Sustainability

7. Upping the ante - we are offsetting 130 % of our emissions

Monday, June 18, 2007

After meeting with the organization Climate Positive last week, we have decided to take a further step in developing our environmental program.

Instead of only investing in trees, we have elected to  offset our CO2 emissions ( currently  about 1100 tonnes per year of CO2) via a range of methods including methane flaring, and the distribution of CFC lights and  water saving shower heads.

In addition to these steps we are also planting permanent trees ( not plantation timber)   which will equate to a 30% surplus in our total carbon offset.

The philosophy is that the CFC's, water saving shower heads and methane flaring will provide immediate CO2 relief, while the trees provide a long term surplus effect.

By investing in a surplus of offsets, we are looking to do more to help reverse  the  trend of escalating CO2 in our atmosphere.

See our new monthly confirmation letter below in the offset certificate area.

Link to the climate postive site

Climate_positive_mastheadhero

 

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6. GreenEarth - Electricity

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Originenergy Today we signed up for GreenEarth electricity through origin energy.

This power source has received Australian Government approved "Green Power" accreditation.

All of the power that we use in our office and warehouse is now a combination of wind and hydro.

By taking this measure we are reducing our reliance on fossil fuel energy and emitting less carbon dioxide.

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5. Staff enlightenment !

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Today we ordered compact fluorescent kits for all of our team members to take home. 

(available through easy being green and ecovantage )

These lights are more expensive to buy than regular incandescent light globes but they use a fraction of the energy. With time, each light  saves an enormous amount of energy, CO2 and money.

Lights_2

Able will offset the carbon dioxide saved by our team members ( by using the lights that we buy for them) against the carbon dioxide that we generate in our normal business activities.

Our team members will receive 6 free lights  which will reduce their power bills by up to $150 per annum.

Note - if you want to buy these fabulous little lights make sure that you remember to find out whether you need bayonet tip or screw tip.

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4. "From little things, big things grow"

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Today we made our first contribution to Trees for Life.     

Our offset was for approximately 79 tonnes of carbon dioxide. We will be making offsets like this on a monthly basis.

Hand_and_seedling_2We have invested in the current planting season, the trees are to be protected by covenant for a period of 70 years.

At least 4 species of trees are to be planted, we will furnish more details of  the site and the particular habitat being created over the coming weeks.

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3. carbon neutral motif to add to logo

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

We're interested to hear what you think of the new addition to the logo, please comment using the comments button below.

To reflect the initiative of becoming carbon neutral, we have added a new carbon nuetral motif to the able logo.

You may have guessed that the motif is a leaf, representing new growth, reflecting new awareness in moving towards sustainability  and literally illustrating the action of planting trees to offset the carbon dioxide generated as a business.

Ableandcarbonlogo 

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2. Carbon neutral status - moving forward

Monday, April 02, 2007

Today I met with Bruce and Damien from Ecovantage. They are environmental scientists and have launched Ecovantage with a vision of helping households, schools, businesses and organisations reduce their carbon emissions and save water.

After an initial meeting a few weeks ago, we asked Ecovantage to independently  audit our business to calculate our carbon footprint. ( a carbon footprint is simply how much CO2 a companies' activities are generating)

Here's what they came up with;

electricity, cars, staff, travel, flights:    54.5 tonnes over the  last 12 months

manufacturing and transporting products: 1083 tonnes over the last 12 months

It certainly seems like a big number for a relatively small company. It was interesting that  the paper products that we sell, actually emit more CO2 in their manufacturing and transport than the plastic products.  Be that as it may, the task at hand is to offset this CO2.

Bruce and Damien explained that there are a variety of methods to offset CO2 including;

1. Requesting renewable energy from your power company

Renewable energy is primarily generated from solar and wind sources. Hydro (ie, the  snowy  river scheme) is also a renewable source, however, to qualify for an offset, the hydro plant needs to have been built after the mid 1990's.   

It also seems that green energy packages vary greatly in their environmental integrity.

On the face of it, the greenelectricitywatch  site provides a brilliant comparison of green energy from a myriad of suppliers.

