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Media Release: Carbon Estimation Areas released as part of ACCU Review implementation

06 June 2023

The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) has released Carbon Estimation Area (CEA) data following recommendations from the Independent Review of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCU Review) and a change to the law by Parliament.

A CEA is the area within a project where the project or carbon management activity takes place. CEAs are the area where carbon will be stored, and for which Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) are issued.

CEA boundaries are fluid rather than fixed across the life of a project and this is a deliberate design feature of the ACCU Scheme. For example, areas that don’t respond to project activities under area-based methods will need to be removed if they are no longer eligible to receive ACCUs. See Factsheet - Understanding Carbon Estimation Areas for more information.

The ACCU Review, led by former Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb AC, concluded that the Australian Government’s ACCU Scheme is essentially sound, incorporating mechanisms for regular review and improvement, and recommended some changes including to improve transparency and increase confidence in the scheme. In particular, the HIR method is sound – it meets the Offsets Integrity Standards and is administered by a robust regulatory framework.

The CER Chair and CEO Mr David Parker says recent changes in legislation mean that CEAs can now be publicly released to provide further transparency in the carbon market.

‘We’re very pleased to release the carbon estimation areas for ACCU Scheme projects. This is an important step towards a more informed market and increased trust and confidence in the draw down of CO2 at scale within Australia’s path to net zero.

‘The ACCU Scheme is supported by the CER’s upfront assurance framework which ensures ACCUs represent real abatement. Our ‘preventative’ controls involve careful checking supported by independent audits and use of sophisticated tools when projects are registered and before ACCUs are issued,’ Mr Parker said.

The CEA data published will not be sufficient (in of itself) to make a judgement about the performance of ACCU Scheme projects. In most cases, the CEAs will not provide insight into the changed land management practices or readily show how much abatement has been achieved, particularly at the early stages of a project. The examination of geospatial satellite (GIS) images of CEAs is often not sufficient to determine whether projects are complying with the method and other relevant scheme legislation.

Confirmation of the abatement outcomes of project activity require detection by direct measurement, site visits, drone footage or geolocated photographs. Unless provided voluntarily by proponents, the CER cannot currently release information gathered through these processes due to legislative secrecy provisions.

To address this, the CER is enabling proponents to voluntarily provide additional contextual information to support the publication of their CEAs alongside the Register for the ACCU Scheme.

‘We are pleased to support the provision of this additional information on behalf of project proponents. Projects can share their stories to help inform the market and increase transparency.’

To find out more, see the Emissions Reduction Fund project register.

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