Participate in the Market

In collaboration with the Clean Energy Regulator, the CMI has hosted workshops, seminars and webinars to provide foundational information about Australia’s carbon markets, including market drivers and supply and demand dynamics. This webinar, Participating in Australia’s carbon markets to meet corporate climate goals, provides a detailed overview of the opportunities to use carbon markets to achieve climate goals. It is aimed at participants who may be new to carbon markets, as well as those exploring new options for further participation. The webinar explains the current drivers of emissions reductions, and provides an overview of Australia’s policies and how to participate in the schemes. The presentation can be found here. 

Going Carbon Neutral

Carbon neutrality is achieved when greenhouse gas emissions (emissions) from an activity, process or for an entire organisation have been reduced to zero. For business this can be done through improvements in energy efficiency, changes to operations and procurement strategies, and using carbon credits to compensate for any remaining emissions.

Carbon Neutrality featurette owned and produced by Acciona.

Offsetting

Carbon offsetting is investing in projects that reduce emissions or remove them from the atmosphere. Projects include: reforestation, investing in renewable energy, reducing emissions through energy efficiency, and/or more efficient agricultural processes. You can view a comprehensive list of Australian offset projects in our Carbon Project Registry.

Once you have invested money in a project, you receive carbon credits (the emissions reductions created from the project) that can be used to offset, or balance out the emissions released from your business activities.

Carbon offset projects

In Australia there are many different types of projects that can generate carbon credits. To generate credits, project developers must adhere to strict guidelines and scientific methods that govern how a specific project will reduce emissions. There are strict measurement and verification processes to assure emissions reductions are genuine.

The Australian Government’s Climate Active program provides a list of offset units (or carbon credits) eligible for making carbon neutral claims. These offset credits have met the integrity criteria that ensure that genuine carbon reductions have occurred.

When purchasing credits to go carbon neutral and/or meet certification requirements, organisations must engage a broker to ensure the right amount and type of credits are acquired. In many cases the broker will also be the carbon consultant assisting with the measurement, verification and reporting activities undertaken in the carbon neutrality or certification process. You can view a comprehensive list of brokers and carbon consultants in the Market Directory here..

View Australian Carbon Project Registry

Purchasing offsets


Businesses might purchase credits to offset corporate travel. Individuals might offset household or personal vehicle emissions. There are several organisations to purchase offsets from (public carbon offset retailers). Some are featured below, a complete list of online retailers can be found in the Market Directory’s Online Offset Retailers.


Certification

Carbon neutral certification gives businesses a credible stamp against their carbon neutral claim. In Australia, the Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard sets the basis for best practice carbon accounting and the rules on offsetting for carbon neutral claims. The Australian Government’s Climate Active Carbon Neutral Program provides carbon neutral certification against the Standard. Categories of certification against the Standard include for organisations, products and services, events, precincts and buildings.

CARBON NEUTRAL CERTIFICATION

The Australian Government certifies organisations, products, services, events and precincts against the Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard. The NABERS National Administrator and Green Building Council of Australia provide certification for buildings. The certification trademark is available for use by certified entities that hold a licence agreement.

The trademark demonstrates climate leadership, and that certified organisations, products, services, events, buildings or precincts have achieved carbon neutrality in a credible and transparent way. Carbon neutral certification can also result in increased customer recognition; a new competitive edge; enhanced corporate social responsibility; positive social and environmental outcomes; improved employee engagement and community connection; energy and cost savings; networking opportunities with other certified entities.

Carbon Credits

There are several types of carbon credits. Each credit represents one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2-e). Credits are able to be used to offset emissions against compliance liabilities (in accordance with Australian Government emissions reduction related legislation) or to make voluntary carbon neutral claims and/or become carbon neutral certified.

For the purposes of compliance with national emissions reduction legislation (for Australian business) and managing its emission reduction obligations under the Paris Agreement, the Australian Government tracks the movement of carbon credits through the Australian National Registry of Emissions Units (ANREU). You can find further information about the types of units that can be held and traded through the ANREU here.

Organisations wishing to offset their emissions for a carbon neutral claim, are able to use a variety of different Australian domestic and international credits. Carbon credits currently eligible are listed below. When using a carbon credit to make a carbon neutral claim, that unit must be cancelled or retired in a public registry at the time of the claim.

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Project Types

Australia is home to a diverse range of carbon offset projects – from those rebuilding and protecting natural landscapes, biodiversity and agriculture, to those offering emission reduction opportunities for commercial and industrial facilities and operations. With Australia’s significant land mass and abundant natural resources comes the opportunity for our nation to scale up our carbon offsetting project capacity and turn the nation’s domestic carbon offsets industry into a force for international competitiveness and leadership in the creation of high quality, low sovereign risk carbon credits and associated benefits.

Australian carbon offset projects are governed by different national and international methods, legislation and international standards, and consequently generate a variety of different carbon credits units that are accepted under national legislation and fungible in international markets.

