The following types of audits may be required for programmes administered by the Clean Energy Regulator:
National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) audits, or ‘greenhouse and energy audits’, are assurance and verification engagements that are conducted under the NGER legislation. The NGER Act describes the circumstances in which the Clean Energy Regulator might initiate a greenhouse and energy audit.
If the Clean Energy Regulator has reasonable grounds to suspect non-compliance with the NGER legislation, it can initiate a compliance audit by providing a written notice to the corporation to be audited.
In these types of engagements, the audited body must appoint an audit team leader from the Register of Greenhouse and Energy Auditors and arrange for the audit to be undertaken. The audited body must also arrange for a copy of the audit report to be provided to the Clean Energy Regulator (under sections 73 and 73A of the NGER Act).
As these audits occur in cases where the Clean Energy Regulator suspects non‑compliance, an audit may be undertaken as a precursor to the application of enforcement measures, including investigations by authorised officers, civil penalties and criminal proceedings.
In addition, the Clean Energy Regulator may initiate greenhouse and energy audits for reasons other than suspected non-compliance. For example, the Clean Energy Regulator may initiate audits on a risk management basis or to gather information on the regulated community’s compliance with particular aspects of the NGER Act. The Clean Energy Regulator would appoint the audit team leader and must notify the audited body before the audit engagement starts (sections 74 and 74A of the NGER Act).
The information collected through audits informs decisions on matters such as the targeting and effectiveness of capacity-building activities among registered corporations. These engagements also inform decisions on further compliance monitoring and enforcement actions.
The NGER Audit Determination specifies requirements that audit team leaders must meet when preparing for and carrying out greenhouse and energy audits. It also specifies requirements for audit team leaders in preparing an assurance engagement report and a verification engagement report.
The table below outlines the main elements of NGER audits.
NGER Act, sections 73, 73A, 74, 74A, 74B and 74C NGER Regulations, Divisions 6.3–6.7National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (Measurement) Determination 2008 (NGER Measurement Determination)
NGER Audit Determination
ASAE 3450 is only relevant for safeguard mechanism audits as it provides guidance on forecasted abatement. Auditors should use this standard as guidance.
Reasonable assurance, limited assurance or verification engagement initiated by the Clean Energy Regulator, after submission of a greenhouse and energy report under the NGER Act, for compliance or monitoring purposes.
The audit team leader must be a registered greenhouse and energy auditor, Category 2. Other members of the audit team do not need to be registered. However, the NGER Regulations do contain requirements for other members of an audit team.
Voluntary engagements or verification audits may be led by Category 1 or 2 registered greenhouse and energy auditors.
The registered corporation’s energy and emissions report under section 19 of the NGER Act, or specified compliance requirements.
Compliance requirements may include:
Energy and emissions report (under section 19 of the NGER Act):
Selected compliance requirements:
Provisions under the
Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 (RET Act) and the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Regulations 2001 (RET Regulations) set out audit requirements for exemption certificate audits under the production calculation method or the electricity use method. From 2020 only the electricity use method is used.
The table below outlines the main features of exemption certificate audits where the application uses the electricity use method.
REE Act, paragraph 46A(2)(bb)
REE Regulations, regulation 22UH
NGER Audit Determination
The auditor must have no conflict of interest with the applicant.
The relevant matters set out in regulation 22UH of the REE Regulations, include the:
Amendments to the
Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011 (CFI Act) make provision for administering the Emissions Reduction Fund.
Auditing of projects under the Emissions Reduction Fund provides the Clean Energy Regulator with confidence that the abatement reported represents genuine total net abatement for a project for a nominated reporting period. It is an essential component in the decision-making by the Clean Energy Regulator to issue Australian carbon credit units.
The Clean Energy Regulator takes a risk-based approach to audits under the Emissions Reduction Fund, utilising the Clean Energy Regulator audit framework. For most projects, this will mean a minimum of three scheduled audits across the seven plus year crediting period, which are arranged and paid for by scheme participants. An audit schedule is set for projects against criteria specified in the
Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Rule 2015 (CFI Rule). The audit schedule sets out the frequency and scope of audits required for the project.
There are three main types of audit:
The Clean Energy Regulator may also request a compliance audit to be carried out for a project, under Part 19 of the CFI Act.
