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Category Archives: Climate Change

Climate Change Authority seeks input on Australia’s commitments under the Paris Agreement

The Climate Change Authority has released a consultation paper on updating its previous advice to Government on policies to meet Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Since the Authority last provided its advice to Government on the policy toolkit required to meet the Paris Agreement, a number of developments have occurred in Australia and around the world in terms of climate change science, economics and policy.

The updated advice will seek to provide recommendations that ensure Australia is well-placed to meet its 2030 emissions target and that are consistent with meeting subsequent targets with enhanced ambition that put Australia on a path to net zero emissions, consistent with the Paris Agreement framework.

The Authority is particularly interested in:

> What aspects of the Authority’s previous recommendations remain valid and why?

> What are the opportunities and risks associated with the global transition to net zero emissions and how can Government assist the positioning of the Australian economy to take advantage of the opportunities and mitigate the risks?

> What are the barriers (regulatory and non-regulatory) to realising emissions reductions and are there any additional supporting policies, regulations or government actions that could drive emissions reductions in cost effective ways?

> What role should the Government play in enabling the development and uptake of low‑emissions technologies and development of associated industries?

> What role should international units and carryover from earlier commitment periods have in Australia’s response to climate change?

Stakeholder contributions will inform the Authority’s final report, which the Authority is aiming to release at the end of 2019. The Authority encourages submissions from interested individuals and organisations until 23 August 2019.

As part of the work to inform the forthcoming update of advice, the Authority has today also released a stocktake of drivers for, and actions by, industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, including new and emerging low emissions technologies.

The industry paper is one of a series of three stocktakes the Authority has released in 2019, which provide a summary of actions to mitigate emissions by governments and industry in Australia and taking place internationally.

The paper is available at www.climatechangeauthority.gov.au

Waste-to-Energy: Is there a missing piece?

In the transition to a low-carbon economy, there is a constant search for energy that is not produced from fossil fuels. Australia’s renewable sector contributes roughly 17% of total electricity generation, 9.7% of which is produced by bioenergy. Biofuels also represents around 1% of Australia’s petrol and diesel production.

It is well recognised that biofuels will play an extremely important part in any low carbon, low emission plan for Australia’s future and there have been some noteworthy initiatives to promote and support this, including the Queensland biofuel mandate, the Energy Grants Scheme, Queensland’s Resource Recovery Industry Development Program, and Victoria’s Advanced Organics Processing Technology Grants program.

While the bioenergy and waste-to-energy sector within Australia is transitioning rapidly towards providing a solution to materials that have not historically been recycled, it’s starting to reveal significant gaps in Commonwealth legislation and policies, particularly with respect to defining waste-to-energy streams and how biodiesel is dealt with under the Excise Tariff Act 1921.

Under The Schedule, diesel produced from non-renewable resources has a current excise rate of a little over $0.40 per litre, while biodiesel has a rate of duty of only 10% of this amount. Biodiesel is defined as a fuel that is, in simple terms, derived from animal or vegetable fats or oils. However, many diesel fuels manufactured from other resources, including those defined as waste materials, fall outside of this definition.

The Australian Taxation Office’s Excise Guidelines recognise that recent technological developments have seen hydrocarbon fuels manufactured from various sources other than just crude or waste oil. The Guidelines go so far as to accept that “Technology now exists that allows fuel to be manufactured from feed-stocks such as waste plastic, used tyres and general household waste.”

While acknowledging that renewable diesel can be sourced not only from the hydrogenation of animal fats or vegetable oils, anything that is produced from materials outside of the original definition is still termed diesel and the full rate of duty is payable, irrespective if it has been derived from other feedstocks as outlined above.

Although it is recognised that the duty payable on biodiesel and renewable diesel was offset briefly through the Energy Grants (Cleaner Fuels) Scheme, which closed in July 2015, for companies now looking to invest in new waste-to-energy technologies and facilities, there is currently little to no regulatory framework to support them to produce renewable diesel fuel.

This ambiguity could be seen to be constraining Australia’s sustainable energy future with the current legislation reducing the ability to grow this sector, and as such inhibiting the ability for the industry to reach the economies of scale required to deliver cheaper low carbon fuels, and in particular those derived from waste materials that may not be recyclable.

