In the first episode of Fight for Planet A, Australians were shown to be the worst performers globally in terms of per capita carbon emissions. This is driven largely by the proportion of fossil-fuel fired energy in our electricity mix, with coal-fired power still making up almost 60% of total electricity generation. Put simply, this can’t continue if we are to bring our emissions down.
So what actions can we take at home and in the workplace to reduce the emissions footprint generated by our electricity usage?
1. Reduce consumption
The simple truth is that almost all Australians use more electricity than we actually need. As shown by the households featured during last night’s episode, there are often simple actions we can take at home to reduce our emissions footprint. Just a few include:
Turning off lights when not in use
Purchasing energy efficient products
Taking shorter showers
Turning off power points at the wall
Using blankets or wearing extra clothes instead of turning up the heating
Scaling back the use of energy-intensive appliances where possible
Use public transport, walk or cycle for transport and commuting
The other easy way to reduce consumption is to take a look at the efficiency of your electricity usage. Some relatively easy steps such as replacing halogen light bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs can result in significant savings on our footprint and in our pocket. Look for the ENERGY STAR label when shopping for appliances for guidance.
2. Look to renewables
As highlighted throughout last night’s program, our biggest issue here in Australia is the proportion of our energy mix derived from burning coal. There is a simple solution to this problem, replace the coal-fired electricity currently in our mix with energy derived from clean, renewable sources.
This is already taking place in Australia, with the proportion of wind and solar energy in our mix rising from 6-9.4% and 4.5-10.3% respectively between 2018 and 2020*. However, there is undoubtedly more work to be done. One of the simplest and most impactful changes you can make at home is choosing an electricity retailer that generates electricity from renewable energy sources. Visit the Green Electricity Guide for more information.
If your place of work has rooftop space it has space for solar. Our sister organisation and solar engineering company Planet Ark Power helps businesses transform their vacant roofs into investment grade assets. Large-scale rooftop solar systems are capable of powering onsite operations as well as exporting energy onto the electricity grid to be shared with the community. When combined with Planet Ark Power’s original technology, eleXsys, the rooftop effectively acts as an urban solar farm. The award-winning technology manages the voltage, making large amounts of excess energy safe for export to the grid. To find out how your business (or school) can save money and reduce emissions, contact Planet Ark Power.
Offsetting has been around for a while now, but many people don’t understand exactly what this means or just how much of one’s footprint can be offset. A carbon offset is generated from an activity that prevents, reduces or removes greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere. With some level of emissions unavoidable in modern human society, offsets are an important policy tool to maintain stable economies and potentially drive investment in renewables whilst reducing overall emissions globally.
There are a number of services you can purchase carbon offsets for. Some, such as offsetting one’s overseas flights or electricity consumption, are relatively common knowledge and growing in popularity. More and more companies are also choosing to offset the carbon footprint of their business activities and go carbon neutral. Planet Ark is proudly certified Carbon Neutral since 2017 according to the national Climate Active Standard. There are also a growing number of tools online allowing households to calculate and offset their emissions. Be sure to choose a scheme that guarantees permanent or long-term sequestration and creates local social and economic benefits.
Tune in to ABC next Tuesday at 8.30pm for the next instalment of Fight for Planet A!
*Statistic taken from Fight for Planet A