Climate Change Regulation in Australia: Opt-in Scheme for Liquid Fuels

What’s Happened?
The Clean Energy Act 2011 (Cth) contemplates the creation of an ‘Opt-in Scheme’ for liquid fuels.
Regulations for the Opt-in Scheme came into effect on 10 December 2012. The Scheme will operate from 1 July 2013 onwards.
The Scheme will allow a person to apply to the Clean Energy Regulator to be declared a designated opt-in person in relation to amounts of liquid fuels.
A person so declared is a liable entity in relation to those amounts, and takes on that liability instead of paying an equivalent carbon price under fuel tax and excise legislation.
Who needs to know?

Anyone who is a large user of liquid fuel – or who is a member of a GST group, or a participant in a GST joint venture, which is a large user of liquid fuel – should consider using the Opt-in Scheme.

Lodgement Deadline?

Applications for designation in financial year 2013-2014 need to be lodged with the Regulator on or before 31 March 2013.

Implications

Use of the Opt-in Scheme may yield cash-flow benefits. Under the Scheme, carbon liability only needs to be paid periodically: in ‘flexible charge’ financial years, by the end of the following February; and in ‘fixed charged’ financial years, 75% by the end of June and the remainder by the following February. Outside the Scheme, carbon liability is ‘inbuilt’ under the fuel tax and excise legislation.

Use of the Opt-in Scheme may also yield lower compliance costs by providing the opportunity to acquit liability using potentially lower priced emissions units (such as carbon credit units generated under the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011(Cth), and eligible international emissions units).

The Scheme may be of particular benefit to the mining industry.

This article was written by John Taberner, Consultant, Sydney and Michael Voros, Special Counsel, Perth.

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