Climate Change Authority's review of the ACCU Scheme
Australia’s Climate Change Authority (CCA) released its fourth review of the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2021 – also known as the ACCU Scheme - on the 18th of December.
The review found the scheme is fundamentally well designed with robust governance, compliance and enforcement structures, while recognising that changes are needed to ensure that it remains fit for purpose.
In making its recommendations, the CCA advises the government builds on its response to the Independent Review of ACCUs (the ‘Chubb Review’) and take further steps to improve the transparency, integrity and effectiveness of the scheme.
As such, there is close alignment between CCA’s recommendations and those of the Chubb Review, with key aspects of the latest recommendations already under consideration.
The CCA has made 15 recommendations in total to help align the scheme with international carbon developments and best practices.
Here is a brief overview:
- 1. Projects to transition to method variations and updated tools within two years of their making, unless advised otherwise by the Carbon Abatement Integrity Commitee.
- 2. When amending the ‘newness requirement’ to focus on new abatement rather than new activity (in line with Chubb Review), ensure methods continue to deduct abatement resulting from historic levels of activity.
- 3. More frequent reviews of the additionality of methods, with all assessments published.
- 4. Require project baselines to account for the risk of a proportion of project activity becoming non-additional over time, and climate-driven changes in climate stocks.
- 5. Publish all information used to determine net abatement from projects offsets reports, adverse audit findings, and easy-to-understand material on the evidence base, assumption and limitations of method tools.
- 6. Make project permanence information readily available, allow projects to vary their permanence from 25 to 100 years, and consider further means to increase average storage duration under the scheme.
- 7. Regular and transparent reviews of the effectiveness of key integrity mechanisms, for example the risk of reversal buffer and permanence period discount to ensure they are well calibrated.
- 8. Include the risk of market leakage in method assessments, regularly assess this risk during the life of a method and publish these assessments.
- 9. Create and apply an evidence-based approach to prioritising methods for development and publish information about the approach and its application.
- 10. Enable non-carbon benefits to be reported as ACCU attributes subject to meeting quality standards, and support First Nations people to develop a self-determined approach for verifying benefits flowing to their communities.
- 11. Amend the Act to ensure project proponents seek free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from Native Title holders and, when supporting the application of FPIC (in line with Chubb Review), extend this support to include Native Title claimants and other service providers that advise people seeking and giving consent.
- 12. Enable better participation of First Nations people in the ACCU Scheme by building equitable access to the carbon market, engaging First Nations representatives to provide advice on the scheme and providing start-up funding for First Nations led projects.
- 13. Amend the Act to expand the role of regional Natural Resource Management (NRM) plans and organisations to inform the planning of ACCU projects and help mitigate the risk of adverse impacts on regions.
- 14. Support the establishment of a carbon dioxide removal industry by identifying and promoting new solutions, amending the Act to include engineered removals, calling for method development proposals and providing support for the development of new engineered methods.
- 15. Make information about the vintage of ACCUs readily available through a mechanism such as the forthcoming Unit Register.
Learn more here: 2023 Review of the Carbon Credits Act 2011