Based on estimates from the Clean Energy Council and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation there is a potential investment opportunity of between $3.5 billion and $5 billion until 2020 in energy from urban waste, agricultural waste and forest residues. Waste-to-energy provides an innovative and multifaceted solution. Not only does it alleviate the environmental pressure on landfills, it also reduces fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

The Queensland Biofutures 10 Year Roadmap and Action Plan recognises the need to improve the excise rate of biofuels. Biofutures broadly refers to the sector focusing on “the development and manufacturing of products from sustainable organic and/or waste resources.” It is defined as a priority industry for Queensland, predicted to contribute $1.8 billion to the annual Gross State Product and support 6,640 full-time jobs in the state. The roadmap acknowledges the limited funding and poor excise and taxation treatment especially compared to successful global biotechnology sectors where there are strong subsidies.

It is clear that Australia is faced with regulatory framework which has not matched the accelerated pace of development in the combined energy and waste sector. Redefining the legislation to reconsider the definition of biodiesel to include waste as a resource and other alternative manufacturing processes for biodiesel production will assist in ensuring waste-to-energy technologies are given the necessary relief to ensure a sustainable future for renewable fuels.

This article was authored by Madelaine Waters, Environmental Consultant at Equilibrium.

Commonwealth Games’ Legacy for Queensland

It’s coming up to 12 months since the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games were delivered and many of the positive outcomes are still felt throughout the city.

Three core sustainability themes identified for GC2018 were to source responsibly, manage impacts and inspire inclusion.

Significant tangible benefits were delivered in regard to infrastructure improvements, world class venues, and an efficient public transport system. Moreover, many long lasting intangible benefits to the Gold Coast’s culture have come directly from the wide-reaching sustainability initiatives of the Games and are a crucial legacy associated with the event.

Building peaceful, prosperous and sustainable communities  

Many key environmental outcomes aiming to ‘manage impacts’ inspired positive sustainable behaviours. The Commonwealth Games Corporation’s (GOLDOC) initiative to reduce single use, short term plastic items, resulted in no helium balloons, no lightweight plastic bags and no plastic straws provided at any of the Games venues. The ChooseTap campaign saw 14 permanent hydration stations installed across the city, saving approximately 1,780,497 plastic bottles from being consumed. These outcomes are noteworthy.

Highlight trade and investment opportunities in Australia

A key aspect of this initiative and the ‘source responsibly’ theme was sustainable procurement. After an initial hot-spot analysis, GOLDOC developed a Sustainable Sourcing Code to ensure all suppliers met minimum requirements in terms of social and environmental impacts. For stand-alone high-risk procurements, a Sustainability Category Management Plan was completed, further highlighting the commitment to sustainable procurement and also providing a knowledge transfer legacy.

Local and indigenous procurement options were chosen where possible, with 75% of supply agreements from the Gold Coast and over 95% from Australia and New Zealand. Figures for Indigenous supplier contracts by value exceeded 166% of the initial target rate, with 168 contracts. This commitment to local and indigenous suppliers greatly supported positive legacies for the region.

Increased sense of inclusion, diversity and community pride in Queensland communities

The third sustainable theme to ‘inspire inclusion’ truly helped to transform the culture of the Gold Coast. GC2018 was the first of its kind to have a Reconciliation Plan and the commitment to celebrating indigenous heritage was clear from the launch of the Queen’s Baton at Buckingham Palace, where the Queen was accompanied by Yugambeh Elders Ted Williams and Patricia O’Connor. The same elders accompanied Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cambridge to the stage in the Opening Ceremony.  In fact, the opening ceremony was full of traditional theatre, dance, music and visual arts. The celebrations throughout the Games included numerous indigenous flavours showcased on the menu in the Village Main Dining Hall, indigenous art patterns on the Borobi Mascot design and the Parade of Nations track.

The Festival 2018 Gold Coast program included a diversity of cultures, with fifty countries and all Commonwealth regions represented through music, performance and film. Gender equality was also a priority within the Festival and Games. GC2018 was the first Games in history with an equal number of medal events for women and men. GOLDOC participated in the Pride in Sport Index (PSI) in 2016 and 2017 to assess and inform their inclusivity of the LGBTIQ Community.

Celebrations during GC2018 included the Festival’s Sparkle in the Sand which highlighted the Commonwealth countries where homosexuality is still a crime and Pride House, a welcoming space for LGBTI athletes, fans, visitors and allies. It housed LGBTI entertainment and exhibitions, and received over 5,000 visitors.

Inclusion and accessibility of events included the installation of ramps and hoists within existing and temporary venues. The Sports Ears system was provided at the opening and closing ceremonies and at all venues with sports presentation commentary. Moreover, every venue had a space for Service Dogs and Spectator Services volunteers were appropriately trained.

