Reforming voluntary climate action to support consumers

Today the Albanese Government will open consultation on reforms to strengthen the Climate Active program. Proposed reforms will drive more effective voluntary climate action and provide consumers greater confidence about business’ climate credentials.

Climate Active was established in 2010 to help businesses measure, reduce, offset, and publicly report their emissions. Climate science, community expectations, international benchmarks, and business practices have all evolved since then. The previous Coalition Government’s climate inaction and scepticism stopped the Climate Active program from keeping pace.

Over the past year the Albanese Government has raised Australia’s climate ambition and worked methodically to modernise and reform national climate policy. Reforming Climate Active to drive effective voluntary action is a further step in this process.

Following stakeholder consultation in the first half of this year, the government is seeking feedback on proposed reforms that would require more climate ambition from businesses seeking to be certified under the program.  A refreshed Climate Active will ask businesses and organisations to prioritise direct emissions reductions, before finally offsetting any residual emissions.

Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy Jenny McAllister said the government is refreshing the Climate Active program, so it delivers more emissions reduction, more value to the businesses that participate, and more certainty to Australian consumers.

“Our proposed changes ask program participants to achieve genuine emissions reductions aligned to Australia’s emissions targets, use higher quality offsets, and commit to renewable electricity use.

“Climate Active certification should be a trusted signal to Australian consumers that a business is taking credible climate action.

“Proposed changes will make it difficult for companies and organisations who are not genuinely committed to climate action to be certified under the Climate Active program. We are sending a clear signal to the market that climate claims must be legitimate and that consumer trust must be maintained.”

The Albanese Government is seeking submissions on proposed updates, including:  

  • requiring gross emission reduction targets and demonstration that the participant is meeting them to stay certified
  • developing guidance to establish robust emission reduction boundaries and mandating measurement and reduction of specific indirect “scope 3” emissions
  • moving on from the use of the term ‘carbon neutral’
  • introducing a certification pathway to support participants in their decarbonisation journey
  • tightening the use of offsets by imposing a rolling 5-year vintage requirement for international offsets; and
  • mandating a minimum proportion of renewable electricity consumption to support Australia’s renewable energy transition.

Since 2010, Climate Active has provided more than 700 certifications to over 540 businesses that have offset more than 38 million tonnes of carbon emissions. 

The consultation on Climate Active opens today and will close on 15 December 2023. Submissions can be made here.