Power that is “Carbon Offset” or “Carbon Neutral”

Carbon neutral energy means that your power usage is offset by your retailer supporting projects that reduce carbon emissions. These projects sell emissions reductions/units certificates to companies that are interested in being carbon neutral in order to fund their own continuation. Retailers have a choice of which initiatives they support, which can include anything from waste management to forest regrowth schemes.

There are thousands of climate action projects around the world that sell carbon offset units to our energy retailers. Here are some examples of carbon emission reduction projects some Australia retailers use:

  • The Savanna fire management in Australia that prevents large bushfires that generate emissions.
  • A landfill waste management program in Brazil that minimises greenhouse gases escaping.
  • Planting trees to absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • Energy efficiency programs to promote power-saving LED light bulbs and water saving shower heads.
  • Investment in renewable energy generators such as solar and wind farms.
  • The NSW Westmere Native Forest Regeneration program that restores land that has been over-grazed by livestock.
  • The Burns Stove project in Kenya that providers communities with energy efficient cook stoves.

The drawback of carbon offsetting is that it is hard to track (did that waste management program really end up saving greenhouse gasses?) and in some cases is reversable (planted trees may burn or otherwise die). Also, unless it involves investing in renewable generation, it doesn’t provide a lasting solution to fossil fuel use.

For these reasons Uniting Energy will not purchase power that is solely carbon offset. However the current supplier of GreenPower electricity to Uniting Energy, Powershop, additionally buys carbon offsets for all power that it supplies, so Uniting Energy customers get the benefit of this at no extra cost.