International ecosystem restoration exports meet in Australia – to help

MORE THAN 800 ecosystem restoration experts from across the globe are gathering in Darwin for the 10th Society on Ecological Restoration (SER) conference from tomorrow through to Saturday (Septemer 26-30).

The SER Conference is the largest conference of its kind ever held in the Southern Hemisphere.

A large Australian contingent will attend the SER Conference, led by members of the Restoration Decade Alliance (RDA). The RDA incorporates 21 peak environment organisations active in restoring ecosystems. It is committed to the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030.

Over the past 200 years, Australia has lost 34 mammals to extinction – more than the rest of the world combined, according to the conference convenors – and since the Australian national environmental law was introduced in 1999, the list of threatened species and ecological communities has grown by more than a third.

“This type of loss occurs all around the world and has led to an international biodiversity crisis,” a conference spokesperson said. “Stopping biodiversity and habitat loss is necessary and relatively straightforward, but is insufficient alone.

“Restoring lost habitats is also essential to address these species losses and to make agriculture and fisheries more resilient to climate change, but this is far less straightforward.”

The Federal Government signed on to the international Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework earlier this year. In doing so, it committed Australia to restore 30 percent of its degraded ecosystems – on land and sea – by 2030.  

The RDA has held a series of workshops to outline an agreed path to a national restoration plan and restoration targets to help deliver on this commitment. A final workshop is to be held at the SER Conference, and with the advice of international delegates, named A Roadmap to Ecosystem Restoration Success will be released at the conference on Friday.

The Restoration Decade Alliance is a network of non-profit environmental restoration groups in Australia who have joined forces to support the goals of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Members so far include: the Australian Association of Bush Regenerators, the ABC Foundation, Australian Coastal Restoration Network, Australian Network for Plant Conservation Inc, Australian Seedbank Partnership, Bush Heritage Australia, Gondwana Link, Greening Australia, the Great Eastern Ranges, Invasive Species Council, Landcare Australia, National Landcare Network, EverGreening Global Alliance, SER Australasia, the Nature Conservancy Australia, WWF, OzFish, Landscape Foundation of Australia, Wetland Revival Trust, North East Bioregional Network and Threshold Environmental.

Apart from a range of field trips, the two major conference venues are the DoubleTree by Hilton Esplanade hotel and the Darwin Entertainment Centre.




Direct emissions ‘just the beginning’ for media and agencies

OPINION by Rob Shwetz >>

MANY MEDIA organisations are aiming to have carbon neutral strategies in place. When you are reporting on climate change and taking others to task over carbon fraud and greenwashing, it’s prudent to have your own inscrutable plans for a more environmentally friendly future.

But the buck doesn’t stop there. Media agencies also need to consider their clients’ impact on the planet and be ready to advise accordingly. This is the most pressing challenge media is facing right now. 

Media impact

At The Growth Activists, our latest carbon calculations found with some organisations that advertising and media were in the top three regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

With media being such a huge contributor to GHGs, it is inevitable that media company’s operations will come under scrutiny. For this reason, media companies need to have comprehensive and transparent measurements of their operations with clear reporting to all stakeholders showing their roadmap for reduction. 

As the climate crisis accelerates, media owners and agencies need to aggressively seek to decrease their direct (Scope 1) impact and their indirect emissions under Scope 2 and 3. Here’s a reminder:

Scope 1 emissions include direct emissions from the company’s owned or controlled sources. This includes on-site energy such as natural gas and fuel and refrigerants.

Scope 2 emissions comprise indirect GHGs from purchased or acquired energy, such as electricity, steam, heat or cooling, generated offsite and consumed by the reporting company. 

Scope 3 includes all indirect emissions that occur in the value chain of a reporting company.

Indirect advice

Media owners and agencies both need to be fully accountable for their carbon footprint and the recommendations they put forward to clients.

For example, what is the micro carbon emission of an Instagram post or banner ad? Surprisingly, collectively these have an impact.  Businesses need to be able to provide the real carbon calculations of their media channels and advise accordingly.

