Frequently Asked Questions

8 May 2012

frequently asked questions - FAQBy Noel McArdle

 

If Australia accounts for only 1% of the World’s Carbon Emissions, why does Australia need to take a Leadership Role in Resolving the Problem at the Expense of our Economic Prosperity?

Australians have the highest level of carbon emissions per person in the developed economies of the world.

Australians emit 26 tonnes of CO2e per person per annum.   Australian emissions are higher than even the average American citizen, who emits 24 tonnes per person per year. Comparatively, Britain has a carbon emission level of 11 tonnes of CO2e. emissions per person per annum; China has 4 tonnes; Japan 11 tonnes and Europe 10.5tonnes.

These comparative emission levels demonstrate why it is that Australia has a global responsibility to show leadership in climate change and emission reduction.  A change to a lower emission economy will require a period of economic adjustment.  This is an unavoidable economic reality, as we have never priced the remedial cost of emissions into our marketing pricing structure.  Moreover, it is worth emphasising, that whilst there can be a world without an economy – there can be no economy without a world.

 

What are Carbon Consultants?

Carbon Consultants are firms who are able to measure the carbon footprint of a business, work with that business to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint and secure carbon offsets for the business to make the company carbon neutral.  Some, like ECO, also work with the landowners providing them with advice on the growing of trees which meet Kyoto planting standards.

 

What is the difference between Carbon Offsets and Carbon Credits?

Carbon Credits and Carbon Offsets are essentially the same thing.  A carbon credit is an amount of carbon (measured in units of one tonne), which is purchased by an emitter to offset the greenhouse gas emissions of a business or residence.

 

What are Carbon Offsets?

Carbon Offsets fall into one of three basic categories: –

  • Biosequestration;
  • Mechanical / Technological;
  • or Government Permits.

Biosequestration offsets are those which nature itself uses to absorb carbon from the atmosphere.  The most common offsets are those created by planting trees.  In the future these offsets may well include soil carbon offsets and algae based offsets. 

In contrast, Mechanical or Technological based offsets arise from human technology.  These include offset mechanisms such as emission reductions, which can arise from householders installing solar panels; or from electrical power generation from wind farms; or iron ore smelter operators who might cut emissions by placing industrial filters on their chimneys.

There is also a third type of offset – which is one created by Government.  These types of offset are legislative based offsets and are permits issued by governments to polluters.  These may be either provided at a price or allocated without charge as part of a process of minimising adverse economic impact on major industries.

 

What are my Options when I Purchase Carbon Offsets?

A business desiring to purchase a carbon offset can choose from amongst these three types of offsets: 

  • Registered;
  • Certified;
  • or Verified.

All categories of offsets are obliged to meet specified standards.  These may be offsets provided by external entities such as Government or independent companies like us at ECO. Or they may be offsets captured from within any individual organisation, such as industries which have captured carbon emissions that would otherwise have been vented into the atmosphere – say a steel plant that has provided a protective filter on a steel chimney.    

There are three types of Emission Reduction Units (commonly abbreviated to ERs)

 

What is Carbon Neutral?

After a business has measured its carbon footprint, it may purchase carbon offsets to negate their carbon emissions.  A company is then classed as carbon neutral.

 

How much does ECO charge for each Tonne of Carbon Offsets?

We charge a price of $25 per tonne – which is a slight premium on the Australian Government’s price of $23 per tonne.  This reflects the additional costs incurred in biodiverse native tree plantations. 

 

What is Carbon Farming?

Carbon Farming is the term given to the growing of trees, compliant with Kyoto or individual national planting standards, for the purposes of absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.  This is then sold on the carbon market to emitters of greenhouse gases as carbon offsets.

 

Can the Quantum of Carbon Dioxide sequestered by trees each year be measured?

Yes.  There are various ways, including: on-ground truthing.  We also use the Australian Greenhouse Office’s / CSIRO’s/ NCAS FullCAM 3 toolbox model;  Sequestration rates for various climatic zones in the Australian Murray Darling Basin; and the CRC for Greenhouse’s Tree Carbon Calculator.

