As a man of the land, Australian climate change leader, David Shelmerdine, has been fighting to help protect and preserve the environment for 50 years.

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“My training is in agriculture and I’ve been farming as part of my life’s work,” he says.

Having Mother Nature’s back has always been one of David’s top priorities. But it was in the lead-up to the Kyoto Protocol – an international commitment to collectively reduce the industrialised world’s impact on the planet – that helped cement his desire to do even more.

“What led me specifically into climate change and sustainable development was very much centred on my concerns about the impact of man-made climate change,” David explains. “As a custodian of what the planet has provided humanity, and of course all that came before it, it was very important to be able to pass it on to future generations. There was this sense of duty.”

In 2006, he founded ClimateWorks Australia – an organisation that tackles greenhouse gas emissions by finding and working out the best ways to reduce them. Five years later, David’s noble work was recognised on the world stage when he accepted the role of President at Gold Standard, the premium standard and certification body for climate protection projects based in Switzerland.

“That gave me an opportunity to pursue my passion, my interests, my concerns and my desire to make a difference from a domestic point of view into a global role,” he says.

“Gold Standard has over 1200 projects in 70 countries around the world, so our impact and our reach – and therefore, our ability to make a difference – enables me to do far more than just in Australia.”

The story behind Gold Standard.

Many environmental or development projects get funding based on projected outcomes – or, as David explains, “on the basis of a promise”. But at Gold Standard, among the world’s top standard and certification bodies, carbon credits are only issued when there are proven outcomes – ones that are then audited and verified by a third party each and every year.

“There are projects around the world which tackle climate change and maybe look at providing renewable energy to communities, but they can actually do damage to the environment, threaten local biodiversity, and sometimes even harm or displace communities themselves,” says David.

“Gold Standard is very much about sustainable development, so that reducing carbon also benefits local communities, and that’s what makes it different to just about every other standard.”

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David Shelmerdine, Gold Standard (left), and Kent Broad, Carbon Neutral, at the reforestation site in Western Australia.

Know that your dollars are doing something.

By partnering with Carbon Neutral’s reforestation project in the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor, AGL has delivered Australia’s first carbon offsetting initiative to be certified by Gold Standard.

Which, according to David, seems to be exactly what most Aussies keen on doing their bit for the environment have been asking for.

“AGL’s customers, after they did their own research, said, ‘We understand climate change and we understand that carbon emissions have to be reduced… but beyond that, we really care what happens to communities, we really care what happens to forests, we really care what happens to biodiversity’,” David explains. “That’s what Gold Standard is about.”

“AGL selected Gold Standard because that is what their customers wanted.”

Learn how AGL’s Future Forests initiative can help your household offset 100% of the emissions associated with its electricity usage for just $1 a week.

Future Forests