There is no evidence that self-regulation and/or voluntary environmental certification schemes result in better outcomes for the environment or consumers. In fact, the opposite is often true, with these initiatives facilitating misleading claims by the private sector.
There is also the risk that voluntary schemes weaken the argument for government regulation and mandatory standards for emissions disclosure and management. This is particularly worrying when voluntary commitments are being encouraged by the government itself, as is the case in Australia. Climate Active appears to be an attempt by the Australian Government to avoid holding the private sector to account, rather than a complementary measure to robust regulation.
To date, Climate Active has played a significant role facilitating greenwash in Australia by promoting fossil fuel companies and large polluters as ‘climate active’ and neglecting to ensure the veracity of carbon offsets being bought by its members. This is even after numerous independent investigations have found them to be fraudulent. Climate Active has undermined the credibility of its own brand and undermined consumer confidence. The scheme has diminished the credibility of its members who have acted in good faith, both by failing to ensure robust claims, and a willingness to certify businesses who clearly are not ‘climate active’.
The Climate Active ‘Carbon Neutral’ trademark does not appear to have ever been registered. This brings the historical carbon neutral claims of all its members into question, even before the legitimacy of individual claims are examined. It is theoretically welcome that Climate Active has proposed to no longer allow a ‘carbon neutral’ claim to be made by its members, but this could be taken as an indirect acknowledgement that carbon neutrality was never achieved in the first place.