This site does not shrink away from calling out  products making environmental claims which are having little or no positive impact on the environment. Electricity packages from different companies are graded on a 1 to 5 star rating system and are listed in order of merit.

The chart below is from the site on 3/4/2007

Greenelec19_lowres

Ecovantage will be making contact with Origin Energy on our behalf. Origin Energy rated very highly in the rankings. It probably makes good business sense for them, it appears that in the past year, green energy has increased from 3 % to 12 % of total electricity supplied in Australia.

2. Purchasing RECs (renewable energy certificates)

Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), also known as Green tags, Renewable Energy Credits, or Tradable Renewable Certificates (TRCs), are the property rights to the environmental benefits from generating electricity from renewable energy sources. These certificates can be sold and traded and the owner of the REC can legally claim to have purchased renewable energy. While traditional carbon  emissions trading programs promote low-carbon technologies by increasing the cost of emitting carbon, RECs incentivize carbon-neutral renewable energy by providing a subsidy to electricity generated from renewable sources.

In states which have a REC program, a green energy provider (such as a wind farm) is credited with one REC for every 1,000 kWh of electricity it produces (for reference, an average residential customer consumes about 300 kWh in a month). A certifying agency gives each REC a unique identification number to make sure it doesn't get double-counted. The green energy is then fed into the electrical grid (by mandate), and the accompanying REC can then be sold on the open market.)

3. Buying carbon offset credits from a company that supplies products that displace reliance on electricity

Products such as energy efficient light globes and  water saving showerheads reduce electricity consumption and thus reduce the generation of carbon dioxide.

Easy being green are a company that distribute these items.

Ebglogo

Since 2004, their products distributed by them have had the following impact;

* Reduced 620,000 tonnes of CO2 pollution per year, the equivalent to taking 150,000 cars off the road.

* Saved 5.8 gigalitres of water – the equivalent to 2500 Olympic sized swimming pools.

* Saved households $32.3 million off their energy bills.

That in my mind is a great effort. Easy being green, like the energy companies, are businesses rather than non profit organisations. The beauty of easy being greens' business model is that they give away energy saving packs (including the globes and showerheads) free of charge.

4. Planting trees

My lovely girlfriend and I travelled to the  WOMAD World Music festival in Adelaide a few weeks ago and visited displays run by trees for life and ACBI.

below: the Womad festival

Filteredviewofstage2

These two companies plant trees on land that they legally protect via covenant for 70 to 100 years.

The criteria for selecting native trees and grasses to plant on a  site, are that the species were previously growing in the area. Many of these sites are regarded as being "stressed" by either wind or water erosion and or salinity. Planting trees is seen to benefit these issues in addition to the trees' role in storing carbon dioxide.

Acacia20hakeoides20flower1

It struck me as an important piece in the climate change jig saw that in South Australia's Murray Darling Basin alone, 15 billion trees have been cleared during the last 150 years. There is mounting evidence that forests of trees create their own weather.

As an indication that there is growing big business interest in offsetting carbon dioxide by planting trees, on the ACBI site there is discussion of Mitsubishi manufacturing a model of car for which the carbon generated by all inputs and processes is to be offset by planting trees.

Trees

And while British satellite operator BSkyB has become carbon neutral and there is now serious discussions underway to make Rupert Murdoch's entire News Corporation empire carbon neutral.

Source: The Financial Times

Rupert Murdoch, the 75-year-old chairman and chief executive of  News Corporation, is planning to push all parts of his media empire to become environmentally friendly, using the strategies put in place by his son and heir James. Mr Murdoch said at a conference organised by Bill Clinton, former US president, that climate change was important and he was planning to put in place strategies across his News Corp media business to tackle it. News Corp owns newspapers in the UK, Australia and the US, the Fox News Channel , 20th Century Fox studios and numerous television stations in the US, operations in India and China and also internet assets, such as popular social networking site MySpace . "We're going to be absolutely carbon neutral" across News Corp's businesses, Mr Murdoch said, adding he was "examining" how to eliminate emissions "in every country where we are".

Becoming carbon neutral involves reducing greenhouse gas emissions and "offsetting" the rest by investing in projects such as windfarms or forests that reduce carbon dioxide emissions. James, widely regarded as the likely heir to Mr Murdoch, has taken on climate change as a key issue. Mr Murdoch's adoption of his son's strategy is seen as a further sign that James is starting to influence his father.