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International projects

Although the types of carbon offset projects available in Australia can be found elsewhere in the world, there are a number of project types that are more common internationally. These projects are focused on supporting sustainable development goals for natural landscapes and inhabited regions in developing countries. Additionally, some project types are focused on enabling local developing communities to support and protect natural environments that are unique to their geographical location around the planet (particularly large areas of tropical rainforests that are critical to global CO2 sequestration efforts).

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Kariba REDD+ Project, Zimbabwe

Video commissioned by, and included with permission from South Pole Group.

Huoshui Grouped Hydropower Project, China

Video commissioned by, and included with permission from South Pole Group.

Co-Benefits

When businesses purchase offset credits, they are not only lowering global emissions, but are also contributing to social, cultural and economic outcomes for local communities involved in the carbon offsetting project. These outcomes are called co-benefits. Many businesses choose their offset units to align with their own corporate values and as a way to engage employees and staff in the organisation’s carbon neutral story.

It is in this context that emissions reduction is no longer viewed by the global community as an isolated goal – climate change is inherently linked to so many other challenges (and SDGs) that communities around the world now face, and will be affected by in the years to come. Around the world carbon projects are increasingly being viewed in a SDG lens, and incorporating co-benefits is becoming a basic requirement for developing any new projects. Understanding the SDGs and how carbon projects can deliver on each goal is critical for ensuring Australian credits are aligned internationally, as well as promoting sustainable growth in Australia.

For nations, communities and organisations that operate across the globe, combining emissions reduction activities with other SDG projects ensures a more efficient and effective way of dealing with multiple challenges through a single channel, resulting in climate change ‘co-benefits’ – broadly categorised as environmental, social and economic co-benefits.

On September 25th 2015, countries adopted a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years to 2030. .

Why are co-benefits important for business?


Investing in carbon mitigation projects not only helps the environment, but depending on the structure, location, technology and community engagement can work towards other SDG’s such as poverty reduction, health improvement, and better water sanitation.

Purchasing carbon credits from verified projects enable organisations looking to offset (or go carbon neutral), to support the delivery of co-benefits associated with the project. Co-benefits are increasingly being seen as commercially valuable aspects of offsetting as they provide multiple benefits to the communities in which the projects operate – credits from these projects are often valued at a higher price. Research by the International Carbon Reduction & Offset Alliance (ICROA) suggests that every tonne of CO2 offset can deliver a staggering USD$664 in additional economic, social and environmental benefits.

Selecting projects with certain co-benefits are a way of aligning the offsetting process with an organisation’s culture and values. Companies can derive further value through increased community engagement, stronger internal engagement and cohesion around the offsetting narrative, and improved reputational benefits – supporting communities and initiatives that align with the interests and values of consumers helps to position organisations as a brand of choice in the marketplace.

Here in Australia, Indigenous groups and project developers are beginning to look at ways to value and price co-benefits, to enable wealth creation around sustainable development (environmental, social, economic) goals.

Receiving Financial Advice

In light of the information supplied throughout the Marketplace pertaining to the trading of carbon credits in Australia, it is important to review the below information about requirements for an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL). Make sure to check the whether the third party you engage must hold an AFSL to conduct its advisory or trading services.

Updated Regulatory Guide RG236 released on 20th May 2015 details new carbon market licensing requirements:

In summary the fundamental requirements remain unchanged.

  • ACCUs and EIEUs are financial products.
  • Derivatives on regulated emission units and voluntary (non-regulated) emission units such as RECs, ESCs, VEEC’s, EUAs, NZUs, VCUs are also financial products.
  • Certain project aggregation arrangements could qualify as a Managed Investment Scheme. The units of such arrangements, depending on structure, could also be considered financial products.
  • Providing financial advice relating to, and dealing, making a market, operating a registered managed investment scheme, provide custody services in the above-mentioned products will require an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL). Please be aware that certain exemptions may exist.

A new development, as flagged in the initial consultation paper, is that Abatement Contracts are no longer considered a financial product. Abatement contracts are contracts between project proponents or aggregators and the Clean Energy Regulator (CER), to sell ACCU’s generated under the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) for the Emission Reductions Fund (ERF). At the moment, Abatement Contracts are awarded through an auction process. Any forward transaction component in these contracts, which would normally be classified as a derivative, are no longer defined as financial products.

Consequently, it is no longer a requirement to hold an AFSL to be able to provide advice and deal in ACCU’s in transactions with the CER in relation to the ERF.

It is important to highlight that all other ACCU related financial services still require an AFSL. This would include providing financial advice on projects where the ACCU’s won’t be offered to the ERF, small transactions with third parties to compensate for a shortfall in an Abatement Contract, or to sell ACCUs generated by a project past the term of the Abatement Contract.

View AFSL Information from the Clean Energy Regulator
View ASIC Regulatory Guide 236
Offsetting FAQs

Below are the answers to some of the most asked questions about offsetting and procurement of carbon credits. If you have additional questions about this process you can connect with a wide range of professionals to assist in the Market Directory here.