Auditors are reminded that each project must be assessed and audited individually, and that an opinion must be provided for each project.
The first scheduled audit for a project must be an initial audit and must be a reasonable assurance engagement.
An initial audit report must be submitted with the first offsets report, where the offsets report is submitted between six months to two years into the crediting period for emissions avoidance projects, or five years into the crediting period for sequestration projects.
Where allowed for in the CFI Rule, a project may be eligible to report more frequently than every six months. In these cases, the initial audit must cover a period of at least six months and must be submitted with the final report covering the six month period.
The exceptions to this are the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) projects that were registered before the Emissions Reduction Fund came into effect and had previously submitted an audit report. These projects will be required to submit a minimum of three additional audits at subsequent audit scope during the crediting period.
The number of scheduled audits will depend on the project size in terms of the average annual abatement expected to be generated. All projects will be required to submit an initial audit report, and depending on the amount of expected carbon abatement, projects will be required to submit two, three or five subsequent audit reports.
There are three types of unscheduled audits:
Subsequent audit reports must provide assurance that in all material respects, the offsets report(s) for the periods of time covered by the audit has been prepared in accordance with section 76 of the CFI Act. Where information regarding changes to a project’s compliance with eligibility or monitoring requirements has been notified with a offsets report, or with a previous unaudited offsets report, the scope of the subsequent audit will be increased to review those eligibility factors, although will not extend to reviewing previously assured eligibility criteria.
As circumstances may change over time, the Clean Energy Regulator expects any subsequent audits of a registered project to consider whether that project continues to meet the method requirements and continues to be carried out in accordance with the section 27 declaration (see section 27 of the CFI Act).
In all circumstances, audits will be required to test the legal right of the participant to undertake the project.
Auditors must be aware that, for aggregated projects under the Emissions Reduction Fund, the legal right over at least one or more specified sites or assets must be demonstrated to carry out that project at the time of project registration.
The information required to demonstrate the legal right to carry out the project varies depending on the role or position within the project.
Where consent is required to demonstrate legal right, evidence provided to the Clean Energy Regulator must include the following information:
It is noted that where consents were not available at eligibility and relevant to the first offsets report, the initial audit will cover whether the information provided demonstrates legal right.
An initial audit report must note that legal right has been tested.
If there is any change or addition to the participant’s legal right to carry out the project at any time after the first offsets report, the Clean Energy Regulator must be notified and a subsequent audit will cover whether the information provided demonstrates legal right since the change occurred.
Again, it must be noted in the subsequent audit report that legal right has been tested, including over additional sites for aggregated projects.
The table below outlines the evidence required to be registered as a participant.
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In providing reasonable assurance opinions over projects, auditors must refer to the relevant methods, explanatory statements and method guidance. The method determinations can be complex and each poses its own technical questions that a reasonable assurance engagement needs to address. The determinations are also subject to periodic change and auditors need to ensure they are accessing the most recent version of them.
Information regarding the determinations is available under
Emissions Reduction Fund. Additional guidance related to specific methods may also be provided on the website. It is suggested that audit team leaders refer to such guidance, if available, prior to conducting an audit.
The Clean Energy Regulator may initiate an assurance engagement or agreed-upon procedures engagement (verification) on one or more aspects of a project participant’s compliance with the CFI Act or associated provisions for compliance or monitoring purposes.
While the subject matter of these engagements is at the Clean Energy Regulator’s discretion, the main Emissions Reduction Fund compliance requirements relate to whether the project activity conforms to the applicable method, including unit entitlement calculators, data collection, monitoring, reporting and record keeping, and other legislative requirements.
The table below outlines the main features of audits of Emissions Reduction Fund projects.
CFI Act, sections 13 and 76 CFI Rule, Part 6, Division 3Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) (Audit Thresholds) Instrument 2015 (CFI Audit Thresholds Instrument) Applicable standards:
Only some components of ASAE 3410 will be relevant. Auditors should use this standard as guidance.
Reasonable assurance engagement report in accordance with the NGER Audit Determination, submitted with an application for an abatement statement (formerly known as a certificate of entitlement) for an Emissions Reduction Fund registered project and with lodgement of an offsets report.