Thats very interesting, as a country which is becoming an elephant in the clmate change  room, I also wonder what China's view on offseting CO2 is.

Conclusion

When we reviewed the options for offsetting carbon with ecovantage, we decided to break our offsets into two parts;

for electricity, cars, staff, travel and flights amounting to 54.5 tonnes of CO2 ; we will most likely sign up for a combination of green energy and trees

for  manufacturing and transporting products amounting to 1083 tonnes of CO2; we will sign up for trees and also offset via energy efficient product programs

We plan to finalise our first month's carbon offsets this week.

Greg

 

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1. Carbon neutral status - thoughts

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

At 6.30am a couple of weeks ago, Red the 774 radio announcer said, "It could well be the greatest campaign trailer ever made."

Well, in my view, Red could be right and Al Gore may run for office again ( time will tell.)  Nevertheless, the partnership of Al Gore and climate change may be a case of enlightened self interest for both causes.

Red was referring to Al Gore's film, "An inconvenient truth"

I watched the movie recently and it got me thinking about Able in a new light.

The film addresses the topic of climate change, presenting the findings of many scientists, from a worldwide environmental perspective.

Al Gore discusses the link that has been established between climate change and the increase of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Burning fossil fuels to generate electricity, cars, trucks and deforestation are the main forces behind this  increase. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are trapping an increasing amount of the suns energy within our atmosphere, causing rising temperatures.

The film explores some of the more alarming consequences of climate change ;

* More than a million species worldwide could be driven to extinction by 2050 - Time Magazine, Feeling the heat, David Bjerklie, March 26, 2006.

* Deaths from from global warming will double in just 25 years, to 300,000 per year - World Health Organization

* The Arctic Ocean could be ice free by 2050 - Time Magazine, Feeling the heat, David Bjerklie, March 26, 2006.

* Global sea levels could rise by more than 20 feet with the loss of shelf ice in Greenland and Antarctica, devastating coastal communities worldwide - Washington Post, "debate on climate change shifts to issue of irreparable change" Juliet Eilperin, January 29, 2006.

* The flow of ice from glaciers in Greenland has more than doubled in the past decade - Krabill et al, Greenland Ices Sheet: Increased coastal thinning, Geophysical research letters 31, 2004.

* The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled in the last 30 years - Emmanuel K. Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years, Nature 436: 686-688. 2005 

In Victoria, the potential effects of climate  change are less than in other areas of the world.

Having said that, we find ourselves in the midst of one of the most severe droughts on record. Our State is experiencing water shortages and in the past few months we have arguably had the worst bush fires on record. An increased incidence of droughts and bush fires are both potentially consequences of climate change. These fires were incredibly intense due to the tinder dry conditions created through months of minimal rainfall. 1.2 million hectares, of the 1.6 million hectare Alpine National Park, were burned.

Double click on the picture below for a NASA satellite image of the Victorian bush fires

Bushfires_in_victoria_3

 

So what to do ? 

In Australia to date, there is no requirement for Industry to monitor and offset carbon dioxide emissions.

In the  press, there is a fair level of constructive discussion on climate change. To balance that, there is also an element of belligerent apathy amongst a minority of commentators. These commentators acknowledge that the climate is changing but dispute the causes, often citing cyclical weather patterns and saying that, even if carbon dioxide is a problem, Australia is a small country with limited influence on our larger neighbors.

Looking at the proven link between ever increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and climate change, and considering that glaciers worldwide are retreating beyond levels experienced for tens of thousands of years, how can climate change be regarded as cyclical ?

And are we a small country unable to make an impact ? maybe, maybe not. We think that the most important thing is to take responsibility for ourselves.

As a company, Able have decided to offset the carbon dioxide generated in manufacturing and transporting all of our products to our clients. Some of these products are made in Australia, others are made overseas in countries like Thailand and China. There will be no additional cost to our clients. Over the coming weeks we will be investigating how much carbon dioxide we are emitting and the best methods to offset this carbon dioxide.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

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