Demonstrate a leading model for sustainable event delivery on the Gold Coast

These initiatives are but a sample of the extensive work done by GOLDOC and the Sustainability Team to integrate social and environmental efforts into all aspects of the GC2018 games. The work of the team cultivated a strong focus on “inspiring positive, meaningful change in perceptions, attitudes and actions.” These intangible benefits have left a lasting legacy for tourism events in Queensland and truly demonstrate a leading model for sustainable event delivery on the Gold Coast and beyond.

Sustainability Report (Post Games), GOLDOC 2018: https://gc2018.com/sites/default/files/2018-08/Sustainability%20Report%20-%20Post%20Games%20(Final).pdf

Equilibrium, in partnership with Tasman Environmental Services, completed a Carbon Assessment and Management Plan for the Games. More details on this can be found in our previous blog post https://equil.com.au/2018/05/01/gc2018-low-carbon-competition/

This article was authored by Madelaine Waters, Environmental Consultant at Equilibrium.

February 2019

GC2018 – Low Carbon Competition

Major events provide an unmatched opportunity to demonstrate how environmental issues and impacts can be effectively managed through good planning, effective design and efficient delivery.

The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018 (GC2018) are no exception, and the commitment to staging a sustainable event was embedded from the outset. Leadership in sustainability was a key driver for GC2018, as was the need to help ensure a positive legacy beyond the Games.

The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) committed to showing leadership in sustainability by delivering GC2018 to international standards of best practice.

Sustainability was approached in a considered and comprehensive manner at all stages. In their own words the Games organisers noted the importance of systems thinking and best practices standards:

Guiding our GC2018 delivery is the ISO 20121 event sustainability management system and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework  Sustainability Reporting Standards.”  Source: https://www.gc2018.com/about/sustainability

Three key sustainability pillars were identified for GC2018:

> Source responsibly
> Manage our impacts
> Inspire inclusive, active communities

Identifying, managing and mitigating carbon emissions

Being part of the sustainability solution for delivering GC2018 was a wonderful opportunity for Equilibrium.

We were invited in partnership with Tasman Environmental Markets to assist with the development of a strategy and baseline emission profile for the GC2018 carbon emissions generated through the design and delivery phases and to establish a mitigation and management plan for the delivery of a carbon responsible Games. This included those emissions:

> under the control or influence of GOLDOC;
> ‘owned’ or ‘shared by GOLDOC;
> occurring as a consequence of GC2018 (‘associated’ emissions), where it is possible to reasonably estimate those emissions; and
> of high stakeholder interest.

While presenting major business and tourism opportunities for Queensland, GC2018 also provided a significant opportunity to limit any negative social, economic or environmental impacts. This also translated into achieving a lasting legacy for the Gold Coast region more generally.

The estimated carbon footprint also allowed GOLDOC and its delivery partners to prioritise opportunities for carbon reduction activities and other cost-effective mitigation strategies. It will also serve as a baseline (along with the carbon management plan) to allow GOLDOC to assess its performance in reducing its carbon impact.

The calculation of the Carbon Baseline was undertaken in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol as adopted under the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS).

Challenges

Being the first Commonwealth Games organising committee to quantify and manage carbon emissions, there was no precedent or baseline to allow a comparison and therefore an expected estimation of the magnitude of the carbon emission profile.

Where possible actual (or estimated) energy (electricity and fuel use) data, flight itineraries, and quantities of waste generated and disposed of or collected for recycling, were used to calculate carbon emissions. This however was not always possible to obtain or to quantify.

In the absence of being able to obtain operational information, an estimate of carbon emissions by activity was undertaken using an input / output (I/O) analysis model. This required detailed financial expenditure breakdown expenditure together with an assessment of whether each line item was purchased outright (goods or equipment component) or provided under hire arrangement, or as a service by the supplier (hire or service component).

Secondary considerations that were included in the modelling considered the end-of-life fate of any outright purchases attributable by GOLDOC to the operations in addition to potential legacy benefits of outright goods or equipment purchases versus supply (services) or hire arrangements.

The complexity was ever present as was the need to make informed estimates.

Where GOLDOC made a shared financial contribution but were not the responsible delivery partner eg. towards a venue upgrade or capital building and construction activity, (where these emissions are largely out of GOLDOC’s control or influence), these emissions were included for the purpose of providing a complete assessment of the GC2018 carbon profile in addition to an estimation of spectator travel impacts.

