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Category Archives: Climate Change

Climate Active

Climate Active certification provides businesses and organisations with the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to managing their environmental impacts and committing to sustainable outcomes. Climate Active is the Australian Government backed program that enables business to measure, manage and offset carbon emissions from their operations or products and services. Organisations can also apply the certification to events, buildings and precincts that demonstrates their commitment to driving voluntary climate action in the growing face of pressures from customers and investors.

The Climate Active certification is awarded to organisations and businesses that have credibly reached state of carbon neutrality/ net zero emissions. The certification and verification process as well as public reporting requirements ensures that like for like businesses can be compared with respect to assessing, reducing and offsetting carbon emissions. 

The emergence of voluntary schemes such as Climate Active are driven by “social license” and responsible business practice. The scheme presents the opportunity to achieve greater staff engagement and demonstrate to customers you have in place a robust climate strategy commitment. The scheme aims to incentivise voluntary action, with the certification assisting the greater community by making it easier to identify brands, businesses and organisations that are committing to making a real difference.

Considerations for the impacts on SMEs as major corporates ‘race to zero’

Numerous corporations have joined the “race to net zero” emissions, announcing targets and policies to reduce their carbon outputs. The impacts these declarations will have on small to medium sized enterprises (SME) within major corporates’ supply chains should be considered.

For example, Unilever is a leader in producing fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and their announced climate policy and targets in their Climate Transition Action Plan. The plan was put to shareholder vote earlier this month with the majority of shareholders voting in support of the climate action strategy. The company’s voluntary targets, signify a movement that responsible businesses cannot and should not wait for regulation. Corporates opting for voluntary annual emission reports and in this case, an advisory shareholder vote, signify an increased level of transparency and accountability between investors, consumers and businesses. 

However, the impacts of these policies on the supply chain and wider network need to be considered.  

>Where does the cost lie? The plan discusses the intent to cost neutrally reduce the emissions from raw material suppliers. The cost of reducing these emissions will be placed onto the suppliers, potentially placing the burden on the supply chains of SME’s to shoulder.
>What support for SMEs will be provided? The introduction of carbon data invoices is an example of an area where smaller companies will need assistance. Although it may sound like a simple tweak to the system, it may be complex to set up and deliver and potentially not cost neutral.
>How will the new supplier reporting frameworks chosen by major multinationals start to shape and influence the uptake of different reporting methodologies? As there are an overwhelming variety of these methodologies in use (TFCD, Science based targets, GRI, CDP, as well as national government systems), there is much debate around how to select one global standard to use. Unilever in this case have chosen Science Based Targets, which may have an influence on the uptake of that particular framework at a global scale. 

Corporates are setting expectations on acceptable reporting methodologies for their suppliers. This has the potential to be a positive environmental step, as data will be influential in setting a global consensus for mass scale climate reporting methods. When large corporations dictate that science based targets are the new reporting frameworks they want from suppliers, it may be hard to envision how this reporting framework won’t become a new norm for SMEs in Australia and elsewhere.

Written by Marita Doak and Donald Fraser

Victorian Government announce state’s climate change strategy

The Victorian Government Climate Change Strategy aims to keep the state on track to meet the emissions target of net zero emissions by 2050. Victoria’s announcement marks all of Australia’s states and territories committing to a net zero target by 2050, despite the absence of the federal government’s embracing a national the goal. The strategy announced interim targets aiming to decrease emissions by 28-33% by 2025 and 45 – 50% by 2030. The objectives at the focus of the strategy include; 

>$100 million package for electric vehicle subsidies, granting $3,000 for all new zero emission vehicles that cost less than $69,000 and a target for 50% of all new vehicle sales to be electric or hydrogen by 2030.
>Public transport – all buses purchased from 2025 onwards are zero emissions.
>Gas substitution roadmap – encouraging users to shift to electricity and other fuels.
>Investing $31 million to support high-energy using businesses to adopt energy solutions to reduce costs and prepare for a low – emissions future.
>$380 million to deliver “Recycling Victoria” – a 10-year plan assisting businesses and households to improve their resource efficiency, recycling and reduce waste. 

