03/09/2009 - 00:00

Concerns over climate law complexity

03/09/2009 - 00:00

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WHILE the status of the federal government's emissions trading scheme may be up in the air, laws linked to climate change continue to affect business.

Concerns over climate law complexity

WHILE the status of the federal government's emissions trading scheme may be up in the air, laws linked to climate change continue to affect business.

This week was the first official deadline under the new National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act, which requires heavy energy users and big CO2 equivalent emitters to register with the Department of Climate Change.

This adds to the compliance burden of big manufacturers and energy users, many of which already have to report under the government's Energy Efficiency Opportunities scheme and National Pollution Inventory.

Despite the experience big companies now have with dealing with this kind of compliance, the NGER Act is adding confusion and uncertainty according to many experts in the field.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA senior adviser industry policy Andrew Canion said the latest round of responsibilities had created issues for business.

"It is a complex area and I guess that is why it is causing problems in industry," Mr Canion said.

The biggest issue lay with the interpretation of what was required, with Mr Canion critical of the level of guidance provided by the federal government.

"A lot of reporting requirements are not very black and white," he said.

Environmental reporting is the new black art of industry and the NGER Act will add a fresh layer of requirements for industry, including companies that may do little more than draw electricity from the grid.

A new group of expert consultants has arisen to assist business meet this challenge.

Initially an estimated 1,000 companies will be expected to report their 2008-09 energy usage, energy production and emissions. That group is those that last financial year produced 125 kilotonnes of CO2 (or equivalent), or consumed or produced 500 terajoules or more of energy.

Also captured is any company that has a single facility that produces 25kt CO2e, or consumes or produces 100TJ of energy. That is likely to embrace most mining operations in the state that produce their own power.

But for those that don't trigger these levels, experts warn there is no time to be complacent.

Next year, the reporting thresholds drop substantially and are likely to embrace exponentially more businesses, which will need to be able to show how much CO2e and energy they produced or consumed for the current financial year.

This is likely to include many more companies that have not previously reported to other emission-based registers. By definition they are likely to have fewer resources to commit to the collection of this data.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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