Green rules not just hot air

30 Apr 2008Archived News Energetics in the News

Published: - Herald Sun - by Paula Beauchamp, Cheryl Bowler Principal Consultant; Carbon Markets, Energetics Pty Ltd comments on the lack of awareness about carbon emissions some companies are now dealing with.

 

Companies trying to become compliant ahead of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting System’s July 1 kick-off are facing a shortage of consultants to advise them.

Experts say some of the 900 corporations likely to fall within the scheme could be left with bigger liabilities when emissions trading starts in 2010, because they don’t have systems in place to record their emissions.

Energetics principal consultant Cheryl Bowler said those companies would then be forced to use default factors to calculate emissions, which typically yielded larger carbon footprints.

“Some companies may go into the emissions trading scheme with a bigger liability than would otherwise have been the case and that will impact their bottom line,” Ms Bowler said.

Anxious companies that are likely to fall within the scope of the new reporting system have contacts Energetics as recently as last week.

“ They are asking: ‘Why hasn’t anyone told us about this?’,” Ms Bowler said. “I suspect there will be a fair bit of non-compliance because of the general lack of awareness.

“Companies are scrambling to gear themselves up, but consultants are flat-out. There is not enough capacity in the sector to manage the workload.”

About 200 companies have contacted the Andromeda Group since the beginning of the year, seeking advice and information about greenhouse and energy reporting.

The company specializes in educating businesses about emissions trading requirements and how it will impact their businesses.

But founder Robert Clarke says there are not enough consultants across the sector to provide advice and information for all the businesses that will have a legal obligation from July 1.

When the Howard government released the initial discussion paper for a reporting system in 2007, 2008-09 was earmarked as a flexible learning phase. But a policy paper, released in February, makes it clear that emissions reporting for eligible Australian corporations will instead become mandatory from July 1.

Sites that produce 25 kilotonnes and corporations that produce 125 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide in the first year will fall within the ambit of the Act.

First reports are due by October 31, 2009, and companies that fail to comply – particularly those with substantial direct emissions – could face significant penalties.

The reporting system will underpin the national emissions trading scheme, now being introduced at least a year ahead of schedule in 2010.

Mr Clarke said the sooner corporations understood where risks and opportunities were under the new system, the better it would be for their businesses.

But he also fear4s publicly listed corporations could face claims of misleading and deceptive conduct under the Trade Practices Act for failing to disclose information that affects their environmental baseline and performance as a business.

“CEOs could be accused of poor corporate behavior because they don’t understand the regulatory demands,” he said.

A survey released late last year by the Australian Industry Group and Sustainability Victoria found more than 80 per cent of companies had a poor understanding, or no understanding, of an emission trading scheme.

Most of the 810 companies surveyed admitted they were poorly informed about strategies and approaches to manage climate change and greenhouse gas emission reductions.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of more than 300 chief executives, released in February, found only 2 per cent were confident about their own emissions data.

The Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development has issued a tender for research on climate change and its impacts on the Victorian Manufacturing Industry.

The tender closes today.

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