Our work with Tasman Environmental Markets highlighted the importance of addressing carbon reduction and climate change objectives through good design, effective planning and efficient event delivery.

Importantly, we also believe that the collaboration will provide a noteworthy benchmark for future Commonwealth Games and the methodology required to effectively identify, manage and mitigate carbon emissions.

Equilibrium is very pleased to have been part of the team which contributed to GC2018 and its sustainable delivery.

For more information contact:

Damien Wigley, Equilibrium
Mobile: 0404 899 961  Email:  damien@equil.com.au

 

Equilibrium Joins C2P as a Knowledge Partner

Global advisory company Compliance & Risks tracks global policies, regulations and standards across key product and policy areas.

It is one of the most trusted names in compliance knowledge management, and provides a range of tools and services to help companies effectively manage the avalanche of global regulations as businesses struggle to keep up with market access rules.

Equilibrium is very pleased to announce that it has joined Compliance & Risks as a Knowledge Partner covering content for the Australian market.  We are well placed to share our knowledge and insights to the benefit of businesses who understand the broader benefits of being a sustainable enterprise.

A key tool in liberating businesses from an otherwise complex regulatory landscape is C2P: a comprehensive, online product compliance knowledge management platform. Compliance & Risks has developed and expanded C2P over many years of detailed development. It is supported by some of the best legal, business, supply chain and environmental specialists, who bring local regulatory news and insights from around the world.

Reporting on policy and regulatory initiatives in Australia

Specifically, Equilibrium will be contributing compliance news, alerts, key dates and commentary to C2P on a variety of topics including: batteries, climate change, conflict minerals, CSR, ecodesign and ecolabeling, e-waste/WEEE, waste management and resource recovery, energy efficiency, packaging, transport of dangerous goods and hazardous substances.

Equilibrium holds a wealth of experience related to many of these topics and will be able to share its knowledge with C2P customers around the world. This is increasingly important as many companies and governments transition to circular thinking and action.

Many of C2P customers include major blue-chip companies, OEMs and brands from the following industries:

– Electronics, lighting and telecommunications
Medical devices and chemicals
Energy and HVAC
Textiles
Automotive
Toys

Equilibrium’s contribution to C2P will reach companies in 120 countries around the world, and help ensure that they are kept abreast of key policy and regulatory developments in Australia. This includes the review of the Product Stewardship Act, proposals to develop a national battery recycling scheme, stewardship for photovoltaics and energy storage and progress on the e-waste landfill ban for Victoria.

Visit the Compliance & Risks website for more information about C2P, and make contact with Equilibrium about local compliance related issues.

More information

John Gertsakis
Director, Communications
Equilibrium
Mobile:  0409 422 089
Email:  john@equil.com.au

 

Equilibrium Makes the TAKE2 Pledge

TAKE2 is the Victorian Government’s collective climate change initiative. The goal is to help keep the temperature rise under two degrees.

It supports Victorian individuals, business, government, educational and community organisations to take meaningful action to reduce climate change.

In June 2016, the Victorian Government committed to address climate change, setting a target for Victoria to reach net zero emissions by 2050. This target has been enshrined in legislation.

Equilibrium is committed to tackling climate change, and that’s why we’ve made the TAKE2 pledge.

The Victoria Government will also set a series of interim targets along the way. The first is to reduce the pollution causing climate change by 15 to 20 percent (on 2005 levels) by 2020. To help achieve these goals, Sustainability Victoria is delivering the TAKE2 initiative – a world-leading climate change pledge program.

How does TAKE2 work?

It starts by making the TAKE2 pledge, which is a promise to take action on climate change. Equilibrium encourages other organisations to also make the TAKE2 pledge and join us in helping keep the temperature rise under two degrees.

Using lists of tailored actions on the TAKE2 website, you select what you can, will or already have done to reduce climate change. The website also provides free advice and information along the way, including an action plan. You can choose one action or many.

Importantly, TAKE2 can be tailored to individuals, government, community, business and education sectors are also featured on this website.

In addition to the TAKE2 pledge, Equilibrium is focused on helping its customers and partners to effectively deal with climate change through business-friendly measures.

Visit the TAKE2 website for more information, and don’t hesitate to talk to us about how Equilibrium can help champion sustainability across your organisation.

More information

Damien Wigley
Mobile:  0404 899 961
Email:  damien@equil.com.au

Nick Harford
Mobile: 0419 993 234
Email:  nick@equil.com.au

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