This will likely include:

  • Providing a carbon footprint of media plans being recommended.
  • Adding CO2 emissions as another measurement in media plans, alongside traditional metrics such as reach and frequency. 
  • Putting together packages that enable clients to have smaller carbon footprints, for example digital media options powered by renewable energy.
  • Recommending packages that marry marketing effectiveness with a lower carbon footprint.
  • Putting pressure on suppliers to provide services with lower emissions.
  • Buying in services that are low carbon to reduce the pressure on carbon impact.

Digital dichotomy

While the environmental impact of trees and trucks is well documented, the digital space is currently occupying the spotlight as a significant contributor to carbon emissions. When it comes to media specifically, according to the International Energy Agency, a 30-second TV ad that reaches 500,000 people during prime time consumes 15 million seconds (4,166 hours) of electricity. 

The Advertising Council Australia (ACA), the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) and the Media Federation of Australia (MFA) have all committed to supporting Ad Net Zero in Australia – a global initiative to drive advertising’s response to the climate crisis.

Ad Net Zero is a strategic and comprehensive program that provides advice, education, training and collaborative opportunities for ad industries to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

But while net zero is a laudable goal, is it enough?

The short answer is no. The long-term challenge for the industry is to move from net zero to climate-positive — an activity that goes beyond achieving net zero emissions and creates an environmental benefit by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Beyond Net Zero

Carbon offsetting, once the go-to for all that pesky excess carbon, is now garnering a bad rap, and schemes need to be rigorously audited to ensure company integrity. 

Instead, a company should focus on monitoring energy use to work towards generating a carbon-positive footprint in the long term. That is to reduce your carbon impact to below zero as you have removed more carbon than your business has generated.

It’s critical to shift the conversation from offsetting to actual reduction. The onus is on media agencies to work with media providers to get them to offer carbon-neutral and eventually carbon-positive solutions.

And your sustainability initiatives do not stop there – the ‘E’ in ESG representing the environment is only the first cab off the rank.  To develop an effective and comprehensive ESG strategy, businesses also need to think about the ‘S’ in ESG. 

What does your diversity, equality and inclusion policy cover?  Are you prepared for the anticipated regulatory changes in modern slavery government legislation?  Do you really have insight into your Tier 1, 2 and 3 supply chain to manage risks within that chain?

These need to start now.

As a media owner or agency, it is not an expectation that you have all the knowledge to reduce carbon emissions nor to be able to develop a comprehensive ESG strategy alone. Companies can partner with external stakeholders who have extensive experience in both ESG and media, and can support you in reaching your sustainability goals, whether that’s achieving net zero emissions (and beyond), becoming B Corp Certified or developing a full sustainability strategy.

This should include engaging a consultant to help implement an ESG strategy using a holistic and systematic approach.



About the author

Rob Shwetz is a partner and director at The Growth Activists, which he describes as a “strategy and engagement consultancy that activates courageous organisations for a sustainable future”. The Growth Activists teams turn “provocative thinking into actionable strategies” for lasting positive impact and value. The three key service pillars of the organisation help to develop strategies for positive impact; bring about sustainability transformation; and create purposeful engagement through communication.



Real Carbon Price Index created to 'step up the pressure on polluters'

A GLOBAL COALITION of businesspeople and academics has released its ground-breaking Real Carbon Price Index to track the progress the world is making towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our ambition is to make the Real Carbon Price Index the global benchmark for carbon pricing. This will shine a spotlight on global decarbonisation efforts, showing whether real action is being taken, and who is taking it,” Sydney based start-up C2Zero founder and CEO Roger Cohen said.

Dr Cohen said the High Level Commission on Carbon Pricing has established that if polluters paid US$50-$100 per tonne for their carbon emissions by 2030, this would be enough to trigger action through direct emissions reduction plus innovation, which would allow the goals of the Paris Agreement to be met.

