Page 1622 - Week 05 - Thursday, 2 June 2022
But we have barely begun the hard work on scope 3, and that is why it is so interesting to have this new piece of work opened up. Cities like Canberra have a really big scope 3 impact, and that is because scope 3 emissions are the emissions of everyday consumption. There are emissions in everything that we buy. They are in the clothes that we wear, the food that we grow and eat, in the concrete in our buildings, and in the energy that goes into making cars. So the emissions from petrol and diesel are in scope 1 and 2, but the energy that went into making the car in the first place is all scope 3.
The Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment found that 94 per cent of Canberra’s emissions are scope 3. That means that they are 16 times higher than the emissions we have been working on for a long time. We have done a really good job of reducing that section, but we have a much bigger job to start now. We have been doing our climate reduction and our emissions tracking in exactly the same way as governments all around the world have been doing it. Most governments do scope 1 and scope 2. That is the internationally recommended way to do it. It is a very normal way to do it, and there are certain reasons that we do it that way. It avoids double counting and there are certain standard conventions.
But the problem is that it is time for us, as a society and as a whole world, to start fronting up to scope 3. The good news is that it is not brand new to businesses and consumers. I think the language is really unfamiliar to most people, but the concept is not unfamiliar at all. Ethical consumption is really well established now. If we put it into normal language, we all understand that there are emissions in our food, in our goods, in the things that we buy and in the daily choices that we make.
Australia, as a whole, is actually a long way behind on this, unfortunately. Some countries are a lot further ahead. I first came across this concept when I read a UK book called How bad are bananas? by Mike Berners Lee. He ran a business where he carbon-accounted everything, from bananas all the way up to flights to a conference. He worked out where a lot of emissions were and where not many emissions were at all—and all of that is scope 3 emissions. He put that book out in 2009.
Five years ago, in 2017, I did a carbon accounting course which helped me calculate scope 3 emissions. That is a course that is offered to businesses to help them reduce their emissions. It helps you look at the paper in your photocopier, the catering at your functions and the uniforms that you buy, and maybe has a look at your supply chains. It is complicated. There is a lot to it. We have a less standardised way of reporting it, but it is pretty familiar to a lot of businesses who want to do the right thing and it is familiar to a lot of customers, consumers and regular people who want to do the right thing and who have been making these sorts of choices for a while.
I used quite a lot of that information on a project I ran called the Carbon Diet, where I tracked all of that and cut my footprint by 75 per cent. It was really good to see how easy it is to make big reductions once you start focusing on it and reducing it. There is a bit of a tension here, though, for a government. And this is where it gets interesting and actually quite hard. Governments want us to spend money. We are built on a system in which spending money is what makes our economy go around. We do not