Brisbane Carbon Challenge

Find answers to your most frequently asked questions here.

Frequently Asked Questions

General
Brisbane Carbon Challenge household calculator
Results and actions
Home energy use
Transport
Waste
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General

What is the Brisbane Carbon Challenge?

The Brisbane Carbon Challenge is a Brisbane City Council initiative delivered in partnership with Brisbane Sustainability Agency to raise awareness of the Brisbane Vision target to reduce household carbon emissions to six tonnes on average by 2031.

The initiative includes an online carbon calculator and an awareness campaign that supports Brisbane residents to understand their household carbon footprint and take action to reduce their emissions and save on bills.

Why should I complete the Brisbane Carbon Challenge? What’s in it for me?

By taking the Brisbane Carbon Challenge, you will learn about the emissions created as a result of your household’s transport, home energy use and waste and tips on how to reduce your emissions and save on household bills – potentially by thousands of dollars a year!

What are carbon emissions?

When we talk about carbon emissions, we’re referring to greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane.

Many of our day to day activities, like driving petrol-fuelled cars, using electricity generated from coal or gas, or disposing of rubbish in landfill add carbon emissions to the atmosphere.

Why is it important to reduce household carbon emissions? 

Carbon emissions trap heat in the atmosphere, causing global temperatures to rise and the global climate to change. The best way to take climate action is to reduce our carbon emissions. 

Households are a major contributor to carbon emissions and account for around one quarter of Brisbane’s total carbon footprint.

What can I do to reduce my household’s carbon emissions? 

There are many ways to reduce your household carbon footprint, from simple things, like turning appliances off at the wall, to bigger commitments, like installing a solar power system. There are actions to suit all homes, budgets and lifestyles. And many might also be better for your health, as well as save you money! For tips on how to reduce your household’s carbon footprint check out the Brisbane Carbon Challenge Resources.

What is the 6 tonne target?

Brisbane City Council has a target to reduce household carbon emissions from home energy use, transport and waste to 6 tonnes on average by 2031.

Why doesn’t the 6 tonne target include emission sources like food and air travel?

Brisbane City Council’s household carbon target focuses on emission sources that are measurable and able to be influenced by the household, Council or operators of local services.

While food and air travel can make a substantial contribution to a household’s carbon footprint, they can be difficult to measure and influence beyond avoiding the emissions altogether.

Brisbane City Council encourages residents to consider the carbon emissions occurring as a result of their food choices, air travel and other purchasing decisions and choose low emissions options, where possible. Where emissions are difficult to avoid, households may consider offsetting their carbon footprint through the purchase of carbon neutral products or services or carbon offsets.

For more information on buying carbon neutral and offsetting, visit the Australian Government’s Climate Active website.

What is the average carbon footprint of a Brisbane household? 

Brisbane City Council estimates that Brisbane households currently emit around 11.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2-e) per year on average. 

This includes emissions from home energy use, transport by private vehicle or the city’s public transport networks and the disposal of waste generated within the household.

11.5tCO2-e is equivalent to the emissions produced by four passenger cars in a year or stored by three-quarters of a hectare of plantation forest after 4 years of growth.

What are the main sources of household carbon emissions in Brisbane?

Brisbane City Council has a target to reduce household carbon emissions from home energy use, transport and waste.

Transport currently accounts for around 48 per cent of household carbon emissions in Brisbane, with home energy use and waste making up 47 per cent and 5 per cent respectively. 

Transport emissions are due to private vehicle and public transport use. Home energy use emissions are largely the result of electricity use, with small contributions from natural gas and LPG use, where these are used within the household. Waste emissions are mainly due to landfill disposal of organic waste, including food, garden and paper waste.

How are Brisbane’s average household carbon emissions measured?

Brisbane’s household carbon emissions have been estimated in line with the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC), the international standard for measuring and reporting on community greenhouse gas emissions. 

Emissions are generally estimated using activity data, like how much electricity or fuel is used in homes or private vehicles, and standard factors for converting this into carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e). For example, for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity used in a home in Queensland, an estimated 930 grams of CO2-e emissions are released to the atmosphere.

The emission factors used to estimate household carbon emissions are drawn from a range of published sources, including the Australian Government’s National Greenhouse Accounts Factors. Some factors may also be drawn from unpublished sources, such as Council’s own knowledge about the emissions intensity of the public transport fleet and Rochedale landfill.

Where can I find out more information about what Brisbane City Council is doing to make Brisbane a low carbon city?