“If the price is low, as it currently is, there is little reason for polluters to take action. Our Index shows the blunt truth: greenhouse gas emissions are still far too cheap,” Dr Cohen said.

Ummul Ruthbah, senior research fellow with Monash Centre for Financial Studies (MCFS), said the Real Carbon Price Index shows the cost of carbon emissions globally has risen from zero in the 1980s to the current level of just US$4.42 per tonne. 

“This is far below where it needs to be in order to force both individual companies and entire business sectors with heavy carbon emissions to meaningfully reduce their pollution levels," Dr Ruthbah said. "In fact, the Index reveals that about 75 percent of carbon emitters are paying absolutely nothing.

“While accounting for 1 percent of global emissions, Australia is not even included in the Real Carbon Price Index as it does not have a carbon emissions trading scheme, although it does have an offsets trading system administered by the Clean Energy Regulator,” Dr Ruthbah said.

Fellow MCFS researcher, Bei Cui said, “This inaction stands against the damage done by emitting greenhouse gases.

"A recent European study found that the social cost of emitting one tonne of CO2 could actually be well above $3000 if we don’t take action,” Dr Cui said.

He said some economies, including the EU, US, and China, are making polluters pay for their greenhouse gases, yet most countries, including Australia, have placed very little or no price on greenhouse gas emissions.

“The Real Carbon Price Index lets everyone see how seriously the world is taking climate change. It scrutinises which countries or regions are paying their way or contributing to addressing this crisis,” SparkChange head of research, Jan Ahrens said. SparkChange is a provider of specialist carbon investment products and data.

“The Index can be used to highlight the differences between regions and countries, show how historical decisions (like Brexit) affect carbon pricing and provide guidance for policy makers when setting carbon prices," Mr Ahrens said. "Sadly, it also illustrates the significant gap between our current levels of ambition and the science-based targets we must achieve to limit global warming."

At around US$70, the European Union (US$66) along with Finland (US$72.5), Norway (US$65.5) and the UK (US$65.06), have reached or exceeded the lower range of the 2030 target: with Switzerland (US$104.67) and Sweden (US$136.34) leading the world. At the other end of the spectrum, the worst performers include India (7% of global emissions), Russia (5%), Iran (2%), Indonesia (2%), Saudi Arabia (2%) as well as Australia (1%), who collectively account for 19% of global emissions and pay zero. Somewhere in the middle are New Zealand (US$33.5), California (US$21.96) and China (US$8.20).

“What is heartening is that the carbon price and the scope of emissions covered are both increasing steadily. This trend needs greater momentum if we are to get to the target of US$50-$100 and alter the path of climate change,” Dr Cohen said.

VictoryMax is sustaining fashion

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

ONE OF THE BIG ISSUES in the rag trade is the significant waste generated by online fashion returns, with many perfectly usable garments ending up in landfill.

About 100 billion garments are produced globally each year, with 33 percent going to landfill within the first year of purchase.

In Australia every year, the average person consumers 27kg of textiles and 23kg of that ends up in landfill each year.

This is a shocking statistic and VictoryMax wants to be part of the solution. 

Victory Max, offers a digital answer with their virtual fitting rooms. Done in conjunction with Austrian technology company Reactive Reality, this free feature enables customers to create a virtual mannequin, in their proportions, in order to mix and match pieces to find an outfit they love.

Victory Max founder Victoria Matterson said the technology gave customers more insights into their purchases. It also provides them with greater assurance the pieces they buy will suit them and be worn time and time again. 

Creating the virtual fitting room

How does the virtual fitting room work? It takes a 2D or 3D image of the garment. It is photographed on a ghost mannequin.

The customer puts in their measurements and the image is overlaid on the person to show where it fits, where it might be too tight, where it might be too loose. The mannequin is made in proportion to the customer’s measurements.

The mannequin is based completely on the customer.

She said this would also reduce the number of garments going into landfill.

“Depending on the website, between 30 and 40 percent of online purchases get returned,” Ms Matterson told Talking Business.

