Make a Difference ...

The future depends on what we do in the present- Gandhi
You can make a difference in your everyday life, at home and at work. By reducing your emissions of greenhouse gases you contribute to reducing Australia's contribution to climate change, while sending a strong message to government.

at Home...     Electricity Water Transport When Shopping In the Garden
at the Office or in the Shop...     Lighting Air-conditioning Refrigeration
on the Farm...     Be a climate-friendly farmer
what about Offsets?     See what the critics say

In Australia, electricity generation is the largest source of greenhouse gas pollution because we burn coal to produce electricity.
You can reduce your greenhouse gas impact by purchasing some or all of your energy from accredited GreenPower®.

Other things you can do:

  • Switch off the light when you leave a room.
  • Switch appliances completely off - don’t leave the TV, computer, microwave or DVD on standby.
  • When purchasing new appliances, choose the one with the highest Energy Star rating.
  • Use a fan, not an air-conditioner.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. They provide just as much light and use 80% less power. For best results, choose bulbs which are labelled 'warm white' or 3500K.
  • Use the clothesline to dry your washing and wash your laundry in cold water.
  • If the hot water thermostat is adjustable, turn it down to 55°C.
  • Invest in a solar hot water service or instantaneous gas water heater.
  • Only use the washing machine and dishwasher when there is a full load.
  • Only switch on the drinks fridge for parties.
  • Reconsider that backyard pool - as well as being lots of work, they cost $250 per year in electricity, generating 2.2 tonnes of CO2!
Anyone who believes humans are warming the Earth and is concerned about this, should not drink bottled water- Michael Duffy, Columnist
Sydney Morning Herald
10 August 2007
Australia is already the driest inhabited continent, and it is set to become drier in the future. Water out of the tap has to be treated and pumped - and so it has embedded energy as well, although much much less than bottled water.

It makes sense to reduce our use of water:
  • Fix dripping taps. Just one dripping hot tap can produces 100kg of harmful greenhouse gas emissions each year.
  • Install tap aerators - these reduce the flow by about half but maintain the apparent pressure.
  • Consider installing a rainwater tank for flushing the toilets and watering the garden - this will put less strain on our drains during storms, resulting in less flash flooding.
  • Design your garden with plants that are drought-tolerant.
  • Don't buy bottled water - bottles are made and transported using fossil fuels. Bottled water is much more expensive than water out of the tap and, in Australia at least, isn't better for you.
Road transport carries less than 40% of domestic freight but is responsible for more than 80% of freight emissions. Shipping’s declining share of freight transport is making greenhouse emissions worse.- the Australia Institute
Greenhouse emissions from transport have increased by 20% from 1990 to 2002 and are growing strongly. They currently represent 15% of the total greenhouse emissions in NSW.
In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, the journey is every bit as important as the destination. These tips will help you save money on fuel and reduce your emissions.
  • Look at an alternative - take a bus, ride a bike, share a trip (car-pool) or walk. Or even work at home occasionally. All these will also help reduce congestion on our roads.
  • Small is beautiful. Think of buying a small car when you next buy a car - they use much less fuel, are more powerful and safer than ever before, and are much easier to park!
  • Stay in tune. Keeping your car in good running order with regular maintenance, oil changes and tune-ups improves performance and reduces emissions.
  • Keep up the pressure. Under-inflated tyres can increase your fuel consumption by 6%!
  • Drive Smart - accelerate moderately and don’t speed. Driving at 90 km/hr rather than 100 km/hr on the highway saves fuel (and lives).
  • Don’t clutter your car - bull bars, roof racks and heavy things in the boot use more fuel.
When Shopping

Is retail therapy costing the earth?

On average, every additional dollar of consumption is responsible for 720g of greenhouse gas emissions and 28 litres of water.- Australian Conservation Foundation
and the University of Sydney
Energy is needed to produce materials and products, transport them to you and then to dispose of them. Choose goods that are less likely to generate waste - reusable rather than disposable, or made of recyclable materials.

Buy less, waste less and choose products that last.
  • Reduce the amount of waste you produce - buy in bulk and refuse disposable items.
  • Refuse excess packaging - reusable shopping bags are stronger and last longer.
  • Re-use - consider buying second hand.
  • Recycle and buy items made from recycled materials.

Recycling is worth the effort!

