Email Christine Corbett

Carbon neutral coal?
Yeah right.

You know you have a greenwashing problem when AGL, Australia’s biggest climate polluter, can claim its products are ‘carbon neutral’. 

Carbon neutral coal?
Yeah right.

You know you have a greenwashing problem when AGL, Australia’s biggest climate polluter, can claim its products are ‘carbon neutral’. 

83% of AGL’s electricity comes from highly polluting coal burning power stations. Despite this, AGL still portrays itself as clean and green to the Australian public, using misleading “net zero” and “carbon neutral” claims to mask the reality of its highly polluting and carbon-intensive operations.

AGL has begun marketing “carbon neutral” electricity products to its customers. Carbon neutral must mean it’s coming from renewable sources like wind and solar right? Wrong.

This electricity STILL comes from coal, but AGL are using dubious carbon offsets to back up their claims. The only way AGL can effectively reduce their emissions is to replace its coal burning power stations with renewable energy like wind and solar.

It’s time we called out AGL on their greenwashing, and demanded they do better.

Christine Corbett was recently announced as the CEO-in-waiting, if AGL's proposed demerger goes ahead. Now's the time to tell her that you're not falling for AGL's greenwashing, and there is no place for coal in the new AGL. If AGL really wants to reduce their emissions, the ONLY way they can do this is by replacing its coal burning power stations with renewable energy like wind and solar.

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Carbon offset

What are carbon offsets?

Carbon offsetting is when a company says they’ll make up for carbon emissions through ‘climate-friendly’ projects. In AGL’s case, this includes regeneration projects in New South Wales, and investing in burn stove projects in Kenya.

While regenerating bushland and investing in cleaner technologies is good, it's no excuse to keep burning highly polluting coal. 

Net Zero (2)

So what about net zero?

AGL takes great pride in the fact that they’ll be net zero by 2050.

In actual fact, they’re only planning to stop burning coal two years before that in 2048. That’s about two decades later than the year the International Energy Agency recommends for phasing out coal.


Power Plant

AGL’s dodgy demerger.

To top it off, AGL is now taking their greenwashing to whole new levels, splitting their company in two so they can hide their dirty coal assets behind a new company called Accel.

This will allow them to claim to be ‘carbon neutral’, when in actual fact, they’ll still be sourcing most of their power from dirty and highly polluting coal-burning power stations.

What’s so bad about carbon offsetting?

Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s latest report Hero to Zero shows that, in most circumstances, carbon offsetting doesn’t work. It’s just corporate greenwashing, giving people the impression that companies like AGL are doing more to protect the environment than they really are.

Here are just some of the issues with carbon offsetting:


It delays meaningful action

Companies use offsets as a ’right to pollute’, purchasing cheap credits while not setting more ambitious plans to reduce their own emissions at source. This can divert resources from investing in genuine solutions.


There's just not enough land

There is simply not enough land to ‘offset’ emissions from the burning of fossil fuels - we’d need another ten Earths to fit all the trees! We need to be protecting and restoring forests and eliminating fossil fuel consumption.


It's not a permanent solution

Given risks of fire, disease and drought, forest based schemes are not able to guarantee carbon is stored permanently. Eg. forest offsets in US purchased by BP and Microsoft recently went up in smoke following intense forest fires. 


It doesn't always make a difference

Often  many schemes have been found not able to demonstrate that they would not have happened anyway. Eg. overseas renewable projects are positive, but are likely to get finance without the purchasing of credits. 


Wheat crop

Increases burden on developing countries

Offset programs have created social and environmental problems in developing countries, with existing land-uses and livelihoods displaced by land-based offsetting projects. Developing countries should not bear the burden of offsetting the emissions of wealthy companies and countries in a globalised carbon market.

Promise crossed fingers

It gives the false impression of action

For non-experts, offsetting can create the perception of effective climate action and so divert choices and attention from real solutions.



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Carbon what now? 

Companies throw around a lot of ‘green’ phrases like net zero, zero emissions, and carbon neutral. But what phrases should you actually trust? Check out our handy reference table below.


What it means

Should I trust it? 

Net zero emissions

When the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon, are balanced out by their removal. The ‘net’ part of this term implies that as long as emissions are ‘offset’ in another part of the economy, the company can continue to produce greenhouse gas emissions as part of its operations.

No. Check to see how much of the target will be met using offsets

Carbon neutral

When carbon dioxide emissions are in balance with those which are removed. It is technically the same as net zero, with the same issues with offsetting, except companies tend to use it to refer to their present state rather than future targets.

No. Check to see how much of the carbon neutral claim relies on using offsets

Carbon negative emissions

Achieved when more carbon emissions are removed from the atmosphere than is emitted. Carbon negative is often used interchangeably with the term climate positive. The credibility of a “carbon negative” claim depends on whether the company is relying on offsets, or actually reducing emissions across their operations.

Check to see how much of the carbon negative claim relies on using offsets

Zero emissions

Zero greenhouse gas emissions, achieved without the use of offsetting to balance emissions.


100% renewable electricity

Electricity that is produced from renewable sources, such as solar and wind. An electricity consumer that uses ‘100% renewable electricity’ is one whose net usage of electricity is entirely accounted for by electricity of this kind.


Email Christine Corbett

Email Christine Corbett

Christine Corbett is the CEO-in-waiting of AGL, if the company's demerger goes ahead.

Christine has the opportunity to transform AGL from Australia’s biggest climate polluter into Australia’s biggest climate solution by rapidly switching to 100% renewable energy. 

Now's the time to tell her that you're not falling for AGL's marketing spin, and that AGL needs to become a true renewable energy leader.

Email Christine Corbett
Christine Corbett (1)