The Australian National University (ANU) has established a set of principles to guide ANU carbon removal projects and carbon credit purchases to assist in achieving the University's below zero emissions goal. The short-term aim of the principles is to achieve net zero emissions by 2025 with commercial carbon credit purchases. From 2030 onwards, the principles aim to achieve below zero emissions with carbon removal that is tied to ANU land, research, teaching or partnerships.
Latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicate that, in order to limit temperature rise and the more damaging effects of climate change, we must significantly reduce emissions while simultaneously ramping up activities that permanently remove harmful greenhouse gases from our atmosphere.
The ANU Principles for Carbon Removal (the Principles) establish 17 guiding principles that set a rigorous standard for ANU carbon removal activities, including projects connected to the University's core business of research and teaching - a unique approach to offsetting carbon emissions in Australia.
ANU has the opportunity to establish programs that prioritise genuine greenhouse gas removal and these principles lay the foundation for our commitment to high-quality and verifiable results," says Professor Mark Howden, Director of the ANU Institute of Climate, Energy & Disaster Solutions and a Vice-Chair of the IPCC.
Development of the Principles was born out of quality concerns surrounding both domestic and international carbon credit markets. The current Australian carbon credit market has also been declared a 'fraud on the environment' by Professor Andrew Macintosh, casting doubt on the quality of many Australian carbon credits. ANU-led analysis published by Macintosh and others has led to an investigation into the integrity of the Australian carbon credit market, headed by former ANU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Chubb. The findings of the review are due for release in December 2022.
With the need for integrity and efficacy in carbon credits at an all-time high, the Principles position ANU as an active contributor towards improving carbon removal methodologies and markets via the research and teaching connected to ANU carbon removal projects.
The Principles also focus on priority areas for co-benefits - positive impacts that carbon removal projects can have in addition to their climate mitigation benefits. Supporting First Nations' connections to Country and traditional knowledge, biodiversity conservation and landscape regeneration, improved water quality, sustainable agricultural production and enhancing adaptation to climate change are just some of the key areas in which the Principles aim to share the benefits from carbon removal investment.
Professor Howden says,
it is essential that we consider the full range of potential benefits to the environment and society in greenhouse gas removal activities. This ensures not only the longevity of the projects, but their value to future generations.
If you have any questions about the Principles, please reach out to the ANU Below Zero team.