Big greenhouse emitters risk criminal penalties

05 Feb 2008Archived News Energetics in the News

PUBLISHED: The Australian - by Matthew Warren - Cheryl Bowler, Principal Consultant: Carbon Markets and Strategy, Energetics Pty Ltd was asked to comment on how the new National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting emission penalities are likely to affect industry.

 

MAJOR greenhouse emitters face the threat of criminal penalties and heavy fines from next year if they do not comply with new mandatory national emission reporting rules.

Climate Minister Penny Wong released a policy paper yesterday on mandatory corporate reporting of greenhouse gas emissions which warned that enforcement measures could be implemented immediately for the biggest emitters. Previously, a softer approach had been indicated.

Chief executives face up to two years in jail and companies can be fined up to $220,000 under the penalties for non-compliance enacted in the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act, passed last year.

About 900 major industrial sites across the nation will be required to report their emissions by October next year, with a trading scheme operating at the major sources of emissions, including power stations, oil refineries and big industrial sites.

The policy paper says the full suite of compliance and enforcement measures will be available from when the reporting process begins on July 1 this year, initially encouraging compliance with the reporting framework ``through non-punitive measures''.

``However, punitive measures are much more likely to be applied during National Greenhouse Emissions Reporting Scheme establishment in the case of corporations whose data would determine permit allocation or liability for permit acquittal under an Australian Emissions Trading Scheme,'' the paper says.

Companies and other stakeholders have until the end of the month to provide comments on the paper.

Energetics chief consultant Cheryl Bowler said the large number of firms required to comply with the scheme in such a short time presented a massive problem for industry.

``Many sites haven't been collecting data and this will be the first attempt for many of them, hence the leniency,'' Ms Bowler said. ``But now the Government has said they may not be lenient on those companies under an emissions trading scheme.

``We need robust data for an emissions trading scheme, but many companies are going to be scrambling, and there is a shortage of resources in this area.''

The federal Government set up the Energy Efficiency Opportunities scheme to mandate reporting and efficiency programs for the top 250 emitters in Australia.

The reporting requirements under the proposed scheme will increase coverage to transport and smaller manufacturing firms that are not currently covered by this scheme.

Airlines will be required to report all emissions from international flights.

Minerals Council of Australia economics director Peter Morris said there had been widespread voluntary schemes, including Greenhouse Challenge and industry reporting conducted by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics.

``We do have a concern about the availability of verifiers because data will need to be verified, but there are only so many people who can do verification,'' Mr Morris told The Australian.

``We think the market will respond but we've got to make sure we have sufficient skilled people available.''

The scheme is expected to standardise and make public reporting requirements for business in Australia.

The Rudd Government is progressing quickly to implement emissions trading, with Treasury conducting modelling on the economic impacts.

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