The Australian Government has released a consultation paper on the review of the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) and the Carbon Neutral Program.
The NCOS provides companies the opportunity to voluntarily offset their carbon emissions and gain Government approved carbon neutral certification under the Carbon Neutral Program.
The NCOS helps businesses to calculate their carbon footprint or to develop carbon neutral products. It also assists consumers to make informed choices about carbon neutral products or services.
The Carbon Neutral Program, based on the NCOS, provides a way for businesses and other organisations to gain carbon neutral certification for their operations, products, services or events.
A diverse range of companies have chosen to become carbon neutral, including airlines, banks, councils and small businesses. Certified companies such as Qantas, ANZ, and Melbourne City Council offset around 1 million tonnes of emissions per annum under the Carbon Neutral Program.
The Government committed to review the NCOS as part of the Emissions Reduction Fund development in 2014 to ensure continuing integrity of the carbon offsets available to the Australian voluntary market and to improve uptake.
As part of the review, the government is seeking feedback on opportunities to broaden involvement in carbon neutral certification, including identifying certification models and making sure the eligible offsets list is up to date with the broader voluntary market.
The NCOS complements the Government’s Direct Action Plan with the $2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund as its centrepiece. Carbon Neutral Program participants have the opportunity to purchase ACCUs (Australian Carbon Credit Units) under the ERF including in projects such as savanna burning often done by Indigenous communities, environmental tree plantings and waste diversion activities.
The review is being conducted by the Department of the Environment in consultation with key stakeholders and the public. Businesses, community organisations and individuals are invited to make submissions on the consultation paper by 5pm AEST 22 April 2015.
The consultation paper and information on how to make a submission are available at http://www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/carbon-neutral/ncos/review