We all know that recycling conserves natural resources and saves land, but did you know that recycling also reduces greenhouse gas emissions?

The production of aluminium from bauxite is energy intensive. The final stage involves a process known as electrolysis whereby raw electrons (straight from a power station) are added to the alumina (an aluminium oxide). This takes lots of electricity - the energy used to produce enough aluminium just for one drink can is close to 200 Watt hours - enough to run a television for three hours! Melting an existing aluminium can to create another, bypasses the need for energy-intensive electrolysis.

Paper that rots in landfill generates methane - a very powerful greenhouse gas. It makes sense to choose products that are made of recycled paper to support the recycling industry to divert paper from landfill.

In the Garden
  • Reduce the amount of lawn in your garden - replace it with native shrubs and trees.
  • When mowing, raise the blades to leave at least 2-3cm of lawn leaf.
  • Compost garden and kitchen wastes - and then use this to improve your soils rather than artificial fertilisers.
  • Mulch your garden to keep the soil cooler and moister - you’ll need to water much less and soil microbes will survive.
  • Grow your own fruit and vegies, or buy locally-grown produce in preference to produce trucked in from interstate.
  • Use natural lighting as much as possible.
  • Install timer controls, or daylight or movement sensors, to switch off lights when not needed.
  • Paint rooms in light colours. Dark coloured walls absorb light, increasing the amount of lighting needed.
  • Use desk lamps where most light is needed, so fewer lights are needed in the entire room.
  • Install energy-efficient lighting. You can reduce greenhouse gases by up to 80% by fitting lower watt globes (such as energy efficient compact fluoros), especially in downlights and spotlights.
  • Don’t over cool - 10% more energy is needed for every 1°C difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures. If everyone is dressed for the outside weather, even 27°C will feel chilly on a hot day!
  • Use fans to improve comfort levels.
  • Only cool what you need to. The smaller the area cooled, the less greenhouse gases generated, so make sure doors are closed on hot days - don’t waste energy attempting to cool the main street!
  • Maintain your fridges - make sure the doors are sealing properly, and that the coils are cleaned regularly and well ventilated.
  • Install timer controls to turn off fridges storing non-perishables overnight
Things to do on the farm
Agriculture contributes to over 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions- UN Food & Agriculture Organization
  • Adopt minimum till practices - this can save soil and time, and reduces fuel consumption.
  • Implement rotational cell grazing to improve the amount of carbon stored in your soils and their structure.
  • Minimise vehicle traffic to reduce soil compaction and improve water infiltration.
  • Time fertiliser application to coincide with plant requirements - and test the soil to make sure it is actually needed! This is important, as nitrous oxide (from unproductive loss of mobile N) is a very potent greenhouse gas.
  • Use a motor bike for running around on the property rather than a utility or the old truck.
  • Monitor pest populations and diseases, and only spray as a last resort - chemical sprays are energy intensive and expensive.
  • Reduce methane emissions in stock by providing easily digested feed or using dietary supplements to overcome nutrient deficiencies in low quality feeds.
What about carbon offsets?
There are currently more than 50 companies offering offsets to consumers in Australia. Many offset schemes are nothing more than marketing hype to deceive well-meaning people. In the absence of government regulation, one just didn’t know. Any offset program should be tightly regulated by the government to ensure they live up to their promises.

The industry has little credibility because of the proliferation of methodologies, purchasing systems and degrees of transparency- Jeff Angel, Total Environment Centre
Currently there is the prospect for scams to arise- ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel
Offsets involving tree planting to soak up CO2 are particularly problematic. It is very difficult to calculate the quantity of CO2 they will eventually lock up - assuming they will survive droughts, bushfires and development pressures.

The Federal Government has introduced a standard for the carbon offsets market. Following the release of a discussion paper for comment in February 2009, the National Carbon Offset Standard was introduced on 1 July 2010, in a move to restore credibility to the industry. More information about the National Carbon Offset Standard can be found at:

To help you choose the best product, there is an independent assessment available at:

Climate Change Australia does not recommend any offset products.

Remember the first of the three R's - Reduce. Use the above tips to reduce your emissions and only consider offsets as a last resort.

Most of these tips are in the attached, which can be printed as two-sided A4 brochure.
Policy Change not Climate Change.doc (40.5 KB)