the environment and what they think about the journey as a whole.
Survey respondents also highlighted the importance of gaining respect from their customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. If an organisation can demonstrate they are being corporately responsible, that can enhance their brand.
There are even more flow on benefits from that too. I find, particularly with the younger generation, and even with my generation, GenX, people want to be proud of who they work for, whether they are a small business or a large corporation. You want to work for an organisation that’s aligned with your values.
More people are demanding that their organisation do more and that they walk the walk, and carbon neutral just goes hand in hand with that and helps organisations to create the future of tomorrow.
I’ve seen first hand at career expos where graduates are boycotting some multinational companies for environmental and social reasons. It goes to show that companies that are taking responsibility and focusing on becoming carbon neutral, are going to be able to attract and recruit the best brains!
how does carbon positive australia help individuals and organisations offset their carbon footprint and become carbon neutral?
Being able to call yourself carbon neutral is actually quite a complex thing. You apply through an organisation called Climate Active. This means that the project you offset is verified. For some organisations this is something they really want to be able to do because then they have specific standards that they must report against.
But for most organisations and individuals, you wouldn’t need to go down the path of registering. You just need to know what your output is, and then offset it so carbon footprint is neutral.
When Carbon Positive Australia starts a project, we will work out through something called the fulcrum method (it’s a bit complex). It’s a methodology that the governments Emissions Reduction Fund Scheme, says is a way you can measure what potential carbon you are going to get out of the atmosphere and back into the trees and vegetation.
So at the beginning of a project we will calculate these figures so we can say that this particular site with sequester this much carbon over a period of time. People (individuals and organisations) can then invest in that project and they will know how much carbon they are offsetting.
Carbon Positive Australia only works on projects in Australia but if you are overseas you can still offset your carbon emissions through us. But I’m also a big advocate of local community, so first I would encourage you to research similar programs in your local area. But you can still absolutely invest in our Australia based projects.
what is carbon farming and how can we get involved?
This is a really exciting project that is being supported by Lotterywest.
Carbon Care is an initiative that looks at land that’s available for planting, and works with the landholder to initially discover what stops them from planting on the land. In Australia we have large amounts of land and some of them have be left and degraded over time. Most landholders care deeply for their land and look after it well, but there are still large areas that are potentially available for planting on.
What we want to understand is, particularly from the farming community, is how much of their land could potentially become available for carbon planting. Those planting (trees and vegetation) could just be putting back the land to its native state. Or it could be planting a tree such as a native sandelwood that produces products for the farmer and can be cut down at the end of its lifecycle.
where can we support climate positive australia?
You can visit our website www.carbonpositiveaustralia.org.au and you can find us on the usual social networks (see links below).
I’d urge you to take a look at our Instagram as there are some beautiful photos on there that have been curated for a calendar competition. The photos are absolutely stunning!
I would encourage our listeners to take a look at the Carbon Positive Australia website and take the time to calculate your carbon footprint. There are lots of tips for reducing your environmental impact plus a range of projects you can invest in to offset your carbon emissions. If you’re not in Australia, spend some time researching local organisations that offer the same services as Carbon Positive Australia.
Over to you!
Do you have any tips for reducing your carbon emissions? Share in the comments below!
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