Australia: Australia's Carbon Pricing Scheme

Last Updated: 10 October 2011
Article by Tony J. Wassaf and Arv Sreedhar

The Carbon Pricing Scheme, to be implemented in Australia via the Clean Energy Bill 2011 (Cth) and 12 additional pieces of supporting legislation, was passed by the House of Representatives on October 12, 2011 and is likely to pass in the Senate by November. The scheme will operate like an emissions trading scheme with a fixed carbon permit price that transitions into a cap and trade scheme after three years. It consists of two phases—a fixed-price phase commencing July 1, 2012, followed by a floating-price phase commencing automatically on July 1, 2015.

In the fixed-price phase, the carbon price will commence at $23/tCO2-e, indexed annually at a real rate of 2.5 percent per year. In the floating price phase, an annual cap will exist on the number of carbon permits to be issued in each year, and the price of those permits will be determined by the market forces of supply and demand. However, for the first three years of this phase, there will be a carbon permit floor price of $15 (increasing by 4 percent per year in real terms) and a carbon permit ceiling price of $20 above the expected international price (increasing by 5 percent per year in real terms). This price collar will minimize any price volatility that may occur upon the switch to the full market trading of carbon permits in this phase.

The scheme will cover the emission of four of the six Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and perfluorocarbons), from the stationary energy (e.g., electricity generation), industrial processing (e.g., aluminum smelting), fugitive emissions (except decommissioned coal mines), and emissions from landfill waste and waste water treatment (except emissions from legacy waste). Natural gas retailers will be liable for the greenhouse gas emissions embodied in the gas that they supply. Transport fuels will be excluded from the carbon pricing scheme, as will emissions from the agricultural and land sectors (including fisheries and forestry).

An entity will be liable under the carbon pricing scheme if it has operational control of a facility that emits more than 25,000tCO2-epa in greenhouse gas emissions per year, and will be required to acquire and surrender emission units equivalent to its annual emissions. Facilities such as coal mines, power stations, smelters, and natural gas processing plants will be affected. A liable entity may be able to transfer that liability either to another member of its corporate group or to an entity outside its corporate group that has financial control over that facility.

If a person is a liable entity in a financial year, the person will have a unit shortfall (and be liable to pay a unit shortfall charge) if the person does not, before the end of the next February 1, surrender a number of eligible emissions units equal to the person's emissions number for the year. A liable entity may pay any unit shortfall charge imposed by either surrendering the requisite number of eligible emissions units or by paying the charge in cash. A entity's carbon liability for the year is calculated with reference to the applicable carbon price at the time and the emissions exceeding the threshold value.

The legislation also allows for emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries and coal-fired power generators to receive assistance to offset their carbon liabilities, by way of free carbon units.

What You Should Do

Liable entities will need to consider how they allocate liability under the carbon pricing scheme within their corporate group or within the unincorporated joint ventures of which they may be members. This will require a consideration of both statutory and contractual liability and cost transfer and allocation mechanisms.

Entities that supply or purchase emissions-intensive or energy-intensive goods or services will need to consider whether their existing contractual arrangements provide for the pass-through of costs associated with the carbon pricing scheme and will need to take into account the allocation of such costs when negotiating future contracts. It is highly desirable that contractual provisions for the pass-through of carbon pricing scheme costs are tailored to the particular transaction and include appropriate incentives designed to minimize those costs.

Directors of liable entities should put in place strategies to manage their companies' liabilities under the carbon pricing mechanism, including by implementing appropriate purchasing and hedging strategies and through the implementation of effective compliance programs.

Listed companies should consider whether the carbon pricing scheme triggers an obligation under applicable stock exchange rules or corporations legislation to disclose to the market the likely impact of the carbon pricing scheme on their operations. This is equally applicable to entities listed outside of Australia, which may have a subsidiary operating in Australia that may be liable under the carbon pricing scheme.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions