Friday, May 09, 2008

Govt Carbon neutral? pull the other one

The New South Wales government announced on May 8th its intention to become carbon neutral by 2020. Details available in reports here (may 8) and here (May 9).

The initiative will involve energy savings including:
- cutting energy use in buildings (to achieve a 4.5 star green rating by 2011);
- purchasing only appliances with at least a four-star energy rating;
- using ethanol-blended fuel;
- purchasing green power;
- paper to have recycled content;
- reducing water use;
- using carbon offsets.

The goal is laudatory. Some of the examples actually speak to indirect carbon costs, which is laudatory.

However, carbon neutrality is more of an ideal than a practical, achievable goal. And this government doesn't have a lot of credibility when it comes to far-off announcements. Remember their commitment to free wifi in the Sydney CBD? Abrogated (see comments at this post).

Drastically reducing carbon emissions, yes. But complete elimination is unachievable. This smacks more of a political gesture in the wake of the NSW government's attempts to sell off its electricity resources.

More likely, carbon trading can help this end - which was, it's true, floated as part of the initiative.

And the market in carbon offsets is particularly dodgy, at the moment. It would be far more meaningful for governments to facilitate and rigorously audit the markets for carbon trading and carbon offsets.

But keep trying.

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