Carbon Offset Opportunities in Australia

14 August 2012

carbon offsetCarbon Offset Opportunities in Australia

By Noel McArdle

Currently there are two types, or categories, of carbon offsets which may be purchased in Australia:

  • Technological offsets
  • Bio-sequestration offsets

Broadly speaking, the technological offsets are those offsets derived from improvements or changes in technology.  This includes savings from switching from incandescent light globes to the more efficient florescent, LED or low wattage halogen lights.  This is why, a few years ago, companies found it economically profitable for them to give away in shopping centres low energy light globes and low flow shower heads in exchange for just recording your name and residential details.  These savings were then added up and sold daily on the Sydney Exchange to emitters who wanted to offset their carbon pollution.  In just the same way, saving from Solar Panels, which householders might install on their roofs, are calculated over the lifetime of the unit and sold on the Exchange.

Bio-sequestration offsets are those offsets derived from the carbon dioxide absorption by trees or other organic source.   In the future it is also likely that soil carbon may be included and also plant carbon.  For instance, in the USA on the Chicago Exchange, farmers who grow Alfalfa are able to claim a carbon credit which is sold on the Exchange.

The reality is that now carbon legislation is introduced in Australia there are not enough physical carbon credits (of either the technical or bio types) available in Australia to satisfy the demand for carbon permits.  The only alternative in such a situation will be for the Australian Government to issue paper certificates at the rate of $23 per tonne.  Many companies view the purchase of Government issued carbon credit certificates as no more than a payment for a right to pollute.  It is somewhat akin to purchasing an Indulgence for the forgiveness of the sins that one has committed.  But in reality – no carbon will have been sequestered by the issuing of such a paper certificate.  In stark contrast, trees ACTUALLY DO SEQUESTER CARBON DIOXIDE FROM THE ATMOSPHERE.  Herein lies the opportunity to replace much of our lost native forests and woodlands.


The major accounting firms estimate that worldwide the carbon industry will become the largest capital market on international exchanges and exceed the value of all oil and coal markets combined.  The carbon industry today is where the computer industry was in the 1960’s and it will grow to exceed the IT industry in size.  Even at the relatively low introductory price of $23 per tonne, the Australian Government estimates an industry revenue flow of $14 billion per annum derived from the payment and purchase of carbon offsets.

The carbon market presents:

  • An unprecedented opportunity to leverage the emergence of the carbon market and its requirement for carbon credits as a mechanism to revegetate and restore native forests which can supply those bio-sequestrated carbon offsets.
  • An economic incentive for landowners to restore native vegetation as they start to see an economic benefit from growing, rather than destroying, native vegetation, in order that they can participate in the carbon market through Carbon Farming.

 The Carbon market can be the vehicle to increase native revegetation within Australia.

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South Australia
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