Ms Matterson said she had run a focus group with her peers which told her that when they buy clothes on line, they buy in two or three sizes and send back the ones that don’t fit.

“The issue with that is often with the ones that don’t fit on some websites, they automatically go into landfill because it is too difficult to put them back into the chain.to be re-sold because they have to be dry-cleaned again, and have to be re-labelled. So from that point of view there is significant waste there,” she said.

Customers take to virtual fittings

The virtual fitting room has only been operating for the last few weeks.

She said customers love it.

“They’re liking the ease of it. It takes less than a minute to set up a profile and then it just gets saved on your browser,” Ms Matterson  said.

She said a lot of her male friends want her to start stocking male fashion items as they don’t want to go into a store. She says that will come in time. It’s another project for the company which was only set up in 2019 before the COVID madness.

She said her company focuses on Australian designers and brands. These include the Ostara Collection. Luna + Sun, Re-Love Me, Fit Bird, and Styelle Swim in clothing. There are also items in jewellery and beauty

“That ties in with our focus on increased sustainability and ethical production because that’s absolutely critical,” Ms Matterson said.

“We don’t want anything that comes from a sweat shop overseas where we are not sure how the labour has been treated, where we are not sure people are getting their workplace entitlements” she said.




Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness



Trace helps companies track their carbon footprints

By Leon Gettler >>

NUMEROUS companies are now looking at managing their carbon footprint. But how do they manage the bureaucracy and get their workforce involved?

Trace provides the answers, tracking companies’ carbon footprints and helping them manage it over time

Trace is a software platform designed for small to medium enterprises who want to become carbon neutral. 

Cat Long, the CEO of Trace, said the process was designed to be as streamlined as possible as she and co-founder, Joanna Auburn, have worked across sustainability in previous corporate jobs and found that the process to measure a business’s carbon footprint generally involves hundreds of spreadsheets. It also requires some sort of expertise, or at least a knowledge of, all the jargon, which becomes a real barrier for action.

“So for small businesses who just want to do the right thing and be shown to be taking climate action, there’s really a lack of solutions out there for them,” Ms Long told Talking Business

“We built Trace as a way to remove those barriers.”


The data is gathered on a digital platform, measuring for example the size of the workforce, how they get to work, the office building, how much waste it produces and the suppliers.

The information is then pumped through Trace’s carbon emissions model which then gives a carbon footprint for that business. This is done free of charge.

This gives the business an idea of what their emissions look like and where the biggest opportunities for action are. These could include managing travel times, which will probably become an issue from 2022 onwards, or powering the electricity with renewables and solar.

Anything they can’t reduce, they can offset with carbon credits which Trace sources on their behalf, finding climate projects from all over the world. The companies can use these carbon credits to ensure their business is classified as carbon neutral.


Trace has been doing a lot of work with companies like Deloitte, Lend Lease and the activist beverage brand Spark, as well as other companies.

“One thing in common is all these companies are taking action because they believe it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s some mandatory expectation from the government or from shareholders,” Ms Long said.

“What that means is they don’t want to become carbon neutral in silence. They want to involve their employees, tell their customers and make it a really engaging rewarding process.

“We work with these businesses to help them not only become carbon neutral but amplify that impact by sharing it with their employees and their staff through marketing assets, stories, we can run carbon footprint quizzes with their employees.”


Ms Long said most of Trace’s clients have somewhere between 20 and 200 staff. Before COVID, the opportunity for these businesses to take action was within their offices with green energy for electricity or reducing waste.

Since COVID, workforces have gone ‘remote’ and travel is largely non-existent, so the opportunity lies in people’s home offices, helping people understand what they can be doing at home to reduce their personal carbon footprint.

Other than that, the companies can engage in waste reduction and ethical supply chains.

She said the carbon credit market was big business with estimates it would grow 15-fold by 2030, taking it to a $US50 billion market.

Ms Long said Australia could play a significant role in that market with carbon farming, creating an enormous financial incentive for farmers to put in more sustainable practices. 




Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.




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