Australia: Legally Green: CPRS, Sea Rise Policy, Wind Farm Development and Carbon Offset

Legal Update

Just over two months since the dust settled on the last minute all night negotiations which went into making the Copenhagen Accord, viewpoints on the outcome of the Copenhagen climate change talks have been extremely mixed. On the positive side, the Copenhagen Accord has been described as an "important political tool", "vital first step", or in the words of President Obama, a "meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough". On the negative side, however, the descriptions have ranged from "climate change scepticism in action", "fiasco", "death warrant" or more graphically, a "colossal pile of fudge"! Regardless of which side of the fence you stand, it is fair to say most people would agree that the outcome of Copenhagen did not live up to expectations.

Our legal updates provide detail on the contents of the Accord, and the other developments at Copenhagen. If you would like more detail on any aspect of the negotiations or the outcome, please contact a member of our Climate Change team.

Putting Copenhagen to one side we are pleased to bring you the first edition of Legally Green for 2010. We hope you enjoy this edition of Legally Green. Please let us know if you have any feedback or comments on our content.

The Australian NSW Government Sea Level Rise Policy Statement: What Does It Mean for Local Councils and Developers?

By Rebecca Hoare, Elisa de Wit and Felicity Rourke
In the November 2009 issue of Legally Green we reported on the release of the NSW Sea Level Rise Policy Statement (Policy Statement) by the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW), which adopts sea level rise planning benchmarks (Benchmarks) for an increase above the 1990 mean sea levels of 40cm by 2050 and 90cm by 2100. We also noted the Department of Planning's release of the draft NSW Coastal Planning Guideline: Adapting to Sea Level Rise and the two draft guides released by DECCW to assist councils in preparing and adapting to rising sea levels. A response to submissions received on the guideline and these guides is expected in early 2010.

Australian CPRS Domestic Offsets Program

By Rebecca Hoare, Elisa de Wit and Felicity Rourke
In November 2009, the Australian Government announced modifications to the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) to create a domestic offsets program (Program) (see our Legal Update 24 November 2009). These modifications were put forward as proposed amendments to the pre-existing CPRS bills. Under the Program, eligible domestic offset projects will generate free Australian emissions units (AEUs) that can be used by liable entities to offset their liabilities under the CPRS.

Is a consistent approach to wind farm development in Australia in the wind?

By Rebecca Hoare, Elisa de Wit and Felicity Rourke
In April 2008 the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) of Australia requested its Standing Committee to report on ways to address impediments to responsible wind farm development. In November 2008 the EPHC released the report Impediments to Environmental and Socially Responsible Wind Farm Development. The report identified a lack of consistency between jurisdictions as to agreed frameworks and methods for assessing issues unique to wind farm development as the most significant impediment. The report recommended the creation of a consistent set of agreed best practice guidelines.

The Independent Hawke Review of the EPBC Act - Australia

By Rebecca Hoare, Elisa de Wit and Felicity Rourke
Anyone who deals with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) will know that these are appropriate descriptors. So, it is not surprising then that the Final Report of the Independent Hawke Review of the EPBC Act (Hawke Review) has reached the same conclusion as those of us in practice.

National Carbon Offset Standard

By Rebecca Hoare, Elisa de Wit and Felicity Rourke
Many organisations now seek to voluntarily offset their carbon emissions in an effort to become more 'carbon neutral' and in recent years there has been a proliferation of carbon neutral claims and carbon footprint calculation methodologies. However, the lack of a standardised approach to carbon offset calculations has meant that the veracity of 'carbon neutral' claims is difficult to gauge.

Australian climate change practice

By Rebecca Hoare, Elisa de Wit and Felicity Rourke
The Australian climate change practice applies expertise from commercial, environmental, finance, project, construction and tax law disciplines to support business to understand and plan ahead for climate change and carbon reduction.

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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Elisa de Wit
Felicity Rourke
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