Going neutral can reduce emissions further, faster than EVs

If you need to drive a car, what’s the best thing that you can do to reduce your emissions? Ask almost anybody, and they’ll say that you should switch to an electric car. They’re correct, but this doesn’t take into account that not everyone can go electric tomorrow. When you look at availability and affordability, using carbon offsets to reduce emissions can make a bigger difference, more quickly, than the transition to EVs alone.

 The Hyundai Ioniq costs $48,970 plus on-road costs

The Hyundai Ioniq EV costs $48,970 plus on-road costs. (Image credit: Benespit)

 

First let’s be clear: EVs are our zero-emissions future, and it can’t come soon enough. It’s been shown repeatedly that EVs produce fewer emissions over their lifetimes than petrol or diesel cars. Renewable energy sources can make EVs zero-emissions to drive, and Australia’s grid is clean enough - and getting cleaner all the time - that this is already a non-issue.

But we also need to be realistic about the speed of the transition to electric vehicles in Australia. Even optimistic predictions (such as this ClimateWorks report) anticipate that Australians will still be buying some ICE vehicles ten years from now, and that much fewer than half the cars on the road will be EVs.

That’s a decade where the fuel-burning car is king. A decade, and hundreds of millions of tonnes, of emissions from exhaust, entering the atmosphere and accelerating global warming.

The speed-bumps in the transition to electric cars in Australia are well-known: for a confluence of reasons, there are too few EVs, and they are too expensive. This will continue to change, but we have to be realistic and confront the truth that most people are going to be burning fuel in their cars for some time yet.

But hidden in this problem lies an opportunity, to reduce emissions further, and faster.

Carbon offsetting can make any car carbon neutral. The emissions from a car can be balanced by capturing at least the same amount of emissions, and storing them permanently. It’s affordable and effective, and can dramatically reduce our emissions right now. 

Australia is a big place, and we can use our land to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. By regenerating bushland and farmland, carbon is removed from the air and stored in trees. The science is solid, the industry is well regulated, and Australia has the capacity to remove hundreds of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide each year - many times the total emissions from our cars.

 A Go Neutral sticker makes this car carbon neutral for a year.
A Go Neutral sticker costs $90 and makes this car carbon neutral for a year.

 

Going carbon neutral is affordable. A Go Neutral sticker for an average Australian car costs $90 for a year. That’s about one extra tank of petrol. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to the costs of switching to an EV.

While EVs will remain out of reach of most for years to come, all 20 million cars on the road can go carbon neutral right now.

The fastest way that Australia can reduce car emissions is to use high-quality carbon credits to offset emissions. It is a realistic and affordable response to the fact that the EV transition is still years away. 

There’s more than a decade of car emissions yet to come, that can all be re-captured by regenerating Australian land. All it takes is $90 per year.

So if you need to drive, what’s the best way to reduce your carbon footprint? When you can, you should go electric. And right now, you should go neutral.