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Year in review

I am pleased to present the Clean Energy Regulator’s Annual Report for 2013–14.

Agency development

Our second year of operations saw the rapid maturing of our business. We grew through an intensive set-up period to become a competent and responsive regulatory authority. We continued to bed down newly developed systems and processes and, at the same time, turned our attention to new challenges.

With the change of government, preparations for the first auctions of carbon units were put on hold. Instead, we worked closely with our new portfolio department to advise on the implementation of new government policy. This included the repeal of the carbon tax, which occurred shortly after the end of the year in review; the development of the Emissions Reduction Fund; and the review of the Renewable Energy Target.

Our commitment to client engagement paid off with exceptional compliance levels and a sound reputation in the business community for responsive service and decisions that are even-handed, fair and based on the facts and the law. We will continue to work with our stakeholders and clients, including Australian Government departments and agencies, industry bodies, liable entities and market participants, to administer our legislated schemes to the highest standard.

Major investments in systems development to meet legislative and client needs included the new Emissions and Energy Reporting System and a significant update to the Renewable Energy Certificate Registry. This work continues in 2014–15.

These investments support our continuous drive to find new and more streamlined ways to operate. We welcome changes to the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) legislation that will allow many reporters to reduce the compliance costs of their reporting obligations without reducing the integrity of NGER data for their users. We have reduced the time it takes to make administrative decisions in the Carbon Farming Initiative, and we communicate earlier to clients about the quality of applications and eligibility of proposed projects.

We are also taking a risk-based approach, based on experience, to reduce the amount of internal checking of work. Our risk-based approach also requires an effective investigations and enforcement capability to control risks such as fraud. While our goal is to achieve voluntary compliance, we will take enforcement action when the circumstances warrant. As a result of investigations this year, seven clients agreed to enforceable undertakings under the Renewable Energy Target. The Clean Energy Regulator has also referred two cases to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to consider prosecution action for alleged fraudulent conduct under the Criminal Code Act 1995 and Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 (the Act).

Scheme results

The Clean Energy Regulator administers Australia’s primary market mechanisms to measure and reduce carbon emissions. Each of our five legislated schemes has performed well against its own objectives.

Data collected through the NGER scheme were made available to inform government policy, assist the states and territories and meet Australia’s international reporting obligations. We continue to publish new data and look for opportunities to add value through our publications. For example, in February 2014 we released information showing state and territory and industry breakdowns of reported greenhouse gas emissions for 2012–13.

As evidenced in our annual administrative report on the Renewable Energy Target, the target continues to meet the objectives of the Act: additional generation of electricity from renewable sources, reduced emissions of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector, and generation of electricity from ecologically sustainable renewable energy sources.

The Carbon Farming Initiative is increasing carbon abatement in ways consistent with the protection of Australia’s environment, with more than 84 projects declared in the past year.

The high level of compliance observed in the first year of the carbon pricing mechanism continued in 2013–14, with 99.5 per cent of liability acquitted on time for the provisional surrender period. Final acquittal for the full compliance year is not due until 1 February 2015.

The Australian National Registry of Emissions Units provided an effective vehicle for trade in carbon units; 64,665,411 free units issued under the Jobs and Competitiveness Program and 8,761,935 Australian carbon credit units issued under the Carbon Farming Initiative changed hands in the course of the year. The Australian National Registry of Emissions Units also performs an important function in tracking Australia’s international obligations through the holding of Kyoto units under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

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