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Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism gaining traction in Europe

The European Parliament is introducing new climate legislation including a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The new package aims to reduce emission by at least 55% by 2030 and will include a series of measures which will have big impacts to many large industry customers who now will have millions of tonnes of carbon at risk.

The proposal will include phasing out of the free European Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) allowances after 2026, including maritime shipping within the ETS and a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. The latter of these the CBAM or Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism will impose a tariff on goods whose production is carbon intensive and shows the greatest risk of carbon leakage, in Australia the most vocal opponents of this scheme are unsurprisingly the cement, aluminium and steel industries.

As a quick digress the term carbon leakage is referring to the idea that you move the most carbon intensive parts of your production abroad, into countries with less stringent climate policies, and then import them back into Australia.

The idea of the CBAM is this will place a price on the carbon which has been emitted during this production phase. The price being derived from the price of carbon which was paid for the product to be developed and produced within Australia.

Those keen eyed amongst us will remember the Safeguard Legislation, which will come into effect on the 1st July 2023, cited a review would be undertaken to examine the feasibility of a CBAM within Australia, including a consideration for early commencement for those high-exposure sectors such as steel and cement.

Now with the EU making the leap and the likely follow on from the UK, Japan and Canada, amongst others, including the US via its own Polluter Import Fees Australia, we will surely have to comply to ensure both our own goods are being protected as well as meeting the requirements of the global expectations.

However, what is the cost of compliance. Whilst the legislation is quite straight forward the compliance cost will increase. Cradle to gate / grave accounting is complex and with auditors being stretched between, NGERs, Safeguard and now this, finding a resource to complete the calculations and data collection will be one thing, but looking to have these accounts audited will be another. With the CER having only 75 registered auditors on their books will the cost of this be wider than the government are imagining?