The Clean Energy Regulator has unveiled a new initiative to improve the transparency of corporate carbon offset purchases, announcing it will publish a new annual Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency report (CERT), that details the voluntary carbon offset measures undertaken by Australia’s largest emitters.
The Clean Energy Regulator administers the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting scheme (NGERs), which collects and publishes annual emissions and energy consumption data for around 400 of Australia’s largest emitters.
While data published through NGERs provides detailed insight into the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that Australian corporate entities are responsible for, the current reporting regime provides minimal visibility of any carbon offsets that businesses may purchase in an effort to reduce their overall emissions footprint.
Chair of the Clean Energy Regulator, David Parker, said the new CERT report would assist companies in demonstrating how they are using offsets to meet their corporate emissions reduction commitments with a growing number of Australian companies setting their own goals to reduce emissions including seeking certification as carbon neutral.
A growing number of major Australian corporates are making carbon neutrality commitments in response to calls from both customers and investors that want companies to account for their contributions to climate change.
Telecommunications giant Telstra became officially certified as carbon neutral last year, which had largely been achieved through the purchase of offset permits. Oil and gas company Shell also announced the acquisition of Australian carbon offsets firm Select Carbon last year, as the company expands into the clean energy and low carbon space.
The proposed CERT report will allow companies to report their use of a range of carbon offset units, including Large-scale generation certificates (LGCs), Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs), Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs), Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) and Voluntary Emissions Reduction units (VERs) – aligning the reporting of units with those eligible for use under the Climate Active carbon neutrality certification scheme.
“For the first-time companies will be able to show clearly how they are tracking towards their emissions reduction commitments, using the tried and tested NGER reporting framework,” Parker said.
“Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency reporting provides increased transparency for supply chains, businesses, their shareholders and the public around these activities,”
The regulator hopes the increased visibility of corporate carbon offset purchases will help increase demand for voluntary emissions reductions and grow the local market for high quality carbon abatement projects.
As RenewEconomy has previously reported on the creation of the new reporting regime, the new transparency report had been earlier flagged by federal energy and emissions reduction minister Angus Taylor in an address to the Australasian Emissions Reduction Summit held in December.
CEO of the Carbon Markets Institute (CMI), John Connor, welcomed the release of the draft report, saying greater transparency around carbon offset purchases would help grow the local opportunities that can be created by abatement projects.
“This can put even more of a spotlight on Australia’s potential to be a global leader in the supply of emissions avoidance and carbon removals needed alongside our abundant clean technology decarbonisation potential,” Connor said.
“Transparency and integrity in both parts of this huge economic opportunity for Australia is important. The last year and months have seen an acceleration in corporate commitments and private policy towards the need to be net-zero emissions by 2050 if not sooner.
“The challenge will be to align private and policy engines towards this task and we look forward to further public policy initiatives to back some recent pragmatic moves to streamline and prioritise some clean technology investments.”
The Clean Energy Regulator has released a consultation paper and a draft set of guidelines for the new offsets report for consultation and has encouraged stakeholders to provide feedback.
“I encourage NGER reporting businesses, and other stakeholders, to provide their views and feedback on the Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency report and draft guidelines to help us fine tune the arrangements,” Parker added.
The regulator is aiming to have the new reporting regime up and running in the next financial year.
Submissions on the proposed offsets report can be made until 19 March.