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The Australian Government’s recent policy shift on the issue of climate change has resulted in ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and a fast-tracking of a national trading scheme due in 2010. Many businesses are now taking notice and actively working to minimise their environmental impact via carbon offsets, starting with their fleet.

Carbon offsets are purchased from projects that prevent or remove an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Carbon offsetting should be part of a broader climate strategy. Ideally, businesses would first accurately calculate the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions from their operations, products and services. The objective is to avoid and reduce these emissions where possible, and then finally offset those emissions that cannot be reduced further. Entire operations, specific areas of business—for instance fleets or events like the Toyota Fleet carbon reduced Melbourne Motor Show event held last year—can be offset with accurate calculation.

For the offset to be legitimate the emission reductions must come from a project that would not have happened anyway. In other words, the reductions are additional, they must be real (measurable), verifiable, permanent and not double-counted or double-sold. There are varying qualities of carbon offsets and offset providers. National and international standards and accreditations help purchasers choose the right offset for their business.

The environmental performance of vehicles is increasingly being incorporated in Government and corporate fleet sales purchasing criteria. Toyota is contributing to the development of markets for cleaner vehicles by raising awareness of the environmental impacts of vehicles amongst fleet managers and customers. It is using the environmental performance of its vehicles as a differentiator in fleet tenders and promoting the Prius, 4-cylinder Camry and the 6-cylinder LPG Camry and Avalon as alternatives to 6-cylinder petrol passenger vehicles.

The following Australian websites provide more information on carbon offsetting and offsetting retailers:

carbonoffsetguide.com.au
carbonoffsetwatch.org.au
choice.com.au/choicegreen
climatechange.gov.au/greenhousefriendly


Toyota Prius leads the way

Toyota’s all-new Prius delivers improved performance, fuel economy and advanced equipment. The all-new Prius is expected to arrive in the Australian market in the third quarter of 2009.

A benchmark for cars of the future, Prius has delivered superior fuel economy and ultra-low emissions to more than one million owners worldwide, including almost 13,000 in Australia since its release here in 2001. The all-new Prius features even better fuel economy and stronger performance with styling that is sharper, sportier and more aerodynamic than its predecessors. It will be quieter, roomier and equipped with advanced standard and available features such as steering-wheel touch controls that have readouts on the instrument panel display, and a moon-roof with solar panels.

The third-generation car will introduce several world and Toyota firsts, including best aerodynamic profile of any mass-produced vehicle in the world, with a coefficient of drag (Cd) of just 0.25. The patented Hybrid Synergy Drive system in all-new Prius is 90 percent newly developed and provides significant improvements.

The Prius, with Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive technology, was the first and remains one of only a few vehicles to be awarded five stars in the Green Vehicle Guide. This is the Government’s independent website that rates the environmental impact of all new vehicles sold in Australia. Importantly, the Green Vehicle Guide’s ratings reflect the full implementation of appropriate Australian Design Rules.

—Deb Bacon is national manager corporate fleet for Toyota.