This page contains information about the obligations a project proponent has when undertaking an eligible offsets project.
The project proponent must carry out their project, estimate abatement and comply with the monitoring, record-keeping and reporting requirements according to the rules and instructions set out in the relevant methodology determination. The project proponent must also comply with the general reporting and notification requirements in the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative Act 2011.
Obligations include collecting, maintaining and retaining accurate and complete records, undertaking quality assurance measures and providing specific information in the offsets report for the project submitted to the Clean Energy Regulator.
This information will be required during an audit of your project and underpins the calculation of abatement and the subsequent entitlement to Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs). If a project proponent fails to maintain their administrative obligations under the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011 the Clean Energy Regulator may not be able to issue ACCUs for the project.
Project monitoring and record keeping obligations
All projects must be monitored to ensure that they conform to the procedures specified in the chosen methodology determination. Some methodology determinations stipulate specific procedures, for example the frequency of maintenance and calibration of equipment. Others require data be collected within defined accuracy limits or various events be captured.
Project monitoring is also essential to detect any changes in the project circumstances or implementation that may affect the project’s abatement. For example, a pest incursion in a reforestation project may reduce growth and carbon sequestration levels. Changes such as these must be reflected in the project’s report and if necessary, the Clean Energy Regulator must be notified.
Each methodology determination specifies the records that a project proponent must make and keep in relation to their carbon farming project. They may also contain instructions about the format, method and frequency of data collection. For example:
- copies of licences
- equipment information and maintenance records
- emissions or carbon stock data
- planting species, dates and areas
- validation data
- fuel records.
The project proponent is legally required to retain project records for a minimum of seven years. In addition, any records that are used in the compilation of an offsets report must be retained for at least seven years from the date of submission of the report.
The Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011 also contains some general record keeping requirements that all project proponents must meet. Records include but are not limited to:
- correspondence between the project proponent and the Clean Energy Regulator
- information that a chosen methodology determination requires to be recorded
- information about all procedures to collect, document and process data used in determining abatement for the project
- information relating to the proponent’s legal right to carry out the project
- information in relation to any decision made by the proponent in relation to their obligations under the Carbon Farming Initiative Act and Regulations
- information about regulatory approvals obtained in relation to the project
- information about any variations to the project
- offsets reports and Carbon Farming Initiative audit reports
- information about any uncertainties associated with data used to determine abatement
- if the proponent is not an individual, information about the following:
- the proponents organisational structure, and any changes it undergoes
- the individuals with decision-making authority within the organisation and any changes to those individuals
- records of any abatement that has been credited or otherwise recognised under another carbon offsets scheme.
The Clean Energy Regulator recommends project proponents implement a project monitoring plan including:
- identifying roles and responsibilities for project staff
- detailing any necessary training or qualifications for project staff to carry out those responsibilities
- documenting the processes and procedures used to collect, record, assesses and store project data.
Variations - Changing projects
A project proponent, the nominee of multiple project proponents, or their agent may apply to the Clean Energy Regulator to vary the declaration of an eligible offsets project. This may occur when:
- A project proponent for a sequestration project wishes to add new areas to, or remove areas from their project.
- A project proponent transfers the project to a new project proponent. For example, if the land on which the project is taking place is sold.
- The project proponent requests that their conditional project declaration be amended to reflect that the required regulatory approvals have been obtained.
The Clean Energy Regulator will not approve the transfer of a project to a person who is not a recognised offsets entity; does not have the legal right to carry out the project; or, in the case of sequestration offsets projects, does not hold the carbon sequestration right for the project area.
The project proponent, the nominee of multiple project proponents, or their agent is required under the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011 to notify the Clean Energy Regulator in certain circumstances or if certain events occur. Up to date information assists the Clean Energy Regulator to determine the need to vary the project or undertake compliance action and helps maintain the integrity of the Carbon Farming Initiative.
Project proponents, the nominee of multiple project proponents and agents of project proponents are encouraged to take these reporting obligations seriously. Failure to notify the Clean Energy Regulator in writing within the specified time period or taking action to avoid notifying the Clean Energy Regulator of the prescribed circumstances (see below) is an offence and may attract a civil penalty.
The following circumstances trigger a requirement to notify the Clean Energy Regulator:
Notifications required at the time of the event:
- circumstances where the methodology determination requires that the project proponent must notify the Clean Energy Regulator of one or more matters
- the project proponent being convicted of certain offences, is subject to certain orders or becomes insolvent or subject to external administration.
Notification required within 28 business days:
- the change of name of the project proponent, business name or trading name or other contact details.
Notification required within 60 days:
- the conduct of another person causing, or being likely to cause, a reversal of the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and the reversal occurring on an area that is at least 5 per cent of the project area or combined project areas or an area that is at least 50 hectares of the project area or areas (whichever is the smaller area) in relation to the sequestration offsets project
- a natural disturbance that causes or is likely to cause a significant reversal of the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and the reversal occurs on an area that is at least 5 per cent of the project area or combined project areas or an area that is at least 50 hectares of the project area or areas (whichever is the smaller area) in relation to the sequestration offsets project.
Notifications required within 90 days:
- ceasing to be the project proponent for an eligible offsets project
- death of the project proponent
- committing of a deliberate act that causes, or likely to cause a reversal of the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and the reversal occurs on an area that is at least 5 per cent of the project area or combined project areas or an area that is at least 50 hectares of the project area or areas (whichever is the smaller area)
- changes to the project that cause it to become inconsistent with the regional natural resource management plan that covers the project area or a part of the project area
- the discovery of an error in an offsets report submitted to the Clean Energy Regulator.