Carbon Neutral Program - Maintaining certification

The Department of the Environment will review the application package and make a certification decision.

As part of a marketing and promotional kit provided by the Department, organisations will  receive a certificate for display and information about the carbon neutral company or product will be displayed on the Department’s website (as a member of the Carbon Neutral Network) along with media releases and the Public Disclosure Summary.

Subject to taking all steps necessary to maintain certification, carbon neutral certification is valid for a period of five years.

In order to maintain certification and the right to use the National Carbon Offset Standard Carbon Neutral Certified Trade Mark over the five-year period of the license, participants must:

  • monitor and reduce emissions,
  • purchase and cancel eligible carbon offset units,
  • report annually,
  • undertake third party auditing at the end of the first year and every second year after that,
  • submit required documentation to the Department within four months of the end of your reporting period.

Monitor and reduce emissions

Your organisation must outline the emissions reduction activities it will undertake to reduce the carbon footprint of the organisation or its product(s).

Some organisations may have already undertaken significant emissions reduction actions before joining the Carbon Neutral Program. If organisations wish to claim these actions as quantified emissions reductions under the Carbon Neutral Program, they will need verified carbon footprints demonstrating the reductions.

There may be circumstances where continuous, year-on-year reductions in emissions may not be either possible or cost effective. In recognition of such circumstances, there is no mandatory requirement for year-on-year reductions or specific targets for reducing emissions.

It is important to monitor emissions each year to determine the quantity of residual emissions to be offset.

At the end of each reporting year, organisations must calculate the emissions generated from the subject of their certification during that reporting year. Organisations will then revise their Emissions Management Plan (EMP) accordingly and reset emission reduction objectives as necessary for the following year.

Purchase and cancel eligible offset units

To claim carbon neutrality, participants must purchase and cancel a sufficient quantity of eligible offset units to offset the total emissions associated with the subject of the certification for that reporting year.

The purchase and cancellation of offsets needs to be completed within four months of the end of the reporting period. Eligible carbon offset units, as defined in the NCOS, may be purchased for immediate use or they can be banked for future use.

The cancellation of offset units purchased is important to prevent resale and double counting. There are a number of independently managed registries as well as those set up by suppliers and the administrators of the various offset standards. Participants need to consider the best and most appropriate cancellation approach for their organisation and the type of offset units they intend to purchase. The cancellation strategy should be outlined in the EMP.

Participants will need to maintain records as well as disclose information relating to the offsets purchased and surrendered (e.g. registry name, serial number, cancellation certificate, etc). These details are required as part of the Public Disclosure Summary (PDS).

Report annually

Annual reporting on carbon neutral activities (including your Public Disclosure Summary) keeps key stakeholders informed in an open and transparent manner and communicates participant achievements in managing emissions.

The reporting timeframe is a 12-month period. Participants must submit updated copies of the carbon footprint, emissions management plan and public disclosure summary, as well as an annual report within four months of each reporting period. These documents may require auditing by a third party depending on the year of certification.

Annual Reports must include the following:

  • total emissions generated from the organisation or product(s)
  • quantity and type of eligible offsets purchased and cancelled
  • any changes to the carbon footprint calculation
  • details of the emission management/reductions activities undertaken
  • a summary of how the participant has marketed and communicated their carbon neutral certification, including the use of the Trade Mark

For a copy of the Annual Report Guidance Template please contact the Department at

Undertaking third party auditing

The reporting documentation must be audited by a third party at the end of the first year of certification and then at least every second year thereafter. You can choose to undertake annual auditing if you wish.

In the initial year of certification two verification activities are required for:

(i) the initial application package; and
(ii) the Annual Report.

There may be circumstances where these verifications can be merged into the one activity. Please contact the Department for further advice.

Auditing in an interim year may be required if participant circumstances have changed significantly. This can occur for example, when organisational boundaries have changed due to a merger or acquisition, when there have been significant changes in calculation methodologies, or if there have been significant changes to a manufacturing process.

Auditors will be obliged to check the following details contained in the Annual Reports:

  • the quantity of emissions generated for the stated reporting period is materially correct,
  • emission management and reduction activities have been undertaken in line with the EMP,
  • the quantity of eligible offset units cancelled matches or exceeds the emissions generated for the same period,
  • the offset units cancelled are eligible under the National Carbon Offset Standard,
  • the Public Disclosure Summary remains accurate and up to date.

Participants need to ensure their auditor completes the Independent Audit Report template .

Submit your documentation to the Department

The Department will review the documentation to evaluate whether you have met all the requirements of the National Carbon Offset Standard  and the Carbon Neutral Program Guidelines.

A Notice of Continued Certification will be issued to where to the Department decides the participant has met the requirements and the participant will need to pay the annual certification fee.

Documentation must be submitted to or

Att: Carbon Neutral Program Manager

Department of the Environment
GPO Box 854
Canberra ACT 2601