The announcement signifies the push from state governments to reach net zero emissions and develop a harmonised approach to electric vehicle standards. 

Agriculture is one of the state’s largest carbon emitters, and an industry that the federal government is debating to exempt from the national  net zero targets. The Victorian strategy includes pledges for the agricultural industry announcing;

>$15.3 million invested in agroforestry, encouraging farmers to plant trees to sequester carbon and realise other on farm benefits such as protecting crops/animals from extreme weather
>Expanding the Agriculture Energy Investment Plan, providing an additional $30 million to support farmers to improve on-farm energy generation and efficiency.

The plan aims to ensure that farmers are well placed to be supported in using information and tools which will help realise emissions reductions opportunities on farms.

Push for voluntary carbon offsets

The Clean Energy Regulator has announced a new initiative to publish an annual Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency report (CERT). The CERT report will detail the voluntary carbon offset processes undertaken by Australia’s major emitters. The report will be supported by the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) scheme, creating a streamlined approach and platform for reporting corporate emissions.

The CERT provides a framework to:

>Demonstrate the net position of participating NGER reporters’ annual energy and emissions report.
>Support business’ climate action claims, providing a trusted and independent resource.
>Promote voluntary participation in Australia’s carbon markets.

The CERT signifies that Australian companies are increasingly setting their own voluntary goals to reduce emissions. It reflects that the public, shareholders and supply-chain partners are increasingly interested in company’s tracking and transparency towards meeting corporate emission reduction and offsetting targets.

This CERT will assist companies in demonstrating their use of carbon offsets to meet their reduction commitments, and the increased visibility of corporate carbon offset purchases may increase demand for voluntary emission actions and targets.

Consultation is open for the Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency Report and submissions can be emailed to CER-RETandEnergySection@cleanenergyregulator.gov.au.

Manufacturing Strategy Targets Clean Energy and Recycling

Manufacturing is set to receive a boost in certain sectors and industries as part of the Australian Government’s recently released Modern Manufacturing Strategy.

Designed to support and drive ‘economic recovery and future resilience’ the Strategy aims to establish Australia as a nation capable of high-quality production underpinned by science and research.

Creating jobs and scaling-up to become more competitive internationally, are key elements of the strategy, as is the effective use of R&D to achieve applied industry outcomes.

The centrepiece of the Modern Manufacturing Strategy is the $1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative, which will see the Government strategically invest in projects that help manufacturers to scale up and create jobs.

Priority industries

The Modern Manufacturing Initiative will support projects within six National Priorities:

1. Resources technology and critical minerals processing
2. Food and beverage
3. Medical products
4. Recycling and clean energy
5. Defence
6. Space

Roadmaps will be prepared for each of the priority industries in collaboration with industry.

The Strategy will also address the competitiveness of individual manufacturers in the priority sectors, with a $52.8 million expansion of the Manufacturing Modernisation Fund.

The Strategy is in part a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and aims to provide a plan to better address identified supply chain weak-spots and vulnerabilities.

Creating internationally competitive manufacturing industries in Australia, necessarily requires attention to environmental  management, as well as informed sustainability advice. There are significant opportunities across the six priorities when it comes to exploring commercially relevance sustainability outcomes.

If your business or association is looking to better understand the Modern Manufacturing Strategy and the associated support programs, please don’t hesitate to contact the Equilibrium team on BH  (03) 9372 5356.

More details about the Strategy can be found here.

The Industry Minister’s media release can be found here.

Government Funding for Energy Projects

The Commonwealth and State Governments currently have many programs to support businesses in improving their power usage and efficiency. The following grants provide either direct funding or credits for energy audits and programs to reduce emissions.

The Emissions Reduction Fund is open for all eligible Australian businesses wanting to reduce their carbon emissions. Participants in the scheme can earn Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) for every tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent they store or avoid emitting by using new practices and technologies. These ACCUs can then be sold to generate income for your business.

