The effect of the carbon tax on Australia’s media is not as obvious as the impacts on other industries. As a service industry, energy usage, with associated production will underpin the increased cost from the pricing of carbon.

Fairfax Media corporate counsel Rachel Simons expects the effects of the carbon tax to be higher energy, and associated costs. The embattled media group conducted an energy audit last year but Simons was not at liberty to disclose the results.

“Fairfax will implement numerous carbon savings opportunities identified through the audit process subject to board approval,” she said. “We anticipate making a statement about our initiatives later in the year.”

In 2009-2010, Fairfax Media’s total energy consumption was 459,563 GJ — 7197 tonnes in Scope 1 emissions (activities at a facility controlled by the corporation) and 89,991 from Scope 2 (consumed at the facility but created elsewhere like electricity). Printing accounts for more than 50% of these emissions.

With a starting carbon price of $23 per tonne, the cost to the company would be around $2.24 million based on those figures disregarding any compensation measures.

The company is currently targeting total carbon reductions over five and 10-year periods. These targets will be revealed once the audit is finalised. It is a member of the Publishers National Environment Bureau (PNEB), and with it has increased recycling rates in Australia from 28% in 1990 to 80% in 2009.

Fairfax refused to comment on its current initiatives, but assured tit was “actively continuing to explore and implement creative and effective ideas to reduce our carbon footprint and consumption of water”.

Print and publishing rival News Limited launched its “One Degree” initiative to reduce carbon emissions in June 2007. The program aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across operations and raise awareness of climate change among the community.

From 2009-2010, News Ltd’s total energy consumption was 574,243 GJ. In the 2011 financial year, News Ltd used 488,829 GJ of energy. This figure equates for 85% of the company’s total energy use — 6193 tonnes from Scope 1 and 121,911 in Scope 2. Using the same calculation, News Ltd’s carbon tax bill would be around $2.95 million annually.

News Ltd reported in 2010 that it achieved its aim to reduce emissions by 20% in this time. The company’s carbon dioxide emissions dropped from 147,302 tonnes to 134,880 tonnes. Over 10% of the reduction was achieved by changing to renewable power sources, namely wind farms in Turkey. These renewable energy certificates saved over 29,000 tonnes of emissions, a figure that is equivalent to taking 7500 cars off the road indefinitely.

 

News Ltd CEO John Hartigan said in January: “We have cut almost 30% of vehicle fleet emissions, business travel is down by 22% through the use of video conferencing and we have invested in more energy-efficient equipment to reduce emissions from lighting, cooling and printing.”

The company has identified 179 carbon reduction projects since 2007. Over 155 of these have already been completed, it says, or are on their way to completion.

Peter Fray

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