The Australian Government is seeking feedback on how to implement recommendations about improving transparency of the Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCU) Scheme. 

Our submission draws on Climateworks’ in-depth review of the literature related to offsets to identify appropriate principles for the use and design of offsets.

It also draws on our analytical and modelling work on the scale and pace of change required for decarbonisation, and our analysis that shows that decarbonisation solutions are available in all sectors.

Our submission focuses on Section 1 of the ACCU Review Discussion Paper: Improving governance and transparency.

Considering the above elements, Climateworks recommends that the Department makes a number of changes to the ACCU Scheme Principles to enhance their integrity:

  • Amend the existing principles to capture key elements that are currently not specified:
    • Integrity: clarify that the rigorous approach to design, independent appraisal and assurance includes robust quantification of emissions reductions
    • Transparency: specify that the transparency Principle pertains to all relevant information, including making data publicly available so that emissions calculations, environmental impacts, and emissions reduction calculations can be verified by third parties
    • Equitable access, participation, and benefit sharing: highlight that clear, accurate and accessible information is essential to ensuring the integrity of offset creation, as is free prior and informed consent for all peoples potentially impacted by a decision
    • Environmental and regional sustainability: specify that carbon abatement projects aim to enhance the ecological, cultural and agricultural value of the land
    • Respect for First Nations: include a requirement of free, prior, and informed consent when engaging with First Nations Australians; the provision of both shared economic benefits and social benefits for community from the ACCU Scheme; a requirement that cultural heritage be preserved and protected; a requirement that land and environmental protection plans should be developed collaboratively with First Nations communities where applicable, and that respectful engagement may require regular and ongoing cultural competency training.
  • Add further principles to to enhance the integrity of existing ACCU Scheme Principles:
    • Prioritise emissions reductions and optimise the use of offsets
    • Tracking via an electronic registry
    • Address the risk of lack of permanence of biological removals.
  • Climateworks also recommends that the Department sets an expectation that all ACCU Scheme Principles will need to be met when making decisions, unless it is otherwise shown why they are not applicable.
  • Climateworks recommends that disclosure also be strengthened to enhance ACCU scheme transparency.