 

Are some Species of Tree better than others in Sequestering CO2?

In Australia, the eucalyptus mallee is particularly good at sequestering CO2.  The bulbous lignotuber at the base of mallee trees, which is mostly below ground, can sequester approximately 40% of the tree’s carbon.  This means it is particularly resistant to fire damage.

 

What are the Main Factors which affect the ability of trees to sequester Carbon Dioxide from the Atmosphere?

Climate; rainfall; soil type, and tree species are the main factors affecting carbon sequestration.

 

What Happens if there is a Drought?

Australian vegetation has adapted over millennia to tolerate Australian conditions.  This includes cyclical drought conditions.  Mallee trees have evolved in low rainfall areas and yet they still sequester prodigious amounts of carbon dioxide.   One of the reasons for this is that Mallee trees are not merely reliant on rainfall.  Their root systems, which can go down 17 -20 metres below ground, taps into underground water sources and the water table.

 

What Happens if there is a Fire?

In the event of a bushfire, gums have a natural ability to tolerate the stress of fire.  Blackened and burnt trucks and branches are renowned for regenerating fresh leaves within a year or so after a bush fire has swept through a eucalyptus forest.  It is the lignotuber which preserve the tree from death and ensure that it will resprout. Indeed, eucalyptus actually need fire and smoke in order to generate their seeds.  

Research has shown that stress to eucalyptus caused by trauma, such as pruning or coppicing actually increases the amount of carbon mass sequestered by the tree because it results in a burst of regrowth, which increases the overall density of the growth.  Similar conclusions have been found with regrowth initiated by fire damage.

However, in the event of destruction of a plantation, ECO carries fire insurance to enable a plantation to be re-established.

  

Are all of ECO’s species Mallee Trees?

No.  Eco does not support monoculture plantings.  We aim to plant trees that grow within a 5 kilometre radius of the farming site.   In river valleys this may involve red gums.  On the hilltops we will plant other species best suited to the area.

Another factor which is increasingly being taken into account is the migratory drift of vegetation species as a result of climate change.  Species which were once suited more to the northern regions may become more frequent in the south as climate warms.

 

Who Owns the Trees?

Under the various Forest Property Acts, enacted throughout each State of Australia, the carbon rights embodied in vegetation belong as a completely separate property right to the Landowner.   As such, they are distinct and separate from the Landowner’s rights in the actual real estate property of the farmland.

Consequently, the Landowners may either retain these carbon property rights for themselves when selling the actual farm property, say for their own superannuation fund, or decide to earn income by selling these carbon rights to businesses emitters.  These carbon rights may either be sold in in total or in part and all in one parcel in one single year or in multiple parcels over several years.

If you would like to find out more about this topic, click the Contact Us button on this page.

 

Why would a Landowner make available sizeable portions of their rural property to grow Carbon Offsets for city based Carbon Emitters?

Landowners derive an income stream from the sale of carbon offset assets generated from their property.  In return for a carbon farming income stream, Landowners permit a Forest Property Agreement to be registered over those areas of their property which are planted to native vegetation.  Although this Agreement may only apply to the more marginal land on their farming property on which the trees are planted, the long term nature of this Agreement means that this is a significant commitment made by landowner.  It not only binds them but it also binds their heirs and any bank that has a mortgage on the property.  This is a requirement under the legislation.  In this manner, ECO contribute to the transfer of income from the city to the country regions.

 

How can a business capitalise on its carbon expenditure and promote its purchases of ECO Carbon Offsets?

ECO provide a yearly report to its client emitters on the development of the vegetation on the site.  This includes:

  • A Cadastral site plan showing that portion of a host farm which has been allocated to the provision of carbon offsets for the Business.
  • A record of Photo-points, by year growth, showing the growing of trees over time.
  • Proprietary use of these photos and reports to use in their business in whatever form they see fit – Blogs / Annual Reports / Company promotional material / Staff & Company Newsletters
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Eco Carbon Offsets
 
Adelaide
 
South Australia
Tel.
0412 256 255
Email
email@ecocarbonoffsets.com.au
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