Carbon Footprint of an Australian Film

My Year Without Sex


Arenafilm and Beyond Neutral were exploring ways to effectively, efficiently and sustainably reduce Australian films’ carbon footprint

Hibiscus Films (My Year Without Sex’s parent production company) wanted to reduce its film’s carbon footprint and improve its sustainability

Beyond Neutral helped them achieve their goals and produced a case study to support their claims and to assist future initiatives


The following synopsis covers the key points from the case study


  • Identify available information in existing accounting systems
  • Identify those areas where data is not collected, is unusable or is held by third parties
  • Estimate the film’s carbon footprint enabling informed decisions about the offsets needed


  • Reducing the film’s carbon and environmental footprint
  • Improving My Year Without Sex’s sustainability, both environmentally and socially/ culturally

How Were These Achieved

  • By undertaking internal actions whenever possible and feasible
  • Setting policies and procedures to facilitate minimising its environmental impacts
  • Communicating with and informing its staff, cast and crew
  • Identifying their carbon footprint and documenting it in the case study
  • Offsetting identified emissions plus an extra amount in recognition of unquantified emissions
  • Sourcing offsets that provide a sustainability dividend
  • Contributing to a social/cultural sustainability program
  • Making a summary of the case study available

The Footprint

  • 69 tonnes of CO2e:
    • Scope 1 (direct): slightly over 5 tonnes, Scope 2 (indirect – electricity): 13.5 tonnes
    • Scope 3 (indirect – others): quantified emissions > 2.5 times Scope 1 and 2 combined
    • Scope 3: other sources identified but no data available to calculate emissions
  • Calculated using actual data, or proxy data combined with a series of assumptions

Twin Imperatives: Climate Change and Sustainability

100 tonnes of Gold Standard Verified Emission Reductions (VERs) purchased and retired

  • offset exceeded footprint by 31 tonnes (almost ½ of all emissions quantified)
  • Gold Standard provides an accredited sustainability dividend
  • ensures offset projects contribute to sustainable development through inclusion of social and environmental indicators and broad stakeholder engagement
  • VERs from a NZ wind farm, first Joint Implementation project to achieve the Gold Standard


Straight Talk 2009: Oxfam Australia’s cultural/ social sustainability initiative

  • focus on Indigenous and non-Indigenous women working together
  • to advance reconciliation and achieve greater justice and equality
  • additional to internal efforts/offsets to reduce impacts and improve sustainability
  • complements My Year Without Sex’s Gold Standard offsets’ sustainability dividend

Issues Identified: The Boundary

Setting the boundary is complex and strongly influenced by the footprint reduction goals.  Issues include:

  • The emissions a film controls
  • Coverage and treatment of Scope 3 emissions specifically relating to the film
  • The ultimate boundary of the wider film industry

Issues Identified: The Footprint

To deal with some of the boundary issues in footprinting a film, an approach was established that tried to be as broad in coverage of possible emissions sources as possible.  Issues include:

  • Lack of actual energy or emissions data/ information in the film’s accounts and records
  • Using proxy data derived from financial records or estimated using assumptions
  • Calculation of emissions when data is not available or is inferred from proxy data
  • Additional data/ information needed to improve the calculated footprint’s accuracy
  • The level of offset needed after undertaking internal actions

Issues Identified: Carbon Neutrality

“Carbon neutrality” issues were dealt with by opting to offset a specified emission level greater than that identified and to leverage a sustainability dividend from the purchase of quality offsets.  Issues include:

  • Carbon neutrality’s meaning
  • Credibility of carbon neutrality claim’s dependent on the boundary chosen
  • How to maximise credibility, sustainability and greenhouse effectiveness

Future Opportunities and Improvements

Further research and better quantification processes will assist individual films and the wider industry to:

  • More effectively identify their footprint
  • Identify and undertake internal actions to reduce the footprint
  • Offset a known and justifiable quantity of emissions
  • Establish the credibility of a film’s and/or the industry’s claims
  • Demonstrate a commitment to addressing the twin imperatives of greenhouse and sustainability

Contact us if you would like to discuss this project, especially if are interested in how you can apply this to your own project

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