What is Carbon Offsetting?
Offsetting carbon allows us to positively compensate for the unavoidable carbon emissions we all generate in everyday life. When you buy an offset/carbon credit, you fund projects that avoid, reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere in the world. Simply put, offsetting one tonne of CO2 means there will be one less tonne of CO2 in the in the atmosphere.
Who can offset their carbon emissions, and what steps can people take to get started?
You can measure how your travel, energy use, diet and other lifestyle choices make an impact on the climate by using a carbon footprint calculator. A carbon calculator measures not just the CO2 emissions that the activity creates, but also any emissions of other greenhouse gases (GHG) (such as methane and nitrous oxide) your daily activities create. The calculator applies relevant official international and national GHG conversion or standard emission factors (GHG Protocol), which are reviewed and updated on an annual basis.
New to the process? We have some tips to get you started:
To measure your carbon footprint accurately, you will need your historical data for a specified period of time (normally 12 months). This may sound scary, but it just means collecting your utility bills and keeping a record of the kilometres travelled in your vehicle. You do not have to start calculating everything. You can start by looking at one aspect of your life such as vehicle usage or flights. If you are not a great record keeper, there is the option to use pre-calculated data, based on Australian averages. You can also use our Quick Offsets page to make standard car, household, and flight offsets.
How many trees does it take to offset one tonne of carbon?
Carbon is not measured on a tree by tree basis. Carbon sequestration is measured by the actual carbon absorbed on a per hectare basis. Approximately half the dry weight of a tree’s biomass is carbon. One tonne of C = 3.67 tonnes of ‘carbon dioxide equivalent’ (CO2e). Trees uptake CO2 from the atmosphere and convert it into organic carbon as they grow. The carbon is stored in trunks, stems, leaves and roots. The amount of carbon sequestered per hectare depends on the tree growth, which is dependent on species planted and density of the planting. In high rainfall zones with good soil, 3 to 5 trees may produce 1 tonne of CO2e over 25 years. In lower rainfall zones and poorer soil, this could be 10-15 trees producing 1 tonne of CO2e over 25 years.
Where do you plant trees?
It is part of our mission to restore degraded and cleared land back to natural habitat. We mostly work in rural locations where large areas have been cleared for agriculture. To source land for planting projects we work with private landowners and other environmental organisations. A site has to meet our project requirements, which include registration of a carbon covenant on the land to legally protect the trees. Details of our landholder requirements can be found here.
What happens after the trees have been planted?
Once all obligations are fulfilled by both parties, the planting can be left so that nature can take its course. We will need to access the site to monitor growth over the first 3 years. If the survival rate is low at monitoring, we will assess whether to restock the area. Site management after the planting will be documented in the contract.
What happens if a natural disaster or fire destroys trees that have been planted for carbon offsetting?
The native species we establish provide natural regrowth in the event of damage from fire, pests or vermin. CNCF has access to offsets from existing plantings or from future project development. Depending on time of offset purchase, reforestation offsets may be allocated from trees already planted, or trees to be planted next winter.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
We allocate funds to various planting projects each year on a pool basis. Most sites are planted on private land and access for visitors would be dependant on the landowner.
We are a Registered Environmental Organisation and endorsed as a deductible gift recipient (DGR) by the Australian Taxation Office. If you are an individual offsetting through the website it is tax deductable donation, if you are a company other tax implications may apply.
The period of time over which a carbon offset project can create carbon offsets (or carbon credits) is call the crediting period. Tree planting (sequestration projects) generally have a crediting period of 25 or 100 years. Projects must be maintained and legally protected for this period.
Accredited carbon offset projects are assessed, verified and certified under international carbon offset standard such as the Gold Standard or Verified Carbon Standard or Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs). CNCF has a number of tree planting projects registered for Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) via the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Regulator.
Unaccredited offsets are from smaller projects where high certification registration and audit costs for smaller projects are avoided but projects can be based on a standard framework and third party verification.
Each carbon offset represents the reduction of one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) from the atmosphere. 1 offset (or carbon credit) = 1 tonne CO2e. Carbon measurement is done through either FullCAM modelling or on-ground measurement of biomass carbon. The Full Carbon Accounting Model (FullCAM) is the calculation engine managed by the Australian Department of the Environment which estimates the carbon captured by the growing of trees for generation of ACCUs. CNCF has contributed field measurement data from our plantings as part of an on-going CSIRO project to update the FullCAM models. On-ground measurement of carbon is based on detailed growth models using allometric equations to reflect the amount of carbon stored in the forest. These measurements and sampling techniques are done in accordance with the international Gold Standard Foundation guidelines.