A CO2 graphic over a man on a laptop.

The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) has released Carbon Estimation Area (CEA) data following the Independent Review of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCU Review). 

A CEA is the area within a project where the project or carbon management activity takes place. CEAs are the area where carbon will be stored, and for which Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) are issued.

CEA boundaries are fluid rather than fixed across the life of a project, a deliberate design feature of the ACCU Scheme. For example, areas that don’t respond to project activities under areas-based methods will need to be removed if they are no longer eligible to receive ACCUs.

The ACCU Review, led by former Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb AC, concluded that the Australian Government’s ACCU Scheme is essentially sound, incorporating mechanisms for regular review and improvement, and recommended some changes including to improve transparency and increase confidence in the scheme. 

In particular, the Human-Induced Regeneration method is sound as it meets the Offsets Integrity Standards and is administered by a robust regulatory framework.

CER Chair and Chief Executive Officer, David Parker, said recent changes in legislation mean that CEAs can now be publicly released to provide further transparency in the carbon market.

“We’re very pleased to release the carbon estimation areas for ACCU Scheme projects. This is an important step towards a more informed market and increased trust and confidence in the drawdown of CO² at scale within Australia’s path to net zero,” Mr Parker said. 

“The ACCU Scheme is supported by the CER’s upfront assurance framework which ensures ACCUs represent real abatement. Our ‘preventative’ controls involve careful checking supported by independent audits and use of sophisticated tools when projects are registered and before ACCUs are issued.”

The CEA data published will not be sufficient to make a judgement about the performance of ACCU Scheme projects. In most cases, the CEAs will not provide insight into the changed land management practices or readily show how much abatement has been achieved, particularly at the early stages of a project. 

The examination of geospatial satellite (GIS) images of CEAs is often not sufficient to determine whether projects are complying with the method and other relevant scheme legislation.

Confirmation of the abatement outcomes of project activity requires detection by direct measurement, site visits, drone footage or geolocated photographs. Unless provided voluntarily by proponents, the CER cannot currently release information gathered through these processes due to legislative secrecy provisions.

To address this, the CER is enabling proponents to voluntarily provide additional contextual information to support the publication of their CEAs alongside the Register for the ACCU Scheme.

“We are pleased to support the provision of this additional information on behalf of project proponents. Projects can share their stories to help inform the market and increase transparency,” Mr Parker said. 

For more information about the carbon market click here.

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