For a project to be eligible for registration with the Clean Energy Regulator under the Emissions Reduction Fund (unless the method covering the project specifies otherwise), it must:
An Emissions Reduction Fund project (including projects that upgrade or expand current practices) must not have started before it has been registered with the Clean Energy Regulator, unless the method covering the project specifies otherwise.
This is because the Emissions Reduction Fund is not intended to support projects that are already underway without support from the Emissions Reduction Fund.
Applicants are required to provide evidence which satisfies the Clean Energy Regulator that the project has not begun.
Examples of actions that would indicate that a project has started:
An investment decision is a decision by the decision-making body of an organisation (for example, directors of a company) regarding how, when, where and how much capital of the organisation will be spent on investment opportunities. In the context of the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), this would be a decision to invest in any aspect of activity/activities as part of an ERF project). This decision often follows research to determine costs and returns for options.
Once an investment decision is made, typical practice is for relevant executives - who are authorised to bind the organisation - to execute the investment decision by entering into an agreement or other binding arrangement (for example, a work order) by which the organisation becomes committed to expenditure toward the investment.
If the nature of the power vested in the relevant executives is mechanical and administrative, such that they have no discretion whether or not to execute a particular agreement or binding arrangement for the original investment decision, the original investment decision itself will be the final investment decision.
If, however, the power vested in the relevant executives is discretionary, so that they are able to exercise further discretion about the acceptability of the terms and conditions of, or counterparties to, the agreement or binding arrangement for the investment, then the original investment decision will not be the final investment decision. The final investment decision will be the decision of those executives to enter into a particular agreement or binding arrangement for the investment. In such a case, existence of a final investment decision is evidenced by a binding agreement or arrangement encapsulating the rights and obligations of the organisation in relation to the investment.
In either case, internal allocations of funding to an investment, for example in an approved budget, does not necessarily constitute a final investment decision unless there is a legislative requirement to the contrary.
Prospective participants will need to examine their own corporate governance or legal situation regarding the point at which a recorded investment decision represents a commitment to making the investment.
Examples of actions that by themselves would not indicate a project has started:
When a project application is received the Clean Energy Regulator conducts a check and sends the applicant an email to confirm that a complete application was received. Even after this notification has been received the newness requirement will continue to apply to the project. A project must not commence before it has been registered.
A project will not be registered until an application has been fully assessed and a decision has been made by the Clean Energy Regulator. When a decision has been made by the Clean Energy Regulator the applicant will be notified of the outcome in writing. The project may then commence.
If a project is registered and it is subsequently found, for example during an audit, that it had commenced prior to registration, the project’s registration may be invalid. In such a case, no Australian carbon credit units will be issued. If ACCUs have been issued to the project they may be required to be returned to the Clean Energy Regulator.
Emissions Reduction Fund projects cannot be mandatory under a Commonwealth, state or territory law, unless the method covering the project specifies otherwise.
In some cases, the project may involve doing more than is required by these laws or by industry regulations. For example, many landfill operators are required to manage methane emissions and may undertake projects to capture additional gas. Methods for these types of projects may provide rules for establishing a regulatory baseline.
Emissions Reduction Fund projects that cover activities also carried out under existing Commonwealth, state or territory government programmes or schemes may be excluded from participating in the Emissions Reduction Fund. The exclusion of certain programmes is intended to ensure that emissions reductions are not paid for twice – once under the Emissions Reduction Fund and again under another government programme.
Projects will be able to source funding or in-kind support from other government programmes in some cases. It is not the Government's intention to prevent participants from obtaining funding or in-kind support from multiple sources where this is necessary for the project to proceed. For example, the Government anticipates that environmental planting projects could receive assistance from the Green Army, and fire management projects may involve rangers involved in Indigenous ranger programmes.
The full list of excluded government programmes is detailed in section 21 of the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Rule 2015 (rule). The table below provides a high-level overview of the additionality requirements and associated government programmes specified in the rule. If the government programme your Emissions Reduction Fund project receives funding from is not listed below, or your project does not contain certain activities under a government programme listed below, then your project is not excluded from participation in the Emissions Reduction Fund.
Where the additionality requirement concerns funding from another government programme, the activities associated with an Emissions Reduction Fund project must:
However, an Emissions Reduction Fund project and associated activities may expand on a non-Emissions Reduction Fund project that has previously been funded by the government programme. The expansion activities must not receive funding from the government programme.
Where the additionality requirement excludes certain activities from a government programme, an Emissions Reduction Fund project may have such excluded activities located on the same site if the activities associated with the Emissions Reduction Fund project are undertaken as part of the excluded activities. However, any carbon abatement that results from the excluded activities must:
The government programme requirement does not apply to projects that may need to source funding or in-kind support from other government initiatives not specified above. For example, some environmental planting projects may receive assistance from the Green Army; fire management projects may include rangers involved in Indigenous ranger programmes and energy efficiency projects may receive funding assistance through investment funding initiatives run by agencies such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) or the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
It is not the government's intention to prevent participants from obtaining funding or in-kind support from multiple sources, where necessary for the project to proceed. In these circumstances, projects may seek funding or in-kind support without breaching the government programme requirement or other additionality requirements, under the Emissions Reduction Fund.
The Clean Energy Regulator will require participants to make a statement about support from other government programmes as part of their application for project registration.
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The Clean Energy Regulator is a Government body responsible for accelerating carbon abatement for Australia.