New South Wales’ Energy Savings Scheme provides businesses with financial incentives to reduce their energy consumption by installing new equipment or modifying a current system. Savings will be converted into Energy Saving Certificates (ESCs) which are sold to an electricity retailer.

South Australia offers businesses and not-for-profit organisations the Resource Efficiency and Productivity (REAP) Grants. This program provides a 50% subsidy for resource efficiency and productivity assessments to consider circular economy options including electricity efficiency. An additional $10,000 is available on successful completion of an assessment to kick-start implementation of the recommendations.

Funding of $150,000 is available for Tasmanian Businesses to carry out energy audits on business operations and buildings in the state through the Power$mart Businesses program.

ACT has two grant programs: The Next Generation Energy Storage (Next Gen) Program and ACTSmart Business Energy and Water Program which provide businesses with rebates when installing battery storage systems or upgrading to more energy-efficient and water-efficient technologies and equipment.

The Smarter Business Solutions Program offers grant funding incentives of up to $20,000 for Northern Territory enterprises to adopt efficient, innovative technologies and best practices that will reduce their energy, water, waste and material costs.

If your business is interested in further information on any of these grants, or would like assistance completing an application, please contact the Equilibrium team on (03) 9372 5356 or at info@equil.com.au

Be sure to stay up to date with our blog posts to get updates on Government grants.

NGER Reporting is Now

It’s time to start to gather your data again and report in line with the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) scheme.

With reports due on 31 October it doesn’t leave much time for determining if your organisation is required to submit a report and if you do, that all of the information you provided meets the requirements of the Act and its subordinate legislation.

Given the current situation it may be that your reporting boundary has changed and your company no longer meets a facility or corporate group threshold for any of the reporting criteria.  You might also need to review your activities and determine the operational control over these activities and your facilities. See the guideline for more information.

The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) provides helpful clarification about reporting part year operational control and what organisations need to consider when there are instances of acquisitions, disposals or mergers within the reporting period.

All energy consumed and produced by facilities that are under the operational control of the organisation must be reported which in turn allows the CER to identify scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions.  Other activities including fuel combustion and potentially, depending on your industry, refrigerant gas emissions also need to be considered and reported.

If you are a new reporting entity, familiarising yourself with the methods provided by the CER with identifying emissions sources can save time before preparing your report, particularly if some of the data sources are estimated.

In addition to the links provided, The CER has developed an EERS User Guide and many other guidance documents to assist reporters in complying with their NGER obligations. Visit Clean Energy Regulator for these resources.

Equilibrium can also assist with your NGER reporting, so if you require any information or support, please contact the Equilibrium team on (03) 9372 5356 or at info@equil.com.au

NSW Grants for Solar Panel Reuse and Recycling

The NSW Government is investing $10 million to help improve environmental performance by diverting end-of-life solar panel systems from landfill, with the first round of grants now open.

Although current waste volumes are relatively low, this emerging waste stream is expected to rapidly increase over the next decade as installed systems reach their end-of-life. In NSW it is forecast that this waste stream could generate up to 10,000 tonnes per year by 2025 and up to 71,000 tonnes per year by 2035.

EPA Director Circular Economy Kathy Giunta said the investment in recycling through this Circular Solar grants program would help NSW meet its commitment of net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

“While current amounts of waste are low, now is the time to invest in developing systems for collecting and recycling these valuable resources like scarce and rare metals, including lithium batteries.

“We want to recycle and re-use the materials in solar panels and battery systems as NSW transitions towards cleaner energy and this program is an important step in building a productive circular economy in NSW.

“It will see NSW well placed to manage waste solar systems over the coming years and will stimulate much needed job creation in the solar power and recycling sectors,” Kathy Giunta said.

The NSW Government is now inviting Expressions of Interest for grants to run trial projects that increase the collection, reuse and recycling of solar panel and battery storage systems. Applications for projects that trial whole of supply chain approaches to collecting and reusing and/or recycling can be made until 17 September 2020.

