Real Carbon Price Index created to 'step up the pressure on polluters'

A GLOBAL COALITION of businesspeople and academics has released its ground-breaking Real Carbon Price Index to track the progress the world is making towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our ambition is to make the Real Carbon Price Index the global benchmark for carbon pricing. This will shine a spotlight on global decarbonisation efforts, showing whether real action is being taken, and who is taking it,” Sydney based start-up C2Zero founder and CEO Roger Cohen said.

Dr Cohen said the High Level Commission on Carbon Pricing has established that if polluters paid US$50-$100 per tonne for their carbon emissions by 2030, this would be enough to trigger action through direct emissions reduction plus innovation, which would allow the goals of the Paris Agreement to be met.

“If the price is low, as it currently is, there is little reason for polluters to take action. Our Index shows the blunt truth: greenhouse gas emissions are still far too cheap,” Dr Cohen said.

Ummul Ruthbah, senior research fellow with Monash Centre for Financial Studies (MCFS), said the Real Carbon Price Index shows the cost of carbon emissions globally has risen from zero in the 1980s to the current level of just US$4.42 per tonne. 

“This is far below where it needs to be in order to force both individual companies and entire business sectors with heavy carbon emissions to meaningfully reduce their pollution levels," Dr Ruthbah said. "In fact, the Index reveals that about 75 percent of carbon emitters are paying absolutely nothing.

“While accounting for 1 percent of global emissions, Australia is not even included in the Real Carbon Price Index as it does not have a carbon emissions trading scheme, although it does have an offsets trading system administered by the Clean Energy Regulator,” Dr Ruthbah said.

Fellow MCFS researcher, Bei Cui said, “This inaction stands against the damage done by emitting greenhouse gases.

"A recent European study found that the social cost of emitting one tonne of CO2 could actually be well above $3000 if we don’t take action,” Dr Cui said.

He said some economies, including the EU, US, and China, are making polluters pay for their greenhouse gases, yet most countries, including Australia, have placed very little or no price on greenhouse gas emissions.

“The Real Carbon Price Index lets everyone see how seriously the world is taking climate change. It scrutinises which countries or regions are paying their way or contributing to addressing this crisis,” SparkChange head of research, Jan Ahrens said. SparkChange is a provider of specialist carbon investment products and data.

“The Index can be used to highlight the differences between regions and countries, show how historical decisions (like Brexit) affect carbon pricing and provide guidance for policy makers when setting carbon prices," Mr Ahrens said. "Sadly, it also illustrates the significant gap between our current levels of ambition and the science-based targets we must achieve to limit global warming."

At around US$70, the European Union (US$66) along with Finland (US$72.5), Norway (US$65.5) and the UK (US$65.06), have reached or exceeded the lower range of the 2030 target: with Switzerland (US$104.67) and Sweden (US$136.34) leading the world. At the other end of the spectrum, the worst performers include India (7% of global emissions), Russia (5%), Iran (2%), Indonesia (2%), Saudi Arabia (2%) as well as Australia (1%), who collectively account for 19% of global emissions and pay zero. Somewhere in the middle are New Zealand (US$33.5), California (US$21.96) and China (US$8.20).

“What is heartening is that the carbon price and the scope of emissions covered are both increasing steadily. This trend needs greater momentum if we are to get to the target of US$50-$100 and alter the path of climate change,” Dr Cohen said.

Trace helps companies track their carbon footprints

By Leon Gettler >>

NUMEROUS companies are now looking at managing their carbon footprint. But how do they manage the bureaucracy and get their workforce involved?

Trace provides the answers, tracking companies’ carbon footprints and helping them manage it over time

Trace is a software platform designed for small to medium enterprises who want to become carbon neutral. 

Cat Long, the CEO of Trace, said the process was designed to be as streamlined as possible as she and co-founder, Joanna Auburn, have worked across sustainability in previous corporate jobs and found that the process to measure a business’s carbon footprint generally involves hundreds of spreadsheets. It also requires some sort of expertise, or at least a knowledge of, all the jargon, which becomes a real barrier for action.

“So for small businesses who just want to do the right thing and be shown to be taking climate action, there’s really a lack of solutions out there for them,” Ms Long told Talking Business

“We built Trace as a way to remove those barriers.”

