Australia on Tuesday expanded its National Carbon Offset Standard to add cities, precincts and buildings to actors that can be certified as carbon neutral through cutting their GHG emissions or buying voluntary or UN-issued offset credits.
The move came following a review of the offset standard late last year, which was aimed at attracting more interest in the scheme.
“We are establishing an Expert Committee for carbon neutral precincts and cities, and the aim is for Australia to have our first officially certified and operating carbon neutral precinct or city by January 2017,” Environment Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement.
The committee, which will meet in April, will include representatives from big cities, the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, the Green Building Council of Australia, the National Australian Built Environment Rating System, and the CRC for Low Carbon Living, according to Hunt.
To achieve carbon neutrality, emitters must cut their carbon output via various measures, including increased renewable energy use and improved energy efficiency.
They can also buy approved offset credits, including ACCUs issued by the Australian government, most CERs and RMUs issued by the UN and voluntary credits backed by the Gold Standard Foundation and the Verified Carbon Standard.
WWF Australia welcomed the move, but warned against relying too heavily on voluntary action to meet the nation’s climate targets.
“Voluntary reductions in emissions by individuals, businesses and cities are important, but they should be counted in addition to the Government’s current 2020 and 2030 pollution reduction targets set for Australia,” said Adrian Enright, the group’s climate change policy manager.
“The Government needs to put in place a long-term plan to facilitate the transition to a clean economy, that includes a price and limit on carbon pollution,” he said.
“Global momentum is overwhelmingly behind putting a price on pollution, as the most effective and efficient way to deliver cuts – in addition to supporting voluntary action.”
By Stian Reklev – firstname.lastname@example.org