Emissions census out of steam

11 Jul 2010Archived News Energetics in the News

PUBLISHED: Australian Financial Review by Emma Connors. David Mitchell, principal consultant at Energetics is waiting for his application to become a greenhouse auditor to be approved "the day the carbon pollution reduction scheme was deferred, the foot came off the accelerator."

The second annual census of greenhouse gas emissions will effect up to 800 controlling corporations, but this time most organisations are expected to choose a do-it-yourself approach and risk submitting unaudited data.

Stiff penalties for failure to comply with the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act and the expectation that carbon emissions would soon be a balance sheet liability prompted many of those that filed last October to seek external assurance.

This year, however, there is no emission trading system on the corporate planning horizon.
This, coupled with a lack of progress on an official register of greenhouse auditors and no fines professional services.

While final decisions are yet to be made, some big carbon emitters have privately acknowledged they will devote fewer internal resources to the NGER report this time.

They also expect to save six-figure sums by cutting external services previously used to help finalise the report.

Controlling corporations responsible for 87.7 kilotonnes or more of carbon gases in the past financial year must register with the Department of Climate Change and submit an inventory by the end of October.
This year, the government published the reports of corporations which lodged records last year showing that their greenhouse gas emissions exceeded 125 kilotonnes.

The government found fewer than 1 percent of reports has errors and needed to be resubmitted. It did not fine any companies or individuals for failing to comply and it did not order any greenhouse audits.
More than 100 people have applied to the Department of Climate Change to be registered as greenhouse auditors.

In March, the department indicated it expected to begin approvals in April.
Four months on, however, there are still no names on the register on the department’s website, much to the frustration of applicants.

“It’s a great shame we have not had the first round of audits to embed the process and get the policy guidelines that would help companies,” said Trnet Van Veen, Ernst & Young Asia Pacific climate change assurance leader.

David Mitchell, principal consultant at climate change consultancy Energetics, is also waiting for this application to become a greenhouse auditor to be approved.

“Of course it would have been helpful if audits had been done.

“It would be nice to know how the government would like things handled, given the department has been reticent about giving guidance outside the legislation,” he said.

Mr Mitchell said selling climate change services had become a lot harder in recent months.

“The day the carbon pollution reduction scheme was deferred, the foot cam off the accelerator.

“This was expected to have been the last year companies would be operating in an economy that did not put a price on carbon.

“We have expected many companies would have moved from using default methodologies to measure emissions to less standardised, higher-order methods. That shift has not occurred," he said.

A spokesman for the department said the first auditor registrations would be approved “shortly”.

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