Carbon Neutral Program - Starting your application

There are five simple steps to achieving carbon neutral certification.

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Step 1 - Calculate your carbon footprint

To calculate the carbon footprint of your product,organisation or event, you'll need to prepare a greenhouse gas inventory following the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS).

There are different approaches for calculating the carbon footprint of an organisation or product, which are outlined in the NCOS.

The principles that guide the carbon footprint calculation of an organisation or product are:

  • relevance
  • completeness
  • consistency
  • transparency
  • accuracy

Organisations may choose to prepare their own carbon footprints, especially where the organisation may already be reporting greenhouse gas emissions from Scope 1 and 2 emissions for the purposes of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) Act 2007 and in accordance with the methods and guidance provided in the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (Measurement) Determination 2008.

Alternatively, organisations can make use of external parties to undertake this activity on their behalf. This is particularly relevant for products where life cycle assessment (LCA) expertise is required.

Where organisations intend to use emission factors that differ from those provided in the publicly available sources listed in the Carbon Neutral Program Guidelines, it is important that you contact the Department before preparing and verifying your Application Package. The Department will need to confirm the validity of the emission factors or methods used to derive them and independent advice may be sought in this regard.

Learn more about establishing the carbon footprint of your organisation.
Learn more about establishing the carbon footprint of your product.

Step 2 - Prepare an Emissions Management Plan

An Emissions Management Plan (EMP) describes how greenhouse gas emissions will be monitored and reduced. It also includes how carbon offsets will be purchased and retired.

The EMP must identify:

  • the greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the activities of the organisation, product, service or event •an emissions reduction strategy including emissions reduction measures to be undertaken
  • the organisation’s strategy for purchasing and retiring eligible carbon offset units for each reporting period
  • the records required, and the process for establishing and maintaining those records, to ensure that the greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the organisation or product, and any changes in these, are recorded in a timely manner
  • data quality control practices
  • key stakeholders (internal and external) to be engaged in managing and delivering various aspects of the organisation’s EMP, including the processes for selecting and appointing an independent verifier for the application package or annual reports.

For a copy of the Emissions Management Plan Guidance Template please contact the Department at NCOS@environment.gov.au.

Step 3 - Prepare a Public Disclosure Summary

A public disclosure summary is important for maintaining consumer confidence in carbon neutral claims.

Applicants are required to complete a public disclosure summary which satisfies the transparency of information requirements of the NCOS and the Carbon Neutral Program

When carbon neutral certification is achieved, the Public Disclosure Summary is required to appear on the organisation's website and the Department of the Environment's website.

Outside of the Public Disclosure Summary, information that you provide to the Department that is confidential will be protected at all times and will not be publicly disclosed or included in public reports without your permission, unless required by law.

Should you have any concerns about disclosure of confidential information, please contact the Department

For a copy of the Public Disclosure Summary Guidance Template please contact the Department at NCOS@environment.gov.au.

Step 4 - Third party auditing

Third party auditing of your carbon footprint, emissions management plan and public disclosure summary confirms your emissions claim and helps ensure the adequacy of your application package.

To meet the requirements of the National Carbon Offset Standard, you are required to have your carbon footprint, Emissions Management Plan (EMP) and Public Disclosure Summary (PDS) audited. These are collectively referred to as your application package.

For a copy of the Independent Audit Report Guidance Template please contact the Department at NCOS@environment.gov.au.

Audit standards that must be applied, in conjunction with the relevant carbon accounting standard, are:

  • ASAE 3000 Assurance Engagements other than Audits or Reviews of Historical Financial Information; or
  • ISO 14064-3:2006 Greenhouse gas specification with guidance for the validation and verification of greenhouse gas assertions.

If another auditing standard is to be applied the auditor must confirm that it as demanding as those specified.

An auditor must provide an assurance statement confirming whether the carbon footprint calculations are presented fairly in accordance with the requirements of this Standard. The expected level of assurance to be achieved is that of a reasonable level.
However, scope 3 emissions are only required to be audited to a limited level of assurance.

Audits of carbon footprint calculations required under the Standard must be undertaken by a suitably qualified auditor. Suitably qualified auditors are individuals or bodies that:

(a) Are registered under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting audit framework under the NGER Act as managed by the Clean Energy Regulator; or
(b) Are accredited to the international standard ISO 14065:2007 or recognised international standards based on ISO 14040.

The Clean Energy Regulator maintains the Register of Greenhouse and Energy Auditors.

Where specialist skills are required that are not possessed by the auditor, the necessary skills can be provided by an independent expert (in line with AS ISO 14064.3 or NGER Audit Handbook). Such experts must be independent and cannot have been involved in the development of the inventory or LCA that is the subject of the audit.

Step 5 - Submit your application package

To be certified carbon neutral, you must submit your application to the Department, pay an annual certification fee and enter into a licence for the use of the Carbon Neutral Certified Trade Mark.

To be certified carbon neutral under the Carbon Neutral Program and be eligible to use the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) Carbon Neutral Trade Mark a verified application package must be submitted to the Department.

The application package comprises the:

  • Greenhouse gas Inventory or Life Cycle Assessment
  • Emissions Management Plan (EMP), including record of early cancellation of offset units, if relevant
  • Public Disclosure Summary
  • Independent Verification Report

Before submitting an application package, an annual certification fee is payable to the Department. The program is run on a cost recovery basis. In addition, a company will need to enter into a National Carbon Offset Standard Carbon Neutral Administration and Trade Mark licence (the 'licence').

The licence sets out the ongoing obligations in maintaining carbon neutral certification under the Carbon Neutral Program and allows use of the NCOS Carbon Neutral Certified Trade Mark for marketing and promotion.

Contact the Department if you would like a copy of the licence or to find out more about fees.

For a copy of the Independent Audit Report Guidance Template please contact the Department at NCOS@environment.gov.au.

Contact us

For enquiries and information about the NCOS Carbon Neutral Program call 1800 057 590.

Postal address:
NCOS Carbon Neutral Program Manager
Department of the Environment
GPO Box 854
Canberra ACT 2601
Australia
Email: NCOS@environment.gov.au
Web: www.environment.gov.au/carbon-neutral