(Australian Associated Press)
Australia’s voluntary emissions reporting scheme has begun after being workshopped with companies.
Grocery giant Coles and oil and gas major Woodside are among 11 large Australian businesses opting into the new Corporate Emissions Reduction Transparency (CERT) report launched on Tuesday.
Federal Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said companies in natural gas, mining, property, finance and retail have indicated they will opt into the CERT report.
He called for more Australian companies to join the scheme to show they are accountable for the promises they make.
Clean Energy Regulator chair David Parker said the reporting will give a clearer picture of actions companies are taking to reduce their net emissions.
“There are growing expectations by investors, regulators, supply chains and customers for greater accountability and transparency around how companies are addressing climate-related risks,” Mr Parker said.
He said companies could showcase their achievements using trusted data that is open to public scrutiny.
“Companies that participate in the CERT report will be viewed as leading the way,” Mr Parker said.
Despite Australia being challenged over its emissions reduction targets at the recent COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Mr Taylor said Australia was a world leader in public reporting of emissions data and consistently “meets and beats” its targets.
Countries, including Australia, must follow international guidelines when reporting emissions and submit greenhouse gas inventory data annually to the United Nations.
“Australia reports emissions data for every sector and every gas, every quarter,” Mr Taylor said.
Mandatory National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) reporting under the UN requirements will continue for Australian companies.
Climate Council spokesman Tim Baxter said federal government is required to be transparent about its emissions progress but that doesn’t equate to a good performance.
“Corporate emissions transparency is important, but transparency can only go so far,” he said.
“It is certainly no substitute for actually reducing fossil fuel extraction and use.”
The voluntary CERT report adds another layer of data on emissions reduction targets, renewable energy targets, carbon offsetting efforts and renewable energy procurement that can be accessed by the public.
Business groups say the new scheme will support Australia’s carbon market.
Other organisations remain concerned that indirect emissions, often the most significant source of pollution for most sectors, are not included.
The so-called Scope 3 emissions, sometimes called value chain emissions, come from goods and services that are produced and traded across and between economies.
Globally, financial regulators – including in Australia – are moving towards more scrutiny of indirect emissions and how to count them.
Companies that opt-in to the new scheme will report their net emissions in a standardised way.
Mr Parker expected CERT to help companies report under popular international frameworks, including the requirements of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) on governance of risks.
“It provides a useful contribution to corporate sustainability reporting and will support participating companies’ climate-related disclosures,” Mr Parker said.
Interested companies have until 30 January 2022 to make a final decision on opting in.