This is a blog post from a CPA Australia Carbon Emissions Reporting Discussion Group meeting – the inaugural meeting – that I attended on 18th November 2008. Danny Power from PwC is the convenor.
There will be an election of office-bearers at the end of the next meeting. The topics under discussion are going to be quite broad-ranging. Danny is linking it to the sustainability reporting issues, and Danny seems to think the label might change later. However, Carbon Emissions Reporting is the current label for the group – thinks we might need to break into several discussion groups at some point (I’m not sure about that – see how popular it is). There were about 40 people in attendance at this first meeting, though, which is always a good sign.
Why did Danny set up the discussion group?
- Compliance issues
- The accountant’s role as a business advisor and in managing the reporting systems
- Impacts for all organisations whether direct or indirect
- “The Science” – still seems controversial, and if you’re going to report on it you need a working knowledge of what the processes are and how it works.
- Possibly the most important – to create a support and peer group for each other.
Schemes, coverage, compliance and impacts
This section of the presentation was given by Mick Zeljko of the Climate Change Team of PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The finance function of most companies will be generally involved it seems in managing the reporting process, which is a substantial – very substantial – part of the new CPRS.
- Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET)
- NSW Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme (GGAS)
- Qld Gas Electricity Scheme (GECS)
- Greenhouse Challenge Plus
- Energy Efficiency Opportunities
The scope of these current programs is fairly limited and tend to be industry-specific. There is a general feeling that perhaps people have been a little bit lax about the current programs, and it’s been pretty relaxed with the result that there has not been a lot of accuracy in the numbers that are currently being reported. Probably a lot of companies don’t really have a lot of confidence in their reporting schemes.
- National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting System (NGERS)
- Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS)
NGERS will cover a lot less companies than those that are affected by ETS. Types of gasses – six Kyoto gasses – CO2 and Methane and so on. All measured in terms of CO2 equivalency – for example, methane is 20 times stronger than CO2, so 1 tonne of emitted methane is 20 CO2 Tonne Equivalents.
The NGERS does get down to 200 terajoules and 50 kilotonnes in 2010. ETS will require only 25KT in 2010 so it is a little disconnected from NGERS – you can probably expect that the two programs will come into alignment.
The Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) is now officially called CPRS – Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. The feeling is that it sounds better to be reducing carbon pollution than trading the rights to emit pollution. The scheme generally caps Australia’s emissions, and then identifies industries subject to the cap. These industries are then allocated permits and at the end of the year have to have permits to cover what they emitted or pay a substantive fine. If you don’t have the permits, you have to go buy them from someone who does. This is the essence of the ‘cap and trade’ system.
Under the scheme:
- Government allocates or auctions permits up to the cap annually.
- Companies compete on the market to acquire required permits.
- Permits can be traded at market prices between firms and third parties.
- Scheme requires robust monitoring, reporting and assurance of data.
- Transitional assistance measures are included
- A number of elements are yet to be finalised
- Including emissions target trajectories, penalties for non-compliance and complementary measures for non-covered sectors.
A green paper was released in July. Everyone affected is throwing a submission at the government. The government is aiming to have draft legislation ready by the end of the year. There remains a whole bunch of stuff that is yet to be finalised, particularly emissions trajectories. We don’t know what the limits will be yet though – what the targets will be.
- Stationary energy
- Industrial processes
- Fugitive emissions (e.g. mining and landfill)
- Reforestation (opt-in – gets you credits)
- Agriculture may come in later, around 2015.
Liability generally relies upon the emitter. Generally it is upstream supply liability.
Emissions covered include: Scope 1 (i.e. direct for example emissions from a generator) emissions only. Contrast with NGERS which includes Scope 2 (e.g. indirect such as a factory’s use of electricity) across all 6 Kyoto Greenhouses.
- Direct emissions of 25,000 tonnes of CO2e (Carbon Equivalents).
The affected businesses will need to be collecting up systems, processes and governance to get NGERS into place.
I wonder what the definition of an entity (i.e. a ‘business’ will be in the covered industry?).
The first NGERS reporting period has commenced, those these systems etc will need to be in place from the point of view of affected NGERS entities. CPRS Green Paper submissions are now closed. The draft legislation is due out in early September, and they seem to want to have the legislation in place by the end of the year. The Government wants to set medium-term national trajectories soon, and are aiming for a 1 July 2010 start. These trajectories will affect how many permits are available – they will not determine who is affected by CPRS.
We in Australia will have two full reporting periods and given theïŠthen full trading will commence under CPRS. Unless it doesn’t current financial crisis.
Under NGERS – compliance is about registering and reporting. Penalties apply for corporations and CEOs.
There are a a whole lot of rules and legislation around wh`o effectively owns the emissions. A big mining site will have a lot of issues just working out what are we reporting on.
- Collect greenhouse and energy data
- Calculate greenhouse and energy data – there is a measurement determination that tells you how you work out how much CO2 you emit. There are proxy things in place.
- Got to have good storage of records for any audit down the track.
Maybe I have a large IT bent, but I can see that this is going to be a problem for anybody seeking to implement Greenhouse Gas Reporting Systems and implement it through the accounting information system. Or even if they don’t.
Clearly it will have an impact upon reporting processes, and who does it – and I suspect this job will often fall to the finance function.
- Register with GEDO
- Prepare and submit data using OSCAR. (See Greenhouse Challenge Plus).
- There will be a lot of internal reporting as well particularly for companies that are CPRS-liable.
- Need a whole lot of things covering all of this to make sure it keeps ticking along.
Companies will have to be NGERS compliance at a minimum.
Assurance – large emitters (>125KT CO2) will require third party assurance of the information prior to submission. Beyond these core issues we don’t know much around how it is taxed and so on. The draft legislation hasn’t come out yet. There are thousands of submissions being put in place.
If you are liable there are serious financial implications and also some compliance costs. Indirect impacts will result in price increases it seems – which will be the main issue for SME’s.
Indirect impacts are going to be increasing on just about everyone. Transport and logistics – may see a complete change in the competitive position between transport for example. For instance you will need to reconsider where you get your services from e.g. road vs rail.
Need to do a risk assessment now. Carbon due diligence. Green paper submissions were a big thing a little while ago.
Strategic Response – can do a lot of stuff now. There are opportunities for new services and products – carbon market planning and financial advice.
CPRS Accounting Issues:
- Permits acquired to satisfy obligation = intangibles
- Permits acquired for trading = inventory
- Measurement choices available
- Impact of CPRS on impairment calculations
- Accounting disclosures which may be required.
- How to account for forward purchase agreements of carbon pollution permits
- Broadly – what impact will the acquisition, trading, hedging and surrender of carbon plollution permits on reporting.
- Tax treatment? Still yet to be decided.
We also noted in the presentation that cashflow issues exist potentially for people that have to buy permits up front.
There will be another meeting in February, probably, of the Discussion Group. It was a very interesting discussion and it will be interesting to see where these compliance issues around the Carbon Emission Emissions Reporting processes take us. And as we can see above – there are assurance implications (although supposedly only for >125KT emitters?).
More notices as events warrant.