Emissions reporting mandatory, but no heavy stick yet

Big fuel users now required to report emissions, but Department offers grace period for business

By Michael House | September 2, 2009

Large-scale transport operators are now required to report emissions to Canberra, but the Department won't be taking a heavy-handed approach to enforcement just yet.

Under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) scheme, businesses that consume more than 2.59 million litres of diesel (100 terajoules) in a year are required to register and report emissions.

Businesses that use over 500 terajoules, equivalent to 12.95 million litres of fuel, are required to report under a higher threshold from this week.

To date 600 corporations have registered with the Department of Climate Change, of which 5 percent are transport-orientated companies.

While heavy fines ranging from $11,000 to $220,000 per day apply to companies which do not register their carbon usage, the Department says it will take more of an educational approach to these companies during the first periods of the scheme.

"New legislation can present challenges, and this is why the Department is taking a facilitative approach to working with businesses to meet their requirements under the Act," a spokesperson says.

"The Department is encouraging companies to make their best endeavours to comply in the first year. If businesses have any difficulty, we want those companies to let us know so we can see where their challenges are and assist them to resolve those issues."

Until this week a voluntary reporting scheme was being used, which the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) believes should limit problems with the introduction of mandatory reporting.

"In some form, the reporting system has been utilised by industry members in previous years so transferring to mandatory reporting should be relatively smooth," an ATA spokeswoman says.

The ATA has also recommended companies get in touch with their lawyers if they are unsure of any requirements due to the severity of fines and penalties possible.

"Significant penalties apply to those caught out. Companies need to take their reporting obligations seriously and seek professional help if unsure," the ATA says.

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