With the urgency of climate change impacting all aspects of life, individuals and organisations are increasingly aware that they must take action. While some have led the way in taking practical action to reduce their carbon footprint, others are only just beginning to manage their environmental journey.
Greenfleet enables individuals and organisations to take climate action by supporting native reforestation projects to offset their emissions. This is a clear and impactful way we can all make a difference to the planet.
There has been increasing and valid criticism over the carbon market, and the environmental benefit actually occurring through carbon offsetting. Greenfleet strongly believes carbon offsetting is not an opportunity to greenwash, extend the use of fossil fuels, or a license to pollute.
Sadly, the reputation of the carbon offset market has been tainted by low quality carbon credits, which would not stand up well under scrutiny. However, quality offsetting projects continue to play an important role as we transition to a low carbon economy.
The Greenfleet difference
Greenfleet is Australia’s first carbon offset provider and has been delivering climate action for over 25 years. While carbon offsetting is the funding mechanism through which Greenfleet operates, the environmental benefits of our work are tangible and far reaching.
Since 1997, Greenfleet has:
- Planted 10.5 million native trees
- Created 550 legally protected biodiverse forests
- Revegetated over 10,000 hectares of Australian landscape
- Restored forests that will remove more than 4.4 million tonnes of carbon through the rest of this century.
The transformation through Greenfleet’s revegetation project at Battery Creek in Victoria’s South Gippsland. Nearly 100,000 trees were planted here between 1999 and 2009. This forest will capture more than 23,000 tonnes of carbon across its lifetime and will be legally protected through the rest of this century.
When Greenfleet undertakes revegetation project we create forests that will grow to remove, capture and store carbon. Our Revegetation Team ensures that we plant a range of species that will provide the right foundation for a complex forest to emerge. We choose the appropriate local canopy and understory species for each bioregion, basing our planting plans on the government-approved best practice guidelines and referencing the local landscape.
By including locally adaptive species in our plantings, we create resilient forests that will thrive over the next 100 years. We return regularly to each planting during the establishment phase to check the health and growth rate of the trees and look for signs of emerging forest complexity, such as forest birdlife. We also use satellite imagery and drones where possible to add additional data.
What is carbon offsetting?
Firstly, let’s look at what carbon offsetting is.
Carbon offsetting is the process of activating a carbon reducing activity to compensate for a carbon emitting activity. If you take the example of your vehicle emitting a certain amount of carbon each year, a carbon offset would counteract those emissions by either removing the same amount of carbon from the atmosphere or reducing emissions elsewhere.
There are two primary ways that these initiatives work to compensate for carbon being emitted:
- By mitigating (reducing) carbon that is being produced and measuring the ‘avoided’ carbon
- By sequestering (drawing down) the existing CO2-e already released into the atmosphere and measuring the captured carbon.
While both methods can play a role in managing carbon emissions, the truth is that not all climate action has the same positive impact on our environment.
Climate actions that mitigate generally focus on the amount of carbon that has been avoided by introducing a more sustainable option. This could include initiatives such as building solar or wind farms as renewable power sources or providing more fuel-efficient cooking equipment to families in developing countries.
Actions that sequester carbon are removing carbon that has already been emitted into the atmosphere and actively work to reduce the impacts of climate change. By planting 100-year protected native forests, Greenfleet is ensuring that carbon emissions already in the atmosphere are captured in a long-term sustainable way.
What is the difference between a carbon offset and a carbon credit?
It’s also important to understand the difference between carbon offsets and carbon credits.
Carbon credits are derived from already completed projects. The completed project is audited, and a number of ‘credits’ are produced as tradeable assets. This could be a unit of carbon that will be removed from the atmosphere through a sequestering activity or through mitigation where the avoided carbon is traded as a credit.
Greenfleet carbon offsets, on the other hand, are used to fund future projects, which are monitored and measured to ensure the carbon commitment of the project is delivered. This is Greenfleet’s approach to climate action. Supporters offset their emissions with us and fund future revegetation projects that will capture their emissions over the lifetime of the forest. This means our supporters are not only removing carbon form the atmosphere, but also funding long-term ecosystem restoration and mitigating biodiversity loss.
Greenfleet carbon offsets
Greenfleet believes first and foremost that individuals and organisations should reduce emissions where they can and that offsetting remains an effective tool for the emissions you can’t avoid.
By offsetting with Greenfleet, you are supporting the future restoration of native forests that are legally protected. These projects would not be possible without your support.
Important information about Greenfleet offsets
- Greenfleet offsets cannot be traded or on-sold.
- Greenfleet legally protects our revegetation projects for up to 100 years with the view that they will grow beyond this century and become old-growth forests.
- Greenfleet’s expert Revegetation Team take time to research the native species that are appropriate to the areas we are revegetating. We create biodiverse, resilient ecosystems through our work and do not establish monocultural plantations.
- Greenfleet offsets allow you to take climate action, while supporting projects that have a positive impact on restoring Australia’s landscapes and supporting our native wildlife.
Greenfleet’s methodology and verification processes
Greenfleet has a thorough verification process in place for our carbon offsetting projects.
To measure the carbon uptake of each forest we plant, we use the Full Carbon Accounting Model (FullCAM), developed by CSIRO and approved by the Australian Department of the Environment. The forests we plant are also legally protected for up 100 years so by offsetting your carbon with Greenfleet, you are taking climate action now that will continue to benefit generations to come.
Greenfleet’s carbon estate is verified annually by Ernst & Young (EY) and our work is independently audited by Pitcher Partners. The legal protection of the forests planted is secured by carbon on title agreements that are authorised by each landholder.
Why other offset and credit initiatives are being critiqued
One of the major criticisms facing carbon offsetting is that it doesn’t actually address the issue of emissions induced climate change and can be seen as a license to pollute. This is particularly true when highly polluting industries, such as mining, invest in carbon offsets but do not take any steps to curb the negative impact their operations are making.
There has also been significant public discourse and discussion about the low integrity of some carbon offsetting projects. Avoided deforestation and revegetation projects in areas that do not have high carbon sequestration potential are all examples of why some projects are painting a poor picture of these initiatives.
The examples mentioned above can also come at a low cost, allowing organisations to speak to the positive impact they are making without having to put substantial resource behind it. For this reason, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is cracking down on organisations that are making ‘greenwash’ claims in their advertising and communications. The ACCC aim to reduce the number of businesses making unsubstantiated or misleading claims about their sustainability practices.
There is no doubt that emissions need to be reduced across the board, from governments to the private sector. This transition must be prioritised and right now, carbon offsetting can play a part in industries decarbonising. Utilising good quality offsets that make a genuine difference to the environment and be an effective and impactful tool in taking climate action.
Bringing it all together
Right now, there are many criticisms being levelled at carbon offsetting, and Greenfleet agrees that much of the criticism is valid. Carbon offsetting can present an easy out for organisations that are polluting our environment and the prevalence of ‘greenwashing’ may increase as this conversation does.
Sadly, the transition to a low carbon economy can not be achieved overnight, and carbon offsetting via nature bases solutions such as native reforestation can be an effective way to reduce emissions. By working with Greenfleet you will be supporting projects that are actively working to remove carbon from the atmosphere and fight the damage that has already been done to our environment.
We can make a difference. Together we can grow our forests and climate hope.