DATA TRACED AND TRACKED

The data is gathered on a digital platform, measuring for example the size of the workforce, how they get to work, the office building, how much waste it produces and the suppliers.

The information is then pumped through Trace’s carbon emissions model which then gives a carbon footprint for that business. This is done free of charge.

This gives the business an idea of what their emissions look like and where the biggest opportunities for action are. These could include managing travel times, which will probably become an issue from 2022 onwards, or powering the electricity with renewables and solar.

Anything they can’t reduce, they can offset with carbon credits which Trace sources on their behalf, finding climate projects from all over the world. The companies can use these carbon credits to ensure their business is classified as carbon neutral.

MAJOR COMPANIES PLEDGE TO CHANGE

Trace has been doing a lot of work with companies like Deloitte, Lend Lease and the activist beverage brand Spark, as well as other companies.

“One thing in common is all these companies are taking action because they believe it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s some mandatory expectation from the government or from shareholders,” Ms Long said.

“What that means is they don’t want to become carbon neutral in silence. They want to involve their employees, tell their customers and make it a really engaging rewarding process.

“We work with these businesses to help them not only become carbon neutral but amplify that impact by sharing it with their employees and their staff through marketing assets, stories, we can run carbon footprint quizzes with their employees.”

CARBON MITIGATION OPTIONS CHANGING

Ms Long said most of Trace’s clients have somewhere between 20 and 200 staff. Before COVID, the opportunity for these businesses to take action was within their offices with green energy for electricity or reducing waste.

Since COVID, workforces have gone ‘remote’ and travel is largely non-existent, so the opportunity lies in people’s home offices, helping people understand what they can be doing at home to reduce their personal carbon footprint.

Other than that, the companies can engage in waste reduction and ethical supply chains.

She said the carbon credit market was big business with estimates it would grow 15-fold by 2030, taking it to a $US50 billion market.

Ms Long said Australia could play a significant role in that market with carbon farming, creating an enormous financial incentive for farmers to put in more sustainable practices. 

www.our-trace.com

www.leongettler.com 

 

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.

https://play.acast.com/s/talkingbusiness/talking-business31-interview-with-cat-long-ceo-of-trace

 

ENDS

Work For Climate platform helps companies reach sustainability goals

By Leon Gettler >>

MORE COMPANIES are now looking to embrace renewable energy as governments around the world move to net zero emissions.  But they lack the expertise and experience to do it.

Enter Work For Climate, a new platform set up by former Atlassian JIRA general manager Bryan Rollins. JIRA is the tracking and project software developed by Atlassian.

The aim of Work For Climate is to help businesses achieve their climate and sustainability goals faster, by providing key employees with the tools to drive these initiatives.

Work For Climate is designed to help professionals drive climate initiatives within their organisation. These professionals are committed to climate action but need the tools to help them bring the companies they work for with them and move the needle a lot quicker.

DEVELOPING CLIMATE PLAYBOOKS

Work for Climate provides these professionals with playbooks and follow-the-steps guides to get the company to shift. 

Lucy Piper, a director of Work for Climate said the organisation had created the playbooks by talking to professionals inside corporations who have already driven these changes successfully.

“We’ve tried essentially to codify it into a playbook because I think one of the things that happens with any business that goes out on a limb and tries to make these progressive changes is that it’s like the first time it’s ever been done,” Ms Piper told Talking Business.

“There’s not really yet a great deal of sharing between different industries and different corporations on how to achieve these different climate goals. So we’re trying to help employees learn from other employees who have successfully led these changes,” Ms Piper said.

“What we’re trying to do is find one or two really motivated energised professionals inside an organisation and help them find out the data they need to build the business case – who will be the appropriate sponsor for the business case at the C-suite level – and getting a couple of people working with them on it.

“It’s not necessarily about building large numbers, it’s about being very strategic and purposeful in how you build a business case to drive an initiative.”

GUIDE TO FOSSIL FUELS TRANSITION

Work For Climate’s mission is to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels by guiding employees and businesses to commit to climate goals across four categories: energy, emissions, money and lobbying.

Ms Piper said lobbying has a special place.

“Lobbying can be as simple as an employee or several employees approaching their corporation with their business case or their pitch for example and saying: ‘We need to use our name and our brand and we need to be making a public pledge, or we need to be using our memberships of councils and organisations to be able to really lobby for progressive climate policy where possible,” she said.

