Register of CFI Offsets Projects is a web-based arrangement published and maintained by the Australian Clean Energy Regulator under the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011 (CFI Act).
An eligible offsets project is a project that involves activities that achieve greenhouse gas abatement and has been declared by the Clean Energy Regulator as an eligible offsets project under section 27 of the CFI Act.
Pursuant to the information released by the Australian Clean Energy Regulator the Register:
- Lists certain information about each eligible offsets project (see section 168 of the CFI Act).
If a project is listed on the Register, you will know that the project has been declared to be an eligible offsets project under the CFI Act. On the contrary, if a project is not listed on the Register, the project has not been declared to be an eligible offsets project under the CFI Act, however, the Clean Energy Regulator may be currently assessing whether the project should be declared an eligible offsets project. Projects undergoing assessment are not listed on the Register.
- Can be used by buyers who wish to identify possible sources of Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs).
- Is a point of reference for people wanting to buy land that has a sequestration offsets project on it so they can factor into the sale price the potential costs and benefits of the project. This includes information on the type of project, the location, the number of Australian carbon credit units issued, whether any units have been relinquished or if that land has a carbon maintenance obligation in place.
The Register is available at: http://www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/Carbon-Farming-Initiative/Register-of-Offsets-Projects/Pages/default.aspx
It should however be noted that the information in the Register about a particular eligible offsets project could change at any time. A declaration that the project is an eligible offsets project might be varied or revoked by the Clean Energy Regulator in the circumstances specified by the CFI Act. For example, if the Clean Energy Regulator discovers that the information given by a person in connection with an eligible offsets project was false or misleading.
Information on the Register
The Register sets out the following information about each project:
• the name of the project, the project proponent and a description of the project. This identifying information is needed to distinguish between projects;
• the location of the project and the project area. This information is for conveyancing purposes and may be of general public interest. For example, regional bodies and state governments may have an interest in the monitoring the number and type of projects, as well as the amount of abatement they generate;
• the name of the applicable methodology determination used by the project;
• whether the project declaration has been made conditional on regulatory approvals being obtained prior to the end of the first crediting period;
• whether the project is consistent with the relevant regional natural resource management plan. This provision is to create an incentive for projects to be consistent with regional plans. For reputational reasons, buyers are less likely to want ACCUs from projects that are known to be inconsistent with regional plans;
• whether the project is subject to the voluntary automatic cancellation regime. This is so that consumers who have purchased services such as treeplanting services can readily identify that while the activity they have financed has been included in the scheme, it will not be double counted, and the proponent will not receive both ACCUs and the payment for the tree-planting service;
• if any Kyoto or non-Kyoto ACCUs have been issued for a project, the total number of ACCUs issued, the financial year in which they have been issued, and the person to whom they have been issued must be included on the Register;
• whether any ACCUs have been relinquished and whether the project is subject to a carbon maintenance obligation. This information is to assist with conveyancing. This information will tell someone who is interested in buying the land whether more ACCUs are likely to be issued for the area, how many ACCUs they would have to hand back if they wanted to remove carbon stores and whether the land is subject to a carbon maintenance obligation;
• if Kyoto ACCUs have been issued, how many have been exchanged for different Kyoto units. The Kyoto rules require information relating to Kyoto units to be published;
• whether the project is a joint implementation project. The Kyoto rules require this information to be published. If the project is a joint implementation project, other information that is specified in the regulations will also be published;
• information about environmental or community benefits of a project. This will assist buyers who have a preference, and are willing to pay a premium, for ACCUs issued for projects that generate particular co-benefits; and
• any other information about the project that the Administrator considers relevant.
The Register must also identify areas of land that were formerly project areas which are subject to carbon maintenance obligations, and set out the total number of ACCUs issued in relation to the project. This information will tell someone who is interested in buying the land whether they would have continuing obligations to maintain carbon stores or a positive obligation to restore carbon stores to the benchmark sequestration level.
Withholding information on the project
Project proponents can request that information about the project area not be included on the Register. This will allow the location of projects to be kept confidential, for example, where publication would pose security risks.
A request to withhold information about a project area must be in writing and in an approved form. The Administrator would approve the request if it was satisfied that publishing the information would substantially prejudice a proponent’s commercial interests and that this prejudice outweighs the public interest in publishing the information. There would be a significant public interest in publishing the project area for a sequestration offsets project because anyone wanting to take an interest in the project land would want to know the location of the project.
The Administrator will take all reasonable steps to make a decision about the request within 30 days and will advise the project proponent in writing if the request is refused. This provision is not intended to result in the invalidity of a decision made after that time but imposes a duty to take all reasonable steps to make the decision within that timeframe.
Information about relinquishment requirements
The Administrator must publish on their website information about relinquishment requirements, including the name of the person and the details of the relinquishment requirement.
This information is of relevance to the carbon market, which has a strong interest in the integrity of the scheme and whether particular abatement providers are complying with scheme obligations. Providing the public and potential carbon market buyers with information about relinquishment is likely to promote scheme compliance.
The Administrator will also indicate on their website whether:
• the person has relinquished ACCUs to meet a relinquishment requirement and the number of ACCUs relinquished;
• the relinquishment requirement is being reconsidered by the Administrator or by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and the outcome of these reviews; or
• a late penalty payment has been issued with respect to a relinquishment requirement and the details of the unpaid penalty amount.
These provisions are to ensure that public information about relinquishment is complete, and presents a fair and accurate picture of efforts by project proponents to comply with scheme obligations.
This information will also enable the Administrator to be made accountable for the quality of its decisions making and decision-making processes. It will show how many relinquishment notices the Administrator has been asked to reconsider, whether its decisions in relation to relinquishment are the subject of administrative appeal and whether the tribunal has upheld or amended the Administrator’s decisions.
Information about units
The Administrator is required to publish and keep up-to-date information about the number and characteristics of the ACCUs it has issued. This is to provide regular and accurate information to the market about the supply of different kinds of ACCUs and facilitate price discovery. Timely market information can help to make changes in the price of ACCUs more gradual and predictable. Publishing information about the characteristics of ACCUs is also intended to inform retail investors and to enable streamlining of product disclosure requirements under the Corporations Act 2001. As this information will be published and kept up to date, it will not be necessary for the Commonwealth to issue a product disclosure statement or prospectus in relation to ACCUs.
Specifically, the Administrator must publish on its website:
• the name of each person that receives ACCUs and the total number of credits issued, as soon as practical after the ACCUs are issued;
• the name of each person that voluntarily cancels ACCUs and the total number of credits cancelled as soon as practical after carbon credits are issued; • a quarterly report setting out the total number of credits issued over the quarter; and • an up-to-date statement setting out the characteristics of the units issued.
In conclusion, the Register will inevitably be a day-to-day tool for every person professionally engaged in ACCU dealings.