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Why not for profit carbon offsets are thriving

The CEO of Greenfleet Australia told me the other day that business is booming for small scale, not-for-profit carbon offset providers. How could that be?

Without the carbon tax there's no regulations driving greenhouse gas emitters to purchase carbon credits. The new Emissions Reduction Fund will effectively bypass forestry projects. So how can businesses like Greenfleet be doing well?

Last year the big for-profit forestry based carbon credit providers left the sector or put investments on hold in anticipation of the carbon tax being abolished. Their business model relied on large scale demand driven by regulations that put limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

The government’s Emissions Reduction Fund, agreed by Clive Palmer and others only last week, is very different. It's designed to provide funding for large-scale, lowest-cost emissions reductions over the next five to seven years.

The focus is on helping Australia meet its international obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

Reforestation projects can’t compete with some other methods that reduce emissions at much lower cost, particularly energy efficiency measures.

But forestry needs to be part of the mix if Australia is to meet its international obligations especcially in the long term.

Climate Works Australia pointed out in Low Carbon Growth Plan for Australia, that it’s costly to establish forests and there are long term biological and financial risks. But carbon forests provide proven carbon sequestration benefits that last for 20 to 100 years. For that reason it was one the biggest contributors to Australia’s emissions reductions (over 40 MtCO2e) over the decade from 2000 to 2010.

With the abolition of the carbon tax people and businesses are going back to looking for voluntary carbon offsets, to offset their own car emissions or energy use. And Greenfleet is now one of a smaller number of businesses around to provide them.

People buying offsets voluntarily, rather than because they have to, look for extra benefits like native forests that offer biodiversity and a not-for-profit ethic. That’s what Greenfleet does.

Greenfleet generates carbon credits from growing trees that are part of biodiverse habitat with a mix of indigenous plants sourced locally. Their clients are mostly companies, individuals and government who want to offset their greenhouse gas emissions from their energy use and transport.

If you’d like to know more take a look at the submissions by Greenfleet Australia and the National Environmental Law Association to the Emissions Reductions Fund green paper here

If you’d like to know more about Australian carbon credits go here

Disclosure: Earlier this year Amanda did some work for Greenfleet on the Emissions Reduction Fund and she was President of NELA at the time of NELA’s submission

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