How do we accelerate local progress?
We do this by connecting households and businesses with options for renewable energy and zero emissions products, from electric vehicles through to carbon neutral toothbrushes.
We are guided by the Beyond Zero Emissions and Ironbark Sustainability emissions snapshot of the Cairns region which has been produced in the challenging space of data quality, calculation methodologies and national averages.
Regardless of any generalisations, the identification of electricity and transport (i.e. vehicle fuels) as the major source of the regions greenhouse gas emissions aligns with similar patterns across Australia.
The next most significant contributor to the Cairns Region’s carbon emissions is transport accounting for almost 30%.
Additionally, Zero Emissions Cairns acknowledges that embodied emissions (i.e. emissions from the fossil fuels used to extract, manufacture and transport consumer goods to retail outlets) is potentially a bigger emissions reduction challenge than our individual use of electricity and vehicle fuels. But as countries and corporations swap fossil fuels for renewables and electrify freight transport the opportunity to buy carbon neutral products will increase.
Our Local Businesses on the Path to Zero
Support local businesses that are on the path to zero
Frequently Asked Questions
What does net zero emissions mean?
‘Net zero emissions’ refers to achieving an overall balance between greenhouse gas emissions produced and greenhouse gas emissions taken out of the atmosphere. Think of it like a set of scales: producing greenhouse gas emissions tips the scales, and we want to get those scales back into balance, which means no more greenhouse gas can be added to the atmosphere in any given year than is taken out.
Eventually, we will probably need to tip them the other way to repair past harm. Once we stop emitting greenhouse gases from fossil fuels, we still need to deal with all the emissions we’ve already pumped into the atmosphere over the years.
Getting to net zero means we can still produce some emissions, as long as they are offset by processes that reduce greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere. For example, these could be things like planting new forests, or drawdown technologies like direct air capture. The more emissions that are produced, the more carbon dioxide we need to remove from the atmosphere (this is called sequestration) to reach net zero.
However, to avoid a climate catastrophe, new emissions of greenhouse gas must be as low as possible. In other words, we need to get as close as possible to a real zero and only rely on offsetting when it is absolutely necessary. This means that we need to rapidly phase out fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – and transition to renewable energy.
Why is net zero emissions important?
Climate change isn’t a tap we can turn off once we stop using fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide, the main contributor to climate change, will stay in the atmosphere and keep heating the planet for years and years.
So reducing greenhouse gas emissions is hugely important, but we can’t stop there. The end goal is to balance the scales again, and restore the global climate to pre-climate change levels. To get there, we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero AND then get cracking on repairing past harm by drawing down past emissions.
How are Net Zero Emission targets tracked?
n Australia, organisations with NZE status must be certified via Climate Active. To achieve certification they must measure emissions, reduce these where possible, offset remaining emissions and then publicly report via an annual carbon emissions disclosure statement.
For individual community members, NZE doesn’t need to be certified, but the process and associated Climate Active resources can assist with emissions reduction and the path to net zero.
Your Path to Net Zero
Straight up, you need to know that renewable energy is the key that unlocks the pathway to zero emissions.
You can make your own renewable energy with a rooftop solar system or you can buy renewable energy from your electricity company.
Either way, it creates a pathway to electrify everything from the lawn mower to the car.
Renewable energy also creates a pathway for businesses to make consumer goods that have a smaller carbon footprint than their coal-powered competition.
And when we buy those products it tells business that the eco-conscious consumer is the new normal.
If you have superannuation or a share portfolio you may be inadvertently funding fossil fuel projects like new coal and gas mines.
So while it’s a tricky subject to discuss, divestment is a powerful action to take on the path to zero. It’s time to stop financing climate change.
And finally, getting to zero emissions isn’t just about emissions reduction. It’s also about increasing the earth’s ability to store carbon naturally. Yes, we’re talking about trees.