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A new approach to offsetting greenhouse emissions

20 May 2005 |Media centre

Bendigo Bank will offset its vehicle fleet greenhouse gas emissions through an innovative program to restore native vegetation in central Victorian water catchments.

The Bank this month announced it had signed an historic agreement with Greenhouse Balanced, a Central Victorian company offering services in reforestation, and carbon sequestration.

The agreement focuses on the provision of 1700 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in a newly established native vegetation plantation, with carbon sequestered (absorbed) by the plantation to help to offset the emissions from the Bank’s 300-strong national vehicle fleet.

But rather than a typical monoculture approach (such pines or bluegum), the Greenhouse Balanced plantation is designed to replicate as closely as possibly the vegetation that would have existed pre-1750. This will provide salinity, water quality, biodiversity and habitat benefits.

Bendigo Bank and Greenhouse Balanced will seek Victorian Government assistance to develop this approach to establish an “ecological credit” as an alternative to the commonly traded carbon credits that only address carbon emissions.

In consultation with the North Central Catchment Authority, the first plantation has been established on privately owned land at Lockwood, just south of Bendigo.

Bendigo Bank strategic markets manager Leigh Watkins said the partnership with Greenhouse Balanced reflected the bank’s environmental strategy and would provide benefits for the regional community.

“We are focused over the next 10 years on minimising our impact on the environment and this has been demonstrated in the low energy new head office building soon to be built in Bendigo, in our energy efficiency programs across the Bendigo Group, and in our Green Loans offering incentives for sustainable housing.

“We believe purchasing carbon offsets is a natural next step as it demonstrates our willingness to take responsibility for our emissions. This plantation will also provide many additional environmental benefits and will allow the bank to pioneer the development of a market for carbon credits in central Victoria.”

Greenhouse Balanced has facilitated the project, and will oversee the transaction of carbon to the Bendigo Bank. Spokesman Paul Dettmann said there was potential for more deals of this kind for the region.

“Greenhouse Balanced is a company seeking to help companies such as Bendigo Bank in offsetting their emissions and projects like this one have great flow-on benefits for the environment, and for the protection of agricultural lands in the region,” Mr Dettmann said.

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