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Our role

Established on 2 April 2012 by the Clean Energy Regulator Act 2011 (CER Act), the Clean Energy Regulator is an independent statutory agency responsible for administering climate change legislation.

The Regulator is a decision-making body consisting of a Chair and between 2 and 4 other Members. The Regulator holds the legal authority for functions conferred on it by legislation and sets the direction for the agency’s work in administering the regulatory schemes for which it is responsible. A quorum for the purposes of a meeting of the Regulator is two Members (for these purposes, the Chair is included in the definition of a Member).

Members of the Regulator are appointed under the CER Act by the responsible Minister, and are required to have substantial experience or knowledge in fields relevant to the Clean Energy Regulator. The Chair holds office on a full-time basis. All other Members hold office on a part-time basis.

In addition to the regulatory accountabilities, the Chair also serves as the agency head under the Public Service Act 1999 and is the accountable authority under the PGPA Act.

As part of the Industry, Science, Energy and Resources Portfolio, the Clean Energy Regulator delivers one outcome to government:

Contribute to a reduction in Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions, including through the administration of market-based mechanisms that incentivise reduction in emissions and the promotion of additional renewable electricity generation.

Our purpose derives from our statutory responsibilities and is summarised as accelerating carbon abatement for Australia. We achieve this by administering schemes and carbon markets that provide incentives for, and enable, emissions reduction.

The agency’s place is at the commercialisation end of the research, development and deployment of low emissions technology. We aspire to be ‘practical, grounded, quick and commercially savvy’ in our external dealings – this is embedded in our Risk Management Framework.

We are an independent and respected body, trusted by government to effectively implement policy and assist to develop new policy initiatives from an implementation perspective that will support the evolution of an effective and vibrant carbon market.

We are responsible for administering:

  • The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) is a voluntary scheme that provides incentives for a range of organisations and individuals to adopt new practices and technologies to reduce their emissions. ERF activities count towards meeting Australia’s international climate commitments.

    The ERF is enacted through the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011, the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Regulations 2011 and the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Rule 2015.

    Methodology determinations (or methods) are legislative instruments that set out the rules for what emissions reduction activities are eligible under the ERF. The methods explain how to carry out a project and measure the resulting reductions in emissions.

    The agency is responsible for developing ERF methods. This function was moved from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (the Department) to the agency in September 2020. This is a significant new work stream, resourced with the creation of a new Branch. Method priorities are set by the Minister on advice from the Department.

  • The National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) scheme is a single national framework for reporting and disseminating company information about greenhouse gas emissions, energy production, energy consumption and other information specified under NGER legislation.

    The NGER scheme is established by the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007.

    Under the NGER scheme, corporations that meet certain thresholds must report to the Regulator their emissions, energy production and energy consumption each financial year. This data informs government policy, programs and activities, and helps meet Australia’s international reporting obligations.

  • The Safeguard Mechanism came into effect on 1 July 2016. 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 requiring large facilities, whose emissions exceed the safeguard threshold, to keep their net emissions below the emissions limit (or baseline). Originally, baselines were set according to peak historical emissions but will now transition over the next 2 years to tighter product or emissions intensity-based settings.
  • The Renewable Energy Target (RET) is designed to encourage additional renewable generation, which leads to reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector.

    The RET is underpinned by the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 (REE Act) and sunsets at the end of 2030.

    The RET works by allowing both large-scale power stations and the owners of small-scale systems to create certificates for every megawatt hour of power they generate. The RET creates demand for these certificates by requiring liable entities to surrender an amount of certificates in proportion to the electricity they acquire in an assessment year. This creates a market which provides financial incentives to both large-scale renewable energy power stations and the owners of small-scale renewable energy systems.

Also, we are now responsible for the following new initiatives, which actively leverage our existing schemes to build a vibrant voluntary carbon market and streamline participation:

  • A Guarantee of Origin (GO) or certification scheme to enable Australian businesses to sell verified low emissions hydrogen from renewable sources, and fossil fuels with substantial carbon capture and storage, domestically and to the world. We will collaborate with the Department to implement trials.
  • An Australian Carbon Exchange to accelerate the emergence of an online exchange trade market for emissions offsets. We will work with a partner or partners to implement this initiative, which may include the provision of trading, clearing and settlement services, product and market design, market development, education and implementation services, and the provision of a register of offset units, to complement the current ‘over the counter’ market.
  • The Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency report (CERT) report is a voluntary initiative for participating NGER corporations that provides a framework for them to demonstrate their net annual emissions and energy position, support their climate action claims and encourage voluntary participation in Australia’s carbon markets. We are currently co-designing a pilot with industry.

In addition, we operate the following registries and systems to enable market participants to securely and conveniently report, receive entitlements, acquit liabilities and trade:

  • the Emissions and Energy Reporting System (EERS)
  • the Australian National Registry of Emissions Units (ANREU), as created by the Australian National Registry of Emissions Units Act 2011, and
  • the Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) Registry.

We deliver our schemes by:

  • issuing entitlements worth around $3 billion annually, including:
    • issuing Australian carbon credit units under the ERF to organisations and individuals for approved projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions,
    • issuing large-scale generation certificates and small-scale technology certificates for each megawatt hour of renewable energy generated or displaced (no longer required from the grid)
  • facilitating and approving eligibility for entry to our schemes, including registration of projects and accreditation of power stations
  • collecting, analysing, assessing, providing and publishing emissions and energy data to inform the RET, government policy and the Australian public, and to support Australia’s emissions and energy data needs, and meet international reporting obligations
  • providing education and information to current and potential scheme participants
  • monitoring, facilitating and enforcing compliance by scheme participants
  • conducting ERF auctions to purchase low-cost carbon abatement for the delivery of Australian carbon credit units, and managing carbon abatement contracts
  • accrediting greenhouse and energy auditors to undertake audit activities, and
  • working with other Commonwealth, state and territory law enforcement and regulatory bodies.

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