OPERATIONS

Emissions reporting to go ahead, Canberra ready or not

BIG polluters will start reporting their greenhouse gas emissions from July 1 next year following a decision by state environment ministers.

Emissions reporting to go ahead, Canberra ready or not

Under the agreement, companies that directly release more than 5000 tonnes of emissions, or more than 25,000 tonnes through their electricity use, will for the first time be forced to report their greenhouse gases.

The figures will be added to a national list of pollutants that will be made public from 2010.

The decision was made during an Environmental Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) meeting on the weekend.

Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull requested that the council to wait for a purpose-built federal reporting scheme.

But the states were concerned a federal scheme would take too long in light of the Australian Government's 180 degrees reversal on emissions trading following this month’s task group report.

EPA Victoria pollution expert Geoff Latimer told PNN’s sister publication EnvironmentalManagementNews.net that the 2008 deadline would give companies enough time to avoid price shock when national emissions trading is finally introduced.

“Starting the reporting now will give business certainty that they will be required to report. The transitional costs will not be significant,” Latimer said.

Also, he said starting greenhouse gas reporting from July 1 next year will give Australian business a head start on emissions trading, establish accurate reporting and avoid price shocks similar to those experienced with the implementation of the European scheme.

"It will allow business to get a better idea of the framework. It will prevent pricing shocks because emissions reports will already be in the market place [when a trading scheme is introduced]," he said.

"We are as good as two years ahead of an emissions trading scheme which is an ideal position for reporting so people don't make unfortunate judgments and decisions."

Last week, Prime Minister John Howard wrote to all premiers and chief ministers urging them not to add greenhouse gases to the list of pollutants.

In the letter, he said the move was unnecessary because the Council of Australian Governments had agreed in April to "establish a single national purpose-built greenhouse and energy reporting system, with the detailed design to be settled after the task group on emissions trading had reported at the end of May".

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