The Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water (DCCEEW) is consulting on options to reform the Safeguard Mechanism to help industry reduce emissions in line with Australia's climate targets.
The Safeguard Mechanism requires Australia's largest greenhouse gas emitters to keep their net emissions below an emissions limit (a baseline). The Australian Government proposes:
Visit DCCEEW’s consultation hub for more information on these reforms and the consultation activities.
Safeguard facilities are required to keep their net emissions at or below their emissions baseline.
If a facility's emissions exceed or are expected to exceed its baseline, the facility operator has several options available to manage the excess emissions, including:
There is a range of enforcement options available to the Clean Energy Regulator where a responsible emitter fails to take one of the above actions. These options include entering an enforceable undertaking, issuing an infringement notice, or initiating court proceedings to seek an injunction or civil penalties.
Calculated baselines allow facilities to establish production variables and emissions intensity values that can then be used in production adjusted baselines.
Production adjusted baselines typically follow on from a calculated or benchmark baseline and allow facilities to update the baseline for actual production.
Safeguard facilities can surrender ACCUs to offset their emissions and stay below their baseline. Both Kyoto and non-Kyoto ACCUs can be used as offsets under the safeguard mechanism.
The responsible emitter can either
purchase ACCUs from other businesses, or generate their own ACCUs for abatement under the
Emissions Reduction Fund.
ACCUs will be subtracted from the facility's net emissions number in 2 circumstances:
In these circumstances, the net emissions number of the
person who was the responsible emitter at the time the ACCUs were issued, will be decreased by the number of ACCUs delivered.
To avoid counting offsets twice, a facility that is both covered by safeguard and a participant in the Emissions Reduction Fund will have ACCUs it has generated added to its net emissions number. When the facility surrenders ACCUs, they will be subtracted from its emissions number. This way, each tonne of abatement represented by an ACCU is only counted once.
Surrender of ACCUs for the purpose of reducing a net emissions number can be performed from any Australian National Registry of Emissions Units (ANREU) account. This means that the responsible emitter for the facility does not need their own account – any person with an ANREU account will be able to surrender units on their behalf. Each year, after reports have been submitted under the
National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007, the Clean Energy Regulator will contact all responsible emitters that are in an excess emissions situation. Those responsible emitters that have their own ANREU account will receive a ‘surrender initiation notification’ in their ANREU account. They can use this notification to start the safeguard surrender process. Those entities that do not have an ANREU account will need to advise the Clean Energy Regulator which ANREU account the ‘surrender initiation notification’ should be sent to. Receipt of a ‘surrender initiation notification’ does not compel the responsible emitter to surrender ACCUs. Surrender of ACCUs is one of several excess emissions management options available under the safeguard mechanism.
To help manage excess emissions, safeguard facilities may apply for a multi-year monitoring period using the
Documentasset:CER-NGER-011 Application for a multi-year monitoring period under the safeguard mechanism form.
A multi-year monitoring period allows a facility to exceed its baseline in one year, so long as average net emissions over a 2 or 3 year period are below the average baseline for that period.
The monitoring period can cover 2 to 3 years, giving businesses sufficient time to implement emissions reduction projects, acquire ACCUs or help capture natural peaks and troughs in emissions.
Further details are available on
multi-year monitoring periods
Facilities whose excess emissions are the direct result of exceptional circumstances, such as a natural disaster or criminal activity, may be exempted from safeguard obligations for a defined period.
We will consider whether reasonable steps were taken to mitigate the risk of excess emissions arising from the exceptional circumstances, both before and after its occurrence.
Exemptions will not apply to events that reflect normal market dynamics or as a mechanism for addressing drivers of emissions variation, such as changes to price, production inputs and outputs, or maintenance.
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The Clean Energy Regulator is a Government body responsible for accelerating carbon abatement for Australia.