Court option … Clean Energy chair, Chloe Munro.THE chairwoman of the Clean Energy Regulator has warned that she is prepared to go to court to ensure the approximately 300 biggest greenhouse gas emitters, mostly businesses and councils, meet their obligations under the carbon tax legislation.
Chloe Munro also noted that companies were already making efforts at increasing their energy efficiency in order to reduce emissions.
Ms Munro said that, broadly speaking, businesses were ready for the introduction of the carbon pricing scheme, under which about 300 companies and councils will pay $23 for each tonne of the greenhouse gas they produce.
She said she believed the ”vast majority” of big emitters that will pay the tax wanted to count their carbon accurately and buy the right number of permits, but if it emerged that businesses were under-reporting their emissions, the regulator would pick up the errors and step in.
That would start with a request for an explanation, followed by an audit and, if necessary, entering premises to gather data and documentation.
”If it really appears that they are not reporting accurately, then we have information-gathering powers like any other regulator and we will exercise those,” she said. ”If necessary, we would go to court. None of those [steps] are taken lightly.”
Australia was ready for the carbon price after years of debate, preparation and consultation, she said.
”Most of the businesses I talk to are ready for it and just want to get on with it.”
A couple of emitters had already challenged their inclusion in the list of 294 ”liable entities”, arguing they were under the threshold of 25,000 tonnes a year.
The list would probably grow, although some emitters would likely drop off the list by finding ways to get reduce their emissions to less than 25,000 tonnes a year.
The Clean Energy Regulator, which will eventually have a staff of 350, has the power to enter workplaces and compel the handover of documents. Companies that try to evade paying the cost of their emissions face civil or criminal penalties, including fines of up to $1.1 million, and individuals could be jailed for up to 10 years.
Ms Munro said the regulator would also have a close relationship with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.