The ultimate goal is to create momentum for corporations to become more climate friendly.

“The more organisations get on board, it becomes a competitive piece. If your competitors are coming out and making big statements and advocating for progressive climate policy, then you’re going to be a laggard if you’re not going to be meeting that standard.”

Ms Piper said businesses will have to get on board.

“Every business needs to move to a zero emissions renewable economy,” she said. “It is happening. It will become regulated and legislated at a certain point in time so if businesses aren’t moving now, they are going to find themselves playing catch up down the track.

“What we’re trying to do at Work For Climate is help businesses move faster, using employee action and employee engagement as the vehicle and as the way to facilitate that change.”

Ms Piper said a lot of businesses were making commitments to net zero emissions but had no idea how they were going to achieve that, when there actually were a lot of people inside those organisations that could help them figure it out.

www.workforclimate.org

www.leongettler.com 

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness

 

ends

Texan fracking company risks millions in chase for Kimberley gas says Broome conservation group

BROOME-BASED conservation group Environs Kimberley is warning that Texas-based company, Black Mountain, risks wasting tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars in trying to open up gas fracking fields in the Kimberley.

“Several multinational oil and gas and resource companies have spent large sums of shareholders’ cash on failed exploration in the Kimberley, including ConocoPhillips, PetroChina, Hess, Alcoa and Mitsubishi, with no return on investment,” Environs Kimberley director Martin Pritchard said.

“In a clear signal to other ‘players’, West Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest’s Squadron Energy relinquished its oil and gas interests in the Kimberley region’s Canning Basin last month. The company was quoted as saying: 'Squadron Energy continuously reviews its investment portfolio to ensure our projects are aligned with our climate policy and actively support the transition to a low carbon economy'. 

“Faced with a $29 million work program for its exploration leases, and an uncertain future for fossil fuels according to the recent IEA and IPCC reports, which stated there is no more room for new oil and gas fields, Forrest’s withdrawal was seen as a sensible business move," Mr Pritchard said.

"Texas-based fracking company Black Mountain’s subsidiary, Bennett Resources, has bought Mitsubishi’s leases in the Kimberley’s Fitzroy River catchment south-east of Derby. They currently have a 20-well drilling and fracking proposal under assessment by the WA EPA. 

Bennett Resources' Valhalla project scoping document, which was out for public comment until yesterday, attracted more than 2,000 submissions opposing the project. 

“This project has come at the wrong time in history – wrong project, wrong place,” Mr Pritchard said. 

“The world has moved on from new oil and gas fracking fields, and the idea of having thousands of gas-producing wells in the Kimberley has been abandoned by the big multinationals, because the financial and reputational risk isn’t worth it,” Mr Pritchard said. 

“We have seen multiple oil and gas proposals come and go over the past decade, including the Woodside James Price Point scheme, which attracted national and international protests. Black Mountain’s prospects of setting up Texas-style gas-fracking fields are diminishing by the day. 

"The EPA has said it would have to do two years of baseline water monitoring before it can even assess the project. If approved, the 20-well proposal would take seven years to complete," he said.

"That takes us to the year 2030 before any decision on production wells could be made. The price on carbon will be huge by then, and renewables will be by far the biggest sources of clean energy.

“The other problem for Black Mountain is that they have nowhere to sell any gas they may find. No investor in its right mind would be putting money into such a project. 

“Black Mountain could really do with some independent investment advice, and put climate change into the mix, before burning huge amounts of cash, as other multi-national oil and gas companies have. 

"If they are smart, they’ll follow Andrew Forrest’s lead,” Mr Pritchard said. 

www.environskimberley.org.au

ends

AMCS says NSW plastics ban 'a circuit breaker' for whales and seabirds

THE Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has welcomed the NSW Government’s announcement that they will ban single-use plastics, heralding it as "good news for the seabirds, turtles and whales that are being killed by ocean plastic".

Under the NSW plan, lightweight plastic shopping bags will be banned within six months of laws passing. Currently, NSW is the only state without a ban on plastic bags, considered one of the most lethal plastics for ocean wildlife.

After 12 months, plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, expanded polystyrene food service items, plastic cotton bud sticks, and microbeads in cosmetics will also be banned in NSW. With laws expected to pass this year, the full ban would be in effect by the end of 2022.

