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The safeguard mechanism

28 October 2019


Important information for responsible emitters

The National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (Safeguard Mechanism) Rule 2015 has been amended to extend the 2018–19 baseline application deadline from 31 October 2019 to 15 April 2020 for facilities with a declared multi-year period, that covers the 2018–19 and 2019–20 compliance years. It also allows facilities to use the transitional calculated baseline criteria a second time from the 2019–20 year onwards, to adopt newly established government-determined prescribed production variables. Further information can be found in the explanatory statement for this latest amendment.

This website includes references to prescribed (annually adjusted) and prescribed (fixed) production variables that are yet to be finalised by the Department of the Environment and Energy.

Applications will not be able to use prescribed production variables or default emissions intensities until they have been included in Schedules 2 and 3 of the Safeguard Rule.

For more information please contact the Clean Energy Regulator.

Together with the reporting obligations under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007, the safeguard mechanism provides a framework for Australia’s largest emitters to measure, report and manage their emissions. It does this by encouraging large facilities, whose net emissions exceed the safeguard threshold, to keep their emissions at or below emissions baselines set by the Clean Energy Regulator.


The safeguard mechanism applies to facilities with scope 1 covered emissions of more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) per year. See coverage for more information.

Emissions baselines

Emissions baselines represent the reference point against which emissions performance will be measured under the safeguard mechanism.

Baselines are set in different ways depending on whether the facility is new, the facility’s industry sector and whether the baseline is fixed or annually adjusted for production. A baseline may be adjusted to accommodate economic growth or natural resource variability. See baselines for more information.

Who is responsible?

Safeguard obligations rest with the person with operational control of the facility, the ‘responsible emitter’. This person is required to keep the facility’s net emissions at or below its emissions baseline. The responsible emitter may be an individual, a body corporate, a trust, a corporation sole, a body politic or a local governing body.

Managing emissions

Responsible emitters with a facility that has, or is likely to, exceed its baseline have a number of options to manage the excess emissions situation. For example, the responsible emitter can reduce the facility’s net emissions by purchasing and surrendering Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) to offset their emissions. Both Kyoto and non-Kyoto ACCUs can be used as offsets under the safeguard mechanism. Responsible emitters may also apply for a calculated baseline or access other management options in certain circumstances where they have, or expect to, exceed their baseline.

See managing excess emissions for more information.

Meeting safeguard requirements

The safeguard mechanism is administered through the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) scheme and is designed to minimise additional mandatory reporting requirements.

As well as keeping their emissions below their baseline, safeguard facilities must adhere to the reporting and record keeping requirements of the NGER scheme.

Responsible emitters for safeguard facilities who are not already registered under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007 must apply to register. Applications for registration are due by 31 August following the year in which the person first becomes a responsible emitter.

Publishing reported emissions

The Clean Energy Regulator is required to publish information about all designated large facilities covered by the safeguard mechanism for each reporting year. This publication will occur after the 1 March compliance deadline.

For each facility covered by the safeguard mechanism in a reporting year, information published includes the baseline emissions number in force for that year, total reported emissions, the responsible emitter(s) for each facility, and any ACCUs surrendered.

Information is also published about any designated large facilities that remain in an excess emissions situation on or after the 1 March compliance deadline.

See safeguard facility reported emissions for more information.

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