9 April 2022

Calls for a carbon calculator to support local businesses transition to net-zero

| Lottie Twyford
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Shoppers at the Fyshwick Markets.

Wiffens Premium Grocers owner Ruth Roxburgh said she is looking to move the business to carbon neutrality and welcomes any initiatives that could help. Photo: File.

Calculating your carbon footprint as a Canberran is a relatively straightforward process because so many online tools can help.

However, that’s not the case for local businesses and one MLA thinks something should be done about this.

Labor backbencher Dr Marisa Paterson wants the ACT Government to create a reliable carbon footprint calculator for small businesses to help them better understand their energy costs and work out ways to cut back on their usage, including signing up for usage offset schemes.

While she acknowledged there is information available to help businesses calculate their carbon footprints, she said there is “no single, authoritative source of truth that local ACT businesses can rely on”.

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Dr Paterson hoped the initiative would provide ongoing support for businesses.

“The ACT is committed to achieving zero net emissions and we’ve already transitioned to 100 per cent renewable electricity,” she said.

“The ACT Government is also committed to supporting local businesses.

“The development of an online carbon calculator is a win-win for both. It’s also a win for local businesses who want to reduce their carbon emissions and reduce their financial running costs.”

Marisa Paterson

Labor backbencher Dr Marisa Paterson has floated the idea of an ACT Government-created carbon calculator that local businesses could use. Photo: Region Media.

It’s an initiative one local business owner is more than willing to get on board with.

Wiffens Premium Grocers owner Ruth Roxburgh said there is a moral and economic imperative for businesses to move themselves and their models to carbon neutrality because it’s what consumers are increasingly beginning to prioritise when making purchasing decisions.

However, she said it can be tricky to do because of a lack of guidance from state and territory governments.

Especially for small and medium businesses, it’s a confusing space as [they] lack the capacity and time to calculate their carbon in-house or by using consultancy services,” Ms Roxburgh explained.

“The ACT Government is well-positioned to provide such a platform and make recommendations for upgrades and improvements to help businesses like mine reduce our footprint and the costs of doing business through increased energy efficiencies.

“I believe that many ACT businesses want to do more to offset their environmental impact they just need some more assistance in doing this.”

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At the end of last year the ACT, along with the governments of South Australia and New South Wales, founded the Net Zero Emissions Policy Forum.

It was hoped the Forum could be used to provide participating jurisdictions with a bank of existing policies and resources and make it easier for governments to design collaborative policies and work together on the net-zero challenge.

Dr Paterson suggested the business carbon calculator initiative could be worked on through this policy forum, which has brought together governments of different political persuasions. She presented a motion to the Legislative Assembly – which was accepted – calling on the ACT to bring the idea to the Forum for consideration.

Andrew Barr in the legislative assembly

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said this carbon calculator was exactly the kind of initiative the policy forum had been intended to address. Photo: Region Media.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said he was happy to do so, saying he saw small businesses that may need or be unable to afford a carbon advisory service as likely to most benefit from it.

“In a jurisdiction of our size, creating a calculator that is specific to our climate and businesses may be prohibitively expensive,” he said. “This idea is exactly why this forum was established.”

All sub-national jurisdictions and the Commonwealth have pledged to achieve net zero by 2050 or earlier, although Tasmania and the ACT have set the most ambitious targets of net zero emissions by 2030 and 2045, respectively.

At the time the Forum was announced, Mr Barr said state and territory governments would play an essential role in cutting emissions given they control high-emitting sectors, including transport, buildings and energy.

There is no date set yet for the Forum’s first meeting, but it’s hoped it will be sometime later this month.

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