Carbon neutral? That’s old news. Tasmania has become one of the first jurisdictions in the world to become not just carbon neutral, but carbon negative!
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Net-Zero, Carbon Neutral, Carbon Negative — What’s The Difference?
In the past decade or so, we’ve heard a lot about countries, states, cities, and companies reaching net-zero emissions and becoming carbon neutral — or more recently — becoming carbon negative. So, what does it all mean?
To reach net-zero emissions, carbon-emitting entities must strike a balance between emitting carbon into the atmosphere and absorbing carbon through carbon ‘sinks’, i.e. forests, soils, oceans. This is known as the state of ‘carbon neutrality’. It gets a little complicated, though, when we add in ‘carbon offsetting’ — which is when carbon-emitting entities invest in renewable energy projects, low carbon technologies and environmental projects to ‘offset’ or cancel out their emissions. To become carbon negative, carbon-emitting entities must remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits.
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Globally, Tasmania Is The Third Jurisdiction To Become Carbon Negative
Tasmania is renowned for its clean air, cool climate, and lush, green landscapes. Tassie’s old-growth forests aren’t just spectacular to look at — they’ve actually helped Tasmania to reach a carbon negative status. It’s believed that Tasmania is the third jurisdiction in the entire world to become carbon negative, after Bhutan and Suriname!
The discovery came about when several authors — investigated how storing carbon in forests could help to combat climate change. Their paper, published in Environmental Research Letters, reveals how Tasmania has managed to reach carbon negativity.
We hear a lot about carbon neutral but not carbon negative. This kind of reversal is one of the first.
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How Did Tasmania Become Carbon Negative?
You’re probably curious as to how Tasmania achieved this enormous milestone! Well, the biggest change occured from 2011 onward, thanks to the actions of two Australian environmentalists and millionaires — Graeme Wood and Jan Cameron. The duo purchased one of the world’s then-largest woodchip mills, Triabunna Mill, and shut it down.
Since then, said Professor Lindenmayer, “there has been a massive change in the state’s carbon accounts. Tasmania has gone from being a net emitter of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to now removing more than it is emitting to the atmosphere.
This shows us that change in forest management can have a remarkable impact on climate change.
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Forest Management — The Key To Becoming Carbon Negative?
When we think about the greatest sources of carbon emissions, we tend to think of burning fossil fuels for energy, industry, and transportation. But, as it turns out, Tasmania is mitigating 22 million tons of carbon dioxide a year by ensuring responsible forest management (i.e. not cutting them down!).
Changing forest management in native forests to avoid emissions from logging, along with enabling natural forest growth is an effective strategy that can reduce emissions and increase removals of CO₂ from the atmosphere.
Alongside these changes, Tasmania has achieved a very low-emission electricity grid. Since 2020, the island has been powered by 100% renewable energy. By 2040, they're set to generate and export 200% of energy from renewable sources!
How amazing is Tassie? This remarkable achievement is underpinned by the state’s responsible forest management and successful transition to clean, renewable electricity.
To read about more positive climate news, please check out our Eco News category and the blogs below.