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How government can support business on our decarbonisation journey

2 November 2021

The 2021 United Nations Climate Conference (COP26) presents an opportunity for Australian business, civil society, and subnational leaders to jointly advocate for credible climate policies, including nationally consistent standards to drive private-sector ambition. While many of Australia’s corporate actors are demonstrating climate ambition, the scale and pace of ambition must be increased to decarbonise at the pace required. Based on a qualitative analysis of Australia’s climate policy framework for private-sector actors, namely the proposed Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency (CERT) report, an addition to the existing framework for the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme (NGERS), this policy brief outlines a set of policy recommendations that will see improvements to the quality of emissions reporting and the broader climate and sustainability policy landscape for private actors across the economy.

Policy Recommendations

  1. The Australian Government must begin to ratchet down baselines under the Safeguard Mechanism now.
  2. The Australian Government must introduce its own Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), or similar, to price carbon and support the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme (NGERS) and Safeguard Mechanism in incentivising innovation and achieving rapid decarbonisation of the economy.
  3. The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) must consider scope 3 emissions in the Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency (CERT) report for voluntary reporting and abatement commitment-setting, to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in decarbonising.
  4. That the CER ensures the CERT fairly captures the ambition of reporters by providing sensitive and inclusive categories to report against. 
  5. If CCS technology becomes accredited for issuance of ACCUs, they must be reported and displayed separately by the CERT. 
  6. The CERT must ask companies to report on the closure and rehabilitation status of old mine sites and monitor progress on rehabilitation. 
  7. If the CER is not best placed to deliver the CERT in a transparent manner that encourages data sharing and utility, then another statutory body should be created for this purpose. 
  8. The Australian Government must install a credible federal Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) to ensure decision making on sustainability is fair and accountable. 
  9. The Australian Government, the business sector and civil society must acknowledge the need to agree upon standardised metrics for corporate financial reporting on climate risk and opportunity. 
  10. The Australian Government must establish a new joint initiative between the CER and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), to deliver PR9. 
  11. The Australian Government must establish a centralised national accounting system that facilitates progression towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to improve data shareability and utility across all sectors of the economy. 
  12. The Australian Government must not introduce policy to extend or enable the commercial viability of fossil fuels and work to rapidly but fairly remove existing support for the fossil fuel industry. 
  13. The Australian Government must pursue bilateral trade agreements to secure new markets for lower- and zero-carbon Australian exports and to assist other countries in decarbonising. 
  14. That the Australian Government strengthens engagement with business and other governments on decarbonisation technologies, to support us in becoming a renewable energy powerhouse. 
  15. All Australian Governments must use their significant purchasing and policy power to send market signals for innovative, low carbon-embodied materials (manufactured with renewable energy) from the Australian building and construction industry.
  16. That the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) must not finance the continuity of existing or creation of new fossil fuel projects, such as fossil-fuel hydrogen and CCS for cleaning fossil fuels.  

The full policy brief is accessible here. This brief was produced by Bethany Richards on behalf of the Corporate & Finance Working Group