To find out more about what Brisbane City Council is doing on climate change, visit Council’s website at www.brisbane.qld.gov.au and search for ‘climate action.’

Brisbane Carbon Challenge household calculator

Who can use the Brisbane Carbon Challenge calculator?

Anyone can use the Brisbane Carbon Challenge calculator, but it has been specifically developed for residents that live in the city of Brisbane, Australia.

How is the Brisbane Carbon Challenge calculator different to other carbon calculators?

The methods and data used in the Brisbane Carbon Challenge calculator are relevant to Brisbane residents and let you see how your household is tracking towards Brisbane City Council’s target to reduce household carbon emissions to six tonnes on average each year.

What is included in the carbon footprint estimate? Are there any exclusions and why?

The carbon footprint estimate includes emissions from electricity, natural gas and LPG use around your home, transport in household vehicles or by household members on public transport networks and the disposal of organic waste generated within the household. It does not include emissions from other fuel use, air travel, recycling of household waste, or the consumption of other goods and services, including food.

Other fuel use and recycling are excluded as these emission sources are generally very small in relation to the included sources and are not expected to materially impact the footprint estimate.

While emissions from air travel and the consumption of goods and services, including food, may be substantial, these can be difficult to measure and influence beyond avoiding the emissions altogether.

Brisbane City Council encourages residents to consider the carbon emissions occurring as a result of their food choices, air travel and other purchasing decisions and choose low emissions options, where possible. Where emissions are difficult to avoid, households may consider offsetting their carbon footprint through the purchase of carbon neutral products or services or carbon offsets.

For more information on buying carbon neutral and offsetting, visit the Australian Government’s Climate Active website.

Do I get credit in the calculator for actions I take to reduce my household carbon emissions?

If you are taking action to reduce your household carbon emissions, this will be recognised in your results through a lower footprint estimate.

How does the calculator work? What methods have been used to measure emissions?

You will be asked a series of questions about your household, the types of transport your household uses, how you use energy within your home and how much waste your household produces. The information you provide is then used to estimate your household carbon emissions using standardised emission factors.

The calculator uses emission factors from published sources, including the Australian Government’s National Greenhouse Accounts Factors or specially developed factors for local services and operating conditions. The factors are generally updated on an annual basis.

How accurate is the calculator?

The calculator estimates your household carbon footprint based on the information you provide. The more detailed information you put in, the more accurate the estimate will be.

For example, if you have a recent electricity bill and can provide your actual electricity use for the billing period, your estimate will be more accurate than if you tell us your postcode and your usage is estimated based on average electricity use in your area.

Where we need to make assumptions to estimate your household carbon emissions, the emissions estimate may be less accurate.

I don’t have an exact answer for each question. Will this affect my result?

It’s okay if you don’t have exact answers for all of the questions. Just provide an estimate or answer the questions to the best of your knowledge.

Remember, however, that the more information you can provide, the more accurate your household carbon footprint estimate will be.

I’m having trouble completing the calculator. Who can I contact?

If you have any problems completing the Brisbane Carbon Challenge calculator, you can contact Brisbane Sustainability Agency at carbonchallenge@citysmart.com.au.

Results and actions

What time frame does my calculator result represent?

The result represents your household’s estimated carbon footprint over a year.

My result is above the citywide average. What should I do?

Knowing your household’s carbon footprint is an important first step in taking action to reduce it.

If your results are above the citywide average, try some of the recommended actions then come back and re-take the Challenge to see how your emissions have changed. Your previous results are saved and you will be able to compare your results over time.

With large variation in household circumstances, it won’t be practical for all of us to achieve six tonnes. But if we work together and each take a few small steps around our homes, we can all help to bring down the citywide average and make Brisbane a low carbon city.

My result is below the citywide average. What should I do?

If your household’s carbon footprint is below the citywide average, you’re on the right track, but there may still be actions you can take to help bring us closer to the city target.

Try some of the actions recommended for your household then come back and re-take the Challenge to see how your emissions have changed. Your previous results are saved and you will be able to compare your results over time.

My result is below the 6 tonne target. What should I do?

Well done, everything you’re doing to keep your household’s carbon emissions down helps bring us closer to our city target!

Keep up the good work by trying a new action or share the Brisbane Carbon Challenge with your family and friends.

Remember to come back and re-take the Challenge after making a change to see the difference it has made to your emissions. Your previous results are saved and you will be able to compare your results over time.