$2 million is available in this funding round, with the remaining funding to be made available following evaluation of this EOI process.

Scoping study

As part of the background to establishing the the circular solar trials fund, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment commissioned a scoping study (PDF 3.8MB) to assist in development of the EPA’s end-of-life solar programs. It contains information that may help organisations preparing EOIs, including:

> projected waste generation volumes
> materials that can be recovered from solar panels and batteries
> reuse and recycling technologies
> end-market opportunities

The study was conducted by the UTS Institute of Sustainable Futures and Equilibrium.

Don’t hesitate to contact the Equilibrium team on BH  (03) 9372 5356 if you need support or help in preparing an EOI for the grant program.

Be sure to stay updated on our blog page for future grant opportunities.

For more information visit https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/working-together/grants/infrastructure-fund/circular-solar-trials-expression-of-interest

Government Grants for High Energy Users

The Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources is providing businesses with grants of up to $25,000 to improve their efficiency through the High Energy Using Business Grants.

Opened Monday, the grant opportunity aims to support high energy using businesses to lower power bills and reduce emissions through:

> replacing existing equipment with higher efficiency equipment

> installing or replacing a component to help an existing system run more efficiently

> carrying out energy audits

> carrying out monitoring of energy use and emissions.

High energy using businesses are defined as those with annual net consumptions greater than 0.05 petajoules per year

Over $14 million is available under this grant opportunity, distributed between states and territories based on the distribution of relevant businesses nationally. Further information on the jurisdictional breakdowns, along with the grant guidelines, are available here.

Funding, between $10,000 to $25,000 per business, can be used for any of the actions above as well as for investing in feasibility studies for efficiency upgrades. Grants are available for 50% of the project expenditure, with the recipients responsible for the remaining 50%.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor highlighted that lowering power bills will help strengthen businesses’ resilience during these challenging economic times.

“Energy is a big part of the operational costs for businesses. Any support the Government can give to get those costs down will help businesses to invest, expand and employ more Australians,” Minister Taylor said. “The Morrison Government is working closely with business to create jobs and rebuild our economy”. The full media release can be viewed via the following link.

The Energy Efficient Communities Program, which was announced as part of the Government’s Climate Solutions Package in the 2019 Federal Budget, will deliver $40 million in grants to help businesses and community groups improve efficiency practices and technologies and better manage power consumption to reduce their power bills. Information on other streams is available here.

Applications for The High Energy Using Business Grants close on 24 September 2020.

If you are interested in the announcements or need assistance in assessing the opportunities, please contact the Equilibrium team on (03) 9372 5356 or at info@equil.com.au

Equilibrium often posts about new grants so be sure to follow our blog posts.

World Environment Day 2020 – Time for Nature

World Environment Day is the most renowned day for environmental action. Since 1974, it has been celebrated every year on 5 June; engaging governments, businesses, celebrities and citizens to focus their efforts on a pressing environmental issue.

At Equilibrium, we’re celebrating World Environment Day too.

The theme

In 2020, the theme is biodiversity–a concern that is both urgent and existential. Recent events, from bushfires in Brazil, the United States and Australia to locust infestations across East Africa–and now, a global disease pandemic–demonstrate the interdependence of humans and the webs of life in which they exist. Nature is sending us a message.

The community

Above all, World Environment Day offers a global platform for inspiring positive change. It recognizes that global change requires a global community.  It pushes for individuals to think about the way they consume; for businesses to develop greener models; for farmers and manufacturers to produce more sustainably; for governments to safeguard wild spaces; for educators to inspire students to live in harmony with the Earth; and for youth to become fierce gatekeepers of a green future.  It requires all of us.

The host

Every World Environment Day is hosted by a different country, in which official celebrations take place. This year’s host is Colombia in partnership with Germany.

Stay connected

This year, millions of people will be celebrating digitally, worldwide.

Sign up here to stay informed as we unite, for nature.

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