Will companies need to continue NGERs reporting if the carbon tax is repealed?Since the recent election there has been a lot of discussion and commentary on the planned changes to Australia’s carbon policy. On 13 November 2013, the Abbott led government introduced carbon price repeal legislation to Parliament. ‘Direct Action’ is the government’s approach to reducing carbon emissions to meet Australia’s commitments under the second period of the Kyoto Protocol. There is ongoing discussion and analysis of the ‘Direct Action’ policy in terms of the extent of emissions reduction likely under the scheme and the associated costs at a national level. The Labor and Greens parties have signalled their intent to either block the government’s repeal legislation in the Senate.
Regardless of the final outcome, there are a number of things we know for sure:
- There will continue to be a price on carbon whether it is a direct cost to emitters (through a tax or trading scheme) or a cost born by the government and distributed indirectly across the economy through taxation. On the flipside, the Direct Action policy may also provide an opportunity to generate revenue for approved GHG reduction activities.
- NGER Act and associated legislation will continue to underpin mandatory corporate greenhouse gas reporting
How organised were you? Was it a last minute exercise or have you learned from previous reporting periods?
Would your reporting withstand audit? Are you confident that you are using the most appropriate estimation methods? Did you use the correct emissions factors?
Who’s responsible?In general, responsibility for greenhouse reporting falls in the lap of the environmental advisor or manager although the input required to complete a GHG estimation generally requires input from a variety of functions across the company including procurement, finance and engineering. It is essential to get the right people on board early to streamline the reporting process from the start of the reporting period.
Is it easy?There is a general perception that GHG emission estimation is simple and anyone can do it. At a basic level it generally is just a matter of multiplying a usage amount by an emissions factor. However, the devil is in the detail of ensuring that all relevant data has been collected, all emissions sources have been identified and characterised and that reporting complies with NGER Regulation and NGER Determination requirements. Often the challenge lies in collecting the emission source data required for an assessment and compiling it in a way that aligns with the reporting principles of the NGER legislation:
A good time to prepareA detailed knowledge of NGER reporting options and requirements combined with good data management is a valuable asset to any company. Unnecessary data handling creates inefficiencies and is a sure way to introduce error and uncertainty. GHG reporting is here to stay, and now is the perfect time to get to work on streamlining your reporting for the 2013/14 period and beyond. This may involve:
- A review of current GHG reporting including identifying opportunities in terms of emissions estimation methodology and data collection
- Creating an Action Plan to prioritise targets and changes to your GHG reporting process
- Integration of NGER data requirements into your current systems
- Development of new data management systems or improving existing systems