AMCS plastics campaign manager Shane Cucow said while the NSW ban did not match Queensland in banning disposable plastic plates and bowls, the NSW Government has flagged these for later consideration alongside heavyweight bags, fruit and vegetable barrier bags, plastic cups, PVC fruit stickers, and oxo-degradable plastics. 

Alongside the ban, the NSW Government announced $10 million to help manufacturers and retailers move to more sustainable alternatives, $5 million towards pilot projects reducing hard to address plastics such as medical waste, and $2 million for research.

Mr Cucow welcomed the commitments as a circuit breaker in national efforts to save wildlife from plastic pollution.

“As the state with the largest plastic footprint, today’s commitments would deliver a massive reduction in the flow of dangerous plastics into Australia’s oceans, “ Mr Cucow said. 

“We congratulate the NSW Government for listening to ocean lovers across the state who have been demanding action to save threatened seabirds, whales and turtles. With safe, earth friendly alternatives available, it is time to put our wildlife first.

“Soft plastic bags and plastic straws are some of the most notorious killers of wildlife, causing life threatening blockages or internal injuries when eaten. By including cotton buds and microbeads, the NSW government has raised the bar for other states and territories in Australia.

“Together with vital funding for manufacturers and businesses to transition away from plastic, and critical funding for research into the threat of microplastics, this is one of the most comprehensive plans to fight plastic in Australia.”

Mr Cucow said eyes were now on Tasmania and the Northern Territory, the only states and territories without a plan to ban problem single-use plastics.

“Every day we wait, we lose more animals to the scourge of plastic pollution,” Mr Cucow said. 

“With every other state moving to ban notorious plastics like straws, cutlery and polystyrene, it’s time for Tasmania and the Northern Territory to act.”

Comparison of state and territory commitments

Statistics provided by AMCS

Beaches like Dee Why and Watsons Bay in NSW are known as plastic pollution hotspots with levels of plastic as high as 1,000 microplastics per square metre. Source: AUSMAP Hotspot Map

Estimates suggest half of all seabirds and turtles have plastic in their stomachs. (Source: University of Queensland International Study)

New South Wales was responsible for consumption of 321,000 tonnes of plastic packaging in 2018-19, 32.1% of the Australian total. Only 19% was recovered. (Source: APCO

National commitments

Australia’s National Packaging Targets set a goal to phase out problematic single-use plastics by 2025. 

At a meeting of Federal, State and Territory Environment Ministers on April 15, 2021, Ministers identified eight ‘problematic and unnecessary’ plastic product types for industry to phase out nationally by 2025 (or sooner in some cases) under the National Waste Policy Action Plan, although this is understood to be a voluntary target. These are lightweight plastic bags; plastic products misleadingly termed as ‘degradable’; plastic straws; plastic utensils and stirrers; expanded polystyrene (EPS) consumer food containers (e.g. cups and clamshells); EPS consumer goods packaging (loose fill and moulded); and microbeads in personal health care products. Details here.

Laws passed in SA, QLD and the ACT

South Australia’s ban on single-use plastics commenced on March 1, 2021, banning plastic cutlery, straws and drink stirrers. Polystyrene food and beverage containers will be banned from March 1, 2022. Details here.

The Australian Capital Territory’s ban on single-use plastics will commence on July 1, 2021. Their ban will outlaw single-use plastic cutlery, drink stirrers and polystyrene food and beverage containers. The government has indicated plastic straws and plastic fruit and vegetable barrier bags will be added to the ban from July 1, 2022. Details here.

Queensland’s ban will commence on September 1, 2021. The ban will outlaw plastic straws, drink stirrers, cutlery, polystyrene food and beverage containers, and single-use plastic plates and bowls. Details here.

Other state commitments (not yet legislated)

The WA Government has committed to phase out single-use plastic plates, straws, cutlery, drink stirrers, heavyweight plastic bags, polystyrene food containers and helium balloon releases by 2023. Details here.

The Victorian Government recently announced it would move to ban single use plastics by February 2023, including single-use plastic straws, cutlery, plates, drink stirrers, polystyrene food and drink containers, and plastic cotton bud sticks. 

Tasmania and the Northern Territory have made no commitments, yet, to ban single-use plastics.

ENDS 

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