By JR on Friday, July 15, 2011
HUNDREDS of "carbon cops" will police compliance with the carbon tax and will have the power to inspect premises, take companies to court and impose financial penalties.
Yet the 200 workers employed at the new $256 million Clean Energy Regulator might actually contribute to climate change, like the government's Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.
The government arm responsible for the implementation of the carbon tax yesterday admitted it was not carbon neutral and it was too early to say if tax enforcement would add to the department's pollution output.
A spokesman for the Department of Climate Change said it used green power but its emissions were still 12.5 tonnes a year - about the same as a family home. The figure was an underestimate as it does not include staff plane travel and taxis.
Staff at the Clean Energy Regulator will allocate carbon permits to businesses for the $23 per tonne carbon charge and will also hand out the free permits to big polluting industries scheduled to receive assistance.
The spokesman said the regulator would be responsible for educating companies on administrative arrangements, assessing emissions data to determine liability and operating a registry of emissions.
"The Clean Energy Regulator will be a statutory authority with substantial powers to enforce the carbon pricing mechanism," the spokesman said. He said the regulator would have the power to initiate audits of emissions, inspect premises, impose penalties and initiate court proceedings.
The government's carbon tax documents, released on Sunday, showed companies would face an emissions charge if their "emissions obligations were not met through the surrender of eligible emissions units".
Emissions charges will be $29.90 a tonne next year and $31.40 and $33 in following years.
Carbon permits will be considered financial products and will have a unique identification number.