Reducing Emissions

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the most important action we can each take to prevent worsening climate change.
The race to cut 50% emissions by 2030 is on! Remember every kilogram saved from being released, is one less causing catastrophic weather.
The first step is to work out where your association uses fossil fuels and contributes emissions via its operations and those of your members. With the following links and information, you and your association can easily:
  • estimate your own emissions profile and therefore what you can do; and
  • work out the typical sources of emissions of your members and stakeholders so you can support them as well
  • explore ways to implement a circular economy approach in your sector

Calculate your emissions profile​

We’ve listed some free well-regarded calculators to help you assess and plan for reducing emissions in your association.
Carbon Neutral Calculator is a nifty free calculator to measure emissions from electricity, gas, travel, waste, events and more. It’s especially suitable for associations, small businesses and organisations operating out of offices or with small facilities. (This calculator is from a respected 20+year Australian company and global leader.)
There are also separate calculators for:
There are two other free and fun calculators for households and individuals – also good for community and sporting associations:
The calculators can also give you an understanding of carbon accounting, which is handy should you decide to engage a professional for a more accurate report. Medium-sized associations with more than an office, travel and waste-to-landfill will benefit from engaging a professional to get a baseline carbon audit of your energy consumption (gas, electricity, fuels). This will be important if you want to join the ranks of organisations declaring and certifying they are carbon neutral. The Australian Government’s Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard supports organisations gain certification.
Help to calculate and reduce emissions
Professional expert providers can identify sources of each of the six greenhouse gases – directly and indirectly – from your operations and help prepare emission reduction implementation plans and budget estimates.
Guidance and training are available in Australia for associations and organisations looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Seek out a business advisor or accountant with climate credentials. Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand has a climate accounting program for its members, who can work with associations. The international Greenhouse Gas Protocol website has free standards, guidance, tools and training.
For Australia’s biggest emitting companies

Some associations have members who are amongst Australia’s biggest emitters, and which are legally required to report annually using the Australian National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) calculator. This is part of internationally agreed emission reporting frameworks. Completing the annual NGER report is a major undertaking requiring specialised skills, data, analysis and understanding of emission sources and liabilities.

“Of course, reporting emissions is one task. More important is to actually cut emissions.”
Helen Millicer
Helen Millicer
Co-Founder ClimateWise Associations.

Different gases, different sources

There are six different greenhouse gases from a range of sources, and their contribution to global warming varies considerably. International accounting protocols have been established to help nations, companies and organisations measure and report on actions to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

This table shows the six greenhouse gases, their global warming potential (GWP) and the sources/activities that we must cut and control to reduce emissions and climate impacts. These are relevant to many associations and their members both directly and indirectly.

Greenhouse gases (GHG)

Global Warming Potential (2020-21-)

Sources / uses

Carbon dioxide (CO2) 1:1 tonne

1

Fossil fuel combustion, land clearing, virgin cement production

Methane (CH4)

28

Natural gas, landfill, fermentation

Nitrous oxide (N20)

265

Fertilisers, combustion, wastewater treatment

Perfluoromethane (tetrafluoromethane) (C3F8) 

6,630

Electronics, cathodes for making aluminium

Perfluoroethane (hexafluoroethane) (C2F6)

11,100

Etching for metals

Sulphur hexafluoride* (SF6)

23,500

High voltage switchgear lubricant, making magnesium

Hydrofluorocarbons(HFCs)* (CHF3)

Dependent on HFC type ~11,100 – 14,800

Refrigerant for cooling, insulation, aerosols

Table from the Australian Clean Energy Regulator – National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme

 

When countries and organisations report their annual emissions they are measuring these gases and sources multiplied by the internationally agreed GWP figures (see Australian Clean Energy Regulator (CER)). Then when they prioritise actions, such as cutting methane from landfills by diverting organics to compost or ceasing use of natural gas or CHF refrigerant gases, they are considering best value for effort. For this reason, the 2021 international Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP21 in Glasgow) decided one relatively easy global action is to cut activities that produce methane (CH4).

Where your emissions come from

All associations and their members can cut emissions, and not just from their own operations. Your association’s decisions and operations impact emissions both upstream and downstream from your organisation, including like where to invest member funds in certain banks or shares, or cutting waste to landfill.

The global Greenhouse Gas Protocol covers both direct and indirect emissions. Direct emissions are those from sources that are owned or controlled by the reporting entity. Indirect emissions are emissions that are a consequence of the activities of the reporting entity but occur at sources owned or controlled by another entity.

The Protocol takes account of an organisation’s emissions arising from:

  • their own activities that they are responsible for (Scope 1)
  • plus the energy and emissions arising from their upstream purchased goods and suppliers (Scope 2)
  • and the downstream consequences, such as waste they produce that goes for recycling or landfill; and the types of funds they invest in. renewable stocks vs fossil fuel companies (Scope 3).

This accounting process and scoping applies to all entities around the world.

Read more on how to influence others in our Supply chains page.

Apart from being more urgent, it’s getting easier to cut emissions, given the rising number of options and incentives. There’s also increased expectations that all reputable organisations are being proactive in cutting emissions.

Don’t hesitate, find out how much difference you can make, put your plans into action and be part of the solution.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the most important action we can each take to prevent worsening climate change.

The race to cut 50% emissions by 2030 is on! Remember every kilogram saved from being released, is one less causing catastrophic weather.

The first step is to work out where your association uses fossil fuels and contributes emissions via its operations and those of your members. With the following links and information, you and your association can easily:

  • estimate your own emissions profile and therefore what you can do; and
  • work out the typical sources of emissions of your members and stakeholders so you can support them as well.

Joining the circular economy

Until recently, emissions reduction has focussed on the supply side: reducing the emissions from the production of steel, cement, chemicals, etc. Far less attention has been given to the demand side: how a more circular economy could reduce emissions through better use and reuse of the materials that already exist in the economy. 

Associations can explore how to implement a circular economy approach within the sector. Circular economy principles can be adopted across different industry sectors by design – bringing benefits to people, business and nature. Insights relevant to different sectors of the economy can be found at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

You’ll also find guidance in our Rating Tool and our More info and Resources page.

Switching to renewable energy is only half the story. It is vital, but would only address 55% of global emissions. To reach net-zero, we also need to change the way we make and use products, materials, and food.