The audit team leader must be a registered greenhouse and energy auditor, Category 2.
Scheme participant‘s offsets report and application for Australian carbon credit units.
Compliance of project with:
Audit covers the period specified at section 74 of the CFI Rule. Project operated and implemented in accordance with section 27 declaration.
Project in accordance with relevant methodology determination. Participant meets requirements of relevant methodology determination under subsection 106(3) of the CFI Act.
Offsets report prepared in accordance with section 76 of the CFI Act.
CFI Act requirements, where the project or proponent ‘must’ do something in relation to the claiming of ACCUs. This would exclude anything required of the regulator, and the auction or compliance components of the act. Auditors should not necessarily test compliance with each specific element of the CFI Act but should be aware of the elements when performing their risk assessment. As a minimum, auditors should be aware of:
Relevant methods for:
Scheme participant’s abatement or sequestration number and whether the offsets report(s) has been prepared in accordance with section 76 of the CFI Act.
Where there is a previously unaudited change in a project, for example a change relating to eligibility requirements, monitoring requirements, scope or location of the project, the continued compliance of the project with:
Number of subsequent audits is in accordance with section 75 of the CFI Rule and the CFI Audit Thresholds Instrument.
Offsets report prepared in accordance with section 76 of the CFI Act.
Changes to the project are reported in accordance with section 76 of the CFI Rule.
CFI Act requirements, including notification and record keeping.
Relevant methods for:
The project’s abatement number and whether the offsets report has been prepared in accordance with section 76 of the CFI Act.
Offsets report prepared in accordance with section 76 of the CFI Act. CFI Act requirements, including notification and record keeping.
Relevant methods for:
The matter in relation to which the reasonable assurance conclusion was not given has been appropriately addressed and the project has operated and been implemented in accordance with:
Offsets report prepared in accordance with section 76 of the CFI Act. Compliance of the project with:
Any other aspect of the project required by the Clean Energy Regulator.
Note: An individual audit opinion must be provided for each individual project. A single audit opinion should not cover multiple projects to ensure appropriate levels of assurance have been given for each project or audit. Multiple projects may be listed on a single report, however the opinion must only cover one project at a time.
safeguard mechanism ensures that emissions reductions purchased through the Emissions Reduction Fund are not offset by significant increases in emissions above business-as-usual levels elsewhere in the economy. It does this by encouraging large businesses not to increase their emissions above emissions baselines the agency sets.
Facilities whose total amount of covered emissions exceed the safeguard threshold, which is currently 100 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide or equivalent, must keep their emissions at or below a baseline set by the Clean Energy Regulator.
Emissions baselines represent the reference point against which future emissions performance are measured under the safeguard mechanism.
Baselines are set in different ways depending on whether the facility is new, the facility’s industry sector and the productive outputs of the facility.
A baseline may be adjusted to accommodate increased production, natural resource variability or other circumstances where the current baseline is not representative of future business-as-usual emissions performance for the facility.
Responsible emitters who reasonably expect their facility emissions to exceed the baseline have a number of options available. For example, a responsible emitter may purchase Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) and surrender them to offset the excess emissions or generate their own ACCUs by carrying out a project under the Emissions Reduction Fund. They may also apply for multi-year monitoring period, a calculated baseline or access other management options.
The safeguard mechanism is administered through the NGER scheme and is designed to minimise additional mandatory reporting requirements. As well as the requirement for emissions to remain below the baseline, safeguard facilities are subject to the usual reporting and recordkeeping requirements of the NGER scheme.
The NGER Audit Determination applies to all safeguard mechanism audits.
Safeguard mechanism guidance material is available.
The table below outlines the main features of audits under the safeguard mechanism.
National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (Safeguard Mechanism) Rule 2015 (the Safeguard Rule)NGER Audit Determination NGER Act NGER Regulations NGER Audit Determination Applicable standards:
The matters to be audited and covered by the audit report are whether, in all material respects:
Audit conducted in accordance with the NGER Audit Determination.
Audit conducted in accordance with the NGER Audit determination.
For a facility that is not a landfill facility, the matters to be audited and covered by the audit report are whether, in all material respects:
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The Clean Energy Regulator is a Government body responsible for accelerating carbon abatement for Australia.