The newly elected Labor government has been keen to show
that Australia is serious about tackling global warming. One of
Prime Minister Rudd's first actions was for Australia
to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
In line with Kyoto, Government policy now stipulates a
Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) of 20% emissions
reduction by 2020, rising to a 60% reduction by 2050. The
fiscal cost of meeting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets
will inevitably be passed down to businesses in the form of
compulsory accountability for energy usage.
Presently there is no legal requirement for property owners
of existing buildingsto be held responsible for the energy
output of a building; such measures as "Green Star"
(Green Building Council of Australia) building ratings
arevoluntary. However each State has enforced policy setting
minimum energyrequirements that apply to major refurbishments
of both residential and commercial buildings, using a range of
green ratings systems. A Federal push for consolidation of
requirements for property development seems likely. For
environmentally protective legislation to be successful, the
onus of responsibility will shift onto the energy-using
commercial tenants and by default, the building owner.
The Australian Government is establishing an emissions
trading scheme as part of an effective framework for meeting
the climate change challenge. Work should progress on
developing a national emissions trading scheme starting no
later than 2010 with the detailed design finalised by the end
Key features of the system are:
a single online entry point for reporting based on the
Online System for Comprehensive Activity Reporting (OSCAR)
from 1/7/2008 onwards for companies with energy
production/use or GHG emissions above certain
a standard data set and nationally consistent
methodologies for reporting;
public disclosure of company level greenhouse gas
emissions and energy data;
consistent and comparable data provided to government for
policy- making;" secure data storage; and
reporting thresholds that avoid capturing small
The Australian Government has also announced that they will
allow an immediate tax deduction for expenditure incurred in
establishing Carbon Sink Forests until 2012. Any expenditure
after 2012 will be depreciated at 7%.
The Australian property industry will need to take a
leadership position when tackling global warming. It is
important to plan now to future proof buildings or else face
the risk of a decline in property values.
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.
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