What other actions can I take to reduce my household’s carbon footprint?

For more tips on how to reduce your household’s carbon footprint check out the Brisbane Carbon Challenge Resources.

If I have questions about my Brisbane Carbon Challenge calculator results and actions, who can I contact?

The team at Brisbane Sustainability Agency can help with any questions you may have about your results and recommended actions. You can contact them at carbonchallenge@citysmart.com.au.

Home energy use

What is GreenPower?

GreenPower is an accreditation program for renewable energy products sold by electricity retailers.

GreenPower products represent electricity generated in Australia from renewable energy sources and provide a convenient and cost-effective way for smaller electricity consumers, such as households and small businesses, to access renewable energy markets.

When you purchase GreenPower for your home, the Brisbane Carbon Challenge calculator ascribes zero emissions to that electricity use as it comes from a renewable energy source.

To find out more, visit the GreenPower website or contact your electricity provider.

What about my solar electricity exports? I can’t see how these have been taken into account in my carbon footprint.

If you have a solar power system and export some of the electricity it produces to the grid, this won’t be included in your carbon footprint estimate. This is because everyone benefits from renewable energy fed into the grid, through a lower grid emissions intensity.

To ensure that the electricity you consume directly from your solar power system is included in your emissions estimate, you will need to enter actual bill data in the Brisbane Carbon Challenge calculator. Your grid consumption will be lower than it would have been without your solar system, resulting in a reduced carbon footprint.

My electricity or gas is carbon neutral. I can’t see how this has been taken into account in my carbon footprint.

Some electricity and gas retailers now offer carbon neutral products. This means that the carbon emissions associated with the product have been offset through investments in projects that reduce or remove emissions from the atmosphere. As a result, the emissions associated with the product are considered equal to zero or ‘neutral’.

While this is a great way to take action on climate change, the Brisbane Carbon Challenge calculator provides an estimate of the emissions occurring from your electricity or gas use before offsetting. This allows you to understand the emissions that are occurring as a result of your home energy use and, where possible, take action to reduce your impact.

Transport

What about the fuel used in my boat and other recreational vehicles? I can’t see how these have been taken into account in my carbon footprint.

The Brisbane Carbon Challenge calculator doesn’t take account of fuel use in boats or other recreational vehicles as this fuel use is small in comparison to on-road transport and resulting emissions are not expected to materially impact the household footprint estimate.

I travel around during the day for work. Should I include this fuel use?

Travel to and from work should be included in the data you enter into the Brisbane Carbon Challenge calculator, but data for any travel you do during the day as part of your work doesn’t need to be included. This should be attributed to your employer, rather than your household.

If you can’t differentiate between work related and other travel, don’t worry, just keep in mind that your transport emissions will be a bit higher than they would have been otherwise.

How can I find out how much fuel my vehicle uses or estimate my vehicle fuel use?

If you usually fill up your vehicle by the same amount, you can refer to your fuel receipts or check the bowser next time you fill up to see how many litres you have used since your last fill. Your receipts will also tell you the fuel type.

Alternatively, if you know your tank size and how often you usually fill up, you could also use this as a guide.

If you don’t have any receipts or don’t know the size of your tank, it might be easiest to use another Brisbane Carbon Challenge calculator option to estimate your vehicle fuel use, such as the amount you usually spend or your vehicle type and average distance travelled in a year.

Waste

I don’t put any food or garden waste in my general waste bin but still have emissions for these waste types. Why?

By keeping organic waste out of your general waste bin, you have considerably reduced your household’s waste related emissions, but some emissions will still occur as a result of composting.

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What will happen to the personal information I enter into the Brisbane Carbon Challenge calculator?

The calculator is being hosted by Brisbane Sustainability Agency on behalf of Brisbane City Council. Data captured will only be used to improve the tool’s functionality and to better understand carbon emissions produced by Brisbane households.

All captured data will be kept private and treated in accordance with Brisbane Sustainability Agency’s and Brisbane City Council’s privacy policies.

How do I login to the calculator?

If you’ve already taken the Brisbane Carbon Challenge, you can login using your email address and the password you created. If you didn’t receive an email with a link to set up your password or are having an issue logging in, please contact Brisbane Sustainability Agency for assistance by emailing carbonchallenge@citysmart.com.au.

What happens if I’ve forgotten my login password?

If you’ve forgotten your login password, select ‘I’ve forgotten my password’ on the calculator login page to be receive a password reset email.